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River: Yampa River below Stagecoach Res
Fish: Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth to be euthanized

Post By: Snail      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:05:05 AM     Points: 8    
Non-native fish in Yampa will be euthanized!! I have never fished the area just wondering what everyone else thinks?
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 Reply by: Snail      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:07:53 AM     Points: 8    
Sorry I'm pretty sure I chose the wrong section of The river!!
 Reply by: bobl      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:12:18 AM     Points: 50    
I had just read that also. I'm curious how they kill off just the smallmouth and not the "native" species. Or are they just killing what was caught and kept by DOW ?
 Reply by: Fiddler1986      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:13:25 AM     Points: 5687    
I'm a bit torn. On one hand I enjoy variety when I fish. On the other, I think that native species being the only species in some rivers is cool. It is also unlikely I will fish the Yampa any time soon. Tough call.
 Reply by: Milehigh      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:15:02 AM     Points: 4957    
I wonder why they don't want to relocate them somewhere they cant get back in the river.
 Reply by: Dan Swanson      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:15:08 AM     Points: 1348    
Brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout are not native to the Yampa either.
 Reply by: Snail      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:19:36 AM     Points: 8    
@bobl I'm thinking they are referring to the 6,000 they have already removed.
 Reply by: Browns Hunter      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:25:27 AM     Points: 2140    
Its interesting. This is being done by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, not the Colorado Department of Wildlife. So, are they working independently or is this a joint operation? Doesn't say.
There's lots of places to relocate smallmouths, the article infers that there's only one place (Elkhead Reservoir) to put the smallies. It also only talks about smallmouth bass as being the one non-native species. What about the other ones? Northern Pike, Channel Catfish, and Rainbow Trout are three non-native species there.

I've just searched the DOW web site for press releases on the topic. Nada. When I find something or I get an email, I'll give an update here.
 Reply by: bobl      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:31:57 AM     Points: 50    
Not surprised 9 news isn't clear on the article. It stated the 6000 captured were released into Elkhead and the smallies were escaping over the spillway and migrating back to the Yampa. Will be interesting to see what thier plan B will entail to rid the smallies without affecting other species
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:34:45 AM     Points: 8656    
I'll answer some questions here.

bobl -- the process of collecting the fish is called electrofishing. Typically this is accomplished via boat or canoe depending on the water flows. Fish are given an electrical current which they are drawn to the anode and netted out of the electrical field. The electric current causes a type of seizure that immobilizes them. There is a live well in the boat where the fish are placed and will recover in less than a minute. They are transferred to another boat that will help process them and relocate the native fish to an area where they will not be shocked again. It is probably at this point that the bass will be removed.

milehigh -- we were "guaranteed" that they could not escape Elkhead Reservoir. However, through some research processes, we have been able to confirm escapement and it wasn't just a little bit. Many of the bass have been relocated to ponds that they can't escape, like some specific ponds in Craig or threreabouts. Part of the problem is that there are not a lot of bodies of water where they can be put that they will escape back into the Yampa, or that are within a reasonable distance. With the cost of fuel rising, it makes it difficult to transport them long distances. In addition, the number of bass is high and relieving the limits on bass has had no effect on the number of bass captured.

fiddler -- the Yampa is basically the only "natural" river we have left in Colorado that isn't dammed. It is also the only one that has the best chance of maintaining native species in a native state. However, it still remains to be a great fishery and I'd suggest doing a float trip sooner than later, as soon as the flows drop. 8-) As for variety, there isn't a whole lot. Basically it consists of a lot of bass, pike, catfish, then the natives in the lower stretches and trout in the upper stretches.

I hope this helps and answers some questions.


PS. Please feel free to ask questions.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:40:11 AM     Points: 8656    
RPG posted this on the plus side and I thought it would help shed some light.
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 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:58:18 AM     Points: 169    
I found this article about the Yampa. Leave it to the feds to destroy a great sport fishery.
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 Reply by: Fiddler1986      Posted: 4/25/2011 11:58:59 AM     Points: 5687    
I was wondering the effectiveness of it. They are electrofishing it, and do they get all the fish, or will there continue to be smallmouths in lower numbers?
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/25/2011 12:18:31 PM     Points: 8656    
That article is somewhat correct, but also incorrect. It does not state how it became that way. The Yampa has become that way through illegal stocking by fishermen. There is no conflict on that. I will say it has some awesome fishing opportunities, but if you haven't caught a pikeminnow on the fly, you don't know what you're missing. They are a solid piece of muscle that will rival coastal salmon and actually another name is "the white salmon." They are a hoot to catch. I'm hoping that if we ever get it restored, we as fishermen will have the opportunity to catch 5 to 6' minnows (yes, 5 to 6 foot) that will take us upstream, downstream, and tear our gear to pieces and leave us crying. 8-)

Electrofishing is very effective. However, we can't get all the fish as the river is large and access to the river is difficult. We can sample, but fish are live organisms and move about. If a fish is removed from an area, then another eventually moves into that spot. It is not atypical to have a 60 to 80% success rate. However, there are a lot of factors, like conductivity, river discharge (higher makes it more difficult but more accessible), etc. Also, just because you have electricity in the water, doesn't mean it's always going to work. Sometimes we can have a range of 6 feet, sometimes less because of the conductivity of the water. Some fish can outswim the electric current and some just dive to deeper water to escape. It's all variable, but shown to be the most effective with the least amount of harm.

Our goal is to bring the numbers down as well as their sizes to give the native fish a chance at establishing themselves and to continue native reproduction.


Good points.
 Reply by: Browns Hunter      Posted: 4/25/2011 12:20:08 PM     Points: 2140    
Electro shocking is a sampling technique. If you look at a river the size of the Yampa, there's no way that they can get "all" of the fish in the river. Plus, the length of the river that is being addressed is pretty big.
But, they'll get a number of the smallies, then they can repeat the effort a few weeks later and repeat it again.
 Reply by: bobl      Posted: 4/25/2011 12:42:19 PM     Points: 50    
Good links to see both sides of the coin. As a sportfisherman I like to see waters holding a variety of quality fish. Ecosystems tend to change for a variety of reasons. I also agree that we as the stewards of the land and waters we ply for recreation and sustenance should be responible to not try to change the ecosystem for selfish reasons as the "bucket biologists" have done. There are certainly no overnight fixes for NFS plan to restore the river 100 %.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/25/2011 12:47:43 PM     Points: 8656    
You are correct. There is no way to restore the river to 100%, nor is that the goal.
The goal is just to give the native species a chance to be able to hold their own, to have a "sustainable" population. It's just that right now, that isn't occurring.
I'm glad that you brought that point up. Our goal is not to remove all of them, but to create a balance.

 Reply by: sfpmattyd      Posted: 4/25/2011 12:52:29 PM     Points: 149    
I just disagree with this. I think that our opportunities for these species in rivers is so slim, that it is nice to have a stretch where a guy can fish for pike and bass in a river. It's a rarity in Colorado and it's a shame that they are eliminating it.
 Reply by: 007      Posted: 4/25/2011 3:48:40 PM     Points: 10    
The shame is that selfish fisherman want to put the opportunity to pursue game species above the existance of native species whenver they can. Why turn the last wild river in Colorado into just another homogenous "warm water" or "cool water" recreation area? Total restoration is not feasible but preventing the ecological impoverishment of one of our last great rivers is.
 Reply by: sfpmattyd      Posted: 4/25/2011 3:56:20 PM     Points: 149    
Based on your theory we should all just be fishing for cutthroats.
 Reply by: ducati      Posted: 4/25/2011 4:29:19 PM     Points: 2295    
I just love the "In order to protect the native species rhetoric", lets save the Rainbow's, you know our native species... lol.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/25/2011 5:44:26 PM     Points: 6092    
"I just disagree with this. I think that our opportunities for these species in rivers is so slim, that it is nice to have a stretch where a guy can fish for pike and bass in a river. It's a rarity in Colorado and it's a shame that they are eliminating it."

Yes, and the opportunities to fish for pikeminnow, razorback suckers, and bonytail chub are even rarer. All three of these fish grow bigger, fight harder, and are far more interesting than pike, smallies, and catfish (and even rainbows and browns). I want the opportunity to catch a fish as big as me.

