Getting paid to fish: Brown trout bonus payments increasing at Lees Ferry on Colorado River
LEES FERRY, Ariz. — Beginning Sept. 1, an additional $300 incentive to encourage anglers to catch and keep brown trout at Lees Ferry Reach below Glen Canyon Dam will be added to a Brown Trout Incentivized Harvest Program.
Currently, the National Park Service (NPS) is offering $33 for each brown trout over six inches long that is harvested and turned in at the Navajo Bridge Visitor Center.
For the months of August through October, an additional $50 will be paid to each angler for every three brown trout harvested each month.
During September and October, anglers will receive an additional payment of $300 for each harvested brown trout containing a PIT tag. PIT tags are a small (7 mm) tag that researchers use to uniquely identify each fish and to estimate population size, etc. Pictures of pit tags are located on the brown trout signage at the Lees Ferry Boat Ramp.
In 2019, the National Park Service compiled a non-native fish management plan that included all waters between the Glen Canyon Dam, through Lees Ferry and into Grand Canyon National Park.
The plan addressed the increase in nonnative fish populations of the green sunfish and the brown trout below Glen Canyon Dam. The plan gave the National Park Service additional tools to prevent, control, minimize or eradicate potentially harmful non-native aquatic species that threaten downstream native species including the endangered humpback chub and razorback sucker, along with the recreational rainbow trout fishery.
Brown trout can be found throughout the river below the dam, most have been harvested from the dam down to approximately four-miles upstream from the Lees Ferry boat ramp.
However, the brown trout population between the dam and Lees Ferry has steadily increased since 2014.
As adults, brown trout feed on other fish, threatening downstream native and endangered fish species. The goal of this program is to determine if the Incentivized Harvest by anglers can help manage and reduce the number of brown trout.
According to NPS, this management option was highly favored during public review of potential management tools when compared with intensive mechanical removal efforts or disturbance activities during the spawning period.
The Glen Canyon Conservancy is helping administer the Brown Trout Incentivized Harvest Program and will send participating anglers a check at the end of each month.
More information about how to participate in this program is available at www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/brown-trout-harvest.htm
Details on the Arizona Game & Fish Department angling regulations for this area can be found at https://www.azgfd.com/fishing/regulations