In response to your letters column, Aug. 5, 1996, issue, I wish to make some remarks on Fish Lake mackinaw (lake trout). There are several species of lake trout, the highest of which is the mackinaw.
In your quotes of Mr. Hepworth of the DWR, Mr. Hepworth explains the DWR policy as it was presented at the Fish Lake meeting some years ago. Except he did not say some things which were also said at the Fish Lake meeting, which do not square with your article.
At the Fish Lake meeting we were told in essence that the mackinaw are in trouble because the "illegal" planting of perch in the lake has destroyed the chub population, the mackinaw's main source of food. Therefore the mackinaw are eating the small rainbow, so the DWR has to plant larger rainbow that the mackinaw cannot eat. The splake are doing fine (splake eat chubs too), but it doesn't look good for the mackinaw, as if writing them off. (Since splake eat chubs, how can they be doing fine and the mackinaw starving?) Compare this with Mr. Hepworth's statement in your article: "We have a huge number of lake trout that never get into a fish diet." I should have gotten up and told them, "You feed those mackinaw, even if you have to feed them rainbow."
When I was a small boy going out on Fish Lake with my grandparents, they would catch nothing but mackinaw. Years later, after I had grown up and went fishing for mackinaw, the way my grandfather taught me, I could not catch mackinaw because the rainbow wouldn't stay off my line.
I do not go to Fish Lake to fish for rainbow. If I want to catch rainbow all I need to do is drive six miles up the canyon or a few miles further to other ponds that have rainbow. Rainbow are everywhere. One of them flopped out of the irrigation ditch one afternoon while I was watering my lawn.
Sincerely yours, Robert C. KellerManti
Editor's response: We certainly share your feeling that lake trout are top prize in Fish Lake, and should be protected.
When the DWR held the public meetings and proposed a new management plan, there were few rainbow left in the lake and fishing overall was looking dismal. The lake trout and splake both appeared to be in trouble.
The new plan seems to be working. Rainbow and splake fishing are great, and the lake trout are holding their own.
Now the big complaint seems to be the fact that rainbows are so plentiful they are almost a nuisance to lake troutfishers. Perhaps that's why the lake has the highest angler satisfaction rating on any lake in Utah.
Still, more study and time are needed to learn how best to manage for the lake trout.