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· Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Got this in my email today:
Now through late May is an ideal time to fish for big lake trout in Blue Mesa Reservoir. And by fishing at this time of year, anglers can help to maintain a delicate biological balance in the reservoir.
Lake trout ? also known as mackinaw ? are now feeding in shallow water at the reservoir and are easier to catch now than at any time of the year, explained Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) in Gunnison. As the water warms in late spring the fish descend to deep waters and are difficult to catch.
Anglers can keep eight lake trout of any size - and there is a large population between 20 inches and about 35 inches in size. 
The lake trout population is strong in the reservoir ? perhaps too strong, Brauch said DOW biologists are concerned that lake trout - which feed on kokanee - are causing a decline in the population of the salmon species. This has led to a shortage of kokanee available to stock in other Colorado reservoirs.
?We do not have enough kokanee this year to meet our needs,? Brauch said. ?And in fact we are about three million fish short.? 
Consequently, the DOW would like to see anglers increase their harvest of lake trout. 
?We know that there is significant predation of kokanee by lake trout,? Brauch said. ?We also know that lake trout are reproducing on their own. So we need to maintain the pressure on lake trout.?
Blue Mesa is the best waterway in the state for production of kokanee. The reservoir produces large quantities of daphnia, a type of zooplankton which is the preferred food for the salmon. After three to five years of life in the reservoir, the kokanee swim 20 miles upstream to the Roaring Judy fish hatchery where their eggs are gathered by DOW personnel and volunteers. The eggs are incubated and hatched by the DOW and are used to sustain kokanee populations in Blue Mesa and other reservoirs throughout Colorado. 
Lake trout are large and voracious fish and were last stocked in Blue Mesa in 1992. 
The biggest fish ever taken in Blue Mesa was a lake trout measuring 42 inches long and weighing almost 47 pounds. Anglers need to be outfitted properly to catch large fish. Brauch suggests using tube jigs tipped with sucker meat, whole suckers or large, flashy lures. Brauch suggests contacting bait and tackle shops in the Montrose and Gunnison areas to learn what type of bait or lure is working best. 
Blue Mesa Reservoir is located in south central Colorado, about 20 miles east of Montrose and about 10 miles west of Gunnison on U.S. Highway 50.

· Premium Member
2,214 Posts
Dear God,

I would be very thankful if you allow me to have the experience of catching and landing at least one of those this year. Thank you.

I do think it is really absurd that the DOW is pushing the wholesale slaughter of these magnificent 25-30 year old fish for the sake of more kokanee eggs. You can't replace these huge fish overnight.

I don't agree w/ a lot of the DOW-bashing that goes on, but I think this is a terribly short-sighted move. Makes me sick to see such a waste of terrific trophy game fish.

what an opportunity, but what a shame. why are koke's so coveted? i though salmon in their life cycle of only a few years died after spawning? why get rid of longevity fish to hope for saving the koke brood and stockings in other waters. sort of like cutting down the giat redwood forest to allow weeds to grow!

catch the macs and transplate them like they did in grand, joe wright etc.

i agree bashing CDOW is not the answer, but this one needs a bit more supporting science evidence or at least someone being on the hook to be accountable if the plan fails.

· Registered
2,952 Posts
I think the harvest of small lakers (under 20") is a very good thing. But encouraging anglers to keep these large fish is absurd, in fact these large fish should be protected. In other states they would be. But like I said, harvest of small lakers is a good thing and is something I do. I put anything over 20" back. Colorado's large lake trout population has fast been on the decline, good examples are granby, taylor, and ruedi not having as many large fish as in the past. Blue doesn't have near as many either, but is in the best shape. Please release all large lakers, but don't hesitate to keep the small ones.
I can see why kokanee are a dow favorite because dow has to maintain them, this keeps tax dollars coming to dow. dow doesn't like the lake trout as much because, as said, they are self-sustaining. Kokanee also fight well and taste great.
But, here is my theory on ANY lake trout fishery. keep some small ones, and throw back ALL big ones.

· Banned
489 Posts
There they go again, encouraging the destruction of large predator fish.
Here is the reason the kokanee are in decline. It is scientific fact that fish spawn by water temperature, not time of year. However they allow the snagging seasons to start the same time every year. Though kokanee die after spawning, snagging anglers can catch them in various stages of the spawn if they start at the same times every year. If the kokanee are caught too early, they are harvested before they have a chance to finish spawning. Then people come back and snag more. Nothing is enforced.
Plus kokanee populations do need to be aided by stocking at times. However for a long time, 11 mile reservoir, which is the kokanee brood stock for this state, has long had a disease in the kokanees, so kokes from there have not been able to be used. That is why they are in lower number. In fall 2004, a small amount of kokanee came up toward the roaring judy fish hatchery. Biologists assumed it was a pre run. IT WAS THE RUN IN FACT.
There is no scientific evidence to show that macks are causing this decline. In fact the biomass of mackinaw in blue mesa is quite small compaired to Granby, Ruedi, and Turquiose lakes.
The only thing is this: that macks live in Blue Mesa and also kokes. I have interviewed Brauch, Martinez, and Hebein. None could give me anything more than correlational evidence. In science that is not good enough.
My take is this. Harvest small lakers and throw back all over 24". These big macks do not taste good. All the CDOW does is advocate the wholesale slaughter of predator fish so it can appear they are doing something about kokanee or stocker trout shortages. Just covering their own rear ends is all. Interview these guys and you will agree. They will not offer you a shred of evidence. In Ruedi, Taylor, Granby, and Turquiose, little mackinaw are far too abundant and they have little forage left, because kokanee cannot be stocked from 11 mile anymore into these waters. This is why it is so crucial to release any lakers over 5 pounds. A ten pound laker is a big laker now in any lake besides blue mesa.
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