Friday, January 28, 2011

The Forgetful Angler: LFC's February Newsletter

In this issue:  Latest local fishing news!
  • Fishing rules changing for Horsetooth, Carter, Lon Hagler, Big Thompson Ponds
  • New DOW surveys:  Good walleye & yellow perch populations at Boyd, poor white bass
  • Special report on how and when we volunteer
(Editor's note:  The following was compiled with the aid of DOW Biologist Ben Swigle and District Wildlife Manager Aimee Ryel.  Any misinterpretation is strictly the fault of the editor) 

Fishing rules changing on area lakes

Revised Colorado Division of Wildlife fishing regulations that went into effect Jan. 1, 2011, include major changes for some area lakes, including ones intended to improve the general fishing population at Carter and Horsetooth by cutting down on the problem that's become known as "too many teeth in the water."  And bass anglers should welcome the new rules at Lon Hagler and Big Thompson Ponds. Here are the changes: 

  • As you know if you've dunked a worm in Carter lately, the slot limits there (one walleye between 16-20 inches) resulted in very short life spans for stocked kokanee and other stocked trout.  They've been eaten by an overabundant walleye population long before they fall victim to fishing club members. 
  • There is now a bag limit of three walleye per day at Carter with a maximum size of 21 inches. I double-checked:  no minimum size on walleye, but the DOW will continue protecting those big brood fish used to restock the hatcheries. It's a nice compromise between trophy walleye fishermen and those who go for trout.  But there are no current plans to begin restocking kokanee at the lake.
  • At Horsetooth, the old rule of an 18-inch minimum for walleye (your editor turned one back last summer that was 17 1/2, no matter how hard it was stretched) has been eliminated, and the regular statewide regulation of a five-fish limit is now in place.  The 12-inch minimum for smallmouth continues.
  • Lon Hagler may be on its way to becoming a trophy bass lake.  You can now keep only one bass, and it has to be larger than 18 inches.  Ben Swigle also reports that a number of adult largemouth rescued from a west Loveland private lake last summer were moved to Lon Hagler to improve brood stock. 
  • Those who've fish Big Thompson Ponds know the five-bass limit has resulted in a shortage of bass and an abundance of stunted bluegill, green sunfish and perch.  But you can now keep only one, and it has to be 15 inches or longer.  (The ponds also got some of those rescued largemouth)
Good winter-time reading:  Aimee Ryel points us to a great research tool for Colorado anglers, the DOW's fishing surveys of lakes and streams. Among the newly updated reports are Lonetree, Loveland, Carter, McIntosh (just west of Longmont) and St. Vrain State Park.  Here's the link:  Among the findingsgizzard shad are declining in numbers in Lake Loveland, but secretive catfishermen will be annoyed to hear the DOW revealing that its gill net surveys turned up channel cats ranging up to 25 pounds.  And the state added 22,000 fingerling catfish to the lake in 2010.

No real surprises at Lonetree:  gill net and angler surveys show the walleye and wiper catch is low - but the lake is full of shad, suckers, perch and shiners.  Yep, the predators are happy; they're finding all the food they need, without resorting to minnows from Bennet's.
DOW fisheries survey shows thriving walleye, slumping white bass  population at Boyd

No excuses, walleye and yellow perch fishermen.  Based on gill net surveys and other data from the DOW, the walleye population at Boyd "should be the best in the past 10 years," says Ben Swigle, based in part on an excellent survival rate of 40,000 walleye fingerlings stocked in 2009 that should be nearing legal size.  The outlook's also good for yellow perch, with numbers "substantially increased."

The only downside to all those sharp little teeth in Boyd:  the walleye abundance is likely the reason for the marked decline we're seeing in white bass.  They also had a really bad spawn in spring 2010.  

Ben says the DOW moved almost 3,000 adult yellow perch and 650 adult (10-inch to 17-inch) largement bass from a private pond in west Loveland last summer.  The perch went to Lonetree, Lon Hagler, Boyd, Jayhawker ponds,  Simpson Ponds and a few other spots.  Many of the 4" perch showing up under the ice at Boyd this winter are likely offspring of those adults.

The largemouth went mostly into to Lon Hagler, Lonetree and Big Thompson Ponds. 

LFC volunteerism in 2010

(Editor's note:  The following summary of 2010 Loveland Fishing Club activities was submitted to Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and can now be found on our website.  

We fish, and much, much more:   Less than a decade ago, about a dozen Loveland area seniors got together and decided to form a club dedicated to fishing. Today the Loveland Fishing Club's 80-plus members are still fishing, but they've also evolved into one of the most active outdoor volunteer organizations in Northern Colorado, supporting youthful and senior anglers.  For a full report, click here to visit the newly created Volunteer page on the LFC website.
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