State considers dropping weekly fishing report

Will the fishing conditions report come to an end?

Officials at Colorado Parks and Wildlife are considering further changes to the weekly fishing report in light of budget cutbacks and emerging private sector solutions. The agency is internally discussing ending the weekly reporting of fishing conditions. The stocking report and weekly “Information for Anglers” would continue.

“In the past we have been able to designate full-time resources to preparing the weekly report for publication in more than 50 papers around the state,” explained spokesman Randy Hampton, who currently prepares the report. “Today, the fishing report is carried in very few papers and its weekly style is outpaced by private websites that offer up-to-the-minute conditions on waters across the state. When the private sector outpaces a government product, sometimes the best solution is to defer to what those private businesses can support.”

From private fishing websites that offer statewide reports to fly shops, bait shops, outfitters and marinas, there are many places to find the current fishing conditions. Many of the sites report key daily conditions such as water flow and water temperature. Hatch conditions which fly fishermen rely on can change daily and a weekly fishing conditions report is often outdated before it is prepared and distributed.

As wildlife managers and biologists have discussed how to provide anglers with relevant information in a timely fashion, they’ve tried to focus on information that only the agency can provide, such as stocking reports and key biological information.

“If we move to eliminate the conditions report, we’d intend to reallocate the resources used for that operation to providing anglers with management insight for designated waters around the state,” Hampton said. “Additional possibilities are a segment answering questions from anglers and adding a “hot spots” section where a few waters around the state with good fishing action could be listed.”

Before making any decisions, wildlife managers and biologists are hoping to hear from the public who uses the report. Check out some of the private fishing websites listed at the top of today’s conditions report and compare the information they provide with what is available in the conditions report.  Give us your feedback by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

NORTHWEST COLORADO

Delaney Buttes, Cowdrey and Lake John (Jackson County) – A fresh report from the folks at Lake John Resort this week: “Not much to report.  Things are pretty much the same as last week, at least from a fishing standpoint, with good action no matter the method of angling you choose.  The occasional big fish continues to be hooked, but not always landed, while previously stocked catchables and sub-catchables grow constantly in length, girth, and attitude. Most of you have heard me talk and write of School Teacher Mike, who had a friend from way down south with him this past week. They kept some eaters from John and said the fish were feeding on midges and shrimp, which they encountered while cleaning. Another quick note is that there is currently a fire ban in Jackson County on open burning.  Fires are allowed in the state wildlife areas such as Lake John, as long as you keep them in the steel rings provided, however not all SWA’s are equipped with fire rings.  Handmade rock rings are not an acceptable alternative and making a fire in one is a ticketable offense! If you do have a fire, do not leave the fire unattended, keep it small, and watch the wind. Be absolutely certain it is completely extinguished before turning in for the night or when departing your campsite.

Elkhead Reservoir State Park (Moffat County) – Muddy conditions continue to limit the fishing activity.

Harvey Gap State Park (Garfield County) – PLEASE NOTE: Large and Small Mouth Bass must be returned to the water from May 1 - June 15th, due to spawning. 3,600 rainbow trout have just been stocked in Harvey Gap Reservoir. They are reported to be at least 10 inches in length. They were stocked 4/19/12.

Highline Lake State Park and Mack Mesa Reservoir (Mesa County) – Trout are still biting at both Mack Mesa and Highline Lakes - some nice sized trout have been taken from both lakes recently, along with the stockers. Bass and crappie are finally biting, as the water finally warms up to 60 degrees or so. Near the dam at Highline Lake seems to be the best fishing area for bass and crappie, from the bank or from a boat. PowerBait is now available in the Visitor Center, along with nightcrawlers and fishing licenses. Get ready to be “Gone Fishin” at Highline or Mack Mesa Lake! 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. As always, “. . . the worst day fishing is better than any day at work!” If you catch or see a northern pike at either lake, please remove it from the water if possible and turn it over to park staff.

