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Jones Hole Creek
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Trout disease turns up in prime fishing spot in eastern Utah

Jones Hole Creek in eastern Utah (Photo: DWR)

VERNAL — The parasite that causes whirling disease in trout and salmon has turned up in Jones Hole Creek, a prime fly fishing stream in eastern Utah. That means anglers will have to take special precautions to avoid spreading it to other waters.

Whirling disease causes skeletal deformities in several species of trout. It can lead to the fish swimming in circles, giving the disease its name. It’s not dangerous to people.

Tonya Kieffer-Selby, the eastern Utah Conservation Outreach Manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, says Jones Hole is a tributary of the Green River, where whirling disease turned up several years ago.

“It was inevitable that it was going to move up the creek. We hoped that it wouldn’t. We hoped for a longer amount of time in between this happening,” Kieffer-Selby told KSL Newsradio. 

A critical concern in the area is the Jones Hole Fish Hatchery, which supplies trout to a number of waters in eastern Utah. It’s right next to the creek, but it’s supplied with water from springs. Barriers were set up to make sure fish couldn’t swim into the hatchery, and it’s been free of the disease.

Kieffer-Selby says anglers will have to take responsibility for avoiding the spread of the parasite to other waters.

“They’re not shutting it down to fishing. They just have to know that when they leave the creek that there’s a few measures that they have to take in order to reduce the possibility of transporting that disease to any other body of water,” Kieffer-Selby said.

Those measures include keeping fish or fish parts from contaminating other streams as well as cleaning waders and other equipment. Waders with felt soles are discouraged because of the risk of spreading the parasite.


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