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Discussion Starter #1
Just curious how many people would support catch and release regs for Smallmouths ? Especially at Aurora and Chatfield, where there is a legimate chance at a new state record! I would like to see Aurora smallies protected. You guys on the west slope probably have a couple of lakes you would like to see protected also, especailly as small as most of them are.

Do you think the DOW would take notice if someone started a petition?
 

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I think a slot limit would be better. I have heard of ponds and small lakes down south that are managed with slot limits instead and they actually electricfy fish and take the small ones out. This is suppose to help the larger fish.

In Texas on Lake Fork a largemouth has to be longer then 24 inches or shorter then 12 inches to keep and that lake is bad ass. Look at this fish they found floating in it a couple years ago.

 

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18 pounds dead. IMO 20 alive. I went to Bass Pro shops in Dallas and they have the state record alive swimming in the tank her name is Flow and she weighs 16 something, anyway the fish in the picture drawfs her.
 
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I'm all for whatever will result in more big bass! I sure think that catch & release should be mandatory on the smaller urban ponds and lakes. If it would significantly help the bigger lakes like Chatfield & Aurora you bet! Or, perhaps, make it like Spinney - one bass over 19 or 20" or something of that sort. That way a person could keep a true trophy smallmouth if he really wanted to.
 

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Probably. Smallmouth have a high tendancy to overpopulate, but I believe with aurora and chatfield there are plenty of predators to eat the young.

Two lakes that are waaay past their peak over here but still have some big bass that need protected are harvey and rifle gap. Harvey had a 6? something lb. smallmouth caught this spring and rifle gap used to have some real nice ones, I caught a 3.5 pounder a long time ago there. Harvey used to also have good populations of BIG largemouth too. No longer are the populations high in these lakes as the limits imposed were too high and poor and didn't protect the important fish, and these lakes cannot have warmwater species stocked in them thanks to ESA. Limits for both species of bass (not sure how many largemouth are in rifle) need to be 0 for these lakes for a long time to get them back.
 

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I would support Catch and Release on a lake by lake basis. Slot limits may be a better solution and possibly a battle we could win. Very few smallmouth spots have this type of protection. I would also strongly urge anglers to release all bass as they are not routinely stocked.

They stock hundreds upon thousands of "catchable" size trout for folks who want to harvest fish. Bass are mostly stocked as fingerlings and only the smallest of that percentage ever reach keeper size.

What anglers may not realize is that smallmouth are so sparingly re-stocked and take so long to grow. When 15'er smallies get removed, it could seriously affect the existing population. Removing these hawgs not only displaces the predator to prey ratio but also brood sized adults. To me this is an intrusion on bass lovers who want to catch these amazing fish over and over again.

There should be more catch and release lakes for bass lovers to fish. C&R areas for bass are far and few between compared to all the bait and take spots in Colorado...the least that could be done is hand over a few of these lakes to the growing number of bass anglers who desire the ultimate in the Colorado bass fishing experience. Don't bassers have rights too?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I like Dons Idea!

Aurora is the perfect lake to protect! It is fairly large, deep and has a huge forage base (Shiners, craws and small perch). It also has lots of other species to keep everyone from concentrating just on them!

I have been amazed at the size of the smallies that I see swimming by this year :eek: And everyone seems to be catching lots of smallies from2-3 lbs ;D

Hey Bear, I used to fish over at Rifle gap alot in the late 80s to about 1994. It was a excellent trout lake! we caught 20-30 nice browns and bows a day there. We also caught some nice smallies there. Once the locals learned how to pattern the walleye's there they almost wiped them out! You can't harvest very many in a small lake that doesn't get stocked! I bet the arrival of the perch has actually helped the ones that remain?
 