If you want cats, bass, and pike in the same river, you can fish the Rio Grande... just sayin'.
 Reply by: aerofanbig      Posted: 4/25/2011 5:57:03 PM     Points: 1241    
Why should the last WILD, non-dammed, major river in Colorado be opened up for "sporting" fish species? They are trying to save one of the last true wild spots left in this state and that means getting rid of the non-native species. There are already wild cutty waters around, there are even rivers not far from Denver that are totally off limits because they are historical spawning ground for cutts. There are plenty of SMB around the state to catch, there are NOT plenty of places to catch razor backs, pikeminnows and bony tail chubs.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/25/2011 6:00:32 PM     Points: 169    
Wrong BFF I live on the Lower Colorado River and catch those trash fish a lot of the times. They fight like a wet noodle. I hope funding for the program gets the ax!
 Reply by: ZZZ      Posted: 4/25/2011 6:03:41 PM     Points: 1124    
If you want cats, bass, and pike in the same river, you can fish the Rio Grande... just sayin'

And if you want pike minnows, razor back suckers, and bonytail chubs in the same river, you can fish the Colorado...just sayin.

I don't have a problem with anyone trying to save an endangered species. I just don't think killing other sportfish to accomplish that goal is the way to go.

I think a limited relocation effort along with a much more agressive restocking program would be just as effective as the mass slaughter that they are proposing.

Tight Lines...zzz
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/25/2011 6:06:28 PM     Points: 6092    
Well, looks like I'm headed to the lower colorado in my canoe soon. I'll have fun going after what could be the largest fish in CO.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/25/2011 6:23:15 PM     Points: 169    
Brookie extinctions are a natural process. Its time for these bios stop wasting millions of dollars and have nothing to show for it.
It has become nothing but a job security issue for many of them.
BTW that same agency is targeting your beloved brooktrout in the Flat Tops to make way for more cutthroats.
Environmental purists. AKA wackos.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:26:09 AM     Points: 119    
I would like to clear up some misconceptions being posted about this program and what has been done.

1. The current efforts have been pretty ineffective for reducing numbers of smallmouth. There are THOUSANDS of fish per mile. I catch just as many big smallmouth and the same amount I do as before they started removing them, even in the very heaviest removal areas. Mechanical removal does not work and has rarely been proven to achieve the objective that fisheries managers hope for. It is fruitless and a total waste of money.

2. Pike have been reduced by a fair amount, but there are still LOTS in the river, even in the heaviest removal areas. You used to be able to catch 20 - 30 a day in the lower river, but you can still catch 8 - 10 on most days per angler.

3. The amount of native fish present in the Yampa has NOT increased since mass killings of gamefish have been undertaken. There has not been a proveable increase in the amount of native or endangered fish that can be conclusively linked to gamefish removal. That is what the science says.

4. The CDOW and USFWS are equal partners in crime in this fiasco. The CDOW has the final say and has to approve any removal actions that the Feds or CSU takes in the river. The CDOW also conducts their own removal and killing operation on the river as well.

5. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PIKEMINNOW!!!!!!! They are called SQUAWFISH!!!!! They are ugly, inedible, and put up almost NO struggle when hooked. This doesn't mean they are worthless, but none of the fish currently endangered in the basin are worth while gamefish. I have only caught 6 in my life (none in the Yampa), and the biggest was around 29", with the smallest around 22". No fight. Not a sportfish. There have not been many statistically significant increases in squawfish populations within the entire basin, and NO increases in the Yampa. This is according to the program itself.

6. Only a very small percentage of the fish removed were ever relocated. Most have always been killed.

So the Yampa will continue to be an awesome fishery, and honest recovery of the endangered fish will never happen. Mechanical removal is a fruitless endeavor. Even if you poisoned the entire river, the gamefish would come back because poisoning doesn't literally kill EVERY individual. This has been tried with suckers at Lake John, and they return every time. At Lake Davis in California, the lake has been poisoned twice, with pike returning each time.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:30:45 AM     Points: 119    
BTW I was the one who wrote the Grand Junction free press article back in 2006. I fish the river in the heaviest removal areas many times per year. It continues to be excellent for both smallmouth and pike. Any hope of native fish recovery is just a pipe dream of the environmentalists that currently work the unpopular and expensive program. I don't think you will ever see a serious reduction in smallmouth bass numbers, because even in the areas where removals are the most intense, I have seen basically no difference. The pike fishery is not what it once was, but is still fantastic and arguably the best pike fishery in Colorado. I have not seen a drop in pike fishing since 2004.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:36:46 AM     Points: 119    
None of the fish grow as large or fight as hard as pike or Catfish. Colorado Squawfish rarely top 30" anymore, and old, anecdotal reports of 6' individuals are from old timers yarns, fossils, and blurry photographs.

The main reasons for the decline in the population of native fish have been the construction of dams, irrigation diversions, and the mass poisoning of the Green River in the 1960s to kill off native fish in favor of sport fish.

There are also MANY unknown factors. Many of the smallmouth bass on the Yampa currently display hermaphrodism (possession of both male and female reproductive organisms). Clearly something else is happening and the environmentalists have teamed with water users to use sportfish as a scapegoat.

The truth is over a million dollars per year is spent on the Yampa River killing trips. You also pay for lodging and restaurant meals for the shockers. All the recovery program and killing trips are is a government job program, and many have no desire to recover the native fish, because then they will be out of a job. It's all about job security.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/26/2011 6:34:57 AM     Points: 6092    
"extinctions are a natural process"
Not when it's humans that create the extinctions to fulfill their selfish wants. Polar bears better adapt or die, because this 15 MPG truck isn't going to gas itself up. We should have never spent the money on saving the greenback, extinctions are a natural process, right?

"BTW that same agency is targeting your beloved brooktrout in the Flat Tops to make way for more cutthroats"
Good. I've caught my fair share of both and I like cutthroats better, but brookieflyfisher seemed like a more convenient name at the time.

Look, the Yampa is undammed, and it represents one of the last unspoiled areas where native fish could thrive. You just said yourself that the biggest problem is dams interrupting flows and messing with the natural cycle. They're doing their damdest (no pun intended) to ensure that they don't have to mess with other, more important rivers. Realize this: if they really wanted to restore native fisheries in the White, Gunnison, Colorado, etc., you can say goodbye to your dams and precious lakes. Don't think they wouldn't do it. It's already happened in the Northwest. Opposing the Yampa reclamation pushes "crazy environmentalists" like TU, the DOW, and the Feds to mess with other rivers.

I know, there's a lot of evidence that says that the electroshocking isn't that effective. But what other alternatives do you see? The fish have to be restored, the Yampa is the best place for them, and electroshocking is showing reductions in sportfish (you said so yourself). If you've been around here at all you know that pike and smallies come right behind (and often surpass) cutthroat and brookies as my favorite gamefish, and I fight hard to keep these fish where they belong: in managed lakes and streams where they don't interfere with native populations of fish. They don't belong in the Yampa, unfortunately. It was always a dream of mine to do a float on that river for pike and smallies, so I'm not just some DOW cheerleader. I've actually done my thinking on the subject and have determined that it would be best for the state to have pikeminnow (squawfish, whatever) and other natives in that river. It's not perfect, but nothing ever is.

Like I said, if you want smallies and pike in the same river, fish the Rio Grande.
 Reply by: TheFlyRules      Posted: 4/26/2011 6:44:35 AM     Points: 130    
The removals of sport fish have been a disaster. This program has pitted to many sportsman against or DOW. The DOW needs to leave this more to the feds and step in on more land based animals. The sea (water) has always eluded the managers best abilities.

If people saw the true accounting of this project and knew exactly how heck bent on Native ONLY mentality they are...Not natives and sportfish...but native only they would demand that the same allotted dollars be used for enhancement. The DOW put the fish there, the previous ranks at the DOW were not all on board with a half truth based science that is to difficult to show positive results.

Pat Martinez left the DOW so he could take it one step farther because even the folks in the DOW wanted him out because all he does is kill fish...thats it. Otilith Man...Here I am to Save The Day...NOT.. Santa is a killer plain and simple and for you folks who blindly support this program I hope you get a sliver under your fingernail.

This is no joke...they flat out told Pat to stop coming to the anglers roundtable meetings because he has brought so much bad blood and they were no longer able to hide behind the reports of the millions being spent yet results being poor and not based on sound science.

So when the DOW and USFWS got together to work out basically a switch..out of the DOW but into the usfws and voila they are still on the same team and now Patty has wayyy more power.

This has to be one of the most crooked, wasteful, wanton waste killing, lying efforts by the CDOW in all of my years working with them.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/26/2011 7:45:03 AM     Points: 169    
Brookie, polar bears and cutthroats are a little more aesthetically pleasing than a sucker fish. The wackos have really distorted what the endangered species act is suppose to protect. Whats next crypytobiotic crust?

