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Lake: Rocky Mountain Arsenal

The Magic Has Vanished at RMA

Post By: pikeNcolorado      Posted: 4/16/2017 7:37:24 AM     Points: 16294    
Although my Lake Update hasn't been approved yet, I thought I would get everyone's opinion on the burning of the cattails at Lake Ladora. Around 80-90% of the cattails around Ladora have been burned to, "Open up more fishing access". Now, I understand this can help out the fly fisherman to be able to cast better but my opinion is that this will only hurt the lake.

1. No place for bait fish to hide as well as get away from the pike and bass. It the bait fish can't survive to gain any size or reproduce, how are the bass and pike going to put on any meat?
2. No ambush locations for bass and pike to hide in since there is hardly any structure in the lake.
3. There is nothing better then throwing a lure along the cattails and seeing the cattails start dancing towards your lure. Honestly, that was one of my favorite things to do at RMA. My heart would pound as soon as I started seeing them move.
4. Yahoo's that don't want to get their feet wet/muddy are fishing areas 20' from shore. When they do hook up, they drag the fish through the mud and then release it a long way from the water.

I'm obviously not happy about these changes, I understand it brings more money getting more people fishing access, but the magic is gone. What do you think?
 Reply by: Niko12      Posted: 4/16/2017 9:34:57 AM     Points: 353    
I agree, at a certain point you have stop making accommodations for lazy fisherman and help out the fish. Was the bite any good this weekend?
 Reply by: pikeNcolorado      Posted: 4/16/2017 10:35:05 AM     Points: 16294    
Good pike bite early. I didn't hear about any bass.
 Reply by: Ray Ray      Posted: 4/16/2017 11:36:15 AM     Points: 0    
Saw myself the open shore line. Only fish early because it is usually best early. Supposedly not open until 6am however parking lot full by 6:08. Rules now state open sun up to sun down . This is nice since I can now fish it after work on Tuesdays.
Did not see any dead fish however, I did see people drag hooked fish onto the bank. If this place is what they call a wildlife refuge the that rule needs to get enforcement. As far as barb less goes ... a lot of people not following that either. I pinch mine down as I use each lure. I did get checked Saturday, but the warden didn't check my bag. I guess some trust is needed by mankind in this case. Pike were little bigger than last year which means some are growing. Hooked a big bass on top water ,however she threw the hook. Nice site fish at least 3lbs.
Did not see any bait people Saturday. Hopefully they stay away. As for music and the pot heads ... none... again because I fish early maybe I missed them.

 Reply by: Twistertail      Posted: 4/16/2017 11:37:14 AM     Points: 553    
Although the burning of the cattails around Lake Ladora did "Open up more fishing access", that was not the main purpose for the burn. Looking around the Arsenal one can see that several thousand acres were burned there this spring. The main purpose for the burns was to improve wildlife habitat, reduce invasive species of vegetation, and to help restore the vegetation to to native species of grasses.

As a volunteer who was involved with the burns and also as a fisherman, I was concerned about negative impacts burning the cattails around the lake might have on the fishery too. Steps were taken to improve the fish habitat in the lake before the burn occurred. I was personally involved with sinking dozens of Christmas trees in the lake to add more structure and cover for both game fish and forage fish. I was also involved with the stocking of close to 20,000 sunfish in the 4 to 6 inch range which were of breeding age and size to increase the forage base for the game fish in the lake. I was at the refuge yesterday and many of the pike that I saw were fatter than they have been in the past. The game fish seem to be doing well in the lake. The cattails will grow back quickly and will again provide shoreline cover for both game fish and forage fish. I could already see green cattails sprouts starting to poke through the water surface in several areas around the lake yesterday.

When I get frustrated about some of the management decisions that occur at the refuge sometimes, I have to remind myself that the Arsenal is a wildlife refuge and is there for wildlife to thrive and survive. The black footed ferrets and the bison are just two examples of how the refuge is benefiting wildlife.