James M. Robb Colorado River State Park (Mesa County) – Fishing has slowed down some but people are still catching trout at Old Orchard Lake at Island Acres as well as at Corn and Connected Lakes. 2000 rainbow trout were stocked at Red Rocks Lake at Fruita on 4/23. The crappie and catfish are still biting at Fruita and there are still a few large trout that are biting on flies and power bait.

Lake Granby (Grand County) – No reports this week.

Pearl Lake State Park (Routt County) – Belly boaters are doing well around the willows, bank fishing has been OK. The dam area has been producing pretty well also. Please remember Pearl Lake is regulated to flies and lures only, with a bag limit of two 18”+ trout.

Rifle Gap State Park (Garfield County) – PLEASE NOTE: Large and smallmouth bass must be returned to the water from May 1 - June 15th, due to spawning. Most anglers are looking for perch (no limit), pike (no limit) or trout (limit 4). Most recently some large walleye have been spotted on the bottom of the lake off the Cedar campground loop. It was reported that a 22” walleye caught and a 24” pike were caught by the same angler.

Stagecoach State Park (Routt County) – Anglers fishing from the shore or a boat have had good luck near the inlet. Pike and trout reports have slowed, but people are still catching plenty of fish. 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.

Steamboat Lake State Park (Routt County) – The reports on fishing are great! Parks staff has had reports of 17-20 inchers being caught. The fish seem to be hitting just about everything. The inlets are still producing well as is the dam area. Meadow Point on the Mill Creek side is doing well also.

Sylvan Lake State Park (Eagle County) – Fishing has been great! There are a variety of hatches going on right now. For fly fishing, fish are biting on olive wooley worms #12, olive. Midge flies with white beads in olive and red. The stocker cutthroats and rainbows, along with native brook trout are moving around in schools close to shore, eating a variety of midges. As for bait fisherman, red and green power bait has been doing very well, along with a variety of spinners.

Vega State Park (Mesa County) – Fishing is excellent at Vega. Rainbows are being caught daily in the 14 - 18 inch range with Power Bait, worms, salmon eggs and Panther Martins. The lake was stocked with fingerling trout on May 2nd. Please remember to stop at the entrance station and/or visitor’s center and have your boat inspected prior to launching.

SOUTHWEST COLORADO

Blue Mesa Reservoir (Gunnison County) – No reports this week, but here’s what we heard last week: Water temps have been rising into the mid-50’s at Blue Mesa and that’s pushing browns and lake trout deeper and off the shoreline areas. Kokanee fishing remains excellent with limits being caught throughout the lake from 10-25 feet deep. Fish reporter Brett says he caught a limit of browns in the 17-21 inch range in the Soap Creek arm just north of the dam.  He caught one on a dead minnow that he let sit on the bottom with an egg sinker/splitshot set-up and open reel that let the trout take the bait and swallow it before feeling the pull. He also caught the others on various lures (purple/gold spoons, tiny minnow swimbaits) near rocky underwater outcrops.  All the browns had 1-4 small green crayfish in their stomachs.

Crawford State Park (Delta County) – Pike fishing is still consistent with fish upwards of 20 lbs. and 43” still being caught. A few bass have been reported, as well as crappie and catfish.

Gunnison Gorge, Gunnison River (Gunnison - Delta County) – The folks at Gunnison River Expeditions say that the Gunnison Gorge is running at 390 cfs and there is a large amount of bug activity such as caddis, blue winged olives, stone flies and is fishing well. The North Fork of the Gunnison is starting to clear, running 230 cfs. The fishing downstream will be good until they release from Paonia reservoir. We expect low water until Redlands diversion calls their water then we will be expecting 600-700 cfs. With the rise of water that we are expecting, we believe this will delay the Stonefly hatch for a couple of weeks meaning it will not happen extremely early.

