Sunday, February 3, 2013

Your turn

All right, I've posted about a smattering of subjects and tried to make it diverse. There are a lot of you reading this but no one is commenting. I started this blog to stimulate conversation, so let's have some. You tell me what you want to talk about. Fire away.


  1. Jon,
    There was an article in the "Central Colorado Fishing Guide" that mentioned an effort to reintroduce Pteronarcys Salmon Flies on the Arkansas River. The nymphs were captured in the Pumphouse section of the Colorado. Were you involved in this project and do you have any updates on its success or will it take a couple of years to gauge its effect. Is this the type of project that could help the Fraser river since the Green Drake and stonefly populations appear to be greatly diminished? Or, can anything be done to help the Fraser until the low water flow issues are addressed?

    1. Good question Keith, thanks. Yes, that project was a joint effort between my counterpart in Salida, Greg Policky, and I. Greg is one of my most valued mentors and it was fun to be able to work together on something like this. He contacted me last winter about getting some stoneflies out of the Colorado River to take down to the Arkansas. P.c. stoneflies used to be prolific on the Arkansas until mine drainage from Leadville wiped them out. Greg believes that the Arkansas has been cleaned up enough now that they should be able to survive there again. We spent a day or two rolling rocks and it was pretty easy to collect about 40,000 nymphs. He had a few riffles picked out in the Salida area and divided them up evenly among those sites. I think he said he used four sites but it may have been six. He also kept a few stoneflies in a sentinel cage in the Arkansas to monitor and make sure they survived. The sentinel cage stoneflies survived and hatched. He also found exoskeletons adjacent to the riffles where he had introduced the larger batches. Now it's just a question of whether or not they were able to find each other and mate. He's going to come up here again this spring and we'll do another collection in the same way. It will take a couple of years to see if they take off, but the first signs have been promising. The ultimate measure of success is whether or not it becomes a hatch that people fish.
      As far as the Fraser goes, those species do occur there, but you're right about the lesser numbers. There are good populations in relatively isolated locations, such as in the canyon. It's more of a habitat issue in the Fraser I think, where there are many reaches that have width:depth ratios that are higher than what would be ideal. One way to deal with this is to resize the channel so that the flows that are present have enough power to maintain un-embedded cobble riffles. Chances are good that we would see increases in those species without even having to move any bugs around if that was done.

  2. Jon,

    First of all, thanks for this blog...great content so far!
    I'm interested in anything at all you can put up on the management and fish populations of rivers and streams in your, Williams Fork River, Frazier River, Troublesome Creek, Muddy Creek below Wolford, and especially the Colorado River.

    1. Thanks Ron. Stand by for more river stuff, I'll have my report on the Parshall reach done before too long.

    2. But additionally Ron, what I want you to do is take your comment a step further: what are your perceptions of the fisheries that you have named? What assumptions have you made about the fish populations there? We can compare those things with data that I have on any one of these. Just pick one if you want. Get specific.

    3. Ok, I'll comment on the Colorado River below Byers Canyon at Paul Gilbert and Lone Buck...I started fly fishing there back in the 70's and still fish there today.
      It has been through many changes over the years from a heavily stocked river that was fished by spin fishermen using bait and lures as well as fly fishermen, to the current C&R regs.
      Back in the 70's if you saw a fisherman using a fly rod, he was often fishing with live stone fly nymphs...many called them hellgramites. Despite all the stockers, you would often see people catch quality fish, especially big, pretty rainbows. Like today the best fishing was before the runoff and as the river dropped and cleared after the spring flows. Fall fishing could be pretty good too. In the 80's some habitat improvement work was done that changed the river quite a bit and it seemed to me that it took a couple of years for the fishing to rebound after the work was done. As more restrictive regulations were applied to the area over the years and fly fishing became much more popular, more and more fly fisherman became evident. Despite the popularity of that stretch, you could still catch quality wild fish with those beautiful Colorado River rainbows predominating.
      Over the years I had also seen some big browns and an occasional big cutthroat caught. I remember seeing a fly fisherman catch a beautiful cutt from the riffle behind the island that is just below the Paul Gilbert area. It had to go 5 pounds!
      Sadly, the impact of de-watering and warmer water at Windy Gap and Whirling Disease have really changed the river today.
      The water temps have increased, insect populations have suffered and so have the fish.....especially those rainbows that everyone loved to catch. Today I catch mostly browns. While there are still some nice browns present, I see far fewer big fish and those big, wild rainbows are gone. I am encouraged to read about the current efforts to protect and improve flows in the river and the introduction of the Hofer cross rainbows. I hope to see a return of the wild rainbow trout to that stretch of the Colorado and below. Keep up the good work, Jon. I'll try to post some impressions of some of the other streams I mentioned here later.

