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Wes Gordon displays a nice catch of lake trout in 2018.

GREEN RIVER — Anglers can hone their {span}mackinaw{/span} fishing skills and win prizes during the new Mac Attack Fishing Derby in April at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The derby will target lake trout less than 25 inches, and prizes will be awarded for the most pounds of lake trout entered during the April 27-28 event. The Mac Attack Derby is open to both boat and shore anglers. Lake trout forage close to shore during the spring, which will make shore anglers competitive in this derby, according to a press release.

Fisheries managers have been tracking a growing population of small lake trout, those less than 25 inches, for awhile. While all of these small lake trout are providing excellent fishing and great table fare, is it possible that this is a problem?

The answer is yes, according to Robert Keith, regional fisheries supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Our trend netting data documents the increasing abundance of small lake trout and a study completed in 2016 shows their growth rates have slowed dramatically since the 1990s. In 1992, an 8-year-old lake trout was 31 inches and over 10 pounds. In 2016, an 8-year-old lake trout was only 22 inches and about 3 pounds.”

It is also known that smaller lake trout, when they have the opportunity, eat other valued species in the gorge such as kokanee salmon and trout. Reducing the number of small lake trout in the reservoir will increase the number of kokanee and trout that are available for anglers and allow the remaining lake trout to grow faster.

And that’s where anglers can make a difference.

“Angler harvest can be an effective tool for managing fisheries,” said John Walrath, regional fisheries biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “The Mac Attack Derby will help reduce the population of small lake trout and provide a platform for educating the public on this growing concern.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department joined forces with the Flaming Gorge Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to create the Mac Attack.

“We are excited about using the Mac Attack Derby as a vehicle to increase public awareness on how anglers can help Flaming Gorge fishery by harvesting small lake trout,” Walrath said.

Teams of two can compete for cash prizes by entering up to 12 lake trout, less than 25 inches long, per angler per day. Winners will be those teams entering the most weight. All teams that check in fish but do not place in the most weight category will be entered into a drawing for a cash participation prize.

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