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Lake: McKay Lake
Fish: Black Crappie

Question on regs

Post By: FishingJunkie      Posted: 5/23/2016 6:28:59 PM     Points: 1816    
I saw people keeping really small crappies today (5-6in), so I called and spoke with an unnamed officer.

He checked the regs for that lake, there are two:
1) Flies and Lures only, and 2) all LMBs must be returned to the water immediately

There is no mention of minimum size limit for crappies specifically on that lake and he told me that because of that there is NO minimum size protection for those fish.....

It doesn't sound right, but I thanked him and we were done, but I got to thinking.... wouldn't the rule revert to state wide minimum for the species!?

I just checked the 2016 regs and there isn't a minimum for the species..... so that means any crappie, event the small juvenile can be kept?! Can someone clarify, plz?
 Reply by: Bware      Posted: 5/23/2016 6:35:14 PM     Points: 18    
Great question. I had a similar encounter when i caught a 20 in saugeye. Didnt know what the limit was but the ranger said any size is keepable in this pond. Mine was of size i knew but when he said any size is keepable i was baffled.
 Reply by: JKaboom      Posted: 5/23/2016 7:06:49 PM     Points: 4565    
Unfortunately that is an area where CO can improve in. Minimum size of crappie and panfish as well as some better slot limits on others. Personally I would not keep a crappie under about 9-10 inches but that's just me.
 Reply by: SGM      Posted: 5/23/2016 8:08:01 PM     Points: 16809    
To clarify, no minimum size means just that. If the fisherman wants to take their legal limit of 20 crappie they can at 5 inches or 10, their choice. Yes A 9 inch limit on crappie would be nice but that is not the case right now on most waters. There are a few that do have size limits like Jackson, JUmbo, North Sterling and Prewitt to name a few.
 Reply by: Ch00Chee      Posted: 5/23/2016 8:39:16 PM     Points: 62    
I see a lot of minnow buckets and crap like that but I haven't had time to check the sign but people need to know Mckay is artificial only. I made a few people mad when I outfished live bait which I wasn't sure if they changed the regs. Thanks for pointing this out!!! As for crappies, yes CO does need to put size limits on them. Sad to see small crappies going into a bucket.
 Reply by: FishingJunkie      Posted: 5/23/2016 8:48:36 PM     Points: 1816    
This kind of thing makes no sense whatsoever.... what is there to protect a juvenile fish from being taken as soon as it can swallow a jig or lure... nonsense.

The signs at McKay have been torn down.... it's combat fishing there every weekend and most weeknights..... soon to become a "dead sea"...
 Reply by: cookster      Posted: 5/23/2016 9:17:13 PM     Points: 64860    
Jumbo has a 10" min limit on crappie and hopefully it spreads statewide. Not that would matter to some but for the true sportsman it would grow some nice slabs worth filleting. JMO
 Reply by: Ch00Chee      Posted: 5/23/2016 9:41:38 PM     Points: 62    
Yeah sad because I've been finding so much trash at McKay. I've been doing CNR there every time I've gone. Sad to see a good fishery go down hill. They need to work on those signs!
 Reply by: bluecollarguy      Posted: 5/23/2016 10:20:31 PM     Points: 43    
IMO McKay is the most abused fishery in the metro area with Elaine T Valentine a close second. Anything goes at McKay and pretty much the same at ETV at the back catch and release pond. I'm not sure you could make a sign any bigger for those who walk right past them or even worse have zero care for what it says and break that specific rule in front of the sign.

Talking with biologists it takes much effort and time to enact any new regs and they need data to make decisions. The idea of blanket regs across the state is nearly unheard of here sadly.
 Reply by: Ziriux      Posted: 5/24/2016 7:34:10 AM     Points: 0    
McKay is trashed and abused indeed, a lot of the high school and even middle school kids trash the place, they go after school and fish and leave all their crap behind. A few times I've gone around and pick up the trash, like I do at the few other local lakes.

As far as people say state wide regs apply to all the waters, yes that may be true, BUT cities don't have to follow that and they do not get in trouble. I know an un-named lake when I called them to tell them they need to put up signs with regs that the state said, their response is "Our regs are not like Colorado state regs" so people fish the lake and take home 10 to 12 fish a person sometime a family goes out there and keeps that many.

Things will not change unless a person gets hired to protect that body of water, or people get educated on how their actions will destroy fishing.
 Reply by: illpilgrim      Posted: 5/24/2016 7:54:50 AM     Points: 1704    
It amazes me that I have been checked by a ranger three times at Stearns Lake this year. McKay is very close, yet I have never seen a ranger.
 Reply by: esoxrocks      Posted: 5/24/2016 7:59:03 AM     Points: 2504    
It's too bad but as has been said many times before on this site, outdoor participants are represented at the best and worst ends of the conservation spectrum. I often hear members say.... "if it is within the regulations, you can't criticize the practice"...I say BS.

