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Date: August 24, 2005
To: Colorado Wildlife Commission
From: Arthur R. Kelm
Subject: Proposed change in Colorado Walleye regulations for 2006-2010
Background
Approximately five and a half years ago I met a great gentleman by the name of Bill Shumaker of Pueblo West, Colorado. I met Bill at a Colorado Div. of Wildlife (CDOW) meeting in Pueblo regarding a proposal for the upcoming 2001-2005 fishing regulations. Bill at that time was proposing a slot limit for Pueblo with regard to walleye regulations, which included a slot limit. Mr. Shumaker had in fact had brought data from fish biologist from other states and in addition had the support In-Fisherman Magazine. Mr. Shumaker not only went to the Pueblo Round Table Meetings but also went to other Round Table meetings across Colorado stating his case. I might also mention that at the time, and then as he is now a member of the Colorado Walleye Assoc. (CWA) I might also mention even with all of the data for a proposed change, he could not get support from CWA, or the DOW to enact this change. As is, the regulations for Pueblo today are 4 walleyes, with a min. length of 18?.

Present
Eastern Plain?s Proposal
A couple of months ago Mr. Shumaker and I where present at the Pueblo Round Table to view the proposed changes with respect to eastern Colorado lakes including John Martin, Nee Noshe, Trinidad and Nee Gronde. A new proposal for the eastern Colorado lakes was announced with regard to a new 15? min. length and a change from a 10 fish limit to a 5 fish limit. As a current member of the CWA, it is my understanding that my own club has pushed for these changes. It is also my understanding without scientific data, without, to my knowledge even the backing of the DOW, my own club wants to push what they think is best for the local residents and biologist, past and present of Eastern Plaines of Colorado. I for the record would disagree with the proposal. Here is why. In wet years, previous to the past drought, the lead fish biologist for the eastern plains was Charlie Bennett; Mr. Bennett had the eastern plain lakes running like a well-oiled machine. Nee Gronde, Nee Noshe, and John Martin all were bursting at the seams with record fish, be it saugeye or wiper. Since the drought has hit the eastern plains, Nee Noshe, and John Martin are now almost half the lakes they used to be. In addition, nobody can tell when the eastern lakes will start to fill up, yet for some reason the CWA is pushing for 15? min length and a 5 fish limit on a lake that might need a fish salvage in the very near future. As far as I am concern these eastern lakes should be treated no different than the way the Arkansas River is regulated regarding trout below Lake Pueblo fishery, with no min. size limits. As it is, these are put and take fisheries. I actually feel for the new biologist for that area, Mr. Ramsey, as I am sure pressure is on him to produce something over which he has no control over.
The CWA sent a survey out earlier this year regarding a 15? min and 5 fish max. If my memory serves me correctly, only a portion of the members returned that survey, of that portion, only 68 responded in favor of the regulation. I am sure many more people of eastern plain?s; including those affected at Sterling and Trinidad will be against this baseless, un-scientific survey.

I also feel for those who may be of youth and cannot afford, nor have the means to fish from a boat in the eastern plains lakes including Sterling and Trinidad. What comes to mind is a youngster whose only means of transportation to these lakes is a bicycle. Not only does this youngster have to carry his fishing equipment, but after a regulation change for his lake, will now have to figure out where to carry a 15? ruler, when in fact at a put and take lake, he should not have to carry one in the first place.

Proposed changes to Lake Pueblo walleye length, limits.

