Stocking Goose Pasture Tarn with 1,000 trout part of big state program |

Stocking Goose Pasture Tarn with 1,000 trout part of big state program

BLUE RIVER – Have you ever wondered how fish get from one place to another, particularly when the water levels have been so low?

Quite often, the phenomenon of fish migration will require human intervention. Getting trout to school is similar to busing kids to the classroom. You pile them into a vehicle and drive them there.

Blue River residents were pleased to learn at the last town meeting there would be a release of close to 1,000 Tasmanian and steelhead trout into the coveted Goose Pasture Tarn.

The town contributed $1,200 to the program, while three residents living on the tarn added another $3,000.

Howard Smith, mayor pro tem, spearheaded the locating and hiring of the hatchery. He said he chose Spotted Tail Creek Trout Ranch of Mitchell, Neb., because “fish are delivered with loving care S (and) these fish are hand-selected, genetically pure, disease-free and raised in gravel-lined ponds with a natural water flow.”

Pulling a large fish-filled tank on a flat bed truck, Roger and Jan Baker of Spotted Trail Creek Trout Ranch drove up to the tarn at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

After measuring the temperature of the water in the serene mountain lake and then using a gas-generated heater to bring the temperature in the fish tank to within 2 degrees of the new habitat, the duo attached large diameter hoses to the tank.

The contents were then released, sending the fish spilling out in a torrent of cascading water.

Although it was over in a matter of minutes, the excitement on shore was palpable for Mayor Darcy Lystlund and the other members of the Blue River Town Council who had assembled for the event.

The tarn is open only to Blue River residents. Access is strictly enforced by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, which is contracted to provide Blue River law enforcement.

Deputies patrol regularly and retain a list of residents for verification.

The word on other waters

Nonresident anglers do, however, have other alternatives. The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has recently taken a worst-case scenario approach by preparing to load healthier waters with fish that have been raised in hatcheries or transported from drained or endangered areas.

DOW chief of aquatics Eric Hughes stated in a news release that “last summer presented a situation that has never been experienced before, but I have one of the most knowledgeable and passionate aquatic staffs in the country. S We are going to preserve and keep improving fisheries throughout the state.”

As elsewhere, the past year and a half of below-normal precipitation resulted in the devastation of fisheries east of the Continental Divide.

Well-known fishing havens such as the South Platte River, Antero and Tarryall reservoirs were all but ruined, at least for the short haul. On the positive side, the low water level will allow the DOW to make major improvements to the fish habitats and provide bigger returns when the normal water level is reached.

The South Platte River basin has the best snowpack, 109 percent of average as of May 1, while reservoir storage has dramatically improved. Dillon Reservoir, Denver Water’s largest water storage, is expected be full in early August.

Following complete drainage last year, Antero Reservoir in Park County likely will remain dry, while the benefactors of spring runoff will be Eleven Mile and Cheesman reservoirs, typically prime fishing destinations.

The reach of the South Platte River from Lake George to the Eleven Mile and Cheesman reservoirs was stocked in the past two weeks.

For anglers, the best news to come out of this weather-related challenge is the DOW’s releasing of 64 million fish this coming season. A huge quantity? Perhaps. But being the victim of predators, a fair percentage of these fish never make it to catchable size.

Among this year’s stock, more than two million trout of 10-plus inches or more, plus another eight million sub-catchables, will be released, all of them free of whirling disease.

Stew Mosberg is a regular contributor to the Daily News. When not writing about art in the High Country, he can be found wading in mountain streams seeking the ever-elusive trout.

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