It is a benefit that outdoor activities like hiking and fishing as well as wildlife viewing viewing and photography can be enjoyed by the public on a year round bases. I could understand being frustrated with the fishing situation at the Arsenal at times if it was being managed solely for fishing. Since the main objective of the refuge is to provide habitat and natural ares for wildlife to thrive, I think they are doing a pretty good job.
 Reply by: Whelenman358      Posted: 4/16/2017 3:24:39 PM     Points: 113    
Cattails grow back very quickly after being burned. Farmers do it all the time and within a few days there are little green ones growing again. And they put on height quickly too.
 Reply by: Hawaiian Punch      Posted: 4/16/2017 5:22:48 PM     Points: 1973    
This too shall pass!
 Reply by: ADub TT      Posted: 4/16/2017 8:45:46 PM     Points: 387    
IMHO, based on real life, weed burning, ditch burning, controlled burns won't and don't totally kill and or eradicate anything. The beloved cattails will be back, bigger and better than before, no worries, be patient K!
 Reply by: pikeNcolorado      Posted: 4/16/2017 9:15:27 PM     Points: 16294    
According to a RMA staff member on both channel 7 and channel 9 in March they both stated it was to improve shoreline access. (As well as wildlife but the point was made it was for fishing. )
[log in for link]
I can't find the channel 7 video now. Either way, I'm well aware that cattails and grass grow back quicker and better when burned but that is not what they emphasized on live television.

Ray Ray. I was the 12th vehicle through the gate. My first pike was on at 6:03. I'm shocked if you didn't hear the music. They actually opened the gate at 5:52. I smelt the pot around 9am.

Twistertail, as a volunteer myself (CPW) I understand that the press can twist the stories. That said, this was an actual female staff member on the noon news that stated it was for fishing access.

Bottom line Gents, the spokes person for RMA shouldn't be going around stating it is for fishing access of indeed they are going to let them grow back. I guess next year will tell all the tails (no pun intended) if that was to improve it for wildlife or improve it for fisherman. I appreciate the input.
 Reply by: TigerHunter      Posted: 4/17/2017 7:37:27 AM     Points: 516    
When I first received the email about the bait being banned in Ladora I was stoked, then it in disbelief when I read the cattails were being burned to improve access. Don't try to spin it any other way because that was the intent when they did it.

I understand there's a changing of the guard when it comes to the folks who are running it and I try to take that into consideration. The ranger I speak with Josh is awesome and he worked with me on the bait thing on Ladora thankfully we were able to change that this year although some idiots are still using bait.

Cutting down and burning the cattails has zero positive effect on anything. You give the bait guys more shoreline to hide as I've already seen, and you're killing habitat those animals have known and called home forever. We are still talking about a wildlife refuge right? There's a difference in preserving an area for wildlife to live and farming animals for an attraction. I don't think they've crossed that line yet, but if you look at the writing on the wall it certainly seems like it's on the horizon.

Quite honestly the fisherman out there put me in a bad mood. Trampling through cattails on Ladora and Mary. Handling fish like assholes and don't give me the I didn't know better crap either. You didn't know that dragging a flopping fish on rocks then fingering the gills for 5 minutes while your buddy tries to get his razor phone out was going to result in a bad day for the fish? There is some fish handling "I didn't know's" I'll take for pike but the lack of common sense out there blows my mind.

The more character they remove from the lakes, the more inviting it'll be for idiots. There used to be enough easy access for folks and just enough spots for hardcore anglers to sneak away from the crowds.

I'm still trying to get my foot in the door to help on a larger scale with the RMA, but it'll take time. Until then I agree the magic is gone... hopefully we can get it back before it's ruined completely.
 Reply by: Fishful Thinker      Posted: 4/17/2017 7:57:14 AM     Points: 9363    
I don't fish there (well, I fished there once in 2008) but to play devil's advocate for a minute...