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Absolutely. However in most lakes I want to see the harvest of some small bass encouraged. It doesn't take a genious to figure out what a disaster the 15" minimum length limit is.
In most lakes, especially for overpopulated bass, they should allow at least 5 bass under 12" to be kept. Maybe there should even be a bonus limit of 5 more bass 8" or under. Little bass taste great. Bass over 13" do not because of the high fat content.
Thanks to the 15" minimum length limit, most bass over 15", so in the 2 - 3 pound range, get harvested. These are the spawners. They must be protected.
Another thing that is overlooked is the overstocking of catchable trout. The stocked trout eat large amounts of small youngling gamefish before they are harvested. It was the overstocking of rainbows that helped wipe out the walleye and smallmouth in Rifle Gap. The overexplosion of perch played a role too.
Bass must be protected. The biologists keep pressing for the same regulations, even the expansion of them, such as the 15" minimum length limit for bass and an 18" minimum length limit for walleyes. Ever wonder why it's so hard to find fish over these limits? It's because greedy jerks keep the ones that are legal, thus keeping the spawners and healthy adults, which selectively breeds out the larger fish.
The solution is a large limit on small bass. However it should be mandatory release of all bass over 15", or allowing only 1 over 15" to be kept, and once populations are established, the harvest of moderate amounts of small bass needs to be encouraged.
Talk to any person who manages a private lake. They will tell you why the CDOW has difficulty growing big bass. It isn't "the growing season" or "cold water temps", because our growing conditions are better than most central and northern states. It's POOR MANAGEMENT.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Trout do not wipe out walleye, people do! I usually agree with you, but not on this one. Rifle gap was never a true walleye fishery. It had a small wild population that got hammered, (I was there). If the DOW would stock walleye's at Rifle gap they would do fine.

Trout and walleye coexist here at Chatfield, Pueblo, Aurora, Horsetooth, Trinidad, Carter and all the Wyoming resevoirs. Walleye ate 2 million trout fingerling at Seminole and pathfinder. That's why they started stocking 10 inch trout in the fall.
 

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I think slot limits on all fish species would help a ton. it would help produce more big fish for everyone to catch. thats what canada does. when we were there i caught a 44 inch 24 pound pike. yer allowed one ove a certain size to keep so i had him mounted. but we had probly 5 fish over 38 inches. so it would probly work here too

Happy fishing
 

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I'm not going to comment on catch and release as to not ruffle any feathers...but everyone should realize that just because they are not catching big fish, doesn't mean that they are not there! I fish a small pond by my house, and there is a particular 5+ lb largemouth that I catch every year - only once. This one encounter is enough to educate her for an entire year! I catch her out of the same brush patch, and often see her there throughout the summer - so I know she's there. So, consider why big fish are-as-they-are before blaming the "keepers" for not catching big fish.

Remember, big fish don't have to be smarter than people to get big, just smarter than fisherman ;)
 

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Neal/CO said:
Trout do not wipe out walleye, people do! I usually agree with you, but not on this one. Rifle gap was never a true walleye fishery. It had a small wild population that got hammered, (I was there). If the DOW would stock walleye's at Rifle gap they would do fine.
I had an excellent post on this that didn't go through. It explained a lot of things on why the trout were a major cause of the declining of the walleyes and other warmwater species in rifle gap. I'll keep it short this time because I'm busy and don't have much time. Even if trout didn't eat smallmouth, largemouth, and walleye young (they do), overstocking of rainbow trout would still end up hurting the fishery greatly. Trout take up space, use up the plankton, insect and crustacean food sources, and eat eggs and bother fish spawning (stress.) In short, the trout screw up the food web of an ecosystem a great deal when overstocked and screw with the warmwater fish's niche. The DOW biologists know this but won't admit it; according to them trout don't eat food in the lake, and don't take up space. LMAO.

I'll explain more on this later.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The DOW stocks tens of millions of walleye fry in our lakes and hundreds of thousands of stocker rainbows. The walleye seem to be holding their own!

You guys talk about Rifle gap like it was once some destination walleye water! It had a small natural reproducing population of eye's. I bet not a single one over 14" was ever released? Rifle Gap has always been managed, and rightly so as a trout fishery.

You find a real Bioligist who can come onto this site and give an example where trout decimated an entire walleye population? And not some obscure glorified pond on the west slope. Because I can give you examples of the reverse! It's called Glendo!
 

