CPW giving away walleye fillets at Rifle Gap State Park, June 1, first come, first served
If you have a current fishing license, arrive at the park's boat ramp by 8 a.m. and get in line for your chance to take home what many consider to be one of the best-tasting fish in the world.
The frozen, vacuum sealed fillets are from 108 fertile, female walleye removed from Rifle Gap Reservoir by CPW biologists as required by the Rifle Gap Reservoir Lake Management Plan. Approved in 2015 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the States of Utah and Wyoming - three of CPW's partners in the Upper Colorado Endangered Fish Recovery Program - the plan directs CPW's fish management goals for the reservoir.
To remain in compliance with plan stipulations, CPW biologists have been removing ripe, female walleye from the reservoir each year since 2017 and donating the fillets to the public. State biologists will also donate 20 northern pike and 16 smallmouth bass fillets from fish captured during this year's operation. All three species are considered a significant detriment to the recovery of native fish downstream of Rifle Gap Reservoir.
2019 will mark the third and final year of the fertile, female walleye removal effort.
"This is a win-win for everyone," said Ben Felt, CPW's area biologist. "We are protecting Colorado's native fish, complying with the requirements of the Lake Management Plan, maintaining Rifle Gap Reservoir as a great sterile walleye fishery and providing the angling public with an opportunity to sample great tasting fish for free."
Since 2015, CPW biologists have stocked over 100,000 sterile walleye in Rifle Gap Reservoir however, CPW will not stock sterile walleye in Rifle Gap Reservoir in 2019 due to an unexpectedly high percentage of fertile fish - rather than sterile fish - developed during hatching and rearing operations. CPW will stock additional sterile walleye and other approved species in the future.
"Our surveys and conversations with anglers show that there is currently a good number of walleye in the reservoir," said Felt. "That bodes well for the future of the walleye fishery and also strongly suggests that stocking of sterile fish has been successful."
CPW has also stocked 12,800 black crappie since 2015, with an additional estimated 6,200 going into the reservoir this year. In addition, the agency recently moved 1,500 yellow perch from nearby Harvey Gap to Rifle Gap, for the benefit of fishery management at both reservoirs.
For more information, contact Felt at 970-255-6126, or Rifle Gap State Park at 970-625-1607.
Who: CPW's Rifle Gap State Park
What: Walleye/northern pike/smallmouth bass fillet give-a-way
When: 8 a.m., June 1, 2019
Where: Rifle Gap State Park boat ramp. Park pass not required for fish-giveaway