'Tis the season of preparing my stocking requests for 2014. I try to invest as much time as I can into finely tuning my stocking schedule, and I learn more every year. It takes a few years to really start to understand what to tweak and what to leave alone.
The way our stocking schedule works is like this: We have a centralized database (called "Trans 6") in which all the biologists submit their stocking requests. Around December 1, the database is opened to all the hatchery managers across the state, and they go through all the requests and select the ones that they can fill. Every hatchery is different in what it can produce and when. Each hatchery has a kind of "niche" that it tries to fill that it is best at. If the biologist who is making the stocking requests puts stuff in that no hatchery produces in that size, at that time, or both, then you end up with requests that don't get filled. So it's important to have a good understanding of what our hatcheries can and can't do.
In 2013, I stocked a grand total of 3,617,620 fish into waters in my area. 2,089,096 of those fish were kokanee from Glenwood. Aside from those 2 million kokanee, 70% of the rest of my fish came from Rifle Falls hatchery. It is our biggest and most productive hatchery, and so I need to coordinate as closely as possible with them when making my stocking requests.
In even years, we make our high lake plants with an airplane. I know that folks can get a little touchy about naming specific high lakes, so I won't do too much of that here. But I've made some changes, hopefully for the better. As I've said before on this blog, I really appreciate and want to encourage input from folks regarding alpine lakes. I have added lakes to the stocking schedule based on suggestions from anglers. I'm always looking for places we should be stocking to create a good alpine cutthroat fishery.
One lake that I'll name is Pacific Lake. I put in a request to stock grayling there this year. Pacific hasn't been stocked for a number of years and doesn't appear to support natural reproduction. I've had several people ask me about it though, and it seems like a good place to try some grayling.
I'd really like to track someone down who has been to Island Lake, in Grand County. I attempted to get there on a pack trip this year but didn't get past Gourd because of the weather. Island really takes some commitment to get to, as far as I can tell. We stocked it up through 1993, and haven't stocked it since. I can put it back on the schedule, but before I do that I want to know if there is a fishery there that is self-sustaining. We may not need to put it back on the schedule.
Another thing I'm going to try is some tiger trout in Meadow Creek reservoir. I've netted that lake twice since 2007, and both times it's been loaded with stunted brookies. They top out at 10" at most, and they are in poor body condition. Tigers have been used in these types of situations to control stunted brookies. So we'll see if that works out.
If you have any questions or input about high lake stocking and you don't want it to be seen by the general public, you can shoot me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org . As I was saying above, our high lake stocking program has benefitted from input I've received from high-lake enthusiasts. I can only make it to a few of them every year, and I've got a lot in my area.