In October, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Jackson Fish Management Crew conducted their annual lake trout sampling on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Over four nights from October 15-18, the Jackson fish managers set 28 short duration gill nets in Jackson Lake and caught a total of 161 lake trout. Lake trout are a relatively long-lived fish species with ages of over 50 years having been recorded. Each year, all captured fish are marked with a permanent tag and fish managers can determine annual growth rates for the fish and get a picture of survival based on the fish that are recaptured each year.
This year, of the 161 lake trout captured, 43 were recaptured from previous years and 98 new fish were tagged. For the past two years, managers noticed an increase in the number of fish caught. Jackson Fish Biologist Clark Johnson wasn’t sure whether the increased number of fish was reflective of an increasing population or whether they were just being more effective at catching fish. Regardless, Johnson did feel confident that the Jackson Lake lake trout population was healthy and doing fine.
If anglers catch one of the tagged fish, they are asked to get a length and weight of the fish if possible, and take a close-up photo of the tag in order to read the tag number. A reward for reporting yellow tags is $5, and pink or red tags are $25. Unfortunately, fish managers have had to do away with the monetary rewards on tags so the more recent green tags have no reward, but managers still encourage anglers to capture a length, weight and tag number to contribute to the growing dataset.
The largest fish netted this year was 29 pounds. There were 17 fish over 15 pounds and 40 that broke 10 pounds. Interestingly, there were two fish caught that were originally tagged 11 years ago, one of which had never been recaptured before. Also captured in the nets was a whopper Utah Sucker, which are native to Wyoming, that would have shattered the Wyoming state record. The fish was 26 inches long and weighed 9.25 pounds. The state record fish from 2003 was 28 inches and 8 pounds 4 oz.