Record northern pike? Look to Crawford Reservoir

Paonia angler Darrell Green inspects his fishing tackle Monday after a morning catching northern pike at Crawford Reservoir. Green said his morning total included a 22-, 25- and 29-pound northern pike.

Four-year-old Braden Flores of Delta takes his fishing seriously and Monday found him fishing Crawford Reservoir with his grandfather, Henry Flores, a retired school teacher from Delta.

CRAWFORD – An hour earlier, after hearing of my destination, a friend had mumbled, disdainfully, “Crawford Reservoir? Why?”

In response, a few numbers: 22, 25, 29. Not the rapidly disappearing batting average of the Dodgers’ $250 million slugger Albert Pujols but something even closer to the heart of Western Slope fishermen.

It’s the weight in pounds of the three largest northern pike Paonia angler Darrell Green landed in about two hours Monday morning at, where was it? Oh, yes. Crawford Reservoir, that relatively small pond with surprisingly big fish.

“And I probably would have caught more, if the wind hadn’t started to come up,” said Green, who also landed a few crappie and a bass or two during his brief day-off venture. “I really think the next state record pike is going to come out of here.”

Green, who mentioned catching a 9-pound largemouth bass during a weekend bass tournament at Lake Powell (he finished third out of 75 boats), carries a digital scale in his 16-foot silver-grey MonArk bass boat and he isn’t hesitant to us it. You never know when that state record pike might latch onto your bait and an accurate scale makes all the difference between a ho-hum “another biggie” and a “let’s head home, we got a winner” morning.

But it also means you can’t hedge your bets. The state record currently stands at 30-pounds, 11 ounces, caught in 2006 at Stagecoach Reservoir when a trout angler using PowerBait on a No. 8 bait hook landed the fish of a lifetime. Maybe it’s about time the record moved. The 2006 mark broke a standard set in 1996, so a record in 2016 or sooner would be about right.

Crawford state Park might be the perfect place, since it has plenty of perch and suckers to keep pike fat and happy. Green’s 29-pounder (he says it was a bit under 29 but close enough to call it that) was 42.5 inches long, a well-fed fish that bit a soft-plastic green-and-white shad tail lure.

“It’ll be here next year, and even bigger,” said Green, a retired firefighter who enjoys eating fish but released all of Monday’s catch for obvious reasons.

The difference between a 29-pound also-ran and 31-pound record is a fat sucker or two. Why eat the potential record? Of course, it shouldn’t be that hard.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the small size of a pike’s brain (an estimated 1/1,305 of its body weight) makes it rather unconcerned about predators.

One angler at Crawford Monday who wasn’t concerned about a record was 4-year old Braden Flores of Delta, who was fishing with his grandfather, retired Delta County teacher Henry Flores.

“Grandpa, I got a bump,” cheerfully announced Braden, perched on the inlet tube at the Smith Fork cove. It wasn’t a fish, but that’s the least of the matter.

“He just loves fishing,” said the elder Flores, who admitted to having a bit of the fishing bug himself. “We come here as often as we can.”

Anglers headed to Crawford State Park can get ANS boat inspections at the Iron Creek boat ramp as long as water levels stay up, said Kelly Beauchamp at the park visitor center. “We’re an irrigation reservoir, so once the water levels drop, we’ll move inspections to the main boat ramp,” Beauchamp said.

There is plenty of water now, and with surface temperatures in the 56-59 degree range (Green also carries a thermometer with him), the pike spawn is winding down but crappie and smallmouth bass are active on their nests.


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