Reply by: Ewert Posted: 11/7/2019 10:24:29 AM Points: 30
Toon & all - thanks for asking. I am seriously jazzed about how Wolford has performed this year. We're going to stop at 4.5 million tomorrow and leave eggs in the lake significantly beyond that number. That's equal to the biggest other egg take I've been a part of, which was Williams Fork in 2007. It's more eggs than Granby has ever produced in the 13 years I've been around, and for a good strech before that also. If it weren't for Wolford coming through like that we would be in a much different position statewide this year. To be honest with you, I can say that for me it's the single most satisfying and biggest accomplishment of my career. We built it up to this from nothing a decade ago. I spent a few years trying to figure out how to make the most of Wolford, a funky little mountain reservoir that has a lot of properties that are different from any of the other reservoirs I manage. But this is it. This is the best thing that Wolford can do, and it's pretty great. It's a zooplankton factory, and it is one of the only locations in the state lacking predators, parasites, or competitors with the kokanee. If you go through the list of kokanee waters in the state, almost all of them have at least one of those elements, and many have two. Wolford is lacking all three, which makes it unique and highly, highly valuable as an egg source. There has never been a time in recent history that a lake in this state has produced 30 times as many kokanee eggs as are needed to stock it the following year. I'm guessing it happened in Granby's glory years but I've never reconstructed that data. So I think that's a record, and a staggering one at that. Another thing about Wolford is that it seems to lack some common boom-and-bust cycles that occur in most of our other reservoirs to varying degrees. I hope I"m not overconfident in this, but I think that as long as the three elements I listed above continue to be excluded from Wolford, it can continue to produce 3-5 million eggs annually, consistently. Multi-year droughts excluded though, I haven't seen one yet in the time I've been here. So yeah, I'm really excited about Wolford.
Reply by: hunter creek Posted: 11/7/2019 10:32:55 AM Points: 2626
I hope it remains so productive and that especially the gill lice do not get in there. At times, this is almost like a private lake in that a few catch a lot and most catch a few or none and the crowds are never large. May it all remain the same and not be overcome by "progress".
Reply by: Ewert Posted: 11/7/2019 10:39:45 AM Points: 30
Forgot to mention, because of Wolford we're going to be able to send half a million eggs to New Mexico. hunter, that's the other interesting thing about Wolford - the recreational fishery is kind of self-limiting in terms of public use because it's not the most reliable for kokanee at least from a catching perspective. But the value of the kokanee fishery there far outweighs the lake's individual value as a stand-alone recreational fishery. Don't know if that makes sense.
Glad to hear it worked out. Any truth to the rumor you will start stocking Green Mountain again next year with them and in return, stop stocking Williams Fork with Bows and Kokes to try to get rid of the gill lice in there?
Toon, that is my plan, yes. I've got Green Mountain on the schedule for 200K kokanee next year and 40K 3" cutbows. No catchable rainbows yet - I want to be extremely careful to make sure that a return to stocking doesn't simply create a new explosion of gill lice, and it seems that there might be a correlation between size of rainbows stocked and their susceptibility to gill lice. In other words the fish that are raised to 10" or more in a hatchery are less able to resist or keep infection levels low, as in 1 or a few per fish as opposed to hundreds. I have no real solid data to back that up but it's just a theory of mine, and I want to be as conservative as possible in bringing stocking back to GM. I still don't know if it's the right call to stock fingerlings -- I thought about sticking with only kokanee this year to avoid the possibility of complicating things. No fish of any kind on the schedule for Williams Fork in 2020.
You know, I don't get into the specifics of it that much, there are a couple of guys in Denver who coordinate all of that. But as far as I understand, the whole "we'll give you this in return for that" thing isn't nearly as transactional as the public seems to think it is. There are a lot of stories that go around that we trade kokanee eggs for moose or whatever. It's more like NM, CO, and WY just agree that they will help each other out with eggs if they have extras of something that the other state lacks. It's more of a good-faith kind of thing, where what goes around comes around because they've helped us out in lean kokanee years, and we get things like tiger trout and splake from Wyoming. Not sure what we get from New Mexico, if anything at the moment. And I could be wrong about that and there might be a closer accounting of it but it's nothing I'm involved with. I just go out and take the eggs if someone wants them. And manage the source of those eggs, of course.
One example that's kind of outside the box along those lines is that New Mexico are the ones who taught us about Merwin traps, which is what I use to capture the spawning kokanee at Wolford. If it weren't for them giving us the idea, sharing their blueprints and showing us what they were doing with a Merwin trap, the Wolford operation never would have grown to this size. We took their plans and enhanced/changed them to suit our needs. There would simply be no other way to collect that many fish there without it. So there's that.
A question for the biologist. I fish 11 Mile and really got into the Kokanee last year. They seemed to be 2 year olds (13-15inch) and LOTS of gill lice. This year I want to try some other places(Wolford being one) and want to make dam sure I'm never the cause of spreading parasites. Are there any suggestions for keeping this from happening? Do I need to worry about it? If it's stocked fish that cause it, then that's out of our control. If anything on the lures, auger, fish hut, or anything can be a factor, then is there stuff we should be doing? Thanks.
Kevin, excellent question and thanks for asking that. Luckily, as far as we know gill lice have a really hard time surviving out of the water, especially if they're not attached to a fish carcass. In every case I'm aware of, they came into each water body on stocked fish. I do think that it would be possible if you went from one lake to another with some harvested fish in a cooler, decided to clean the fish from the first lake and throw the entrails into the second lake. You're obviously not supposed to do that and hopefully people are not doing that, but I think that is really the only way that an angler could accidentally spread them from one water to another.
I know Dillon has had a self sustaining Koke population for years, but it seems like there isn't a large population like Wolford. With so many other waters that used to be prime Kokanee lakes in distress, has there been any talk of boosting the Kokanee numbers in Dillon to help with the egg collection? It would be a nice insurance policy if Wolford ever goes down until Granby and others recover.....