Friday, September 25, 2020

I know you're all out chasing giant walleye...

But this relentless 2020 heatwave has apparently been good for fattening up the bluegills. I won't tell you where, but will say they may fall for a good old one-inch Gulp minnow, preferably on a 1/32-oz jighead and 4 pound line. Chartreuse if you can find one.


 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Something new I learned last week in Wyoming ...

I didn't know the option on the left was even an option. Found in Men's Forest Service latrine...


 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

CPW cancels voluntary fishing closures for Southwest Colorado

 



 

CPW cancels voluntary fishing closures for Southwest Colorado
 
DURANGO, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife has lifted voluntary fishing closures on some southwest Colorado rivers that were implemented in mid-August. Waters in the streams have cooled down and anglers can fish again throughout the day.
 
“We want to thank those who honored the voluntary closures,” said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for CPW’s Southwest Region. “We know it’s tough to curtail fishing activity, but we also know that anglers know the importance of helping to sustain Colorado’s trout populations.”
 
CPW asked for the voluntary action because hot weather had caused the temperature of some streams to rise to 70 degrees or more. The problem with the warm water was compounded by low flows in rivers and streams, many less than 50% of normal. Those circumstances caused degradation in water quality which causes severe stress on trout.
 
River and stream flows in Colorado remain well below normal.
 
CPW asks that anglers carry a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water. If the temperature is 70 degrees or more it’s time to stop fishing.
 
The rivers that were subject to the voluntary closures were: 

  • Animas River through Durango from the 32nd Street bridge downstream to Rivera Crossing bridge near Home Depot.
  • Conejos River from Platoro Reservoir downstream to Broyles Bridge.
  • Lake Fork of the Gunnison River from the 5th Street bridge in Lake City downstream to Blue Mesa Reservoir.
  • San Juan River through Pagosa Springs from the intersection of U.S. Highway 160 and Colorado Highway 84 intersection downstream to the Apache Street Bridge.
  • Tomichi Creek in Gunnison from Colorado Highway 114 downstream to the confluence with the Gunnison River.
  • Rio Grande from Rio Grande Reservoir downstream to the town of Del Norte.
  • South Fork of the Rio Grande from Big Meadows Reservoir downstream to the confluence with the Rio Grande below the town of South Fork.

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Steamboat Lake State Park to release water

 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Visitors to Steamboat Lake State Park may see water levels dropping over the next few days as water is released from the reservoir. 

Park Manager Julie Arington says the release into the Yampa River will augment flows and serve several purposes.

“This water will be put into the river system for the benefit of spawning mountain whitefish as well as the endangered fish that are found in the river downstream to the state line,” Arington said. “Park staff and our marina contractor will also be able to take advantage of the lower reservoir level to do some maintenance work on boat ramps and the marina docks.” 

The lower levels will expose boat ramps, closing trailer-launched boating earlier than usual this fall. Hand-launched boats will still be allowed as long as they complete aquatic nuisance species inspection, have proper safety equipment and current registration. 

 “We understand that this water level change will be an inconvenience to some boaters,” Arington added. “But we believe the downstream habitat benefits and the marina work will benefit the lake and the river in the long run.”  

The releases will begin immediately and will last until the reservoir level is about six feet below the current level. Unless heavy fall rains occur, the reservoir will likely stay at the lower level through the fall and be refilled by runoff next spring. 

CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.

Stocking cutthroat trout by airplane into Colorado’s mountain lakes

 

Photos and videos courtesy of Jason Clay/CPW

 

DENVER - Colorado Parks and Wildlife is stocking its alpine lakes in the northern half of the state, which there are 330 selected to receive roughly 380,000 trout dropped from the sky this year.

Forty of those lakes and 70,000 of the fish - 65,000 cutthroat trout and 5,000 golden trout - took off Wednesday from the Granby Airport and were air-dropped into the pristine high-elevation lakes in Boulder, Grand, Jackson and Larimer counties

[WATCH AS FISH DROP FROM THE SKY]

The trout were reared at the Mt. Shavano Hatchery in Salida and driven up Wednesday to the Granby Airport starting at 4 a.m. by Fish Culturists Doug Sebring and Taylor Woolmington.

There they met CPW wildlife pilots Larry Gepfert and Denise Corcoran, who were ready to airlift the 1¼-inch trout in their Cessna 185 Aircraft to their new mountain-life home. It will take these fish a year-and-a-half or two years to grow to a catchable size of 10 inches.

