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GUNNISON, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists are keeping a close eye on the fishery at Blue Mesa Reservoir and continue work to rebuild the kokanee salmon population.

On April 2, CPW made the annual release of about 3 million fingerling kokanee from the Roaring Judy Hatchery. Those fish that reach maturity will return to spawn in two to five years. Kokanee at Blue Mesa Reservoir are critically important for CPW's fishery program statewide. Of any reservoir in Colorado, Blue Mesa produces the largest number of kokanee eggs annually. These eggs are essential for stocking kokanee in 26 waters throughout the state.

The kokanee population has been on a steady decline for the last decade. In the early 2000s, the population was estimated at more than 1 million fish. In 2013, the last time biologists conducted a sonar survey, they found fewer than 200,000 kokanee in the reservoir. Predation by lake trout on kokanee is the major factor in the population decline. Kokanee are the primary prey for lake trout, providing the food source that allows the lake trout to grow to trophy size. And while the kokanee population has declined, the lake trout population has grown significantly.

"Managing the fishery in Blue Mesa is a challenging task because of a variety of factors, said Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist in Gunnison. "CPW is working to restore a balance in the fishery."

The challenge was compounded by low-water conditions during the summer of 2013. The low water affected water quality in one area of the reservoir. An algae bloom depleted oxygen and caused a die-off of some fish. More significantly, the low water caused kokanee and lake trout to be crowded close together which likely led to greater predation by the lake trout.

Because of those conditions, anglers had little success catching kokanee last summer.

Fewer fish headed back upstream during the annual spawning run to the Roaring Judy Hatchery. CPW harvested only about 3 million eggs last October from the Blue Mesa kokanee, a decline of about 5 million from the previous year.

"The water level improved somewhat last year, but the runoff will be down again this spring," Brauch said. "We can't say for sure what's going to happen this year or how kokanee will be affected."

Predation of kokanee by lake trout continues to be a major concern for CPW. To encourage harvest of lake trout, CPW regulations allow anglers to keep all of the fish caught that are under 38 inches; anglers can keep one fish over 38 inches.

"The smaller and more numerous lake trout appear to be having a much greater impact on kokanee than the larger trophy-sized lake trout," Brauch said. "So CPW encourages anglers to harvest and keep lake trout that are under 30 inches. This helps the kokanee population and helps improve growth of larger lake trout. We can manage for both species, but we need help from anglers. We are counting on anglers to harvest the numbers of fish needed to help restore a balance in the reservoir."

CPW also removes some lake trout in the fall; in 2014, about 2,000 were removed. The vast majority of the fish removed were less than 26 inches in length.

During the summer, CPW biologists will conduct surveys to continue monitoring fish populations. Because of budget cuts, however, a full sonar survey analysis hasn't been conducted since 2013. The agency is trying to find funding to continue the sonar work.

"Fishing at Blue Mesa Reservoir provides a major boost to the economy of Gunnison County and we'll continue doing everything we can to rebuild the kokanee population while also providing trophy lake trout opportunities for anglers," said J Wenum, area wildlife manager in Gunnison.

For more information about fishing in Colorado, see cpw.state.co.us.

For more information about Colorado Parks and Wildlife go to: http://cpw.state.co.us.

To opt out of future emails please visit http://dowlegacyapps.state.co.us/apps/DOWInsider/remove.aspx?userid=9921&[email protected].
 

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the system is broke but they keep trying to make it work. blue mesa has changed, now infested with perch in the east end, the brown are thick in the river and east end, SO they dump kokes in the river leading to east end, dugh!!! not seeing many 2-3 year olds kokes becasue they all get ate before that. need to start stocking preciuos ones (jokes) west end deep water out of perchy zone..........wont happen though.Lake trout are toast, over 6000+ netted killed, but still the same old answer the lake trout ate them all,,,,,,,,
 

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Truck the kokes to never sink area then trap em there in three years. Might help em out a bit not real sure how many kokes get eaten in the river between the hatchery and res.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I keep my money out of the gunnison area due to this bullshit
Would rather stay in almont anyways. Sucks bad, one of the best laker fisheries and I never got to utilize it before they did the massive killings.
Sounded like it "was" one of the better laker fisheries in the U.S. Talk about the Dow screwing up
 

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"Managing the fishery in Blue Mesa is a challenging task because of a variety of factors, said Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist in Gunnison.

userid=9921&[email protected][/url].
Yeah, like dan brauch is learning as he goes in managing to ruin the best fishery the state has known.

He's a nice enough fellow, but truly has no clue what's going on in his waters. Closed minded, bad science.

The river and the lakes he manages are getting worse not better.

kumbaya.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Your annual absence of $10 for $30 Groupon purchases are hittin' em where it hurts, no doubt!

:D
Come on man, gunny doesn't do groupon. They're about 10 years behind on everything
 
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