Debate Over Trophy Waters on Boulder Mountain
I write to strongly disagree with your idea of a trophy fishery on the Boulder Mountain. To back up my opinions I had a long conversation with Dale Hepworth (Southern Region fisheries manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources). As with any idea, there are many pros and cons.
First of all, according to Mr. Hepworth, the DWR isn't interesting in making new regulations that they can't provide the manpower to enforce. For example, the Green River alone requires a lot of work to police and keep the fishermen honest.
Second, the average natural lifespan of the brook trout on Boulder Mountain might only be four to five years. Nature has too many variables to be able to count on constant weather patterns. For example: Last winter's extreme dry cold. And this summer's extreme drought. As you also mentioned, there is a delicate balance in the fish/food ratio.
Third: More fishermen complain about the lack of fish than the just mostly small fish. We often hear "It ain't like it used to be." But what is? All people who fish would like to catch a trophy, no matter what species they are fishing for. But, what sense would there be in the release of all brook trout over 14 inches if the next winter most could die from winter kill or other natural causes, or even the act of improper catch-and-release itself?
The fourth point I would make is the remoteness of the Boulder Mountains prohibits many people from making more than one or two trips a summer. With the expense of outfitting a camping trip and the risk of tearing out a transfer case or rear end on the big rocks, who would want to go and throw back any and all bragging-size fish?
The last point I would make is: "To fish is to catch fish." I quote a comment from "Fly Fisherman": ". . . When we are required by law to release the fish, we ritualize the sport into a pure game and are toying with and endangering an animal for no other reason than our own fun. At that point, Jacques Cousteau's comment (fishing for fun — catch and release — is a perversion) is verified."
Mr. Jaworowski does go on to say, "Fishing evolved out of the basic need for food. Obviously, streams and lakes (and in Utah our hatcheries) can no longer supply that need to great numbers of people, so we must release the bulk of our catch. Still, the angler must have the option to kill or release his catch. It is only when he chooses to release that he elevates himself, and the ethic of the sport reaches its highest level."
The last part of the above quote is a contradiction to what I have been trying to say. But on the other hand, any avid fisherman like myself who fishes somewhere every weekend couldn't possibly eat all the fish we catch. I have diversified my fishing methods to be able to release 75-90 percent of the fish I catch.
People who don't get as many opportunities as I should be able to keep and enjoy eating their full limits.
- Marion W. Littlefield, Tropic
Editor's response: One of the nice things about UTAH FISHING magazine is that it gives us a forum to express our views and opinions. I appreciate your comments and concerns.
I have never wanted special regulations on all the lakes on the Boulder Mountain. Some of the lakes are full of small, stunted brook trout and these trout need to be harvested.
As you have mentioned, other lakes are too shallow and frequently winter kill. Special regulations on these lakes would be ineffective and foolish.
However, there are several lakes that are deep enough and fertile enough that they can and do support trophy brook trout. It seems to be a shame to me to not allow these lakes to reach their full potential as fisheries.
I realize that the DWR could never enforce any special regulations on the Boulder Mountain lakes and I wouldn't expect them to.
Some day the fishermen of the state are going to have to start taking responsibility for their fishing resource themselves. And, it seems like the Boulder Mountain would be a good place to start.
The idea that practicing catch and release (whether required by law or not) is "toying with and endangering an animal for no other reason than our own fun" is pretty stupid. The plain fact is, we fish for fun!
I don't care what type of fishing you do or how many fish you catch, you are doing it for your own fun. People do not fish to provide food for themselves or their families any more.
How many times has your hungry family wished you luck as you have left on a flshing trip, knowing that if you are not successful they will go hungry that evening?
If we want food we run down to the corner grocery store. We fish for fun because we enjoy being out in the wilds — because we derive pleasure by fooling that smart old brook trout. We like to test our skills against nature and we like to brag. As you said, "Who would want to go and throw back any and all bragging-size fish?"
Dale Hepworth has told me on several occasions that some of the Boulder Mountain lakes could produce world class brook trout! I say, why not give it a try?