Important fish making big comeback in Utah Lake

UTAH COUNTY - A recovery program continued Monday for an endangered species called the June Sucker—a fish that can only be found in Utah and has been a rich part of the state's history.

“The June Sucker was once the most abundant fish in the Utah Lake,” said Dale Fonken, a Native Aquatics Biologist. “It was so abundant that it was an important food source, and people used to pay their tithing with them to the church.”

In efforts to recover the species, the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) dumped two thousand June Suckers into Utah Lake. This continues a recovery project  that has been going on since 1987 when there were only 300 June Sucker’s alive

Since then, the DWR has been working on recovering the species, putting them into this lake with tags injected into them so they can keep track of them.

Fonken said the numbers are adding up now to almost 3,000, an upswing that has been important to the Utah Lake ecosystem.

“There’s a lot of sport fish that really need a food source,” Fonken said. “If you like fishing the White Bass and the… then you should really like the June Sucker because the better they do, the better your fishing is."

One family who loves fishing at Utah Lake said they have noticed a change over the past five years.

“You see a lot more plants in the lake than five years ago, there wasn’t anything,” Nathan Smith, a fishing enthusiast, said. “The water is clearing up, I’ve seen a big difference since being here.”

Fonken said he hopes will lead to an even bigger outcome.

“Success for me, I think would be having a self-sustaining, stable population of June Sucker’s in Utah lake,” Fonken said. “We’re not quite there, but we’re working on it.”