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Free Fishing Tournaments at Elkhead and Ridgway

Blog by: Tom McInerney , CO 6/7/2017
*From CPW, be sure to visit their tournament page:

2017 Free Fishing Tournaments at Elkhead Reservoir State Park and Ridgway State Park

The Elkhead Reservoir (Moffat and Routt counties) Fishing Classic tournament will take place June 24th through July 2nd. This tournament will target smallmouth bass and northern pike. One northern pike and one smallmouth bass will be tagged and released immediately prior to the tournament with individually numbered 2017 passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Fish will be checked for tags at the CPW fish scanning station. If a 2017 tagged smallmouth bass and/or northern pike are/is caught during the tournament, the respective angler(s) will receive a cash award (check) of $1,500 per fish on the day the fish is caught. If only one or neither of the 2017 PIT tagged fish are caught during the tournament dates, the remaining cash awards (checks) for this category (either one or both awards) will be drawn for and presented by CPW during the raffle ticket draw at the conclusion of the tournament (approximately 3:30pm) on Sunday, July 2nd.

At the conclusion of the tournament, ​two $750 checks will be awarded to the angler(s) who has/have caught and turned in the most northern pike and/or the most smallmouth bass across the nine day tournament.

Additional prizes totaling $4,500 will be also be awarded daily between 5:00pm and 5:30pm in the following categories:

Northern Pike:  smallest per day, largest per day, most caught per day
Smallmouth Bass:  smallest per day, largest per day, most caught per day
There is no bag or possession limit for northern pike or smallmouth bass at Elkhead Reservoir.

Participants must check in at the registration area when they arrive at Elkhead Reservoir.​ Youth under 16 can fish without a license. For those over 64, licenses are $1. Anglers ages 16-63 must possess a valid Colorado fishing license. All Colorado Fishing Regulations​ and Boating Regulations​ apply. It is recommended that anglers purchase their 2017 fishing license in advance of the tourname​nt as licenses are not typically available at the reservoir.​

There are 16 campsites available at Elkhead Reservoir State Park​ for $18.00/night. Reservations are encouraged. The daily entry fee into the park is $7.00.​

For more information regarding the Elkhead Reservoir Fishing Classic, please see the Tournament Rules and Tournament Flyer​ or call the Yampa River State Park​ at 970-276-2061.​


For the Third Annual Tournament at Ridgway, the more fish anglers catch the better their chances of winning prizes. Participants will receive a raffle ticket for every smallmouth bass they check in. Six tickets will be drawn for prizes at the end of the tournament on July 30.

Prizes are valued at more than $8,000. The top prize is a 14-foot Tracker fishing boat, complete with trailer, a 20HP engine, life jackets and a Humminbird sonar/GPS unit. 

Anglers with lined up bassIn addition, five Creek Company Clark Fork single-person pontoon boats will be awarded. All anglers 12 and under who check-in a smallmouth bass will receive a package of fishing lures.

Anglers can fish as many times as they want during the 24-day tournament. To learn the best ways to catch smallmouth bass and more about issues with non-native fish species, see the Smallmouth Bass at Ridgway Reservoir page. 

Camping facilities are available at Ridgway State Park, including 283 sites―many with full electric hook-ups―and three yurts. Daily entry to the park is $7, campsites range in price from $20 to $30 per night. 

​Those who plan to fish from boats must make sure their boats are cleaned, drained and dried before getting to Ridgway or any other reservoir in Colorado.

For more information, call the park at 970-626-5822.

Again be sure to visit CPW's tournament page for more links and details.