TheFlyRules, spot on with your assessment.
 Reply by: Browns Hunter      Posted: 4/26/2011 8:05:03 AM     Points: 2140    
Here's the official Management Plan for this action:
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Some interesting reading here.
I wasn't aware that Colorado and Utah have treated the Yampa with rotenone in an effort to get rid of carp, shiners, and perch that competed with stocked trout. Gee, you don't think this might have had an impact on these four endangered species?

The arguments are starting to sound like the Blue Mesa arguments regarding the lake trout killing program. Maybe USFWS should consider a bounty program on smallmouth bass and northern pike, vice paying some big bucks to CSU for their program. That would be more palatable to the sportsmen, I'm sure.
 Reply by: Browns Hunter      Posted: 4/26/2011 8:08:00 AM     Points: 2140    
Bugchucker, remember that the Snail Darter had quite the impact in the Tennessee River valley, preventing a number of dams. And, the Preebles Mouse has prevented a lot of housing developments here, in the Colorado Springs area.
The Endangered Species act is a powerful thing. It has a lot of good rationale behind it, but when the zealots get involved, the relative value of these actions isn't always considered...
 Reply by: Greenhead      Posted: 4/26/2011 9:30:01 AM     Points: 50    
It's a waste of tax payers money. Million plus a year to do this, and they can never stop because the bass and pike will keep coming back. They need to cut their loses and go back to managining for sportman. That's who pays their salary, so manage for us and not your own personal beliefs.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/26/2011 9:44:02 AM     Points: 6092    
"polar bears and cutthroats are a little more aesthetically pleasing than a sucker fish"

So? A polar bear is a big white bumbling predator that has killed humans, and the cutthroat trout is too small to be a useful food fish and was considered by many to be inferior in looks and fighting ability compared to the rainbow and brook trout, which in this day and age isn't true. Are we going to create another yellowfin cutthroat scenario, where all we can do is dream about what could have been if we had the foresight?

An endangered species is an endangered species. Their affect on the ecosystem often runs deeper than it seems. Even animals as diminutive as the preble's mouse (whose designation as an endangered species has spared thousands of acres from development, helping keep our disturbing urban sprawl under control) are valuable, and the destruction of any animal species, let alone a fish that can grow to 5+ feet, due to the actions and selfishness of humans is unacceptable.

I'm not trying to attack you, like I said it hurts me as a sportsman to see such a great fishery go, but my hope is that a new, unique fishery can take hold and allow future generations to see what is possible when we care enough. This is my final word.
 Reply by: Greenhead      Posted: 4/26/2011 9:55:53 AM     Points: 50    
Brookie, they will have to kill every single bass and pike in the river, which is not going to happen. For a country that's going broke where do they draw the line, 10 million, 100 million or way more?
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 10:02:48 AM     Points: 8656    
I have to laugh. I've heard all of this before. But I have to remind everyone here of some very important details.

1) Access to the public on the Yampa is very limited. Therefore, even if there was a bounty on the fish, it would do no good because the access isn't there. Basically, you'd have to float it from public access point to public access point. Can be done after runoff in a float tube. However, that won't be until way after spawning. The fish need to be removed before spawn.

2) I don't know where some of you get the data, it's not reported to public on ongoing projects always. But there is a difference observed on the Yampa in numbers. Maybe not observed where Iceinttheveins is, but we are seeing some results on the Yampa. Also, we've had to step it up because we too want to see results faster than we are now.

3) It is absolutely correct that we may not know what what we are doing as science is ever changing and complicated. However, we are guided by two main concepts... a) the preservation of the last natural river and its constituents, and b) learning more about rivers and biota we live in to help other states and their rivers.

4) This takes time, it's not a one year fix. Besides, it could be worse, how would you like it if they shut off all access to it, period. I would hate that.
I would also hate if it the entire state just says, "Well, Colorado has no native fisheries... it collapsed because the fishermen wanted it to. All we have left is museums and partial reports of their biology and how the river may have worked."

5) The Yampa is unique. If we lose it... bummer.

6) Ptychocheilus lucius, Colorado Pikeminnow (formally Squawfish) had the name changed because of political correctness. Those of us who have worked with them for years sometimes still call them "Squaws" because that's what we're familiar with and it's difficult to break habits. However, because this is research and the need to be correct, I'm going to refer to them as Pikeminnow.

There are two main concepts at odds here, the fishers and the agencies.
Agencies are trying to protect/preserve the last natural river with it's native constituents.
Fishers want the non-native fish and really have no concern over the last native fish.

The Agencies are trying to reach a goal of conservation where the natives and non-native coexist, to reach a balance.
The Fishers still only want the non-natives and don't care about the fishery and the natives.

The Agencies have the resources to "map" out what could happen if left undone, collapse of the fishery (there's not enough food to feed all the mouths in the system).
The Fishers only want the non-natives (I wonder what they'll do when the system collapses).

The Agencies had no problem with the system prior to the introduction.
The Fishers introduced pike and smallmouth bass that caused a disruption to the system.

The Agencies have the access and ability to try to balance the river.
The Fishers are basically stuck to public land (which is very limited).

So, if you still want to keep catching fish (because we can't/don't want to remove them all, but create a balance), please let us keep doing our work.

I see the results and I'd have to say that if the numbers of the natives hasn't decreased with all the pressure of the non-natives, they are either very resilient or we making a difference.

Okay... enough said... probably parts are inflammatory. But I am pointing out some facts.


 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/26/2011 10:05:26 AM     Points: 169    
"An endangered species is an endangered species."

So your with the crowd who thinks we should try save everything even if it is at the expense of mankind. I get it... We know which category of environmentalist you fall in.

 Reply by: Seriously      Posted: 4/26/2011 11:05:52 AM     Points: 25    
All you guys that buy this never ending boondoggle in perpetuity better wake up. The USFWS and the DOW has invented this program for job security and a constant flow of money into their wallets until retirement at tax payer sportsman's expense.

The head fish killer Pat Martinez is now double dipping. He was the head fish killer for the DOW now he is the Head Fish Killer for the USFWS. What a deal. And all his cronnies are following him. He is on public record as a "Sportman Hater" and gets paid by your license dollars.

This program has gone on for decades and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent for these guys to go on these float trips every year and kill, eat the fish they kill for shore lunch makes me sick. Their papers they write are all geared for one common goal and that is to continue their own selfish needs and paychecks at our expense and the expense of the local economies,sportsmen, and natures ecosytem effecting thousands of aquatic and other wildlife species that would have benefited from the harm they caused.

They have destroyed more habitat than they have made by birming backwaters, have established nothing, enhanced nothing and have protected nothing. Now you will say the squawfish. Wake up. Their papers are manipulated and those that ever fished these stretches know catching endangered fish is more common and a nusiance than the game fish we are all seeking.

These guys need to be held accountable for their deception and actions they are taking at destroying not only our gamefish but the thousands of other wildlife species that are being adversely effected by their practices. They are no better than the Willd Earth Gaurdians. This is..if not bordering, embezzlement and extortion of Sportsman's licenses and tax payer money.

 Reply by: castingdonkey      Posted: 4/26/2011 11:32:14 AM     Points: 202    
Couple questions for all

Did the non-native fish cause the depletion of the natives?

If so, and it started with a few bucket bio projects. Why do we think we can help now, if we can't guaruntee near anialation of the non-native invasive species?

Too what end do we continue spending money on what appears to be a lost cause?

These issues drive a wedge between sportsman and folks that work for the government. I suggest a sort of sea world here in colorado. Where we can go look through some glass and watch these majestic billion dollar squaw fish and others swim around eating eachother.

I have hooked a number of squaw fish in the Palisade area. They seem to be abundant there.
 Reply by: Browns Hunter      Posted: 4/26/2011 12:00:52 PM     Points: 2140    
In the Northwest (Oregon and Washington), the PikeMinnow is a lot more populous. And, its considered vermin there. There's a bounty on PikeMinnows there because they feast on immature steelhead and salmon, on their way to the ocean.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 12:17:35 PM     Points: 8656    
Actually, there are 4 Pikeminnow in the US.