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Rifle Gap never had a huge walleye population, but according to CDOW biologists, it once had a nice population of them. They have always been hard to catch though because of all the food, mostly crawfish and young stocked trout.
The problem wasn't the trout, but that Rifle Gap was OVERSTOCKED. It already had a small naturally reproducing population of browns and rainbows that spawned and lived in east and west rifle creeks.
Starting in about 1995, Rifle Gap started getting oodles more trout stocked than it ever had before. Myself and other anglers would catch tons of rainbows that were coughing up small walleyes and bass. We found walleyes and other gamefish up to 8" long in the stomachs of trout.
Trout grow larger and are far more aggressive predators than walleyes. Take a trout and a walleye of equal size, and the trout will drive it away and take it's food.
It was the overstocking that caused both bass and walleye to crash. Then the explosion of perch also harmed the remaining gamefish. The trout primarly forage on crawfish and perch now, and large trout do exist, including a 25 pound rainbow caught in 1997 that was eaten and not verified as a record. Again I saw the photo and it was indeed rifle gap. It's fairly easy to tell fake photos, and this one looked authentic.
Rifle Gap would have MONSTER trout if people didn't keep them all. Reproduction is still very low for trout in this lake, though the browns are completely self sustaining. I would say with all the crawfish, perch, and everything else the trout have to forage on, 20 - 25" rainbows would be the norm if it was only managed for them. It would be almost like spinney or antero.
Their are walleyes left in Rifle Gap, just not many. Those that remain are big, and 10 - 15 pounders exist here. I wouldn't be shocked if a few state record eyes swam in rifle gap. I am sure their are state record rainbows, smallies, walleyes, perch, and browns in the lake. It is very productive with tons of forage. The lake gets pounded and the big fish are very, very wary.
Now pike are in the lake in moderate amounts. I think they will help thin out the perch and will eat some of the excess trout. They may help the lake.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I agree that Rifle gap is an excellent trout lake, because that what it is!  It doesn't have the massive weed beds that Spinney and Antero are famous for, so it is a different kind of lake. It never had a large population of eye's and i saw lots of them toted away on stringers. Walleye's will out compete trout any day and take over a fishery. There were never huge numbers of them in the first place! I was there alot fishing in the early 90s and that is ridiculous.

Glendo was a trout fishery before the walleye got in there! Seminole almost became a Walleye fishery! The DOW started stocking trout that were at least 10 inchs long and put them in the fall to avoid the teeth! THey lost 2 million fingerlings in a two year period.

The trout theory works for you guys, because it is an convenient way to bash the DOW again! That is your agenda 24 hours a day!
 
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Neal/CO said:
The trout theory works for you guys, because it is an convenient way to bash the DOW again! That is your agenda 24 hours a day!
With grinding teeth and furrowed brow I have watched this conversation and not until the above quote have I had anything to add other than the meaningless banter and diatribe that froths from the untrained and uneducated.  Amen Neal. 
 

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I'm not trying to bash anybody but I think everybody is in agreement that we want some things changed to help protect the smallmouth fishing at Chatfield and aruora. Whether it be a size limit or a slot limit. I don't think it will ever happen but if the dow could come in and shock the fish pick out the smaller ones and take them somewhere else I think it would greatly improve the smallmouth fishing in those fisheries.
 

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Basshunter...I hope that 5 pounder never ends up on a stringer. Keep that fish educated!

Catch and release waters fish a lot better in my opinion...cuz there is more fish. The private ponds I pay way too much to fish enforce some serious C&R regulations and overcrowding has never been a problem.  But this is due to making sure that there are enough predators to keep the populations balanced. They know to take out the smaller bass if things get too crowded but in 30 years, it hasn't happened.

C&R isn't perfect and adds an additional responsibility for those that want to keep the lake thriving but it is better than "bait and take" management gone unchecked IMO.

Once again...All I am asking for is a few bass spots be made C&R. I would love to go to my local bass pond and mutter..."Daggum! There is just too many fish."
 
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