Burning off mature cattails is common habitat management practice in Florida. Typically they grow back quickly yielding thick, green, hard edges and root stems perfect for fish. I interviewed a fishery manager in Florida once and he explained to me that old, matted cattails slowly decay causing a loss of dissolved oxygen in their immediate area so burning them off solves that while also releasing their nutrients back into the system, similar to forest fires in mature forests. They burned thousands of acres of cattails around Lake Okeechobee earlier this year specifically for fishery management.

Sooo...maybe it ain't all bad in the long run...maybe. CL
 Reply by: team FMFO      Posted: 4/17/2017 9:05:08 AM     Points: 3334    
Interesting post and info. :)
 Reply by: TigerHunter      Posted: 4/17/2017 9:05:29 AM     Points: 516    
I wish that was the case here but it's not. They burned them to open up more access for anglers. I've fished out there for over 20 years and for the most part they've left everything alone especially on Ladora. Those cattails have been a refuge for bass not only to thrive but also to get off a successful spawn without being bothered by anglers (for the most part). Now there's no place to hide.

The respect for the RMA has dramatically decreased the past decade. Making it easier for people isn't going to help that. In the burned cattail areas trash is already starting to collect. When I first started fishing the RMA it was like having access to the best private lake in Colorado, now each passing year it seems like it's more and more like everything else surrounding it.

 Reply by: Fishful Thinker      Posted: 4/17/2017 9:40:24 AM     Points: 9363    
TigerHunter, I've lived overlooking a public lake for 12 definitely do not need to explain to me about the increasing lack of respect for the resources! I can hardly stand to be home on a weekend and watch the sheer volume of I-don't-give-a-f%^k-for-the-fishery that goes on constantly.

I don't doubt at all that they burned those cattails for the wrong reason but I still feel it might have a net positive on the fishery in the long run. A guy can hope, right? CL
 Reply by: pikeNcolorado      Posted: 4/17/2017 9:16:55 PM     Points: 16294    
Tiger... I have to agree with you. The Wardens/Rangers whatever you would call them are pretty cool guys. I think they get a bad wrap from the guys that have something to hide... Also, if you would like a hand on seeing what we can do to change things you have my email. As for your bait comment, I saw one group where a teen asked his dad about the regs. Dad stated, "pinched barbs, no bait and C&R". The teen them stated, "Do I fall under all those?" Dads comment, "For the most part". This is the ignorance you speak of and it's a shame a father would shoe his son the wrong path.

Mr Fishful.... I agree with you that burning the cattails will help out the eco-system. My point was the spokes person stated it was for shoreline access to be better. Tiger was right.. This only opens the door for more people to come and break the rules. I guess I'm upset because this was a place where the hardcore angler could come and catch great fish and get away from the others. I feel like the system will be hurt. That said, I'm no Biologist, and I don't know what the big picture will unfold.
 Reply by: Goosehunter82      Posted: 4/17/2017 9:28:47 PM     Points: 33267    
Never fished there. I don't have time to destroy my hooks just to turn around and fix them again. Anyway Tiger your comment about 20 years ago it was like fishing a private lake is so true. Thing is 20 years ago most all Colorado lakes were like fishing a private lake. As were hunting or hiking Colorado mountains. That's what happens when the state keeps building and building and building encouraged folks to move here.
 Reply by: GaltsGulch      Posted: 5/1/2017 8:40:55 PM     Points: 89    
pikeNcolorado, appreciate your passion. we all must adapt to changing conditions from days of yore in order to keep the magic alive. and the magic is still there. here are a few thoughts to consider.

1. the cattails growing back have shot up 12-15" in the past week. they will be back and better than ever by the time wading season opens. fish seek the highest levels of dissolved oxygen, decaying vegetation reduces oxygen in the water. taking out years of matted dead plants is a Good Thing for the fishery. an even Better Thing would see the installation of a few high capacity aerators to reduce the out of control algae mats which bloom and decompose each summer, especially on the south side. the Best Thing would be to dredge a 20' trench down the middle running from the north side toward the south, providing a healthier deep water habitat for all species during the hot summer months.