As listed in the AFS 2004 Names:
*Ptychocheilus grandis (Ayres, 1854) -- Sacramento pikeminnow
*Ptychocheilus lucius Girard, 1856 -- Colorado pikeminnow
*Ptychocheilus oregonensis (Richardson, 1836) -- northern pikeminnow
*Ptychocheilus umpquae Snyder, 1908 -- Umpqua pikeminnow

As to regarding the name change from Squawfish, here is the reason why:
Ptychocheilus grandis. Reasons for changing the
common names of the four species of Ptychocheilus
from squawfishes to pikeminnows
are given in J. S. Nelson, E. J. Crossman, H.
Espinosa-Pérez, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and
J. D. Williams, 1998, Fisheries 23(9):37. We
acknowledge problems with the name pikeminnow
in the article and note the desirability
of finding a suitable indigenous
name. No such name has come to our attention.
Other names suggested to the Committee,
such as bigmouth minnow, bigmouth
chub, or pikefish, are not recommended. The
name pikeminnow was proposed by W.
Starnes at an AFS/ASIH Fish Names Committee
meeting in 1997 in Seattle and also
used by him in the draft USGS Vertebrates

Just FYI.
 Reply by: Milehigh      Posted: 4/26/2011 12:36:51 PM     Points: 4957    

I don't agree with the killing of the bass,just seems such a waste but I sure do respect and appreciate all you are trying to do for Colorado and the amazing knowledge you share with us.

Your input here is priceless.

Thank You.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 12:51:11 PM     Points: 8656    
Thank you.

You know what's interesting is I agree. I hate to see all the bass killed and not go for any purpose.

I think it would be really different if the landowners would help or there was a lot of public access to the river. I think it would be easier to manage. People could really benefit from the bass.

However, since the situation is a reality of transportation and spoilage, it would be a health concern.

I really wish it could be different. I know we all like to fish, but since a huge stretch has to be "treated" it makes it difficult for anglers to have an impact.

I'd also have to say that I understand as a landowner that I may not want everyone crossing through my land to get to the river. It would require a lot more fencing, people on the shoreline and water would have to be pumped up for cattle to drink, etc.

The agencies did try to give incentives to fish it by making it unlimited for bag and possession. It's just that public access is so limited when there are large stretches that are not reachable.

You know someone on FxR last year said that he would do a 3 day float trip down the Yampa, in a belly boat. I would love to do that! Also, you wouldn't have to bring any food, just water and cooking supplies. You would have more fish than you could eat in a week, each night.

I agree MileHigh, it is a shame that we can't put the fish to better uses. We have stocked so many places and moved fish as much as possible, but we just can't keep up.

Again, thank you for your comment. I wish sometimes we lived in a idealistic world, or at least one with easy answers.

 Reply by: castingdonkey      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:09:53 PM     Points: 202    
I hope someone is taking the time to answer my questions. I think they are valid. Also if we are going to kill fish, many people are on unemployment or are just plain stuggling to get by. I for one am a fish filleting machine and I know that there are many more out there that would fillet fish to feed those that would benefit or in this case just want some to eat instead of wasting thousands of pounds of available nutrition. maybe passing out fillets would also spike peoples interest in eating the plentiful small mouth that live in the river. I have have heard of a whole lot of fish in this state being thrown out to waste that could have been good for my smoker. Please keep this in mind.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:25:42 PM     Points: 169    
You would think, with the millions of dollars already being spent on the program, an easement could be bought for fishermen access. I am guessing they don't because more people would enjoy fishing for the pike, bass and catfish. That would be counter productive to their program. Just a guess.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:42:57 PM     Points: 8656    
Sorry, I didn't get to your questions, but I"ll try to answer them here with your post and I'll answer your last question.

Reply by: castingdonkey Posted: 4/26/2011 11:32:14 AM
Couple questions for all

>Q1. Did the non-native fish cause the depletion of the natives?
>A1. No, it wasn't entirely caused, but the significant decline in the natives is associated with the non-natives. To give a bit of history of what caused some investigation, it was noted that native fish were not doing well in the Yampa and Green river. Razorback larvae were not as prevalent, Pikeminnow were also not as prevalent. They were still found in good numbers, but as to why there was less reproductive success was unknown. Then in 90's northern pike were bucket biology introduced. They went undetected until the population spiked and removal efforts began. They have been moved all over the place as stock. Then in 2000 I believe smallmouths were discovered in the Yampa. We know it is a voracious fish and so we weren't sure if they were really going to get a hold (yikes! did they). Along with the bait minnows (red shiner, sand shiner, and fat head minnows), there is been such a rapid decline in the presence of natives in the Yampa River.

>Q2. If so, and it started with a few bucket bio projects. Why do we think we can help now, if we can't guaruntee near anialation of the non-native invasive species?
>A2. The native species population was already stressed and with the pressure of the non-natives, the populations almost went extinct (we may still lose the bonytail chub). I think with the proper ratios, they can co-exist, but it may be 3 or 4 natives to one non-native (not all use the same resources (chub love fast water, razorbacks on the substrates, pikeminnow in the pools and runs). This a question that we are not sure about, can there be a co-existence. Browns Hunter brings up a good point and hope that they (natives) will be able to hold their own, therefore the ability to have co-existence.

>Q3. Too what end do we continue spending money on what appears to be a lost cause?
>A3. Good question. We are trying what we can, in the means most efficient. However, trying to keep anglers happy (relocation) and not just culling all the fish. But we have a goal in mind (linked above). When do we throw in the towel? probably when we haven't found, via sampling, a single native in a year or two and there is no evidence of reproduction.

>C1. These issues drive a wedge between sportsman and folks that work for the government. I suggest a sort of sea world here in Colorado. Where we can go look through some glass and watch these majestic billion dollar squaw fish and others swim around eating each other.
>A4. Check out the Denver Aquarium. But, there is enough of a population out there that we'd need a huge area. Keep in mind, these are river fish, not as adaptable (has been done, not impossible) to a lake system.

>C2. I have hooked a number of squaw fish in the Palisade area. They seem to be abundant there.
>A5. Awesome. I've only hooked into one and it was about 20" in the Yampa. I was fishing barbless and I wish I got my pic with it. I couldn't get it landed, but I finally got it into a tiny backwater where it saw me, I saw it, line went slack, it threw the hook and was outta there before I could even move. I would love to catch and land one.

As to your last question, because of the limited access places, and the distances to sample, it wouldn't be feasible to do a filleting station or such.
We collect hundreds of pounds of fish. You'd be filleting all year to keep up. Also, we don't just remove fish, it is also a monitoring program. We keep records of all the natives netted, note their weight, spawning condition, location, etc. We've compiled databases on movements and some habits. So we go out and sample almost all day before coming back to the launch site. The fish would be out all day. River boating isn't that easy, even with jet boats. It takes a lot of time to do several river miles.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:55:24 PM     Points: 8656    
Bug Chucker,
We have considered it. Here is some of the problems that we had with it.

1) still not big enough.
2) the river land owners don't want any access onto their land.
3) if we obtained a spawning area, the area may need to be closed for 3 to 4 weeks every year. Closures don't go over well with fishers.

However, this is a personal statement and idea, not that of the programs (I'm a lab rat, so who listens to me anyway?)
I would love to see thorough river maps developed. The opportunity to have raft trips, guided or not, for fishermen, to float from Point A to Point B. Information of how to keep fish over the period and recipes to cook them - simple ones that you can do on a 3 day raft trip.

Only problem, land owners on the river don't like it. It doesn't bring money in to them - directly. They can't do anything in reality until the river is low enough that your canoe can't float.
Land owners own the riverbed. So as long as you stay on the water (floating), you're good.

But if you can "advertise" it, get people involved, I think it could help. It would also help with public involvement, education, and people could go away knowing that they helped save a few species from extinction, further progress toward a goal, and hey, you helped the government.

I'm sure there are some superb ideas out there. If I could afford it, I'd buy land out there. But hey, that's life, I'm here and it's there.

 Reply by: Fishlip      Posted: 4/26/2011 1:58:33 PM     Points: 16    
Fishseal - anybody who has spent more than 2 minutes on the bank of the Lower Yampa knows the crawdad abundance is astonishing. I have always believed this is one of the reasons the smallmouth and pike did so well in the river. With the continued removals of bass what do you expect the fall-out (if any) due to un-checked crawdad populations to be to recruitment of any spawning fish in the river?
 Reply by: castingdonkey      Posted: 4/26/2011 2:11:40 PM     Points: 202    
Thanks for the answers. As for filleting fish I can do a bass in around 30 seconds or less. I used to do it for a living on a boat in high seas with whatever waether conditions happen to be that day. So I can do more than a hundred fish an hour with unstable footing even after getting tired. I realize that you folks are documenting natives and that clearly isn't the issue for us anglers, we would expect nothing less.

When do we throw in the towel? probably when we haven't found, via sampling, a single native in a year or two and there is no evidence of reproduction.

That makes an endless process with stocking of new fish,this will never happen. Along with pike and small mouth living in the lake upstream of the river that will continue to bail over the dam when run off is high. This leads us guys to think that the agencies are half stepping on the job in order to drag it out to retirement. Believe me all of us guys would rather chase fish all day with nice boats and expenses paid.