There are all sorts of practices worthy of being criticized that technically fall within the "letter" of the regulations...if not the "spirit".

Keeping piles of "dink" crappies is just one example and I don't care if it is technically within the regs, I am hereby, officially, without reservation, and fully aware of that it is technically within the regs...saying it sucks.
 Reply by: Ziriux      Posted: 5/24/2016 8:07:31 AM     Points: 0    
@ Ill,

I have seen a ranger at Stearns often times twice a day there. Boulder County doesn't mess around their rangers drive around to all their lakes on a daily and that is why most Boulder county waters do well. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to those rangers and you see people drive their car to stearns and see rangers and just step on the gas and keep driving past it, which tells me they were about to fish without their license.

McKay is not Boulder County, so they can't come there too. The big difference between the City of Thorton/Westminster and Boulder County is that they care more about their outdoors and resources, it's just as simple as that. Some counties have bigger priorities than caring about fishing regs. Makes me sad.

 Reply by: Flyrodn      Posted: 5/24/2016 8:08:55 AM     Points: 184621    
Something to thing on concerning size limits. Over the years I've used a 1:10 ratio as a rough indicator of fish survival. Don't remember where I picked it up, and for any given water/species I'm sure it's off a bit. This value is angler free, meaning only one in ten fish of any age class is likely to see another year.

So for crappie, a 10 inch fish is four inches, and the reason, per the biologist I spoke with, was to allow the fish to reach breeding age. That means that for every 1000 crappie fry, only 1 will make it to 10 years.

My point here, is we worry about protecting the wrong size class. The young are plentiful and more able to withstand harvest. Yet we persist in killing the very fish we want and need, the breeding stock, in this case crappie over 10 inches, and fail to recognize the most of those 6 inchers harvested were not going to survive two more years to breeding size.

To my way of thinking selective harvest should be to take a few of the "smaller" fish for a meal, release the big fish to breed. Nothing turns a water into a mess of little, stunted fish, especially sunfish, then to harvest the bigg'ns and leave the rest to grow up. You end up with a pond of stunted fish, in large part because you remove the top end predators, yes, fish eat their own, leaving juveniles to breed.

So let's encourage folks to harvest a few editable sized fish, and release the bigger ones to reproduce.

 Reply by: Ziriux      Posted: 5/24/2016 8:21:13 AM     Points: 0    
Well said Dave, I have been telling my friends, family, people I work with and even random folks about the benefits of harvesting.
 Reply by: ShuMugen      Posted: 5/24/2016 8:40:35 AM     Points: 1873    
Agreed, I can tell you that its hard coming from a different culture that Selecting the right size can be tuff, cause when my parent were young they would collect anysize to eat... Its gone a long way for sure.. I have learn that and Still to this day I am throwing back the smaller guys.

Just an FYI I have called the Local Park Rangers to this lake a lot cause there have been a lot of folks use live bait... Please keep and eye out and report.
 Reply by: Flyrodn      Posted: 5/24/2016 9:13:44 AM     Points: 184621    
For the record. I harvest a number of "meals" every year. My approach is this:

1. I decide I'm going to keep fish before going and make sure I have the necessary stuff to properly care for them.
2. When on the water, I keep the first fish the are "acceptable" in terms of size and species. I hate cleaning three inch fish. I keep only enough fish to provide for the meal that night or the next. I do not freeze fish normally.
3. I release all "trophy" sized fish, regardless of species and use the Master Angler program as my guide. So I don't harvest perch over 12 inches, bluegill over 10, etc.

Now is this necessarily the right way to go about it? For some waters, I suspect not, but it works for my way of thinking, in that I only harvest what I need today. I keep fish as they are caught until I have met my needs, not based on large size or only one specific species. I always release trophies for two reasons, one possible breeding stock, and even in waters managed by stocking, such as wipers, tiger muskie are, I feel trophy fish are too valuable to be only caught once. So I release them in hopes someone else will have the pleasure of catching a trophy too.
 Reply by: FishingJunkie      Posted: 5/24/2016 10:18:10 AM     Points: 1816    
@Flyrodn - nice ethos

@Shu - yes I have called the ranger more than once myself.... everytime I go for a walk with my dog I find 'worm dunkers' - making a polite comment to them only results with: "OK - got it", while they keep fishing....

It was only last night that I got a call back from the Ranger and we spoke a bit - he is out of Loveland office and his territory is huuuuge. He did promise that he'll talk to local officers in our area and they will start patrolling the lake more. I wish they would make few people 'deputies' so we have a way to talk some senses into these abusers and not get abused ourselves, but that will never happen.