Jackson Gulch Reservoir, Mancos State Park (Montezuma County) – The snow continues to melt in the high country so the inlet on the north side of the lake is flowing and this is always a good place to fish. Ten inch rainbow trout are being stocked monthly through the summer. Fishing has been excellent for rainbow trout around 10-12” and 4-6” yellow perch with an occasional large brown trout. The trout are especially active in the flowing water near the inlet and enjoy various PowerBaits (especially garlic), florescent green and gold spinners and worms. Perch love nightcrawler, 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. The daily limit for trout is 4. Remember to purchase your new fishing license (your old one expired 3/31/2012).

Navajo State Park (Archuleta County) – The crappie have started biting in the mooring cove and at the breakwater tires. Water temperature is approximately 56 degrees. Call our marina at 970-883-2628 for more information. Colorado and New Mexico fishing licenses are available at the Visitor Center.

Ridgway State Park (Ouray County) – The water level on the reservoir continues to rise with the spring runoff but it has not seemed to affect the fishing. Both shore fisherman and boaters are reporting very good fishing conditions for stocker sized (8”-14”) fish with a few larger fish (18”-20”) being caught from time to time. Fishermen are mainly catching rainbows but there have been some browns, splake, and kokanee caught this spring. Shore fishermen are doing especially well between Dutch Charlie Fishing Pier and the mouth of Mears Bay and along the Dallas Creek Shoreline. Shore fisherman should to try gold KastMasters, yellow/black Panther Martins, and pink or orange power bait or salmon eggs off the bottom. Boat fishermen are having luck with gold pop-gear and black and silver sinking Rapalas near the dam and around the opening to Mears Bay. Fishing in the Uncompahgre River in Pa-Co-Chu-Puk is still exceptional. The river flows are currently at around 300 cfs but will continue to rise as spring runoff continues. Fly fisherman are doing well on prince nymphs and hairs ears, but other small midges are working as well. There have been several reports of grasshoppers already showing up along the banks of the river so a hopper pattern may work pretty good as well. Spin fisherman are doing well with gold Mepps and yellow and black Panther Martins. Please remember that the Uncompahgre River in Pa-Cu-Chu-Puk is restricted to flies and lures only and all fish caught must be returned to the water immediately. The ponds at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk have a good population of Rainbow and Brown Trout. Fishing the ponds this spring has been very good. There have been several larger fish (18”-20”) caught this spring. Fishermen have been doing well with night crawlers and salmon eggs on top in the mornings and evenings, and various colors of Power Bait off the bottom in the middle of the afternoon. Please remember that the Uncompahgre River running adjacent to the ponds is restricted to flies and lures only and all fish must be returned to the water immediately.

Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison County) – The folks at Taylor Park Marina provide the following report: “The boat ramp is up and running. Lake trout fishing has been very good - mostly trolling anywhere from 18 to 40 feet deep.  Some large fish have been seen rolling all over the lake and a couple fisherman “lost the big one” trying to reel it in. Rainbow fishing has been a little slow but should start to pick up as the water warms. Northern pike have been caught almost every day in the shallows. Parks and Wildlife stocked us with three or four loads of catchable rainbows and we’ve received 300,000 Kokanee fingerlings that should be great fishing into the future.

STOCKING REPORT

Northwest Region – Bear Lake (Yampa Reservoir) Garfield County, SW of Yampa; Big Creek Reservoir, Lower Jackson County; Casey Pond, Routt County, SE of Steamboat Springs; Christine Lake, Basalt State Wildlife Area; Cold Springs Pond, Garfield County; Fletcher City Pond, Steamboat Springs; Hahns Peak Lake, Routt County; Sweetwater Lake, Garfield County.

Southwest Region – Beaver Lake, Gunnison County, N of Silverjack Reservoir; Billy Creek Lake, Ouray County, Billy Creek State Wildlife Area; Bush Pond, Conejos County, W of Antonito; Jackson Gulch Reservoir, Mancos State Park; Joe Moore Reservoir, Montezuma County, NW of Mancos; Mountain Home Reservoir, Costilla County; Vallecito Reservoir, La Plata County.


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