Can't someone come up with a more drastic plan to clean up the mess that we so love to fish?

It just seems that if the electro fishing isn't effective enough for bio's to give a completion date, then why not do something more severe and then just re-stock with natives?

I don't want to see either fish destroyed but I would like to see our government held accountable on deadlines and spending. I hope something gets sorted out soon.

Thanks a bunch for the answers.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 2:19:59 PM     Points: 8656    
That's an interesting point.
I'm glad you mentioned it... because I hadn't thought of them, good call.

You know, things change... I was in Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and I don't recall seeing that many crawdads. I saw pieces from birds, so I knew they were there, but I don't think I saw a live one.

I would be interested to see the relationship of the crawdad on fish populations. I think I'm going to have to do some research.

Here is what I would have to consider:
1) Crawdad habitat preference. The habitat that the fish spawn and crawdads occupy may not overlap significantly. Therefore, there is no affect of crawdads on the fish population.
2) Is crawdad a food source for native fish also? If so, what size do pikeminnow have to be before their diet starts consisting of crawdads?
3) If the crawdads are having a significant impact on spawning native fish eggs, what can be done to discourage crawdads but keep the native fish spawning? or release the limit on crawdads and encourage harvesting. They do taste good in a cajun boil.

Good point fishlip.

The environmental web is so intricate it's amazing. Pull on one strand and everything is affected in one way or another. Trying to wrap one's mind about it is difficult.

 Reply by: bobco      Posted: 4/26/2011 2:23:05 PM     Points: 230    
What a crock of crap, If anyone else in this state killed and threw SMB on the bank like these criminals do they would be ticketed by the CDOW for wanton waste of wildlife. The dumbing down of the CDOW, UTAH here I come , I cannot wait to retire to get out of this brainless agencys area. BTW I do not believe the Northern Pike were bucket bio's. TheFlyrules knows allot of this information first hand, good info Cody.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/26/2011 2:43:24 PM     Points: 8656    
Do you give lessons? 8-) I seriously need some help filleting my fish!! It takes me about 5 to 10 minutes for me to do it. I think that's amazing, 30 sec or less. Definitely a pro in my book.

Actually, I know there's stocking in the Green and Colorado, but I think there's only been bonytail in the Yampa. If they are stocking pikeminnow in the Yampa they are all tagged. Any that are captured without a tag are exciting as they could be "natural" but I don't think we've found one for a while.
As for the reproduction part, just because they are stocked doesn't mean they are spawning. The lab I work for, we specialize in the identification of larval fish. A good day is when I see a fish more than an inch long. I can tell you if it's a native fish or not when it's only 9 mm long. So, when I no longer see any, that's going to be a scary day.
Also, if we continue to see reproduction, it means there could be fish that we can't catch (wizened to sampling techniques) and continue to successfully reproduce.

As for the boating days, expenses paid, it's not what it's all cracked up to be. Standing on deck, with a foot on a pad, net in hand, trying to see into the water, net fish, with it raining, snowing, sleeting, hailing, or burning sun, reflection of the water, away from home for 10 days in an environment that will test you physically. Boat or motor failure, inclement weather, and close quarters will test a person's psyche and the newness of field work wears off. Yes, you have great days of big fish and new sightings, record breakers, but those days are few between.
You're out there also data recording, taking measurements of water and fish all day. Sometimes you go without seeing a fish or very few.

It takes a certain type of person to want to do it... and knowing that now we can't relocate fish is even more of a bummer. The anesthetic that is used to humanely dispatch fish makes them unusable for human consumption for 30 days. I'd rather relocate them.

The dam on Elkhead was "re-done" to accommodate the runoff and the fish barrier was to prevent fish escapement, but it failed. If it had worked, believe me, Elkhead would be chock full of huge bass and pike.

The more "drastic plans" have been considered and shelved to prevent more hostility. We're trying to accommodate for the two main parties involved.

Good questions.


 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/26/2011 3:04:20 PM     Points: 119    
Most anglers on the Yampa practice strict catch and release of bass and pike. We will continue to do so and continue to spread the message of catch and release for gamefish, so any hopes of the public keeping gamefish is wishful thinking, because the public hates the removals. One of these days, the killers will be kicked off the river when a conservative governor with some courage comes to power. The recovery program is a waste, unpopular, and needs to be altered. If there were no game fish killings, people would support it a lot more. Little proof exists that nonnative fish caused statisically significant declines in native fish populations. Due to our economy being broke, it needs to be stopped altogether right now. I'm sick and tired of paying for these environmental purists to play God on my rivers and get no results.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/26/2011 3:08:24 PM     Points: 119    
Why don't you tell them about the USFWS and Utah and Wyoming poisoning the Green River to make way for gamefish??? That had more to do with the plight native fish are in than any amount of sportfish. Flaming Gorge Dam, poisoning, chemical changes in the water, and diversions are what have doomed native fish. I'm not claiming nonnative fish have had NO impact, but it's a small one at worst.

The definition of insanity is banging your head against the wall again and again, and hoping for a different result.

Ohhhh, I'm afraid the bass and pike populations will still be quite robust for years to come, and there will continue to be no increases in native fish. Endangered fish have increased SLIGHTLY in some areas of the Colorado River basin, but NONE can be conclusively linked to gamefish removal. I am a man of scientific proof, and the Recovery Program is agenda driven bias, nothing more.
 Reply by: peanut112905      Posted: 4/27/2011 7:31:05 AM     Points: 1    
As I see it the the most important extinction we face is true facts. Since we are unable to trust the self absorbed, self promoting folks that control our fisheries!
 Reply by: TheFlyRules      Posted: 4/28/2011 7:39:43 AM     Points: 130    
I am proud of FXR for leaving this thread.

This mutiny on the Yampa must stop under its current guise. Let's redevelop a True Real plan that works for all of the interested parties as well as doing more for the endangered fishes of the Yampa system.

It can be done, it must be done. People like FishSeal have a broken sense of their current dealings and how misguided their science (guessing) has become.

It is time for an accounting. I think we can put a dollar figure on each endangered fish in that river. Then let's see just how big our opportunity cost is on this situation, Staggering I am sure.
 Reply by: Browns Hunter      Posted: 4/28/2011 8:09:40 AM     Points: 2140    
You know... if the Endangered Species Act continues with these various actions... is there any possibility that they'll ask that a certain dam be removed from the Green River? I'm thinking about a large one in a Flaming Gorge that surely messes up the Green River for our endangered fish. Granted, the tailwaters below the dam and the reservoir itself provide great sport fishing, but at the expense of these native fish! Horrors!
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 9:37:41 AM     Points: 8656    
I'm glad that FxR has also allowed this thread to continue. I think this topic, even though there are different opinions expressed, is important. What I'm glad about, is that most of the opinions expressed that even though they are passionate, are being communicated in a thoughtful manner.

I don't know if you've heard, but research has found extremely high levels of mercury in the larger bass that were being relocated. Many of them were going into the kid ponds in Craig and Elkhead Reservoir. Since they are a health hazard, that was another reason to euthanizing the bass. I'm now wondering if the bio-accumulation of mercury is from the consumption of the crayfish.

I'm not sure how to interpret your comments on my "thought processes" but I'll accept it. My judgments are based on two main things, one, my preferences, that as a citizen and steward, would like to see one of Colorado's rarest resources saved so that I and my kids will be able to fish for some of Colorado's few natives, and two, the research I see and hear about from the inside, having resources for chemical and biological analysis.

But, I am seriously interested, as you have seemed to think through the process and management plans, what would be your "plan that works for all of the interested parties as well as doing more for the endangered fishes of the Yampa system." I like to think "outside the box" and because I'm not involved with the management plans (just work on specific projects and their data/fish), I'm curious what your thoughts are.
I think that the Upper Colorado River Basin Recovery Program (RP) plans have been expressed, but not those outside the RP (Other than removing people which isn't really going to change anything - but a physical plan or direction would).

I agree the cost is high, but it has been more than just the Yampa. There has been a lot of work on humpback and bonytail chub, razorback sucker, and the Colorado pikeminnow in the entire basin. It isn't all going into the Yampa as it's just a part of the system.

Brown's Hunter,
I seriously doubt they will ever remove the dams. Here's part of the reason why, too many people need that resource. It is a hydro as well water storage for States west of the divide, Arizona as an example.
The dams I can recall that were removed for endangered species had little to no need, mostly old irrigation canal dams on the East.
Even in the San Juan drainage, they have done some work to remove the little dams that are no longer used, are typically disabled in some way, but are a barrier to native fish. They have seen native fish move into those areas that were once restricted, which is an encouraging sign. However, again, these dams were not needed by anyone, so no one was impacted by their removal.

