First of year fishing report eyes slow start to season

April 3, 2012

Anglers should remember to purchase have a 2012 fishing license before heading out. Licenses are valid April 1 through March 31.

AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES REMINDER: Boaters are reminded that mandatory inspections are in place at many of the lakes and reservoirs around the state again this year. Boaters are reminded to clean, drain and dry their boats and equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species. Information about inspection requirements, hours and procedures can be found on our website at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/MandatoryBoatInspections.aspx.

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.

EXPANDED FISHERY SUMMARIES NOW AVAILABLE: Anglers that want to take a closer look at the biological conditions of their favorite fishing spot can check out the expanded fishery summaries now available on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. You can reach the reports through the fishing page by clicking on ‘reports’ and then ‘fish survey summaries’ or you can click on http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Reports/FisherySurveySummaries. These summaries have basic information about many waters in the state. In addition, sampling information and management information can also be found in these .pdf reports.

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE WORKS FROM PARKS AND WILDLIFE: Anglers will be pleased to learn that Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff are working on several new products that will provide additional information about fishing around the state. We can’t let the catfish out of the bag just yet but new products will be interactive, multimedia, multi-platform and provide insider knowledge of the fish and places to fish here in the Centennial State.  Watch for updates later this year.

CHANGES TO THE 2012 FISHING REPORT: Colorado Parks and Wildlife customers who use the weekly seasonal fishing report might notice a few changes this year. First, we’re working to improve the product and target it directly to novice anglers looking for basic information and information about great places to fish. The amount of reliable fishing information available to more experienced anglers has expanded exponentially in recent years and the private sector seems to be doing a great job of sharing angler information. This new report will still guide anglers to places to explore, but it focuses on getting out and getting started. More experienced anglers that are seeking up to the minute conditions are encouraged to check out some of the statewide fishing forums and websites such as http://www.fishexplorer.com, http://www.coloradofisherman.com or http://www.coloradofishing.net. There are also dozens of websites out there that provide local and regional fishing information from other anglers and professional guides and outfitters.

NORTHWEST COLORADO

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.

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.

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) – There is plenty of shoreline fishing access at the inlet and on the north side of the reservoir below the park office. Anglers have just started fishing that area but some are catching 10-14” trout. Tailwater anglers are using San Juan worms, RS2’s and zebra midges. County Road 18 is now open. As this is the busy season for the Tailwaters, anglers are asked to be mindful of the resource and to help avoid overcrowding.

Sylvan Lake State Park (Eagle County) – Ice fishing has come to an end. There are small open areas of water along the shore. East and West Brush Creek are open but slightly cloudy from the runoff. Try the beaver ponds along West Brush Creek between the Visitor Center and the lake.

Vega State Park (Mesa County) – The lake remains closed to boating, however, the ice is melting rapidly and 20 - 40 feet of water is visible at shoreline. The fishing is excellent with rainbows being caught in the 12 to 14 inch range with bubble gum, garlic and yellow PowerBait.

SOUTHWEST COLORADO

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) – Ice is coming off the lake and leaving enough open water to fish from the bank or use a hand carried watercraft. Pike have been biting near the south end of the reservoir. 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.

Jackson Gulch Reservoir, Mancos State Park (Montezuma County) – Ice fishing was excellent this winter, but warm spring weather has started to soften and melt the ice, especially along the shoreline. The ice is unsafe at this time. The snow is starting to melt in the high country so the inlet on the north side of the lake is starting to flow and this is always a good place to fish. Ten inch rainbow trout were stocked monthly through last summer. Fishing has been excellent for rainbow trout around 10” and 4-6” yellow perch with an occasional large brown trout. The trout are hanging out in 5 to 20 feet of water and in shallower water near the inlet. Powerbait and small lures are showing success. Perch love nightcrawlers, mealworm, or waxworm so a small jig tipped with nightcrawler works well. Perch are spending their time right down on the bottom of the lake. Perch are small, averaging about 4-6”, but anglers should keep them if they’ll eat them. There is no limit on the number of perch you can possess and they make great fish tacos. This also helps to work towards thinning the perch population in the lake. An exciting addition to the lake was the stocking of 10,000 fingerling Saugeye in June.

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. Staff has seen several brown trout in the five-plus pound category. There have been at least two browns in the past week that were in the 10 pound range. As of April 2, we have stocked 29,000 catchable rainbow trout 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 http://dnr.state.co.us.

Stocking Report

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

Northwest Region – Corn Lake, Clifton; Craig City Ponds, Craig; Craig Justice Center Pond, Craig; Highline Lake, Mesa County; Lake Granby, Grand County; Parachute Ponds, Parachute; Rifle Pond South, Rifle; Roan’s Pothole, Island Acres, James M. Robb State Park; West Lake, Grand Junction.

Southwest Region – Highline Lake, Mesa County; McPhee Reservoir; Ridgway Reservoir.


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