Blog content © Tom McInerney
Blog Comments
anglerwannabe, 6/8/2017 4:40:57 AM
I just can't do it Tom! lol
trouty, 6/8/2017 5:18:40 AM
What a bunch of A$$ clowns!!! I grew up in Minnesota, lived in Colorado for 15 years, and just can't wrap my head around this one. Destroying a fishery to save the "native" fish. Way to go!!! I've never fished either reservoir because of proximity, but based on principle alone, I can not accept this as being a good idea.
Abel1, 6/8/2017 6:34:30 AM
"Fishing Classic"???? By definition a "Classic Piece Of Work". Couldn't have defined it better myself. Glory days are ahead. Imagine catching a tagged minnow someday. That is as long as pollution/need for water don't interfere. But we all know that won't happen.
Pathway, 6/8/2017 7:16:37 AM
I'm surprised that this fishing blog would promote the destruction of western Colorado fisheries.
Artsy, 6/8/2017 9:24:10 AM
Wow. It appears that if we want to catch a fish other than trout, we'll have to travel to another state.
Coyute, 6/8/2017 9:29:57 AM
Fisherguyd, 6/8/2017 10:03:59 AM
When I lived in Delta, CO a couple of years ago Ridgway was my favorite lake just because of the Smallmouths. When I heard that they were trying to get rid of them I was glad when I moved. The mentality of the western slope G&F is there could be a thousand 16in Brown Trout and 1 Smallmouth in the river below Ridgway where all of the native minnows were cleaned out and they will still find a way to blame it on the 1 Smallmouth
AZXplant, 6/8/2017 10:42:41 AM
I fished a tournament like this at Spinney Mountain one year...I emphasize ONCE! When there's a guy at the boat ramp to "check you in" and he has a baseball bat in his hands, you know it's a sad day. I'll stick to the CWA tourneys where you get penalized if you bring in a dead fish and be able to sleep at night with a clean conscience. One would hope they would donate the meat from all those fish to a local homeless shelter or food bank but you know it won't happen. What a waste.
D-Zilla, 6/8/2017 5:31:29 PM
I absolutely hate these. I agree with AZX, at the very LEAST donate the meat. Don't kill them in vain. I honestly hope NOBODY catches anything. I'm sorry, there has to be a better way.
Abel1, 6/8/2017 8:37:15 PM
Coming this fall "The Elimination Round!"
longdraw, 6/9/2017 6:33:11 AM
Does Fishexplorer condone these kill tournaments?
SGM, 6/9/2017 7:11:35 AM
This makes me want to PUKE! One of our family traditions is to pike fish Elkhead over the 4th of July. Usually not crowded and good fishing. Now I wonder what it will be like. I usually take a few 24-26 inch fish to make pickled pike, however now I'm not sure I will.
Coyute, 6/9/2017 10:29:13 AM
Does Fishexplorer condone these kill tournaments? Good question.
Goosehunter82, 6/9/2017 11:04:37 AM
You guys keep asking if FXR condones these tournaments. FXR = Matt This isn't a publicly owned web sight or forum.
longdraw, 6/9/2017 11:18:30 AM
Does Matt Snider condone these kill tournaments?
FishSeal, 6/9/2017 11:21:37 AM
I think that the view here is only one sided in the comments. I understand that there will always be haters and pessimists. This is a unique opportunity for anglers to be involved in management. You don't want waste... this is the opportunity for the angler to be rewarded and have first dibs at fish in these systems. The other scenario is that the agencies will go in and remove the fish and they will be removed - without the anglers chance of opportunity. Besides, it's boring to have the same fish everywhere and I think it is good stewardship to keep native fish. If you think otherwise, then you honestly haven't considered giving a native fish a chance. The native fish, except for razorback, were harvested as a food resource. They were also known for their angling. It would be great to not lose this opportunity to see them recover, but also fish for them intentionally.
Swigs, 6/9/2017 11:50:07 AM
I don't see how this website is taking sides either way, essentially Tom cut and pasted verbatim from the CPW website with absolutely no opinion stated on the matter. Thanks for sharing the info Tom in an unbiased manner.
Goosehunter82, 6/9/2017 12:50:42 PM
Well said Swigs! I certainly don't condone this type of tournament but at the same time its another fishing opportunity that has been shared amongst our fishing community. That's what the forum is for!
anglerwannabe, 6/9/2017 2:19:15 PM
good call guys. Tom is representing ALL anglers. Expressing opinions is one thing, but no one should be bashing Tom. He Matt, Dave and some others have done a great job with this forum and part of what they have to do is give equal billing.
Abel1, 6/9/2017 8:29:09 PM
I think the individual who slaughters the most pike and wins the $750.00 should have his picture taken and it should be widely publicized. After all why take away such an honorable achievement.
Swigs, 6/9/2017 9:14:21 PM
Again Tom, thanks for sharing information in a classy professional manner and presenting a variety of angler news and opportunity. Your contributions are valued.
sickws6, 6/21/2017 1:20:39 PM
I agree with 90% off comments on here, Unique fishseal Cmon.... what this is 24 day Kill fest to save the trout, Colorado will have 10 inch rainbows and carp to catch for my kids because Game and fish and this idiocracy they are doing, when they do take out the majority of said fish, they will return because the people don't want just trout, this state needs to open its eyes and really quick or no one will be coming here to fish and I sure as hell wont pay them to keep killing trophy game fish, wonder how many pounds of unused meat will be gone to waste. if this keeps up and people condone this behavior you should just bust all your poles, sell your boat and take up knitting because fishing will not exist in this state anymore
nevskunked, 6/22/2017 11:18:55 AM
This sucks. They should stick to a management plan. They got the net and if they would manage the elevation better spills should be minimal. An epic fishery is going to be a mushy trout lake, which at 7$ a day and 18$ camping is to much to pay to crap in a toilet and swim. Fix the endangered fish problem by replacing/fixing there habitat so spawning is prolific. The few pike and SMB's that make it to the river cant decimate the population. When the coal is gone that community would benefit from a trophy lake.
Abel1, 6/22/2017 11:43:44 AM
I wouldn't get too worked up over this as I was there last weekend and there were dead pike everywhere. Maybe it was too hot and they all suffocated I don't know but it certainly wouldn't be worth the trip or the effort. I was skunked. I left and went to the Yampa and just nailed the browns and the occasional large rainbow.
Abel1, 6/22/2017 1:54:25 PM
Sorry I forgot to mention that if you do want to try your luck with what is left in the lake your best bet is to use the smallest spinner or spoon you have in your tackle box and 4# line. Don't use a steel leader as they will be leader shy. Apply these tactics and you will clean up over everyone else.
fishlips123, 6/22/2017 3:03:35 PM
I don't understand the CPW. they spend good money ruining a good fishery getting the bass and pike out of the Yampa and putting them in Elkhead. Now they find out the bass and pike are escaping Elkhead and are repopulating the Yampa. Now they want to eradicate the bass and pike from Elkhead. Seems like a little bit more thought should have gone into the whole bass and pike eradication program. Certainly wouldn't have wasted so much sportsmens' license money.