Thanks everyone for keeping this civil. This is a passionate subject.

 Reply by: backlasher      Posted: 4/28/2011 10:24:32 AM     Points: 7    
I am so glad that someone on the removal side of this debate is sticking around a civilized discussion. I have an observation and I wonder if you have seen the same things. I don't fish the area nearly as much as some but enough that one change since the removals have started seem obvious. There are not as many large fish but millions of small ones especially in the bass. I stood on a rock and hung a small tube jig in a clear back eddie and watched tons of 3" bass banging away at my jig. With the removal of the larger predators it seems the river could easily be overcome with small fish. If I have thirty baby bass pecking at my tube jig imagine what they will do to these tiny fry you speak of.
Predators are often the best mechanism to keep a watershed in balance. Maybe the small fish were there before but I had never seen them.
My guess is with the removal of large lake trout the small ones will become a problem in the future for Blue Mesa and more money will be spent trying to get rid of the small ones. The end result being lots of skinny small lake trout in Blue Mesa.
My guess on the Yampa is, in the future we will have lots of skinny bass and pike and few or no pikeminnows as a school of small starving fish will do a lot more damage than a few beasts.
If your goal is truly to not eliminate the bass from the watershed then why not release the larger fish and thin the herd so to speak.
 Reply by: Yakker      Posted: 4/28/2011 10:29:10 AM     Points: 12    
Fishseeker - great post. I see a lot of outrage here but no real alternatives being advanced. It is a difficult situation with the endangered species act ruling out most of the options that all lot of sport fishermen would prefer. My concern with leaving larger fish is that they produce lots of little fish and the problem starts all over.

The "shoot the messenger" plan is not going to help at all. I wish I was creative enough to come up with viable solutions that are not in direct conflict with USFWS and the ESA - sadly I am not. This is a sad situation - not only do we lose a great river, but significant resource are diverted to do it.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 11:30:39 AM     Points: 8656    
backlasher and Yakker,
Both of you brought up some good points.
backlasher, yakker answered your question regarding the [why not leave a few big mouths to eat the little guys].
We are trying to remove both the big and little ones, but again, you have to remember that it's not as easy as it appears. First, netting from a boat. You can't step onto the ground otherwise it's trespassing and we want to respect the land owner's rights. Little fish can go where it's shallower than the boat can access, so many are missed, but hopefully by removing the spawning capable fish, we'll be able to reduce the numbers of the little fish.
Here is where science and ecology take place though. Through sampling and analyzing the otoliths of small bass, we are able to identify the time the bass spawned in years prior. Putting the data together gives us indicators to a more specific time that bass will spawn. This will be helpful, but we realize, this is "ideal", and the river is "alive" so there are some fish that will spawn before, after, and we're going to miss with our "ideal" predictions.
I think that if we observed native fish successfully reproducing and recruiting (growing to a reproducible age), we would begin to see a better balance and our involvement being a lot less. Personally, I think it be awesome to see a condition like what Brown's Hunter posted earlier.

Good points.

 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 12:26:19 PM     Points: 119    
Nothing in the ESA specifically requires gamefish removals or stocking restrictions. That is what Chuck Mcada himself told me. The removals and stocking restrictions are stricly voluntary, allowed and encouraged by the CDOW because of a large percentage of ecological purists within the organization. The ESA only mandates that the fish be recovered, not HOW they are recovered. Current management tactics have FAILED!

Again, removal of nonnatives has not worked and has not been proven to restore numbers of native fish, ESPECIALLY in the Yampa. The definition of insanity is banging your head against the wall time and time again, and hoping for a different result.

I have seen an INCREASE in the number of smallmouth bass in many areas as one person mentioned. I still catch a lot of 2 - 4 pound smallmouth out of the river though, even in the areas where the removals are most intense.

The removals are extremely unpopular, not required by any law, very expensive, and hugely ineffective. It is time to stop. One day the governor of Colorado will say no more! Doubt it will happen under Hickenlooper but I guarantee you one day it will end under a conservative leader who actually listens to the people and tells the environmental purists to pound sand.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 12:50:18 PM     Points: 8656    
I'd agree, it's not in the ESA regarding removal, but it does have specific guidelines of what is necessary for the species to be removed from the ES List (ESL). It doesn't say that species B and C have to be removed for Species A (Endangered) to be removed from the ESL. It does say that Species A has to 1) be self sustaining, 2) have so many established populations, and 3) begin to grow before being removed. Right now, we know there is reproduction occurring, but there is no recruitment or very little, and the population cannot sustain itself under the current environmental conditions.

So, if the removal efforts haven't helped, what else would you suggest to help boost the native fish so they can be taken off the ESL?


 Reply by: bobco      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:05:44 PM     Points: 230    
habitait reconstruction, remove every irriagation diversion on the yampa, remove stagecoach elk head and anyother dam structure that has altered natural historic flows. Yup not going to happen, so the poor little suckers will never recover, the habitat is gone!!! get over it and lets spend those millions of dollars for something worth wild like a golf vaction for Obama......
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:24:50 PM     Points: 8656    
Habitat reconstruction would consist of removing tamarisk, and if we opened up backwaters (birmed up to keep non-native fish out, for spawning reasons) would increase non-native fish abundance, and nothing else.

The only irrigation canal is the Maybell ditch, which isn't causing any problems as there have not been any endangered fish captured in the ditch.

The river still has it's natural flow regardless of Stagecoach, Elkhead, Catamount, and any other water retention because they are not on the Yampa River. They are located on tributaries to the Yampa and release water into the Yampa at the same time around runoff.

The habitat is basically there, which is why it is so important for the recovery of these native fish. They occupy a niche that is unique when compared to other fishes.

 Reply by: backlasher      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:26:47 PM     Points: 7    
Yakker and FS. I am aware that large fish have babies. So do stunted overpopulated skinny fish. They just have lots of them that go unchecked. When the pikeminnows were 5' long they were the predator but they are not anymore. Removing the top of the food chain can be dangerous.
 Reply by: edawg      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:36:29 PM     Points: 364    
It may not be politically correct, but I'm gonna say it anyway - Leave the smallmouth and Pike alone in the Yampa. They are a lot more interesting to me than razorback chubs and bony tailed suckers. Maybe they don't co exist well with these "native" species, but they do have some recreational value, and if the fishery was allowed to flourish (they've been removing pike and bass from the Yampa for years and they keep coming back) they would help bring some money into the local economy as well, while the various native rough fishes provide neither of these things. Just my opinion!
E dawg
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:37:47 PM     Points: 119    
Many people hate the native fish so much that they kill every single one they catch. The removals have made that even more intense. You will not win when the public will simply put gamefish back into the river. The main thing is the fish are not recoverable because of irreparable habitat alteration, and the poisoning of the Green River. Flaming Gorge Dam did a lot more than the poisoning though. The science has NEVER proven removing nonnatives saves natives, so why do it when after all these years it hasn't worked? Oh, because it's job security. They just want it to continue forever. Quit hiding behind theory and assumption and calling it scientific consensus.

Squawfish rarely ever reached 5' in length. Any of that size were again mostly old tales, fossil records (most things were bigger once upon a time), and old photos.

With the general public and now anglers spreading the message how bad the removals are and how expensive and ineffective the whole program is, it is just a losing battle. The recovery program will die.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:41:37 PM     Points: 119    
Right on the money e dawg. You are actually in the majority, very few people want the removals. It's only popular among environmentalists, water users, and government bureaucrats. I have found support for the removals on fishing forums to be quite scant, and I suspect most of those are CDOW/USFWS/CSU personell.

I will continue to spread the message of what the removals and recovery program do, and so will my fellow anglers. Eventually opposition will be so overwhelming they will have no choice but to comply. We pay their salaries, we own the rivers! Not them!
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:43:24 PM     Points: 119    
The program itself can exist without the removals of gamefish or stocking restrictions. It existed before these things, and endangered fish populations have not increased at a faster rate since removals started.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:47:43 PM     Points: 119    
A very interesting example of how natives CAN coexist with nonnatives is the HUGE population of roundtail chubs, bluehead suckers, and flannelmouth suckers in the Colorado River downstream of Rifle and the Green River downstream of Jensen. There are lots of Channel Cats and smallmouth bass in those river sections, and other native fish listed above do fine. In fact, CDOW biologist Bill Elmblad told me that 90% of the numbers AND biomass of the mainstem Colorado River in the Grand Junction area is NATIVE fish.

