|Joe's Valley Reservoir has a chub problem which some residents of the county want addressed.|
Whatever happened to Joe's Valley Reservoir? Emery County public lands member James Gilson asked the question of Rick Larsen, the Southeastern Utah Regional Director for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. This might not be a fair question to ask Larsen as he is new to the area and the issues of Emery County.
Larsen stated that Joe's Valley is an important fishing resource and the recent reports of elevated mercury levels in the splake is of concern to the DWR. The Utah Department of Health makes the recommendations for consumption levels of the contaminated fish. It was suggested the lands council ask someone who knows about the mercury problem to make a presentation in a future meeting.
Gilson said "We're just not gaining on the chubs. Joe's Valley is not a great family fishery any more. We need to look at fixing it and return it to a place to catch fish.
Larsen said the DWR has been working to eliminate chubs. Most of the biomass at Joe's Valley goes to the chubs. Any trout in Joe's Valley are very skinny. Gilson estimated some of the large chubs in Joe's Valley are 6-8 years old. He pointed out the reason they treated Strawberry Reservoir a few years back was because of the chubs. He wondered about such a treatment at Joe's Valley.
Larsen said the treating of a water is a political issue and he didn't know the specifics of Joe's Valley. Gary Petty, lands council member pointed out that Joe's Valley is a drinking water source. But, Gilson replied so is Strawberry and Scofield, both of which have been treated.
Mark H. Williams said, "The fishermen just don't use Joe's Valley anymore."
Larsen said treating water is a political issue and that politics sometimes puts a stop to treatment. Rotenone is a natural organic substance that degrades quickly and is used in the treatment of a water to kill fish.
Petty wondered what the public lands council could do to help the process.
Larsen said they need to just be aware of what's going on. Gilson said Joe's Valley is a valuable resource for the area and the issue needs to get out on the table. The general public is not aware of the number of chubs that are in Joe's Valley and they need to be aware.
Larsen agreed the issue needs to be talked about and solutions sought for why the people aren't using Joe's Valley any more.
The DWR is aware of one 11 pound and one 10 pound splake that have been caught at Joe's Valley this year. Most anglers that use Joe's Valley are after these trophy splake. Dead chubs are the bait of choice. The fish limit is two and only one may be over 22 inches. All trout from 15-22 inches must be immediately released. The DWR fishing nets at Joe's Valley were recently vandalized and the DWR lost the opportunity to catch and remove spawning chubs from the reservoir. The DWR has been involved the last several years in netting and destroying chubs and removing their eggs from the reservoir.
Brent Stettler, from DWR, said live bait has been used for fishing which is illegal and this illegal bait has been released into the waters and is a major cause of the chub infestation.