Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome to fishExplorer, very much appreciated.
Tiny Stevens brought to my attention the forum item from Fishrangler who saw a guy dumping gold fish in a pond. The location wasn't specified, but sounded like a Front Range location.
First, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) extends thanks to Fishrangler for reporting the man to the local police. It took a lot of courage to confront the guy. We don't, however, recommend confronting people or putting yourself in harm's way. Getting the license plate number, as Fishrangler did, is best. I hope the police reported the incident to one of the CPW agency offices.
If you see this sort of activity, or even suspect it, gather any information possible -- date, time, descriptions, type of vehicle, license plate number, location, etc., -- and call a local CPW office, Operation Game Thief or local law enforcement as soon as possible. The OGT number is 1-877-265-6648. This activity, unfortunately, is on the upswing in Colorado. With more than 2,000 lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and more than 10,000 miles of fishable streams and rivers in Colorado, CPW relies on anglers, hunters and the general public to report activities that might harm our wildlife resources.
The fines for illegal dumping of fish or eggs ranges from $500 to $5,000. Offenders can also be whacked with paying for restoring the fishery, an exercise that could quickly exceed six figures.
The dangers of adding non-native fish or other invasive aquatic species to a water are enormous. They can spread disease, hybridize with native species, out-compete legally stocked game fish, over-populate and destroy a fishery, or even force action of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to close an area or restrict activity. In Western Colorado, bass and northern pike illegally dumped into rivers have caused a decline in native fish species. Consequently, CPW is engaged in expensive and time-consuming removal operations on the Yampa and Colorado rivers. Some anglers have complained that we do that, but CPW must work in the interest of native wildlife and in cooperation with federal agencies. We'd much rather be devoting resources to activities that benefit anglers and wildlife than cleaning up after knuckleheads who think they can bring Midwest-style angling to Colorado.
Illegal fish dumping robs you of the money you put into Colorado wildlife programs.
Thanks to everyone who endorsed Fishrangler's actions. The health of the resource, ultimately, is everyone's responsibility.
Itchyreelfinger mentioned that he had submitted a list of common fishing courtesies to someone at CPW. I didn't see those. Please, send it to me and I'll work on getting them posted somewhere. Sounds like a great list. You can send it to my e-mail: email@example.com.
Next week I'll be putting out a press release about fishing at Vallecito Reservoir, a 3,000-acre impoundment about 20 miles northeast of Durango. But here's an early hint: It's a beautiful spot and you can fish for northern pike, walleye, bass, trout and kokanee -- a nice variety for a high-elevation lake. Last fall, CPW stocked 35,000 10-inch rainbows and they've only gotten bigger since then. Pike anglers say the size of the fish rival what they see in Canada.
But I'd recommend getting down here soon, because the reservoir is going to drop quickly as irrigation kicks in. There are four nice forest service campgrounds on the reservoir. And if they fish aren't biting, you can head into Durango for a cold beer at one of the four local breweries.
Run-off, if you can call it that this year, is pretty much over. The Animas River in Durango is running clear and starting to drop. Saw a nice caddis hatch yesterday evening - about a week earlier than normal. The same's true for streams throughout the southwest region. So if you're planning some stream fishing this year, you can get after it right away. CPW biologists are concerned already about water temperatures getting too high later in the summer. So, a little raindance for the monsoons is on my agenda.
And please, if you see any forum item that you think I should read let me know. I don't have a lot of time to read the forums. That would be very helpful.