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Lake: Blue Mesa Reservoir
Fish: Lake Trout

Laker Fun

Post By: SGM      Posted: 2/26/2020 9:19:51 AM     Points: 14439    
Diggings and I hit Iola yesterday starting at sun up. Did not take long to find some active fish and the bite was pretty steady until noon. Nothing to write home about for size but 15-19 inch lakers are fun to catch and make some fine smoked fish. After the laker bite died we moved into 20 FOW and found some active bows but it was slower than a typical day for bows. All in all it was a good day with 20 lakers iced, 10 bows and one brown. Weather started out great but then the wind kicked up and it got a little nasty. However it died back down about 1 and was back to a really nice day. Had to move around to keep on the fish but 45-60 FOW was best with jigs and sucker meat. Bows on jigs and waxies. Ice is 22-24 inches deep with 1-4 inches of snow depending on location.
 Reply by: CoachK      Posted: Feb. 26, 12:17:11 PM     Points: 143    
Awesome! Look like the best guide on Blue Mesa (Diggin) got er done again.
 Reply by: yard dogs      Posted: Feb. 26, 12:56:51 PM     Points: 703    
Sounds like a good day

I have noticed the number of browns is down big time this year - think the gill nets the CPW has put out over the last few years has contributed to the drop in numbers? I know the nets were intended for lakers, but hard to imagine they didnt catch / kill a number of browns as well...
 Reply by: Digginjiggin      Posted: Feb. 26, 2:03:20 PM     Points: 318    
Was a lot of fun yesterday, even though the wind was a real pain for a while. Gotta get the brine stuff today then smoke em up Saturday. Russ gave a pretty complete report on the process. I see the Gunnison was dropped down to 500 cfs yesterday so gotta hit the river again soon. Coach, make a weekend run over and we can get those Hofers n Gunny browns!

Brad, both the size and number of browns in Iola basin has dropped drastically. The nets were put in those same places at the same depths for 20Ēlake trout. Pretty sure they snuffed out a bunch of 20Ē browns also.
 Reply by: Fishneveryweek      Posted: Feb. 26, 2:26:40 PM     Points: 36    
Yeah, lakers, browns, rainbows, and even kokanee: all about the same size and all killed by gill nets left out for a space of time. I just don't hear of many of any of those species caught over 18/ 19 inches. With the gill nets, it's like the USPS saying, "if it fits it ships" Ships out dead, that is. The nets are just designed to catch everything with around a certain size head. And the fish can only live so long with their gills tangled in the nets.

They sure have done a pretty much total kill at Rifle Gap, as well. There they did the gill netting at night, filling up the backs of pickup trucks repeatedly with all sorts of different species. All dead as a door nail - I've seen the photos taken by Westsloper. Now the fishing is just as dead.
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 26, 4:14:18 PM     Points: 59330    
glad you and Jerry had fun!
 Reply by: Americanwolf      Posted: Feb. 26, 5:59:07 PM     Points: 287    
Looks like it was a good day.
 Reply by: bron      Posted: Feb. 26, 6:09:38 PM     Points: 38411    
Cant complain about a day like that! Way to go guys!
 Reply by: bharper      Posted: Feb. 26, 6:45:48 PM     Points: 262    
Nice work guys! 🎣🍻 Pretty sad the CDOW canít get it together on producing a good overall healthy fishery of all species on certain Reservoirs!
 Reply by: Perca      Posted: Feb. 26, 8:48:45 PM     Points: 0    
Brown trout are always going to be the red headed stepchild in Blue Mesa. Most people want Kokanee, lakers and rainbows. The only folks I ever hear complain about brown trout management in Blue Mesa are on this forum. Sorry for the reality check.
 Reply by: Digginjiggin      Posted: Feb. 26, 9:04:46 PM     Points: 318    
Being that you have zero points for reports I take it you are either a troll or work for the CPW. There are far more people in Colorado that miss the 5 to 10 pound brown trout days of the nineties that you so arrogantly dismiss. Not quite sure where your information comes from but you are severely mistaken. And who else besides you and/or the CPW consider the killing of trophy fish of any fish species ďmanagementĒ ??
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: Feb. 26, 10:29:45 PM     Points: 6136    
Yall can check the CPW survey numbers.

Facts are lake trout numbers and size have not changed over the course of the netting program. So if the CPW can't affect populations of the target species, I think it's highly unlikely they're affecting non-target species.

Not saying it's not a possibility. Just a very low likelihood. My own view of the data indicates water quality related to reservoir volume has a bigger influence on fish in Blue Mesa. Low water and toxic algal bloom a couple years back did not help anything. Juvenile fish killed during that event would be catchable by now, and that happened in the fall when the brown trout would've been thinking about spawning. I think that may be your culprit.

IMO I think it's time to start talking about what causes low, warm water in our mountain reservoirs.
 Reply by: Perca      Posted: Feb. 26, 11:51:01 PM     Points: 0    
I donít work for CPW nor do I care if you insult me. Maybe Iíll submit a report now or possibly flip you the bird the next time I see you at Crawford. Either way, it doesnít change the fact that most people prefer different species in Blue Mesa than you or me. I have nothing against brown trout, but Iím also realistic in acknowledging that other species are what attract people to Blue Mesa now. Its not 1995 anymore. Itís your lake, and everyone elseís lake as much as it is mine. Arrogance would be failing to acknowledge others have as much right to dictate itís management as you. FYI - I go there to chase big lakers.
 Reply by: Hawaiian Punch      Posted: Feb. 27, 4:58:30 AM     Points: 8110    
Perca . . . . .I get told I'm a grumpy old guy . . .so heres whats up . . . .first off welcome to Fish Explorer.Second . . .everyone has an idea of whats right or wrong on here.We all put our fair share of time and effort into the site and when somebody that's never been head from (posts a conditions report or other ways that we know who you are) pops up and adds his two cents worth . . .its like the Gary Larson cartoon of two deer,one has a target on his chest and the other deer says "nasty birth mark Hall"
Try not to put out the fire with gas next time!
Hint: Spend some time posting conditions reports,maybe post some of your own threads.Lot of folks here read the threads every day so they know who's is who . . .and as it was pointed out earlier . . . .you got no points(tells us you don't contribute much to the site)
 Reply by: yard dogs      Posted: Feb. 27, 9:22:27 AM     Points: 703    
Brookie - Really?
Facts are lake trout numbers and size have not changed over the course of the netting program. So if the CPW can't affect populations of the target species, I think it's highly unlikely they're affecting non-target species

