Beware of unwanted exotic fish
Earlier this month, four unwanted exotic fish were caught by Denver-area anglers. Two Asian bighead carp were taken out of Cherry Creek Reservoir and a pacu and an arawana tropical fish from South America were caught in different ponds in southeast Denver.The pacu looks like its cousin, the piranha, but is a harmless vegetarian. The arawana, however, will eat anything it can swallow, including other fish. Both are commonly raised in aquariums and routinely outgrow their keepers’ fish tanks. Although it is illegal to introduce exotic fish into our waters, these two species are of lesser concern than bighead carp because they are not likely to survive a Colorado winter.But the bigheads, distinguished by their dark coloring, the location of their eyes low on the side of the head and their large heads and mouths, are a more serious matter. Asian imports, originally brought to the United States in 1972 to control algae in power plant and sewage retention ponds, they have the potential to ruin sport fishing and recreational boating.”Beyond the obvious harm to sport fishing, bighead carp are surface baskers prone to enormous leaps when startled by boats or skiers,” said Pete Walker, senior aquatic pathologist for the DOW. Because they grow so large – up to 6 feet long and over 80 pounds – such leaps pose a hazard to humans. In the Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, boaters have been injured in collisions with monster carp.”The most disturbing aspect of this is that Colorado citizens are releasing fish into state waters without thinking of the consequences,” said Robin Knox who, as the DOW’s sportfish coordinator also tracks unwanted exotics. “Illicit fish introductions, whether aquarium pets or sportfish deliberately transported from one water to another, are a growing problem both here in Colorado and across the West.”The bighead carp, pacu and arawana now join the zebra mussel and New Zealand mud snail as “aquatic nuisance species” that the DOW is trying to keep out of Colorado waters.”In recent years anglers have moved sportfish such as northern pike and yellow perch into lakes such as Blue Mesa Reservoir, where there is now a real danger of these introductions causing tremendous disruption to the food chain,” he said. “In the case of Blue Mesa, the kokanee population may be in jeopardy. Loss of the kokanee would have a huge impact not only on Blue Mesa but the 10 to 12 other lakes that depend on Blue Mesa for statewide salmon stocking.”Any citizen who wants to report a strange fish sighted or caught in Colorado should call Knox at 303-291-7362. And anyone who witnesses the planting of fish from a private boat or vehicle should call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-332-4155, which allows tipsters to remain anonymous.For the complete fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/dowfish/index.aspDenver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) — Heavy rains have muddied the creek but dry fly fishing is good when the water is clear. Use Blue Quills, Black Caddis and Black Ants. Best time is late morning. Clear Lake — Fishing is fair to good for stocked rainbows using Power Bait and Crave Bait. Brookies can also be caught here on small dark-colored flies fished behind a bubble. South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) — It’s time to start looking for pre-spawn brown trout migrating upriver from Chatfield Reservoir deep into the canyon. Try using any 4 or 5-inch lures like Rapalas, Tormentors and Frenzie Minnows. Cast them into deeper pools. Have a variety of colors and rotate them every half hour. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) — Flowing high, fast and slightly off-color because of rain but fishing well in the tailwater beneath Green Mountain Reservoir and at the confluence with the Colorado River. Hoppers, ants, beetles provide most of the action and Tricos in the evening. Also some Callibaetis. Use No. 18-20 Callibaetis Spinners and CDC Emergers, No. 10-12 Joe’s Hopper or Dave’s Hopper, Chernolbyl Ants, Black Ants, Adams and Mosquito patterns. During the spinner fall switch to No. 18-20 Tricos. The tailwater beneath the dam is subject to periodic security closures and is currently only open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are three other public accesses on BLM land downriver to the confluence with the Colorado, but they are narrow and anglers are warned to stay off adjoining private property. Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) — The flow out of Dillon Reservoir is 75 cfs. Fishing has been good in Silverthorne with the standard Mysis Shrimp and Midge patterns. Use Randy’s Mysis, Candy Canes, pink Disco Midges and try the bigger attractors. Stimulators, adult Green Drakes, Lime Trudes and small hoppers have been successful when nothing else seems to work. And weighted streamers slow-drifted through the deep pockets also produce. From Silverthorne to Green Mountain Reservoir the action has been sporadic with no major hatches. Try No. 10 dry attractors with a beadhead dropper. Colorado River (below Parshall) — Flow is high below the confluence of the Williams Fork, temperatures are down and fishing very well. Main hatches are Caddis and Callibaetis, with plenty of hopper action and a good evening spinner fall. Use No. 16 Tan or Yellow Caddis, RS2s, gray or black WD-40s, Prince Nymphs, No. 10-12 Joe’s Hoppers, Trico Spinners, No. 18-20, CDC Emergers, No. 16-18 Callibaetis Spinners and Pheasant Tails. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) — Flow is 2,120 cfs in Glenwood Springs and slightly off-color due to rain runoff. Fishing is good with streamers early and late in the day and nymphing the riffles midday when water temperatures are at their highest. Terrestrials or hopper/dropper rigs work great when nothing is hatching. Hot flies include Autumn Splendors, Slumpbuster, Zuddlers, BH Princes, Pheasant Tails, Rusty Spinners and Tricos. Colorado River (near Granby) — Due to heavy rains, water temperatures and flows have improved. If you don’t mind rain, fishing has been productive. Recommended flies include Black Ants, various green/olive patterns, Woolly Buggers (dressed and used as indicators), Irresistibles and terrestrials. Beadheads such as Prince Nymphs and Copper Johns are also effective. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the west end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is also permitted and two fish may be kept. Elkhead Reservoir — Fishing is good for smallmouth bass, crappie and catfish. The smallmouth bass population has been augmented by 1,300 fish removed from the Yampa River to safeguard native and endangered fish species. The bass are hitting crankbaits plastic tubes, grubs and Carolina rigs bounced off the bottom. Big crappie, up to 14 inches, are being caught on one-inch tubes and red and white jigs. Pike fishing is slow but will improve as the water cools. Some nice catfish of up to 12 pounds can be caught at the inlet and by the dam on all the usual baits. The limit for smallmouth and largemouth bass is two fish at least 15 inches long. Fryingpan River — Flow out of Ruedi Reservoir remains a high 215 cfs. This has flushed more Mysis shrimp into the river and fish are on them, along with prolific hatches of Green Drakes, Pale Morning Duns and a Rusty Spinner fall at dusk. Further downstream the flow is 70 at Meredith and 50 at Thomasville. Grand Lake — Conditions remain very consistent on this lake. Rainbow and brown trout are biting well in 5-15 feet of water on yellow Tasmanian Devils, Panther Martins, salmon eggs, worms or Power Bait. Lake trout are hanging in 30-40 feet of water and difficult to catch until the water cools some more. The bag and possession limit for lake trout is 4 fish, only one of which can be over 36 inches. Green Mountain Reservoir — Fishing is picking up. Best times are early morning and evening and trolling remains the best method. Kokanee are schooling up for their spawn and can be caught on Arnies or Needlefish. Shorecasters do well on trout with nightcrawlers. Rifle Gap Reservoir — Lake level is 70 feet below capacity and the boat ramp can only be used by shallow-draft boats. It is very steep and four-wheel drive is necessary. There are several hazards boaters will need to watch out for because of the low water level. The water temperature is 68 degrees and fishing for trout and perch remains excellent. The best trout areas are along the west end, by the Cedar campground and off the island. The best time to catch them is around 8:00 pm and in the early am. Worms, salmon eggs, and Kastmasters all catch fish. Perch are biting well on popcorn shrimp and worms. A two-hook rig fished just off the bottom is most effective. Rio Blanco Lake — Catfish and bluegill provide most of the action. No reports of any pike caught lately. Cut bait and stinkbaits work best for catfish while bluegill are hitting on worms and small crappie jigs. Roaring Fork River — The Roaring Fork is low and clear and fishing exceptionally well. Current flows in Basalt are 339 cfs, and 658 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Blue Wing Olives and Caddis provide most of the surface action. Nymphing the faster seams with Princes, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and small Baetis is super productive. Hoppers are starting to make their presence known, with smaller Charlie Boy Hoppers in Tans being favored by fish. White River — Flows are 343 cfs at Buford and 153 cfs near Meeker. A lot of whitefish are being caught at the two public accesses near Meeker but the best trout fishing