“It’s efficient,” Sebring said was one of the many reasons the alpine lakes get stocked via airplane. “We can get a large quantity of fish into high mountain lakes that are basically only accessible by foot or horseback.”

And the fish, well they just float on down once deployed from the airplane at about 100-150 feet above the lake.

“They are so small and they don’t have a lot of mass to them, so their acceleration rate is pretty low,” Gepfert said. “Their heads are the heaviest parts, so they tend to go head first and drop straight into the water.”

CPW operates 19 hatcheries that breed, hatch, rear and stock over 90 million fish per year. Many of the fish produced are to enhance angling opportunities, while others serve a critical role in native species recovery efforts.

“There is definitely a niche of anglers that seek out high alpine fishing every year,” said Jeff Spohn, Senior Aquatic Biologist for the Northeast Region of CPW. “This is another opportunity that CPW provides to our angling community.”

Next year, the aerial effort will be focused on the alpine lakes in the southern half of the state. The rotation is part of CPW managing its natural resources for the future enjoyment of the public.

 



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Wyoming Aquatic invasive species check stations close for the season

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/News/Aquatic-invasive-species-check-stations-close-(1)

CHEYENNE - Boating season in Wyoming is winding down and so are the Wyoming Game and Fish Department aquatic invasive species check stations. Check stations throughout the state have started to close. However, it is a requirement that any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through Nov. 30 must undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching.
 
“Boaters who need to get their watercraft inspected between now and the end of November can stop by a Game and Fish office or any private certified inspector,” said Josh Leonard, Game and Fish AIS coordinator. “Any watercraft that has been in a water infested with zebra/quagga mussels within the last 30 days is required to undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching during all months of the year.”

Game and Fish has a list of private inspectors online, as well as additional inspection requirements.

Boaters who went through an inspection at a Game and Fish  AIS check station still have time to submit their surveys to be entered into the 2020 Wyoming AIS Boater Appreciation Raffle. The last day to enter the raffle is November 30, and winners will be selected and posted on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department raffle webpage on December 1. Boaters whose watercraft were inspected received a receipt with a unique identifying number. With this number, boaters can go to the Game and Fish website, fill out a short survey and submit their entry.

As a thanks to boaters, Game and Fish is partnering with outdoor recreation businesses to enter into a raffle for prizes. Prizes include a Nash Sub Z 23-quart cooler, Radar Weird Science Tube, a Connelly Blaze wakeboard package, guided fishing trips, coolers and a fish finder. Prizes have been donated by outdoor businesses that share a concern for the future of Wyoming’s waters: Marine Products, The Reef Fly Shop, Citimarine, West Laramie Fly Store and Buckboard Marina.

(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

- WGFD -

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Another sign the pandemic is just about over...

 After seven months without Bill wasting valuable fishing tackle money on a haircut, the lovely Linda  looked over at her spouse and, for one of the first times in a 52-year marriage, expressed her disappointment. A short domestic struggle ensued, with me surrendering like an under-sized bluegill snagged on one of Dan Barker's slow death walleye hooks. Today I face the prospect of a coming ice fishing season with nothing but a few short gray hairs between me and a frostbitten skullcap... Anyone else faced a barber or grumpy spouse lately?



Thursday, September 10, 2020

For you guys that like to look at stars-Jackson Lake State Park becomes designated as a International Dark Sky Park

 

International Dark Sky Association

ORCHARD, Colo.
- Jackson Lake State Park in Morgan County has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, becoming just the fifth park and eighth total location in Colorado to receive the designation and the only site located east of I-25.

The International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) program consists of roughly 150 certified IDSPs in the world, 95 of which are located in the United States and 74 of those are west of the Mississippi River. Jackson Lake becomes just the 19th state park in the country to receive the designation and the only state park in Colorado.

CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.

 


“It’s so exciting,” said Park Ranger Amy Brandenburg, who led Jackson Lake’s application process with the IDSP program. “It’s a new opportunity for visitors to come out and enjoy Jackson Lake.”

The process of becoming certified is rigorous. Along with making many changes to the park and working with Morgan County to eliminate light pollution, Brandenburg filled out a 37-page application that went through eight revisions. After long months and years working towards gaining accreditation, Jackson Lake was recommended by the Dark Sky Places Committee to go to IDA’s board of directors for their stamp of approval. After the mandatory 10-day waiting period, the park found out in late August it has become certified.

“It is a very challenging process, and they do not take things lightly,” Brandenburg said. 