First off, I dont care what CPW gives as facts - that is complete BS. I have fished Blue religiously for 20 years and there is no doubt that the nets have drastically effected the lake trout - in size and numbers. No doubt. It use to be a great trophy laker fishery, not so much any more.

Second - you are educated I know - you are going to tell me that those nets caught only lakers and nothing else? That there is no way the nets over the last decade have hurt the self sustained brown population in that lake? Seriously? CPW must love you and people that think like you...

Perca - I know SEVERAL anglers that head to Blue for browns and browns only.
 Reply by: yard dogs      Posted: Feb. 27, 9:22:49 AM     Points: 703    
Russ - sorry for taking over your post man....
 Reply by: SGM      Posted: Feb. 27, 10:02:24 AM     Points: 14439    
Thanks all it was a great time.

No problem Brad.

Interesting to say the least.
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 27, 10:15:28 AM     Points: 59330    
I already put away the popcorn.. this deserves chips and queso.. and maybe a little bourbon
 Reply by: Fishneveryweek      Posted: Feb. 27, 12:27:05 PM     Points: 36    
There was a guy on another site with the handle "Browntime". He seemed to focus a lot on Blue, as I recall, and definitely posted high numbers - a lot more than the average nowadays. Really big browns around here are mostly in streams, and lots of people do catch or at least would like to catch them. CPW doesn't really like them or brookies or any other species other than kokanee, that can sustain themselves without stocking. Kind of a big control issue it seems to me. Brookiefisher may be an exception on that one.
 Reply by: Digginjiggin      Posted: Feb. 27, 12:51:32 PM     Points: 318    
Actually, I am Browntime with a more ďcatchyĒ name. Still have the old name on two other sites. Thatís a true story, my numbers and especially size is way down from just 3 years ago. Brookieís theory doesnít hold water. If the water quality and high temperatures were to blame for decling BT numbers, then the RBT numbers would be even more reduced. Browns tolerate higher temperatures and poorer water quality better than rainbows yet the 3 yr old rainbows from 15-17Ē are super good compared to the past 3 years. It could also have something to do with the polymer they used to smother the laker eggs, was that used in Iola basin? I am not a conspiracy theory kind of guy but it would be great to find out the catch composition and size from Robby and GTís guides. I can trust those numbers. Surveys done 10 years ago by college kids interviewing Kokanee fishermen at 2:00 p.m. at the fish cleaning station are not valid to most reasonable people. Go get some butter for your popcorn, Russ!
 Reply by: Perca      Posted: Feb. 27, 1:36:05 PM     Points: 0    
Thanks for the advice. Itís fair. Iíll do my part and drop it. My fault for derailing someoneís thread. I apologize for the disruption and will try to avoid a repeat occurrence the the future. Popcorn no longer necessary.
 Reply by: GSOutfitters      Posted: Feb. 27, 4:32:27 PM     Points: 281    
Here's a great series of numbers that, in my opinion, back up the theory that the brown trout fishery is going in a downward spiral.
Every year, there is a fishing tournament on Blue Mesa the 1st weekend in May (except last year it was the 1st weekend in June). Brown trout are 95% of the species weighed in by the top 10 placing teams in that tourney every year.
Here's the winning weights of each of the last 5 years (excluding last year because of the outlying dates)
This is an 8 fish total weight, and yes, browns are all 8 fish in these weights...(2013 prior years were 4 fish totals, so not included as this shows a better average with 8 fish total)
2014 - 20.03
2015 - 19.16
2016 - 18.44
2017 - 17.06
2018 - 15.61
As you can see, the weights are consistently going down year after year = not good!
My theory is two parts...
1) The Feds stock rainbows in this lake, not the state (for the most part)
They went from stocking fingerling rainbows from the 70's until early 2000's to now stocking "catch-able" rainbows (8-10in) = Lower volume of a viable prey source
2) Lake trout removal = Higher perch numbers
Perch schools are incredible crawdad vacuums = lower available secondary prey source for browns
(and catch-able rainbows also now eat a higher percentage of crawdads)
 Reply by: GSOutfitters      Posted: Feb. 27, 4:35:03 PM     Points: 281    
I'll start a new thread on this....

Blue Mesa Brown Trout
 Reply by: Digginjiggin      Posted: Feb. 27, 4:44:54 PM     Points: 318    

That agrees with my observations 100%. You as guides on the water every day for years have a great feel for both the cause and the effect. I see browns as a critical piece of the fishery now more than ever with that unreliable stocking, the resistance to Gill Lice, and the young being a good source for the small lake trout to relieve some of the pressure on the crawdads. Itís always fun to see the difference in the fat browns that are on crawdads and the skinny ones eating perch. Another reason I quit fishing that tourney several years ago. Thanks a ton for your data!!

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