is from Sleepy Cat upriver. Hopper/dropper rigs or large orange Stimulators trailed by a beadhead provide the best action. Williams Fork Reservoir — Pike fishing remains good, but anglers must remember to return all northerns within the 26 to 34-inch slot limit. Big Rapalas, frozen shiners and red and white Dardevles work best for pike, and suckers when you can find them. No trout, kokanee or lake trout action reported lately. Williams Fork River — Water remains cool because of increased flows from the Williams Fork dam. Callibaetis and hoppers provide most of the action with Trico spinners in the evening. Trico spinners work well early morning and evening. To protect spawning kokanee salmon, a section of river above Williams Fork Reservoir from the inlet upstream to the first country road bridge will be closed to all fishing and snagging Sept. 15-Oct. 31. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) — Flow in downtown Steamboat Springs is 78 cfs with Caddis and Tricos hatching daily and hoppers working on hot days. Small gray mayflies known as Pseudeocloens are coming out on cooler, cloudy days. Fish early as activity slows after noon. Use No. 20 Sulphur Duns, Dark or Peacock Caddis, No. 20 Parachute Tricos, Trico emergers, Parachute Hopper, Timmy’s Hoppindicator, Green Caddis pupa, Chartreuse Copper John, No. 20 Adams or a Gray midge. Fishing is good in the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir with midges, Caddis and Tricos. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release. Call the Steamboat Fishing Company at 970-879-6552 for the latest conditions. SoutheastArkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) — Fishing is slow to fair for trout with flies and bait. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) — The river is flowing at about 325 cfs through Browns Canyon with good evening caddis and assorted mayflies hatching. Lots of hoppers provide good daytime surface action. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) — Flow is about 100 cfs in Hayden Meadows, 150 cfs in the Granite Gorge. Hoppers and small caddis have provided good surface action in the Meadows while nymphing the bottom has been best in the Gorge. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) — Flows are about 350 cfs, water is clear and fish are on assorted mayflies in the morning, caddis late in the day. Hoppers provide great surface action throughout the day. Clear Creek Reservoir — Fishing is picking up as the weather cools. Small flies such as Mosquitoes, Adams and Black Gnats work well along the shoreline next to the dam. The best lures are Kastmasters and Hotshots, cast from shore or from a boat. Elevenmile Reservoir — Trout fishing remains good on the south and west sides of the reservoir, and is improving at the north end. Baitcasters do best at Lazy Boy, Rogers Mountain, Rocking Chair, Witchers Cove or the coves at Coyote Ridge using Power Bait, worms or salmon eggs. The most effective trolling rigs are Needlefish, Kastmasters or Arnies tipped with nightcrawlers and used with rainbow Cowbells. Kokanee fishing has slowed dramatically, but a few can still be found in the middle of the lake between Duck and Goose Islands. Pike fishing is slow to fair in weedy coves using black Bunnies and black and silver Rapalas. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) — Flow is 141 cfs and fishing remains excellent. Trout are hitting on No. 18-24 Black Beauties, Brassies, UFOs and Copper Johns. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) — Flow is 625 cfs and the Portal is fishing well with PMDs, Caddis, hoppers and midge larvae, pupae, emergers or adults. When nothing is hatching, stick with midges and nymphs including Beadhead Princes, Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Halfbacks, Scuds and San Juan worm. If all else fails use Woolly Buggers or Muddler Minnows. Call the Cimarron Creek Fly Shop at 970-249-0408 for updated conditions. Gunnison River (through the canyon) — Flow through the canyon is about 525 cfs and fishing is excellent through the Gorge. Fish close to the banks with midges, PMDs and Blue Wing Olives. Hopper/dropper rigs are effective when trailing a Copper John or beadhead nymph. A No. 8 Woolly Bugger in black or Flash-a-Bugger colors also works, as do No. 14-16 Yellow Stimulators or San Juan Worms with a Prince Nymph dropper. The upper Gunnison is nice and clear. Increased flows have raised the water level to where jet boats are operable, though no motorized craft are allowed above the confluence of the North Fork and Gunnison Rivers. Other restrictions: Gold Medal Water, catch-and-release, flies and lures only. No rainbows may be kept and the bag limit on brown trout is one over 16 inches and three under 12 inches.
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