I recently received a newsletter from CWA President (Eric Coe) proposing a change in regulations regarding walleye brood lakes. It seems that although the CWA did not have a stellar turnout for the CWA Pueblo tournament this past May. The CWA wants to implement a change to the current regulations at Pueblo to a 5 fish, 4 fish over 18? and as of right now cannot decide between a one only fish over 20?, 21? or 22?. The reason the CWA states this is beyond me. Currently the 4 fish. 18? min length seems to be working at Pueblo, here?s why. At a CWA year 2000 Pueblo two -day walleye tournament, 150 and walleyes were caught, and this is before a 5 -year drought. At that time in 2000, lake Pueblo was probably in its final year of a normal precipitation year. This past May, the CWA held another two-day walleye fishing tournament at Lake Pueblo, and as I mention earlier, with less contestants than in the year 2000, yet caught more fish ? for a total of 265, during this tournament. The level of the lake was also lower at tournament time then in the year 2000. Hmmmm, I am perplexed, how could this possibly happen after a five year drought? Less water, more fish? In fact, even the team of Coe/ Coe had a heavier 2- day weight in the Pueblo tournament this past May than they did 5 years ago, which leads me to the following scenarios.
1. The team of Coe/ Coe became better fisher-people in the past 5 years
2. This proves that less fishing teams on a lake, makes for better fishing
3. The less water in the lake, the more legal walleyes that will be caught
4. In 2000, the walleye?s were smarter, than they were in 2005
5. In 2000, the DOW state fish biologists actually knew what they were doing when they denied Mr. Shumaker his request for a slot limit for Pueblo.
6. All of the above
7. None of the above
With regard to the proposed 1 fish over 20-22?, how would this help a fishery whereas many fish that reach the 18? min are kept? If a fifth fish is added to the scenario, which would be a 20-22?, does not this proposal have the ability to remove an additional brood fish from the lake?

Please note: the above is in no way a personal attack at the CWA, nor the highly regarded President of the CWA, Mr. Coe. As a whole, the CWA is a wonderful club to be a member of but I am concerned that some of my fellow CWA co-members with regard to proposed walleye regulations might have put undue pressure on Mr. Coe. My first and foremost concern is that of the common fisherperson, who happen to fish for walleye

Proposed 5 fish/ 5 possession on walleye in brood lakes

As a CWA club member I do have a problem with regard to a 5 fish limit/ 5 possession limit. Let me explain. Most regular CWA walleye tournaments are two- day events. If the above regulation was put into place, an ethical dilemma might take place on day two of the tournament. Here is a scenario. Day One. As are CWA rules stand right now we are allowed to bring in 8 legal fish, and are not allowed to cull fish. The 5 highest weighed fish are kept for record the left over 3 can be brought to ones campsite. If a team consisting on members A&B are in a two-day walleye tournament. The following may occur.
Team member A is a better fisherman than B and catches five of the eight fish, yet of the five fish of team member A caught, three fish are smaller than that of team member B and only two of his are weighed of the for a total of five for day one of the tournament. If you are following me on this, team member A could by al means bring these three fish to his campsite that night. But, if team member A does not consume those three fish that night, he is starting off the next day of the tournament with a 3 of a 5 fish possession limit. In actuality, on day two of the no cull tournament, team member A catches two more legal fish and has them in his boat. Team member A by all rights would have to stop fishing, as he has in possession 5 fish. Two in the boat, three at the campsite. This makes for a very uncomfortable dilemma for both members of the team. Another scenario would be, what if one day one of a tournament both A&B fisherman both had 5 walleyes in their freezer at home. If either A or B caught a legal fish, and kept it, well, they would be already be one fish over the legal limit. Truthfully, neither fisherman should be on the lake fishing for walleye, Period.

Walleye Spawn Activities

For the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to work closely with the DOW during the spawn each spring. If somebody told five years ago that I would be doing this in the future, I would have him or her taken in for a drug test. What I have learned about the walleye and the Pueblo Fishery still amazes me.
I have seen DOW go out on the water to set and retrieve walleye capture nets where one would have been better off sleeping in on a cold and blustery morning. I have seen disappointment in the eyes of fishery personnel when nets would come in empty, while at times have seen the same crew jump for joy when a 17 pound female walleye comes to the side of the boat. I have seen the changing of the guard, such as Mr. Ramsey taking over the Mr. Bennet legacy. I have seen the frowns when politics are mention in the same breath as fisheries and on the same day seen smiles when a fresh batch of donuts make their way into the DOW walleye boat house. To say the least, I have the utmost respect for all DOW employees. As their task is always done with dedication.

I guess I have a couple more years to learn and be entrusted to actually spawn a walleye, and the same time cleaning and storing nets is a kind a therapy for me in my hectic life. And if you are wondering how often I actually get to fish? As of this writing, the last time I fished Pueblo, or any lake in Colorado was during the CWA tourney at Pueblo in May, even though I live 10 minutes from Lake Pueblo. Due to the long hours at my job, fishing opportunities don?t come as often as I like.

