A study conducted last week in the Provo River concludes that the condition of fish in the river is comparable to that of previous years.
However, it is premature to say the low water level of the river had no effect on the fish, says a state Division of Wildlife Resources official."The numbers look like the same as they have been other years we've done our estimates," said Charlie Thompson, regional fisheries manager.
"Their condition is fair, comparable to what it has been in the past." It is expected that the fish will be in fair condition following a winter.
There were no indications that low water had affected the fish population, Thompson said. However, most of the fish counted were mature, and fish most affected by lower water levels are juveniles and spawning fish.
"The effect won't show for three to four years," Thompson said.
Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 fish were analyzed in the section of river between Canyon Glen and the upper train trestle. Wildlife officials swept the river in teams, using an electrified net to temporarily stun the fish so they could be weighed and measured. At the four stations along the river - (Canyon Glen, Bridal Veil Falls, Vivian Park and the upper train trestle - there were an average of 500 to 600 fish counted per quarter mile. The most fish, more than 800, were counted at the Vivian Park station.
"They ranged in size from 10 inches to 20 inches," Thompson said. "As you move up the canyon, the fish get larger."
Fish measured near the Vivian Park station averaged 12 to 15 inches in length, while those along the upper train trestle averaged 15 to 20 inches, Thompson said.
Wildlife officials had expected to see larger fish in the river since the initiation of the artificial-lure regulation on the river from the Olmstead to Woodland, Summit County, in 1980.
"We felt we would start to see fish in the 4- to 5-pound size, but we haven't seen that happen yet," Thompson said. "That's not to say they are not high-quality fish. They are nice; we just thought we would see larger fish than that.
Failure of fishermen to abide by fishing regulations and the erratic flow level of the river - high in summer and low in winter - probably are preventing fish from reaching the hoped-for sizes, Thompson said.
In addition to gathering weight and size data, wildlife officials removed 80 fish from the river, Thompson said. The fishes' eyes, gills, internal organs, stomach content, gender, fat ratio and fin condition will be checked to determine whether the fish had suffered any adverse habitat or environment effects.
Wildlife officials will begin stocking the river with 20,000 fish in June.