 Reply by: esoxrocks      Posted: 5/24/2016 10:18:44 AM     Points: 2504    
^^^ Agree, intelligent, selective harvest is part of conservation (emphasis on "intelligent" and "selective"). There is a wide range of knowledge, tradition, and ethics surrounding this pastime...resulting in those who consider these things objectively, and those who can't be bothered. Saying "that's how I was raised" to justify harmful practices just doesn't cut it anymore IMO.
 Reply by: 007      Posted: 5/24/2016 10:42:04 AM     Points: 80    
Flyrodn nailed it. The focus on keeping small fish is often misplaced. For fisheries with reproduction the most important size class to protect are the BFFFs. Big Fat Female Fish are the main progenitors of the next generation. Combine this fact with the steep yearly mortality rate for fry, juveniles and small adults, we should be keeping the smaller fish and throwing the back fatties (which have survived against huge odds to get to that size).
An additional reason to throw back large fish is the concern about mercury and other pollutant accumulation (in larger predatory fish). You can eat small pike/walleye/bass with little worry about mercury.

 Reply by: shiverfix      Posted: 5/24/2016 10:48:15 AM     Points: 3867    
I have a couple books on bass fishing that my uncle gave me to me when I was a teenager in the mid 80s. I looked through them recently, and there are many pictures of stringers full of trophy bass. The mindset has changed a lot since then, but there is still a long way to go.

As for me, I keep some fish to feed to the family. It's not really a matter of needing it to feed them, we can afford to buy, and do buy, fish from the store. Part of it is eating fresh fish you can't get in the store, like brookies. And I'll keep a limit of <8" brookies. Pain to clean 8 little fish, but good eating! I have kept a couple larger brookies, but mostly the big ones go back. And I think part of it is a feeling of accomplishment, a primal drive, knowing that I was able to catch a fish, and it fed my family.

I'm not a good enough crappie fisherman (and don't target them often) to make it a habit of keeping and eating them. But I will say, if I was able to find a school of 8" fish, I'd probably keep some to eat. If I caught big ones, they would probably go back.
 Reply by: Ziriux      Posted: 5/24/2016 4:47:29 PM     Points: 0    

That is crazy to think that the office for that lake is out of Loveland, that is way out there from the lake.
 Reply by: spicyhombre      Posted: 5/24/2016 5:31:17 PM     Points: 6744    
I completely agree with Dave.
1. Selective harvest
2. Harvest just what you can eat while still fresh
3. Return the big ones

I also feel you should leave the small ones. My thinking is they are needed to feed the big ones.
 Reply by: Whelenman358      Posted: 5/25/2016 1:07:34 PM     Points: 113    
There are a LOT more trophy fish in this state than 7x7 bull elk or 6x6 mule deer but we wouldn't fault a hunter for "keeping" one O' them. I'd bet most of the hunting members on this site wouldn't pass up such an animal.

I personally believe that big fish are a lot more common than most folks think, they're smart enough not to get caught very often...that's why they get big in the first place. Doesn't the DOW net thousands of big trout every time they draw down Antero? Crappies, bluegills, sunfish and the like (catfish, and others) are basically the same as stocker trout...they are put in as forage, both for other fish and fishermen. Now it would be a better situation if fish have the chance to reproduce so that humans didn't have to stock them, so a slot limits are productive towards that goal. On the other hand, given the poor water and bottom quality (muck) of a lot of smaller lakes and ponds in this state, just how much natural reproduction is there going to be as a general rule? I hear often enough about "spawning habitat" having to be installed in lakes and ponds, often by fishing clubs so that makes me believe that perhaps there are a lot of places where spawning isn't going to be effective anyway.

Really, I see big fish in the same light as trophy sized big game. If we aren't going to install slot limits or upper limits on them, why would we be fanatics about fish that already exist in larger numbers than big game.

 Reply by: esoxrocks      Posted: 5/25/2016 1:58:52 PM     Points: 2504    
Only speaking for myself but it isn't someone keeping a trophy fish (or killing a trophy elk) that gets to me, but rather the uncaring people that descend on lakes & streams and take whatever they can catch using any means necessary ...completely unconcerned with the rules or their effect on the resource.

To me, discussions on which size fish to harvest, how many, and from where are all productive, "next level" conversations that are held between people who's the uncaring slobs that get me.
 Reply by: bluecollarguy      Posted: 5/26/2016 10:57:12 AM     Points: 43    
200 acre lake? Sure keeping a trophy ain't going to ruin the lake even if some of us would toss it back.

5 acre pond? Impact.. Maybe one day CPW will start a program to enhance and protect urban fishing as a gateway to bigger and "better" places and keep the fish harvest to those bigger waters and not the local "fishing is good about every 5 years" hole...

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