Another overlooked factor is the most abundant predator in the Upper Colorado River basin is the Roundtail Chub. It consumes endangered fish, and also hybridizes with humpback and bonytail chub. Yet because it's native it gets a pass, yet it may be doing more damage than any other fish.

When you continue to attack the wrong reasons for endangered fish being endangered (nonnative fish), you will continue to fail. But then again, if you weren't failing, you would be out of a job.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 1:59:16 PM     Points: 8656    
I understand the recreational value, but pike and bass are found more prevalent throughout the state, and natives are on the ESL because they cannot be found anywhere else nationally.
Pike and bass will always be around because of their recreational value. Why not give the natives a chance to show their recreational value? They were fished for, they were eaten also. Don't call them trash fish unless you've actually tried it (however, if you do and you are killing them, shame on you for breaking your own values).

As for roundtail chub, they are a species of concern and not known for eating eggs, larvae, and hybridization is rarely observed.

As for non-natives, we know they are a part of the problem, but if you research the programs website, you should know we have been also looking at water quality, substrate composition, and other chemical processes that affect native and non-native fish.

 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/28/2011 2:08:33 PM     Points: 169    
Are the endangered fish considered a keystone species? If so saving them would be paramount to saving an entire ecosystem if not it appears they are being saved just because some people find they have aesthetic value. Who gets to decide that?
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 2:25:28 PM     Points: 8656    

I think if we just dismiss a species, let it go extinct, when it's the only of it's kind, it's shame on us for not doing what we can to help it. I believe there is more than aesthetic value here. I believe there is a real recreational value, education, and a real gain if we succeed. Colorado already has one with the recovery of the Greenback Cutthroat. I believe that we as people, I'm not talking about the program, are to be responsible stewards of our resources.

Smallmouths and pike can be found at a shorter distance from "home" for most people than our native fish, which can only be found in the Colorado River Basin.

As a funny side hijack thought, I'd rather catch a 3' foot fish with no teeth than a 3' fish that could take off my finger.

 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 2:56:18 PM     Points: 119    
I've caught the native fish. Due to their lack of fight and in general small size, they have no recreational value in my mind. The Yampa isn't just a pike and smallmouth fishery, it is a WORLD CLASS one. Some of us can't afford to drive to places far away. The Division is also actively trying to kill many of our pike lakes, again based on biased and false science. I would never kill a native fish, that would make me as bad as the shockers. The Squawfish I have caught have ranged up to 28" or so but they put up almost no fight.

I know for a fact that people were much happier eating introduced Channel Cats. Back in those days, you couldn't be too choosy about food. Today you can be.

The Greenback Cutthroat is a beautiful gamefish. None of the Colorado River endangered fish are either.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 2:58:18 PM     Points: 119    
No the endangereds are not a keystone species. Nothing will happen if we lose these four fish. It won't all come tumbling down. That's one of the biggest bunches of garbage I've ever heard.
How can you be a responsible steward of our resources when you are pillaging them (shocking and killing our gamefish)? You can't.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:00:42 PM     Points: 119    
I believe having a bunch of ugly, non game fish in a river does us no good as a society. Good opportunities? BOSH!
 Reply by: ducati      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:08:32 PM     Points: 2295    
So your ^^^ argument is that because you think they are ugly and don't put up a fight these species should go extinct?
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:09:23 PM     Points: 119    
The public wants smallmouth and pike, that is why they were stocked in Elkhead and in the river itself. Why don't you see any illegal stocking of Colorado native fish? Because there is no demand for them. The people's opinions matter a lot more than the CDOW or USFWS. I am tired of the tyrants in both organizations spreading their ecological purity/totalitarianism on the rest of us.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:11:10 PM     Points: 169    

Really any species? So you would then believe a species would take precedent over any needs of man?

What if a huge oil deposit was found along the Colorado River Basin that would be enough to cut foreign oil dependency by 1/2 with the risk of losing the Pike Minnow. Would you still be in favor of saving it over our energy needs.

Just wondering.

BTW I think the Green Back is very aesthetically pleasing and worth saving. LOL

 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:11:20 PM     Points: 119    
That's a straw man argument Ducati. Just because I oppose stocking restrictions and gamefish killing doesn't mean that by default my position is that I would like to see the natives go extinct. I just know by their own data that removing gamefish hasn't and won't help the natives. I also believe we have higher priorities in this economy than endangered rough fish. It's not worth trying to destroy a world class fishery for non game species.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:16:40 PM     Points: 119    
I believe NO species takes precident over man. These same extremists shut down farming in California's Central Valley over fears the 3" Delta Smelt would get stuck in irrigation pumps. Thousands lost their farms, livelyhoods, and jobs because of this, and the economic impact is in the billions. SHAME on these freaks.
 Reply by: aerofanbig      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:16:57 PM     Points: 1241    
Wow, I love how the close minded people really come out and beat their drums louder and louder thinking they look less stupid to the rest of the world.

This threads going south, expect either a LARGE cleanup happening or a lock. Better get your self involved, close minded, selfish me-me-me-me only my way is the right way statements in now! lol
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:17:09 PM     Points: 119    
Bugchucker, remember that pikeminnows don't exist. Only squawfish do! :-D
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:19:11 PM     Points: 119    
So how are the enviros, with their save everything regardless of cost or impact, any less selfish than the sportsmen who are PO'd about having a fantastic resource pillaged?

This thread is not going south. It has been very constructive and the dialogue honest, on BOTH sides. To nuke it would be cowardly IMO.
 Reply by: ducati      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:27:14 PM     Points: 2295    
Sorry I had to look up what a straw man argument Anyway, I certainly don't want to see a genocide on game fish either, I will chase a Pike or Smallie any day over any of the fish mentioned but I would certainly hate to see species that have been around for however long vanish regardless of how appealing they are or how much of a gamefish they are or aren't. Tough situation, what do you do? I do know what wont happen the slimers that are stocked in everything from major reservoirs, creeks and rivers to warm water mud holes will never be targeted as part of a problem, which I am absolutely convinced they are. I would also go on to say that if I were to go with my gut feeling these actions aren't so much about the native fish as they are about locking in another trout sanctuary. But hey if I am wrong on that and the true intent is to save these natives, well I am not sure what to say or what the answer is.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:32:54 PM     Points: 119    
The main aim isn't to save the native fish, the aim is to protect another government boondoggle and keep funding rolling in for river trips and government jobs.
 Reply by: Greenhead      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:35:29 PM     Points: 50    
I'm sorry, but a sucker or chub is not and will never be a game fish. This whole process is all about job security, plain and simple. Like Ice said, one day this will stop and our lakes and rivers will become great fisheries, like what they have in UT, WY. NM, NV, AZ, KS, OK, NE. Pretty much all our neighboring states that manage for game fish and sportsmen. Like it or not, all those states have a lot better fisheries than us and there is NO excuse for it other than poor management.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:38:42 PM     Points: 6092    
"This thread is not going south. It has been very constructive and the dialogue honest, on BOTH sides."

You have GOT to be kidding me. Apparently CF and WSA aren't big enough stages for your rants.

"UT, WY. NM, NV, AZ, KS, OK, NE"
A lot of people in these states wished that their states were managed like CO, no lie. The grass is always greener, right?
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:46:12 PM     Points: 119    
I don't believe that a bit about the other states. All fisheries managers on Colorado's West Slope want are trout, trashfish, and kokes. They want them because it provides the most job security for them, and that they don't reproduce on their own (they want to play God with everything). And to say this thread hasn't been civil is to akin to calling Mother Theresa someone who didn't want to help the poor. I guess you don't want any discussion unless it fits your agenda.

And my posts are hardly rants, they are factual, intelligent, critically thinking writings. I dare say the public sides closer to me than to the other side.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:53:31 PM     Points: 8656    

I don't believe it should have a precedence over man.

However, with your scenario, assuming we didn't have our oil reserves (which, why don't they release those? I agree with Iceintheveins that man, with gas prices rising, it's hard to go far), we have enough resources to tap into the oil without harming the pikeminnow. The ability for directional oil drilling has been wonderful for oil companies and conservation. I wish we could bag some of the monster antelope that hang around them.

The Alaskan pipeline is a great example.