    4. Thanks Ron, I think this warrants a full post soon. I'll come back to this.

  3. Pike? Looks like GM in this video. I can only assume bucket biology? What impacts do you see this having?

    1. James, good question. Yes, that's definitely Green Mountain. Prior to this year, I had only had a couple reliable reports of pike ever turning up in GM. In May I picked one up in a gillnet. I had many good reports, some with pictures, over the summer and fall, then threw three gillnets in overnight in early December and picked up two pike in one of the three nets. The fish in that video is smaller than any I have netted or seen a picture of yet, so that may constitute the first good evidence I've seen of reproduction taking place there.
      As far as what impact this will have, hard to say. Optimistically, I would like to think that GM has very little spawning habitat for pike and they won't be able to get a year class off very often. However, we've been surprised before about that. If they start reproducing every year and we see an exponential growth in the population, things could change drastically there. It's very frustrating because we're managing Williams Fork Reservoir right over the hill for trophy pike. I've always thought that we were providing that opportunity for anglers with the tacit understanding that WF is where you go for pike, and we need to keep them there. This is the second reservoir I've had pike turn up in over the past seven years. We can't run these reservoirs as feedlots for pike, and that's all we're doing when we feed them hatchery product.

  4. Jon,
    In the past you mentioned the possibility of stocking Tiger Musky in several lakes to control the sucker population. What lakes are you considering for this? Specifically I am interested in Shadow Mountain. What if any progress/further thought has gone into this.

  5. Mysis hatch, anyone? -- Today (2/7/2013) Denver water will be testing the 4x5 slide gates at the outlet of Dillon Reservoir. We will be making the transition from the penstock gates to the slide gates at approximately 9:00 am. The outflow to the Blue River will increase from 75 cfs to 120 cfs.

  6. My question is about a body of water outside your jurisdiction, but am wondering if you have an opinion about the efforts to remove SM Bass and Pike from Elkhead Reservoir. It does not seem like it is an efficient use of resources.

    Any thoughts about what you would consider if you were put in charge of this situation?

  7. Theo, I don't know very much about the situation specifically. All this report does is make a recommendation with regard to Elkhead. It doesn't describe any "efforts" other than that. The bottom line in that basin is that the endangered species act trumps everything else, including sport fish management, whether any of us like it or not. That is the legal reality. If you're going to take the angle of efficiency, it is ridiculously inefficient to spend large amounts of money on these removal projects without addressing what we know are the sources of nonnative predators. I am just thankful every day that things are different in my area. I hope it stays that way, but there are certainly no guarantees. That is precisely the reason it is so infuriating to find pike taking off in Green Mountain. The day that a pike is found in Rifle that is proven to have originated from up here (if that ever happens), my whole world will change, as well as that of anglers who enjoy fishing any of the waters in Grand and Summit counties. By the way, if anyone has any information that they would like to share about that introduction and remain anonymous, I'm all ears.

  8. Jon, your most recent post regarding Tiger Musky and the latest episode of Fishful Thinker got me thinking about Tiger Trout. I have heard that up to 12 lakes in Colorado have been stocked with these hybrids and that with a little effort you can find out where they are stocked. Does your office maintain records of fish stocking by species or are the reports only catalogued by lake? Is it possible to just call up and ask somebody where they are stocked or would I need to get fish stocking reports for every lake in CO to figure this out? Also, Tiger Trout are apparently very expensive, have you considered stocking them in any lakes in your district? If so, what are the pros and cons from your point of view? Thanks!

  9. James, if you read through the comments on earlier posts, I talked a bit about my current perspective on tiger trout.

    Here are the lakes that were stocked with tiger trout in 2011:
    Lunney Reservoir

    Had poor egg survival in 2012, and only 3 lakes got stocked: Beaver, Deep Slough, and Heart.

    1. Thanks Jon for taking the time to put that information together and pointing me in the direction of your earlier comments. I really appreciate the information and insight you provide into the decision making of a fisheries biologist.

  10. I read your comments abouth the Blue River in the Denver Post. You said the aquatic life in the river is just not up to supporting a quality fishery and that the lower section, down towards Green Mountain is especially barron. My observation of the Blue is that there are long sections of river that are just gravel and have no structure. I would think dumping a bunch of good sized rocks in those sections would increase insects and the fish they support. I see alot of the same featurelss water on the Platt downstream of Deckers. Are there any plans for streambed impovements on these rivers. It seems to me that improving what we already have access to is just as important as getting more access.
    Thanks, Jon