Utah Fishing Guide
J. Perry Egan Hatchery Provides Trout Eggs for Other Utah Hatcheries
The next time you're fishing for trout, and get that big tug on your line, you may want to consider how that fish got there in the first place!
It was probably raised from an egg in one of the 10 fish hatcheries managed by the Division of Wildlife Resources. Many hours of work and an extensive amount of expertise would have been spent by DWR workers to get the fish to the stage in its life where you could reap the joy of catching it.
The egg the trout hatched from probably came from a brood hatchery in Bicknell called the J. Perry Egan Hatchery (named after a former DWR director). This hatchery provides most of the eggs for the other nine state hatcheries in Utah. Surplus eggs from the hatchery are also shipped to other state, federal and Indian tribal hatcheries across the United States. In exchange for these eggs, Utah's sportsmen receive other kinds of wildlife, such as turkeys, mountain goats and other species of fish. This is done through a barter system established with the other wildlife agencies.
The process for taking eggs is a complex one carried out by highly trained personnel. The Egan hatchery has six full-time employees: Don Bone, Richard Jensen, Dennis Hiskey, George Coombs, Dave Behunin and Dwight Brinkerhoff. No other hatchery crew in Utah has more years of experience than the crew at Egan (their combined years of service total more than 120 years.)
From September to April, the hatchery crew will take approximately 20 million eggs to bolster fisheries throughout Utah. Eggs provided by the hatchery include lake trout, splake, tiger trout, albino rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout and three different strains of rainbow trout.
As an additional fisheries management tool, the hatchery is involved with a process to induce rainbow trout to become triploid (three sets of chromosomes instead of the normal, which is two), which makes the fish sterile. DWR aquatics managers have requested this so rainbows can be stocked in waters where natural reproduction is not wanted or where the threat of rainbow trout crossing with cutthroat trout is a possibility. The Egan crew assists in this effort by taking cutthroat trout eggs at two wild trout traps in Daughtery Basin and Manning Meadow in the spring to help with the propagation of that species.
The Egan Hatchery also houses one of the two four-tanker statewide fish trucks. Dave Behunin drives this truck from April through October. He travels more than 30,000 miles yearly, delivering fish raised at all of the state hatcheries and the Jones Hole Federal Hatchery near Vernal.
In 2003, the Egan crew also stocked more than 206,000 seven-inch rainbow trout in Fish Lake, 495,000 three-inch rainbow trout in Scofield Reservoir and more than 7,750 broodstock throughout the state. All of these fish were raised at Egan.
During the four months that the crew is not spawning fish, they are busy maintaining the facility and getting equipment ready for the next spawning season.
Tucked away in southern Utah, the Egan Hatchery plays an important role in providing anglers the thrill of hooking a fish. The hatchery staff wishes they could invite visitors to see the facility and meet the crew, but it's closed to tours because of the threat of introducing whirling disease to the hatchery.
They won't be able to meet you at the hatchery, but when you pass one of Egan's fish trucks, give the person inside a friendly wave. They enjoy what they're doing and are doing their best to make the outdoors a better experience for you.
Article provided by the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources