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Welcome MacGyver-O-Fishin

Here is an an article from the June 15 Rocky Mountain News by Ed Dentry

All that glitters in the fish-stocking trucks isn't trout. Or any other sport fish, for that matter. It happens, in some arenas, that the fish other fish eat are just as important, or more important, than anything stocked for the hook and grill.

The rule applies especially in warm-water reservoirs, where nearly every finned creature of any significance to anglers is a fish-eating predator and where many sport fish currently are consigned to sparse rations.

Just in time for late-summer and autumn feasting, fisheries managers have been making meals-on-wheels deliveries to sport fish in reservoirs that are in dire need of a protein boost.

Some gizzard shad - baitfish that fuel the fishing engine of every reservoir on the plains - are getting new homes. In recent weeks, fish workers have netted 900 adult shad in Cherry Creek Reservoir and transported them to three northeastern Colorado reservoirs that have experienced declines in the indispensable forage fish.

Averaging 10 inches long and ripe for spawning, the shad are expected to proliferate almost immediately, resulting in a restored food base in reservoirs where walleyes, wipers and other sport fish have started growing thin and hungry.

"That's going to give a very good boost to the fisheries," said Greg Gerlich, senior fish biologist for the Division of Wildlife's northeastern region.

Gizzard shad spawn from late May through mid-July. Sometimes they spawn a second time if conditions aren't right the first time, so a little fine tuning can go a long way.

The shad will spawn when water temperatures reach 70-75 degrees, the females broadcasting as many as 380,000 eggs each in shoreline shallows. Young shad grow rapidly, so the pick-me-up should shift to overdrive come September.

"In the fall, we should see hordes of 2- to 4-inch shad all over the place, and that's what we like to see," Gerlich said.

The remedial baitfish project already has moved 300 spawn-ready shad each to Chatfield, Jackson and Lonetree reservoirs. Gerlich said the next target is North Sterling Reservoir, which has a head start thanks to retired biologist Jay Stafford, who planted some adult shad last year.

The boosts are needed because of the residual effects of drought, which caused poor shad reproduction as recently as last year. Fluctuating water levels allowed shad to spawn in places that dried out when water was drawn to irrigate farmlands. Anglers have reported skinny walleyes and wipers at all four reservoirs.

The reservoirs most in need of shad are full of water this year, and recent rains should rule out heavy early summer demands for irrigation releases. So the new shad, and those remaining in the reservoirs from past years, should be able to pull off a successful spawn.

Cherry Creek easily can spare the few adult baitfish. Its gizzard shad component is thriving, owing to relatively stable water levels and nutrient-rich waters, which fertilize the microorganisms upon which shad feed.

"Cherry Creek is so robust, it's just so much more fertile than the others," Gerlich said. "Wipers were busting shad along the south shoreline at Cherry Creek just two weeks ago."

Other eastern reservoirs have managed to maintain healthy shad/sport fish balances despite the five-year drought. Among the shad-wealthy impoundments are Bonny Reservoir north of Burlington and Standley Lake in Westminster.

A happy surprise is Prewitt Reservoir, which suffered a massive algae-induced fish kill, then nearly went bone dry in the summer of 2002. Prewitt also is full, and anglers reported seeing scads of shad rolling and spawning in the shallows around the inlet area a few days ago.

The eastern reservoirs play host to other baitfish, including river carpsuckers, suckers and carp, but no one disputes that warm-water sport fishing would be sorry, indeed, without large schools of gizzard shad.

"Everything out there in those reservoirs will utilize those shad as a forage base," Gerlich said. "For your wipers, shad is key. Wipers love to bust those schools of shad out in the pelagic zone.

"We've also seen trout in the four-pound range packed full of little shad in Pueblo and Chatfield in September and October."

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No problem guys...I think that is why they appeal so strongly to Cats as cut bait...the smell and the oil...I was surprised to see in another post that someone cooked them and ate them...not that but they tasted good...
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