I like all of them, but as my coworker says, I'm a "fish dork."
If you'd like a really cool fish, check out Gobioides brussonetti.
 Reply by: Greenhead      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:55:05 PM     Points: 50    
Brookie, part of that is true. I've talked to and have known several people that have moved here from those states , but after fishing a lake like Ridgway and catching nothing but stockers they quickly change their mind.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/28/2011 3:56:18 PM     Points: 6092    
Factual? All you do is ad hominem attacks. I've yet to see any of the science you say you have.
Hell, I didn't even know I had an agenda. I'm a kid that likes to learn and discuss. If you have been paying attention on other parts of this site, you would see that I'm a conservationist that fights for our gamefish rights. I disagree vehemently with the DOW in once instance (see pike bowfishing threads) and I agree with them at other places (see above). That, to me, is the sign of someone who is able to take the information given to him and make informed, logical decisions.

If you would give me the science you say you have, I might reconsider. But right now, I side with the man with the experience: Fish Seal.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:08:46 PM     Points: 119    
Read many of the reports on the Yampa River, it clearly states native fish populations continue to tumble. Just google it and you will find it. It is that I am referring to. I have PLENTY of scientific studies to cite, I just have to find the evidence again in my files. That may take a while because I cite A LOT of studies. So don't Ad Hominem me.
 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:10:06 PM     Points: 119    
All I want people to do is do their own research. The studies are right out there, plain as day and easy to find. I'm just telling you what they say.
 Reply by: boarderchick9      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:19:08 PM     Points: 1    
I have fished the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument for many years and have a wonderful time catching the natives. They are big and fight very differently than the little bass that I occasionally catch on the river. The pikeminnow was so magnificent! It is truly exhilarating to catch something native and true instead all the introduced and stocker fish. I feel it is important to preserve this experience and resource. If you want to catch those non natives and stockers go to Elkhead and Loudy Simpson.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:19:43 PM     Points: 8656    
This is where I get the majority of my data: [log in for link]

I'd have to say that it is difficult for a person to do their own data, not impossible, but difficult.
There is so much info that at first, one is bogged down. But as soon as the numbers are arranged correctly, with sizes and species, a picture begins to develop.
This is just from personal experience. I'd have to say that it's also difficult in presenting the results without being a part of an organization. Typically numbers and results are proofed and verified.


 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:27:28 PM     Points: 119    
Besides the squawfish, flannelmouth, bluehead, and razorback sucker, none of the natives commonly exceed 18". They fight like a stick. Tell me the average 13" or so Yampa smallie doesn't fight harder, let alone a 4 pounder.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:36:08 PM     Points: 169    

What do they taste like. I know the channel cats below Echo Park are very tasty.

 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:49:27 PM     Points: 8656    
Hm, that's interesting.
So 4 of 7 get over 18". 2 of the 3 remaining are so rare that it is a dream to catch them (humpback and bonytail chub). Yet I remember catching a few 14 to 16" roundtails and they fought well.
State record length smallmouth 23 3/4", state record weight (length) smallmouth was 6# 8oz (20 3/4"). However the average smallmouth in the Yampa is around 12" to 13," about half of a state record. Both records were from Aurora reservoir on the E slope. How come we're not seeing records of even MA records of smallmouths coming from the Yampa? I'm not saying that they aren't there, I think they are. But to call it a world call fishery? I would expect to see more records coming from the Yampa. I think published evidence, like the MA the DOW releases in their book, or that FxR publishes for that body of water give it credibility. I'm not saying that it never be called a World Class Fishery either.

If the native fish are lost, then I believe it will be managed differently as there will no native fish to protect and could become a world class fishery. I think if the natives win, it could also be World Class Fishery (it doesn't mean you have to eat them 8-). World Class Fishery has some, but no real defining terms, so it is subjective.

As for their fighting, I would have to leave that to personal preference. I remember my pikeminnow fighting unlike any fish (even my MA pike) that I can remember.

 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/28/2011 4:56:27 PM     Points: 169    
I can see it now. The first annual squawfish fishing tourney sponsored by The Wild Earth Guardians and the Tides Foundation. No entry fee for eco socialists.
 Reply by: BugChucker      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:02:06 PM     Points: 169    
I have caught one squawfish around echo park and I concede it did put up a pretty good fight.

And it tasted like chicken.... JK
 Reply by: Fishlip      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:02:45 PM     Points: 16    
Fishseal - do you really believe that Stagecoach is not on the Yampa?

 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:17:20 PM     Points: 52    
I do not have a solid opinion on this topic (yet) - though I support the idea of recovering the natives. If the removals will have a significant benefit, then I support them 100% - if not, then I do not. As a fish geek, I hope recovery is possible.

1. Why have the Roundtail, Bluehead, and Flannelmouth been more successful than the 4 endangered species? I have to guess that may have a connection to the reasons that keep the endangered species from recovery. If predation/competition was the primary issue, one would assume those species would be impacted more than they are.

2. Could the money be more effectively spent hatchery raising the endangered fish to adult or near adult size and the releasing them? That would greatly reduce the impact of predation, and if the species numbers were boosted high enough, a low reproductive rate would not be a major problem. Look at the Sturgeons, very low reproductive rate but present in good number (in some places) because they live long and there are enough adults to make up for the slow reproduction.

3. Since when does fighting power determine the worth of a fish? I grew up in WI, where walleyes are king. I've caught them to 30" - worst fighting fish ever. I've caught Roundtails to 16" and Flannelmouth to 23" - both would fight circles around a similar sized walleye. I will admit that a SM Bass of the same size fights harder than either of them but then a Sturgeon would turn a Bass inside out - but that is another argument entirely.

It would seem to me that not eliminating the "sport" fishery would bring more support from local anglers for the recover effort and that may have a greater positive impact than the negative of having the exotic species in the river.

I find it interesting that the locals here want SM Bass and the powers that be are destroying them but in the arrowhead region of Minnesota (where SM Bass are also exotics) the locals hate SM Bass with a passion but the DNR has no intension of doing anything about them.

 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:21:37 PM     Points: 119    
I believe roundtails fight poorly, and that the suckers I have caught (never a razorback), fight poorly for size too.

The average smallie might run 12" - 13" or so on the Yampa, but 2 - 4 pound fish up to 20" are common, and my brother has a couple five pounders out of there to boot, one of which MIGHT have been a state record. So you wouldn't call a fishery world class where you can catch 30 or so smallies over a pound per day and 5 - 10 of them will run 2.5 pounds or better, and then throw in 8 - 10 pike per day from 20" to 50", though fish over 40" seem to be fairly few and far between? Not to mention some big Channel Cats. I had a day once, in 2006 actually, years after the removals began in a heavy removal area, where I caught at least 60 smallies over a pound and probably a dozen that were well over 3 pounds, and 21 pike including a couple 40 inchers. WORLD CLASS FISHERY!
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:23:01 PM     Points: 8656    
Thanks for calling me out on that one. I double checked my map, you are correct it is on the Yampa.
I don't know how much of an affect is has on the Yampa from Craig downstream. That is up there in the headwaters and there are a lot of tributaries.
If we examine the hydrological maps for the Yampa on, you'll observe that the hydological regime hasn't changed. It peaks at the same time, the flows (cfs) remain the same, so to say how much Stagecoach has affected it, I don't know. It would be interesting to see if the records go back to before Stagecoach and see if there's been any change.
Gunnison on the other hand, ouch... take a look at those records for a comparison.

Again, thank you fishlip for correcting me. I am human, but I'll try to verify my data before releasing it.

 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:35:20 PM     Points: 8656    
Good insight. Those are some of the ideas that should be shared, then bantered about.

I'll say that we have noticed a bit of decline in the suckers. They have called it the three species act, flannelmouth, bluehead, and roundtail.
Some of it is competition with the white sucker, which can also hybridize and "dilute" the gene pool.

I love your idea of raising native fishes to a larger size and stocking them. However, we have found that if we tank/pond raise them, they are basically worthless when stocked. They aren't as adept at trying new foods when they've been fed, they don't know what substrate is or about predators. Granted this was tried with razorback suckers and there was a very low recovery rate. But, what if we took it a step further? What if we had raceways on an easement that we could grow them, pumping water from the Yampa and having a river type raceway? I think this would have a higher rate of success.

I agree that the "fight" of the fish should not determine the outcome. It is subjective to the individual.

Again, our goal is not to "eliminate" the sport fishery, but 1) restore the native fish to a self sustaining population and 2) develop a balance.

Thanks for your input roughfisher, good points.

 Reply by: IceInTheVeins      Posted: 4/28/2011 5:59:16 PM     Points: 119    
Roundtail chubs are major predators of smaller fish and frequently strike spinners and crankbaits that imitate other fish. Please don't tell me they aren't predators, because that would be dishonest.
 Reply by: HeavyC      Posted: 4/28/2011 8:26:36 PM     Points: 4381    
Great thread! :))

HC Out!

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