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If you're a little fish living in Harvey Gap Reservoir, your life expectancy may be going up
5/21/2018
Credit:
CPW News Release
RIFLE, Colo. - Because large, toothy predators looking for a meal loom nearby, a nice place to hide is a welcome sight if you're a little fish living in Harvey Gap Reservoir. Thanks to a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Silt Water Conservancy District and several local anglers, 25 artificial tree structures are now in place at various depths across the reservoir, providing shelter for young fish and smaller species like black crappie, bluegill and yellow perch.

If they can successfully escape predators, they may live longer, increasing the chance these delicious panfish will end up on your dinner table instead of the belly of a bigger fish.

"We've been concerned with the lack of underwater structure and shelter in Harvey Gap for some time," said CPW Area Aquatic Biologist Ben Felt. "With these artificial trees in place, it may result in an even better angling experience at Harvey Gap than ever before."

After assembling them on site, crews placed the artificial trees in clusters of four to five structures, each in proximity of fish spawning areas in the reservoir at depths between 25 to 40 feet.

"The structures are professionally designed for this purpose and function like real trees," said Felt. "To a fish, they look like the perfect place to hide from a hungry predator."

Felt says CPW will monitor the effects of the structures to determine if fish survival improves.

"The structures are marked by bouys, and during periods of low water levels they may become exposed," he said. "We ask the public to keep away from the bouys and avoid handling any exposed structures so that we can fully assess if they have had the positive effects we expect."

To monitor this habitat improvement project, CPW will continue conducting standardized fishery surveys annually to assess trends in fish populations.

CPW manages Harvey Gap Reservoir for fishing, periodically stocking rainbow trout, black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass and tiger muskie. Northern pike and smallmouth bass are also present in the reservoir.

For more information about Harvey Gap Reservoir, or this habitat improvement project, contact Ben Felt at 970-255-6126, benjamin.felt@state.co.us, or contact Harvey Gap State Park at 970-625-1607.