The state park has always attracted amateur astronomers, but now this designation opens up other avenues.

“I think this puts us on the map so that we’re easier for people to recognize us as a dark sky place,” Brandenburg said. “It was a unique opportunity to do that.”

Along the way the park has worked with the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society and with Mile High Astronomy, an astronomy shop in Denver. Mile High Astronomy helped the park get a Celestron telescope at a reduced price. 

“It’s a fantastic telescope, it self-aligns and it has a cool keypad, so if you want to see Saturn, you just pick Saturn, and it will find it automatically in the sky,” Brandenburg said. 

The application process kicked off in 2018 when the state park received a $3,000 grant from the Colorado Parks Foundation. One year later received another grant, this one for $20,000, from the Great Outdoors Colorado and it’s CPW Directors Innovation Fund. The grants allowed the state park to make the infrastructure changes necessary to become dark sky friendly.

“We worked with Morgan County Rural Electric Association to eliminate the large street lamps from the park and then we also did a ton of updates and elimination to the fixtures in the park itself,” Brandenburg said. “On the bathroom buildings, we removed, or changed out fixtures to be dark sky compliant. Inside of the bathrooms we also put the lighting in the shower houses on motion sensors.”

There are stipulations on what type of fixtures to use. Dowels should be downward facing, fully shielded, they have to be a certain color temperature and they should only be lighting things required to be lit for safety. 

“The dedication that Amy, the Jackson Lake State Park staff, volunteers and donors have put in motion over the past four years is incredible and the transformation of their park is truly inspiring,” said Ryan Parker, IDA Colorado Chapter Chairman. “Jackson Lake is graced with dark nighttime skies, which have brought many amateur and expert astronomers to the park. Guests can take advantage of the vast, open night skies of the prairie individually, or through interpretive programs offered within the park.”

Other benefits to the park and its natural resources of becoming more dark sky friendly include a reduction in energy consumption and there are many benefits for wildlife.

“We found that we’ve had less interruptions from mosquitoes,” Brandenburg said. “It gives a chance to host species, like bats, that really rely on a dark night sky. Most waterfowl actually migrate at night. They use the stars and travel during the nighttime hours.”

International Dark Sky Parks in Colorado are the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Hovenweep National Monument and now Jackson Lake State Park. The International Dark Sky Cities in Colorado are Norwood, Ridgway and Westcliffe & Silver Cliff.

The IDSP was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.

Jackson Lake State Park is located in Orchard, Colorado, adjacent to the South Platte River, approximately an hour-and-a-half northeast of Denver. The park boasts 260 campsites, hiking trails, world class water recreation and fishing, a diverse wildlife population and 5,295 acres of land and water to explore. 

Jackson Reservoir was built by the South Platte Land, Reservoir and Irrigation Company in 1901 and was used for agricultural purposes for several decades. It wasn’t until 1962 that the area began to see recreational use, which prompted the State of Colorado to purchase the property around the reservoir and manage it as a hunting and fishing area. In 1965, the Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Department assumed responsibility for the recreation use, and Jackson Lake State Park was born.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

If it was too easy, would it still be fun?

 By Bill Prater


It's important for all you anglers joining our fine club in 2020 to know that
fishing is not always done in a drought and a firestorm. Sometimes we also get
to fish in a blizzard... 

I for one will admit it. I have no absolutely no idea what this week's abrupt switch from 100 degree weather to sub-30 will do to fisheries already threatened by drought, scorched earth and irrigation
drawdowns. Premature shad dieoffs, I'd guess. Based on events of the past six
months, I'd say we're about to suffer from the arrival of one more damned thing after another. 

Still, in a year gone mad, these latest climatic developments at least give us something to ponder besides sheer terror over the economy, elections and the upcoming flu/Covid 19 season. As wretched as 2020 has been, you can't deny this is an intriguing time to be a Colorado angler. 
Nothing is "normal" any more, including easy access to our favorite types of bait and tackle. So we are encouraged to try different tactics, different water and sometimes different species, in the never-ending pursuit of gullible fish. We're also welcoming a lot of newcomers to our sport.

Anyway, even with a normal fall, the good news usually includes things like bass becoming less lethargic, and more hungry. With water temperatures dropping, the stillwater trout bite resumes
in earnest. Panfish move closer to shore, within reach of shorebound anglers.
And aquatic weeds begin to die back, making more water accessible. 
Of course, the downside is, in late summer the water in most Colorado fishing holes starts
to dry up or get sent to Kansas, boat ramps shut down before we want them to,
and we start hearing about one damned "fish salvage" operation after another at
irrigation lakes. This fall may be more aggravating than most, but recent events
also give the dedicated angler many, many fun extra challenges to overcome in their sport of choice. 

