Colorado sets crackdown on ‘bucket biologists.’

April 10, 2012 – Colorado is cracking down on bucket biologists. Colorado Wildlife officers and State Park rangers are on the lookout for people who illegally move fish in the state. Fish such as smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike have been illegally introduced in several Colorado reservoirs. These predator fish can out-compete traditional sport fish such as trout and kokanee, and ruin recreational fishing for other anglers. They also threaten populations of native fish downstream in the Colorado and San Juan rivers. Angler dollars that could be focused on improving fishing for all anglers often end up being focused on eradicating an illegally introduced population. Anyone caught moving fish between bodies of water faces fines of up to $5,000 plus the loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 36 other states. Those convicted can also be liable for the cost of removing the illegally stocked fish – costs which could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Information about illicit stocking activity can be reported anonymously and tipsters can earn cash rewards through Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Did you get get your new 2012 fishing license? 2012 licenses went into effect April 1 and are valid until March 31, 2013. Don’t forget to get your new license before you head out.

Have you seen the new Colorado fishing brochure? This year’s brochure includes a link to printable fishing maps, QR codes to access interactive information. It also provides important information on ways anglers can protect their fisheries from illicit stocking and aquatic nuisance species.

Rare bird closures at southeast reservoirs: Anglers headed to John Martin Reservoir State Park, Adobe Creek Reservoir/Blue Lake or Nee Gronda Reservoir are reminded that some beach areas are closed to protecting nesting threatened and endangered shorebirds. The rare least tern and piping plover nest in these areas and volunteers mark nest sites to protect the nests and minimize disturbance. You can find more information online at:

Angler survey: Anyone who fished in Colorado in 2011 might be hearing from a survey company that is helping Colorado Parks and Wildlife get a better understanding of angler habits and preferences. The 2012 angler survey started over the phone last week and will contact 3,000 randomly-selected resident and non-resident anglers. The goal of the survey is help predict angler demand over the next 20 years. The final report from the survey will be available on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website later this year.



Delaney Buttes (Jackson County) – Here’s what the folks at Lake John Resort are saying about Delaney Buttes: “All three Delaney Butte Lakes are wide open and completely ice free.  The catching has been close to phenomenal on all lakes with some true monsters being landed.”

Elkhead Reservoir State Park (Moffat County) – The ice has melted off the lake. There are no fishing reports from anglers at this time. Anglers can target smallmouth bass, crappie, northern pike, catfish and trout at this easily accessible water near Craig. Remember, a state parks pass and valid fishing license are required.

Fryingpan, Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers (Pitkin and Garfield County) – Here’s some information on the middle section of the Fryingpan River from the folks at Taylor Creek Fly Shop: “Water conditions are clear with midges (22-24), beatis (18-22), caddis (16-18) and streamers (4-8) present. Dry fly madness! Killer midges hatches on the reg right now. Daytime temps in the 50s and 60s. Drys, nymphs and streamers? You name it, you can fish it on this section of the Pan. Great hatches of midges right now makes for some outstanding dry fly fishing. During the slower times the nymph and streamer fishing have been the best bet for hook ups. “

Harvey Gap State Park (Garfield County) – Anglers are reporting good success for yellow perch throughout the lake. Fishing has also been good for northern pike.

Highline Lake State Park and Mack Mesa Reservoir (Mesa County) – Fishing at Mack Mesa is excellent - a total of 3,000 trout were added to the lake in March. These are 10”-12” trout, and they are still biting - and according to rumor, they bite on just about anything and everything! Highline Lake received 4,000 rainbows in March, and the water in Highline Lake should soon be warm enough for the trout, bass and catfish to start looking for your hook. It’s time to hang up the “Gone Fishin” sign and come to Highline or Mack Mesa Lake for a great day of fishing - bring everyone along, and share a fresh-fish fry! For those who prefer to troll Highline Lake, ANS boat inspections are available at the WEST ramp, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ONLY. Stop at the Highline Lake visitor center for your 2012 fishing license on your way to the lakes. Anglers are asked that if they catch or see a northern pike at either lake, please remove it from the water and alert the parks staff.

James M. Robb Colorado River State Park (Mesa County) – Catchable rainbow trout were stocked recently in Corn Lake, Roan’s Pothole and Old Orchard in Island Acres, and at Fruita Red Rocks Lake. Additional stocking will occur throughout the month of April until the water becomes too warm, generally around May 1. In addition, Corn Lake will be receiving black crappie and largemouth bass in the fall.

Lake Granby (Grand County) – The folks at are reporting that Arapaho Bay and Stillwater are ice-free and open.

Lake John (Jackson County) – Here’s the update from the crew at Lake John Resort: “Lake John, Cowdrey Lake and all three Delaney Butte Lakes are wide open and completely ice free. Even though the docks are not in yet, fishermen are launching everything from personal watercraft to float boats and rafts to tri-hulls.  The catching has been close to phenomenal on all lakes with some true monsters being landed. Although Lake John had very few people over the past week, everyone seems to be getting their share of fish.  Of course they’re not all lunkers yet, but since the reclamation last summer, they have added a little of all three — length, girth and attitude. I have also heard that Seymour Lake is open, as well as the road to Big Creek, however I do not know how the fishing is on either, nor if the ice is even off of Big Creek.” Anglers headed to any of the North Park lakes, please remember to clean up your campsite and fishing area when you leave.

