There has been some recent discussion on the current condition of Brown Trout in Blue Mesa. I'd love to hear some theories. Here's mine..
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)
We brought this info to Dan, our local CPW biologist. He was successful in getting several truck loads of overstock hatchery rainbow fingerling last year and it is showing! Last fall and this winter, the browns are looking slightly better. Hopefully this can continue and help boost our browns back to the good ol' days