Unlimited fishing at Gunlock State Park; treatment planned for late fall

Stock image | St. George News

GUNLOCK — Anglers can fish at the Gunlock State Park reservoir through the end of the season, with no limit on the number of fish. All that’s needed is a valid fishing license and payment of the entrance fee to the park.

Officials are encouraging the public to harvest as many fish as possible before a planned treatment later this year to kill invasive fish.

Aggressive smallmouth bass have been introduced illegally into the reservoir, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is planning to treat the reservoir this fall, Gunlock State Park manager Laura Melling said.

The park can’t risk the nonnative fish being introduced into the Virgin River, Melling said.

“With the three endangered species in the Virgin River you can’t have (bass) where they might escape and get into the river,” Melling said. “We all know you can’t control the Santa Clara River.”

Fishing will continue even though the water level at Gunlock is dropping, Melling said. “Last year the water was so low I actually shut the ramp down on the 5th of July,” she said. This season, Melling expects to be able to keep the boat ramps open through Labor Day.

The reservoir will be treated this year and next year, Melling said, with a chemical that takes the oxygen out of the water. The Division of Wildlife Resources will wait until late fall to do the treatment.

It’s got to be done before we get in a situation where water and fish could go over the overflow,” Melling said. “Now, that hasn’t been an issue for the last four years, but we all know we don’t know what the weather is going to bring.”

Melling said the reservoir rose rapidly during flooding in 2005 which brought widespread damage along both the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers in Washington County.

“Gunlock raised 18 inches an hour,” Melling said. “So it’s something that we have to plan for.”


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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.



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