On that same note, I hear that when walleye nets are out during the spawn at Cherry Creek each year, it is my understanding that these nets are not protected or should I say off limits as they are in Pueblo during the same time period. I hear of fisherman?s propellers being entangled in the nets, and in addition, people stealing walleye from these nets. I propose that the DOW protect all lakes, not only walleye brood lakes that have nets placed out at night, I would ask to have the same ban in place at Cherry Creek as Lake Pueblo. Is this not one way to educate the public on fishing regulations and at the same time protecting a resource?

We the undersigned would like the Wildlife Commissioners vote no on the proposal on the 15? min/ 5 fish walleye/ saugeye regulations on eastern lakes. I would also ask that no changes be made to the walleye regulations for Lake Pueblo, as I deem both proposals are without merit or scientific backing. Which is why I would like to say to not only the Wildlife Commissioners, but all parties involved in the regulation process. If it is not broke, don?t try to fix it.

And lastly we the undersigned, would ask that Commissioner Enstrom abstain from any walleye regulation vote at this time, as this would show that he could not show prejudice towards the common fisherman with a yea vote, nor at the same time will not have to show a conflict of interest as a CWA member.

Please enter all of my comments into record regarding the proposed regulations I have noted above.

Respectfully,

Art Kelm

Pueblo West, Co

Post Script: Please note the attached page(s) that contain signatures agreeing with the above statement
ark
 

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I'm not in the CWA so I dont know what bodies of water you guys have tournaments on, but the DOW doesnt want a blanket rule of 5 fish with 1 >22" as the CWA proposed. They modified the regulation to be 18" min 5 fish and 1 > 21" for Pueblo. Because thats where they get the majority of there eggs. I think the stat from the meeting I went to was they were getting 170 million eggs from pueblo back in the day they had the 10 fish limit there and 15" min and in 1994 or 96 they had dropped all the way to 9 million. They said that the average size for an egg producing female is 18" so they didnt want any taken out of this lake until they made it to that size atleast to give them a chance for eggs.
Then on Bonny, Adobe, J. Martin, Nee Gronde and Noshe, and Trinadad the limit will fall into the CWA proposal of 15" min 5 bag limit and 1 > 21".
Lastly Beck, Brush Hollow, Flagler, Horse Creek, Horseshoe, Kinney, Martin, 2 Buttes, Valco, HAsty, Henry, Holbrook, Meredith, Ordway, Prospect, Runyon, Thurston, and Turks will all have a 10 fish bag limit with no legnth limit. I dont know if the CWA fishes these lakes or not. Now that I look at that list to arent alot of these lakes dry?

The above regulations are what the Wildlife Commision has been given with admendments... I am not a walleye fisherman but I know a bunch of people who are. The eastern lakes do not get the pressure that lakes like Pueblo get so I agree 5 fish limit maybe to small as most people do not catch their limit of 10 most the time as it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Epic,

First of all let me thank you for your interest. This ongoing situation is lengthy and I would be happy to provide you with the recent correspondence and responses. I do have additional information about walleyes in general that I promised that I would keep off line. Please see Ken for my e-mail address.

NeeNoshe is now not even half the lake it used to be. In fact, it is divided by a sand bar and I doubt you could even launch at this lake with an 18' boat. John Martin is down to 1800 surface acres, is my understanding, which I believe is smaller than Pueblo right now. If you have passed these lakes 5 years ago they were absolutely full, now would make you sick to your stomach. That's why I brought up the point about the 5 fish 15" min. Why even bother with it, unless it's actually being used as a tool to bargain for something else. In the process I can tell you that the "fisherman" with or without a signature association, will be penalized. If you wish additional information please ask Ken for my e-mail address.
 

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The only lake I fished this year out that lake is Blue Lake (Adobe creek) and all I thought when I got there was this lake is pretty sad looking as you could see the past water lines. Its listed as 5000a lake and I swear it was probably about 1200a.
 

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If you look at the history of the SE Plains resevoirs over the last ten year's why even have limits? Let Anglers enjoy the resource they paid for! Instead of using all these fish as free fertilizer for farmers downstream. At least anglers would be enjoying the resourse instead of watching most of it rot in some dried up canal or corn field :mad:
 
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