Trout will be placed only in waters that have mud snails in them

Trout from the Loa State Fish Hatchery will be stocked soon into waters in Utah that already have New Zealand mud snails in them.

A news release the Division of Wildlife Resources sent on Aug. 31 left some anglers with the impression that trout from the hatchery wouldn’t be stocked until next spring.

Terry Howick, fish culture supervisor for the DWR, says mud snails have been found in the hatchery, and the hatchery is under what Howick calls a “limited quarantine.”

“A limited quarantine means fish from the hatchery will be stocked only in waters that currently have mud snails in them,” Howick says.  “And this stocking will occur only after the hatchery fish are subjected to a strict invasive species protocol we’ve put in place.”

The protocol the DWR is following is the same protocol it used when mud snails were found at the hatchery in 2007:

  • Before any of the trout are stocked in the wild, the fish will be isolated from the other trout in the hatchery for four days.  During that four-day period, the isolated fish will not be fed.  By the time the four days are over, any mud snails the fish might have ingested will be expelled from the fish.

At that point, the fish should be free of snails.  And that means snails from the hatchery won’t be passed into the waters where the fish are placed.

“This is a proven method that we’ve used before,” Howick says, “and it works.  But we’re still not taking any chances.  Until mud snails are eradicated from Loa, fish from the hatchery will be stocked only in waters that already have mud snails in them.”

Howick says it will take about four to five months to disinfect the hatchery and rid it of the snails.  Once this occurs, the hatchery will return to its normal stocking operations, placing fish in waters that it normally stocks.

The Loa hatchery is in the town of Loa, about 40 miles southeast of Richfield.  Most of the trout the hatchery raises are typically placed in waters in southern Utah.

Howick says anglers who fish waters that have been stocked by Loa shouldn’t notice any difference in the number of fish that are available to them over the next four to five months.  He says stocking schedules among the Loa hatchery and the DWR’s other hatcheries will be adjusted to provide waters Loa has stocked with plenty of fish:

  • Waters that don’t have mud snails in them, but used to receive fish from Loa, will receive fish from other hatcheries for the next four to five months.
  • For the next four to five months, fish from the Loa hatchery will be placed only in waters that have mud snails in them, including waters that are currently being stocked by other hatcheries.

Preventing their spread

New Zealand mud snails are just one of several aquatic invasive species (AIS) that have made their way into Utah.

All of the New Zealand mud snails that are found in Utah are female and reproduce asexually.  Because they’re asexual, only one snail is required to establish a new colony.  One snail can produce hundreds of young every year.  And the snails are very effective at colonizing new waters.

There’s good news, though: There are several things you can do to avoid bringing snails into Utah from outside the state and to avoid transporting them from one body of water in Utah to another:

  • Disinfect your fishing equipment.

To remove the mud snails, scrub your waders with a brush, and then rinse them with water from the stream.  Make sure you remove the laces from your wading boots so you can clean under them.

After you’ve scrubbed your boots, repeatedly spray them and your fishing equipment with Formula 409 All-Purpose Cleaner.  Keep the boots and equipment damp with the 409 disinfectant for 10 minutes.  (Formula 409 All-Purpose Cleaner contains an ammonium compound that kills New Zealand mud snails).

After you’ve sprayed your boots and equipment with Formula 409 All-Purpose Cleaner, let them dry in the sun for an hour before re-using them.  This process will kill any snails you can’t see.

  • If you’re fishing on a river or stream, disinfect your waders and gear before moving to a different stretch of the same river to fish.

Logo courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

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