So, as we like to tell one another, Just Shut Up and Fish. Try to think of the many fish-related positives related to our pandemics/drought/firestorms. To start the conversation going, I note that fish
have to eat, eventually, and eventually those well-fed fish are likely to become even more challenging for the average angler to find and outwit. This can help us redefine our collective concept of a good day on the water. Also, sharing public waterways with never-ending swarms of wake boats, paddleboards and first-time anglers may drive us to distraction, but it also allows us to focus
on and appreciate Colorado's smaller lakes and ponds. Some are proving to be home to some pretty nice, previously undiscovered fish. And the rest give us something time-consuming to do while thinking of the likely bliss of the 2020-21 ice fishing season. 

And possibly prepare for the Apocalypse.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Emergency public fish salvage begins immediately at Barr Lake State Park

 

BRIGHTON, Colo. - Colorado Parks and Wildlife is announcing an emergency public fish salvage at Barr Lake State Park beginning Friday, Sept. 4. 

Due to a combination of extremely low water levels, high water temperatures and a previous algae bloom, a major loss of fish is probable. CPW enacted the public fish salvage in order to optimize use of the fishery resource. 

“We are experiencing low dissolved oxygen levels in the lake,” Barr Lake State Park Manager Michelle Seubert said. “This is one of the many factors we look at when determining if a public fish salvage is needed. We had an algae bloom in July and August in about 20,000 acre-feet of water that grew algae and now all that algae is dying in about 4,000 acre-feet of water. So, lots of decomposition in a small body of water is contributing to the low dissolved oxygen levels.”

The public fish salvage is outline as:
-- The emergency fish salvage is permitted only at Barr Lake State Park Reservoir and only during daylight hours (sunrise to ½ hour after sunset).
-- All anglers must have a valid Colorado fishing license in accordance with state statutes.
-- No commercial angling is allowed.
-- Only angling methods that are currently legal at the reservoir are allowed.
-- Current size, bag, and possession limits for all species are suspended for Barr Lake State Park Reservoir until the emergency public fish salvage is terminated.
-- Notification of the emergency public fish salvage opening and closure will be made through press releases and signs will also be placed at the reservoir.
-- No motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are allowed on the lake bed.
-- The end date of the emergency public fish salvage will be announced by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Like most of Colorado’s reservoirs, Barr Lake serves as a water storage reservoir first and is used as a recreational source secondarily. Barr Lake offers fishing for rainbow trout, walleye, wiper, black crappie and yellow perch. 

Seubert said Barr Lake had similar water levels in 2012 and 2013 and the fishery rebounded to have one of the best walleye years in 2016. 

“We will rebuild the fishery immediately when we can have water coming back into Barr Lake,” Seubert said.

Barr Lake’s popularity has exploded and fishing has become one of the many attractions to the park. In 2016, total visitation at the state park was 140,329 for the entire year. Through July of 2020, the total visitation was 184,665, easily surpassing the high visitation tally on record in just seven months.

Some of that is attributed to the bird oasis Barr Lake has become. Wintering bald eagles also utilize the fishery resource along with the large cottonwood trees that surround the 8.8-mile trail around the reservoir.

“I truly think the eagles will still come,” Seubert said. “We will still have some fish. Right now we have 150-200 pelicans on the lake and fishing seems to be good for them. We might not have as many, but in previous drought years we still had eagles.”

Barr Lake has many activities to offer in the fall season, including its archery range, bird-banding station, fall bird migration watching opportunities along with dove and waterfowl hunting. The park offers lots of kids and family activities and its nature center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The boat ramp at Barr Lake State Park is closed for trailered boats, but still open for hand-launched boats.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Eleven Mile State Park is experiencing natural algae blooms

 

LAKE GEORGE, Colo. - Eleven Mile State Park is experiencing natural algae blooms that may be harmful to dogs and humans as a result of a number of things including warmer temperatures, stagnant waters and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus coming into the reservoir.

Due to elevated levels of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) growth, the park is prohibiting the activities of paddleboarding, swimming and wading in the water. Dogs are also prohibited from entering the reservoir.  

Those restrictions will remain in place until tests provide acceptable conditions. 

For more information on blue-green algae, please click here, or watch this video from CPW's water quality section that explains blue-green algae.