Rifle Gap State Park (Garfield County) – Most anglers are looking for perch (no limit), pike (no limit) or trout (limit four). Rifle Gap was stocked with 2,000 catchable rainbow trout Feb.  22. One angler had to leave a rainbow in the lake that wouldn’t fit through his 6” augered hole in the ice. Another angler pulled out a 23”, 4 pound 12 ounce brown trout.

Stagecoach State Park (Routt County) – Anglers recently started fishing the open water near the inlet and coves. Tailwaters anglers are using San Juan worms, RS2’s and zebra midges. CR 18 is now open. During the busy season for the Tailwaters, anglers are asked to be mindful of the resources and help avoid overcrowding.

Sylvan Lake State Park (Eagle County) – Ice fishing has come to an end. There are open areas of water along the shore. East and West Brush Creek are open, but slightly cloudy from the runoff. The beaver ponds between the lake and Visitor Center have been good for smaller brookies and browns on a variety of flies.

Vega State Park (Mesa County) – The lake is completely ice free at this time. The fishing is excellent with rainbows being caught in the 12 - 14 inch range with bubble gum, garlic and yellow Power Bait. Hand launching of non-trailered boats is allowed at this time. The Early Settlers boat ramp will be opened on Friday, April 13th.


Blue Mesa Reservoir (Gunnison County) – Blue Mesa is currently about 50 percent open. The upper basin and canyon areas are frozen but Cebolla and Sapinero basins are open to fishing. Lake Fork marina is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ice out is the best time to come fish for trophy lake trout and brown trout as they cruise shallow cool water.

Crawford Reservoir (Delta County) – Lots of reports of large pike being caught. Crappie anglers are also reporting success. Pike anglers are encouraged to keep as many fish as they can due to an overabundance of pike in Crawford Reservoir.  There are no limits on northern pike at Crawford. Biologists are monitoring the fishery to gather data and work with anglers on a new lake management plan. Check in with the park staff to report your catch so they can provide details for other anglers.

Jackson Gulch Reservoir, Mancos State Park (Montezuma County) – Fishing has been good for 10” to 12” rainbow trout and 4” to 6” yellow perch. Anglers report an occasional large brown trout on the hook.  Worms, powerbait, and spinners have been successful for all fish.  The ice has been off the lake for a week now and the inlet is running strong with snow melt from higher elevations.  The trout especially like hanging out near the inlet in the flowing water.  Be sure to bring your own bait/lures as there is no place nearby to purchase these items.  Fishing licenses will not be available in the park until mid-May.  The boat ramp is not open for trailered boat launching.  You can hand launch smaller boats if you want to get out on the lake.

Navajo Reservoir State Park (Archuleta County) – State park staff hasn’t gotten any recent updates for fish caught. Water temperature is currently approximately 38 degrees. Call the marina at 970-883-2628 for more information. Anglers are reminded that this reservoir spans the state line with New Mexico and you will need to have the appropriate state fishing license for the area of the lake you are fishing. To assist anglers, Colorado and New Mexico fishing licenses are available at the Visitor Center.

Ridgway State Park (Ouray County) – The boat ramp opened on March 15. You must have your boat inspected for aquatic invasive species BEFORE launching. We have seen several brown trout in the 5 plus pound category caught lately, with a 9 lb 6oz brown trout caught this week. There have been at least two browns in the past week that were in the 10 lb range. As of April 2 we have stocked 29,000 rainbow trout (from 8” to 14”) in the reservoir. Shore fishing has been very good. Try a gold Kastmaster or worms. Boat fishermen are using Rainbow Rapals, Kastmasters and brown leadhead jigs. Fishing at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk has been great all winter. The river flows remained above 60cfs which resulted in a very good survival rate and therefore good numbers of fish to catch. The Ponds at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk have a good population of holdover Rainbow and Brown Trout. Fishing the ponds this spring has been very good. Please remember that the Uncompahgre River running adjacent to the ponds is restricted to flies and lures only and all fish caught must be returned to the water immediately.

San Luis State Park (Alamosa County) – Anglers are advised that San Luis Lake will not be getting water this year in an effort to reduce salt loading in the lake and the Rio Grande River. A press release explaining the change can be found at

Stocking Report

The following waters were recently stocked with catchable (approximately 10”) trout:

Northwest Region – Corn Lake, Clifton; Fruita Red Rocks Lake, Mesa County; Mack Mesa, Highline Lake State Park, Mesa County; Nofstger Reservoir, Routt County; Parachute Pond, City of Parachute; Rifle Pond South, Rifle; Roan’s Pothole, Island Acres, James M. Robb State Park; West Lake, Grand Junction; Zeigler Reservoir, Routt County.

Southwest Region – Chipeta Lake, Montrose County; Confluence Lake, Delta; Ridgway Reservoir; Ute Park Lake, Montrose.


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