2. I don't fish opening day. consider not going there on opening day if the actions of some of the yokels who show up that day bum you out.

3. recently, the single best decision by management is stating "Only artificial lures and flies are permitted on Lake Ladora" in the 2017 official regulations. thus far this season I have only seen two guys hanging a piece of shrimp on a hook under a bobber, which is less than last year at this point. although, there is still ambiguity on whether you can use "dead bait" at Ladora, based on the physical signs by the lake which still say "no *live* bait", and a section of the website which is ambiguous. hopefully the physical signs at Ladora can be updated to state "Only artificial lures and flies are permitted on Lake Ladora" and the website link at can be clarified to state that this does *not* apply to Ladora (only Lake Mary): "We encourage all anglers to stick to artificial flies and lures, but we do not prohibit the use of purchased fish/animal parts or other scented bait." should be changed.

4. On Ladora, consider a "No Treble Hook(s), Single Hook(s) Only" policy. even while barbless, treble hooks do a lot of damage to fish, especially pike. when pike chow a treble, often one hook goes into their upper jaw and another in their lower jaw. and as those with experience know, an angry pike does not want to open its mouth. so hook removal of a treble is often problematic, even with barbless,

5. CPW having a revelation that Northern Pike can not only co-exist in equilibrium with Trout resulting in a great fishery for both species, plus clearly seeing there is a tremendous market demand for anglers targeting Northern Pike for sportfishing in the Front Range. and then CPW introduces Northern Pike to more Front Range impoundments which would alleviate the singular pressure on Ladora. (Hint: Chatfield. a guy can dream, right?)

respectfully submitted for your consideration
 Reply by: sickws6      Posted: 5/2/2017 5:14:01 PM     Points: 574    
Here is my Opinion Devin,

RMA hasn't been Magic for the last 7 years, I probably go to that lake 10 times per year, I have heard all of the "horror" stories on why not to go. (No live bait, Pinch Barbs, Cant drink a beer, smoke a joint, and they will search your car) I follow rules so I started going

not until the 2nd weekend this year did someone come check me, I was surprised as hell that someone was actually checking people, then I was pissed when he talked with me and found out I fish there a lot, didn't even check anything, then checked only my buddies fishing License, still not checking bags for gulp or live bait and didn't even look at my hook I was using, SMH.

The pike this year look much healthier I did see a 35 come out of there and it looked pretty good, still thin but not like a snake.

The bass will not exist for another 3 years if they keep cutting down the cattails PERIOD! any Googan with a pair of polarized can pick every single bass out of there easy pickins the first two weeks, I saw a 7.9 pound and 6.7 come out both bleeding like stuck pigs and the angler decided it was a good idea to remove the hook instead of just cutting it off, not sure how the fish did but im sure would have done better then what happened. Another thing the lake is C&R only so to the idiots that go there and have no clue how to handle a pike need to stay away,

The Cattails is what made that place, yes they grow back and as stated above sunday were about 10 inches tall, but nothing beats watching a "healthy" pike make a massive wake behind your bait and not a "snake" that my top water is to big for his mouth.

RMA IMO needs to be heavily regulated for 2-3 years to get the yahoos out of there. Bass are caught less and less, and the place is way to crowded, HINT HINT DOW OPEN ANOTHER LAKE WITH PIKE IM POSITIVE YOU WOULD GET GREAT FEEDBACK.

I guess as I just re read my post RMA is a joke and I think that everytime I go there, it is just an easy no skunk for me when I want to chase pike which I always do, don't want to catch and kill them so that takes away most of the lakes in colororado and the lakes I know of will never be heard from me because it will turn into an RMA I appreciate Eric's efforts on making the lake Bait free, one huge step in the right direction. Maybe we can all Hope it could be what it once was but I think the chance caught the last train out of here a few years back

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