Big prizes beckon smallmouth bass anglers to Ridgway State Park tournament
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
If you need an extra excuse to go fishing, head over the Ridgway State Park during July to participate in the Fifth Annual Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tournament sponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
CPW is reducing the population of smallmouth bass in the reservoir and needs help from anglers. And to get that help the state agency is providing major incentives to anglers: $12,000 in prize money.
No entry fee is required and the tournament runs July 6-27. All anglers over 16 years old must have a fishing license.
“Anglers have really helped us during the past four years and for the 5th annual tournament we’re offering some serious incentives,” said Eric Gardunio, aquatic biologist for CPW in Montrose.
There will be a raffle category and a skills category this year. To qualify for any of the prizes all fish must be turned into the check station located near the boat ramp. It will be open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Those who catch fish during the week can bring their catch to the check station on those days.
Anglers who catch a lot of fish could be rewarded generously: $5,000 for catching the most smallmouth bass $1,500 for the second place finisher $500 for third place $500 for the biggest fish caught and $500 for the smallest fish caught. Each of the top three finishers will also receive a Colorado State Parks Pass for 2020.
Everyone who enters the tournament will receive a raffle ticket for every fish they catch. The raffle grand prize winner will receive $2,500, and six second tier prizes of $250 will also be drawn in the raffle. All kids 12 and under will receive a package of fishing lures.
“Anyone who catches even one fish has a chance to win a big prize,” Gardunio said.
The purpose of the annual tournament is to protect native fish and water users downstream of the reservoir. Smallmouth bass, introduced illegally at Ridgway Reservoir more than a decade ago, are predator fish than can survive in Western Slope Rivers, including the Uncompahgre River which flows from the reservoir. There is a significant risk of smallmouth bass escaping from the reservoir into the river where they could reproduce and consume native fish species found nowhere else in the world. Smallmouth bass have escaped other impoundments in western Colorado and are adversely affecting populations of native fish in several rivers.
“By participating in the tournament and removing smallmouth bass, anglers will be actively helping with wildlife management in Colorado,” said Eric Gardunio, aquatic biologist for CPW in Montrose. “Anglers have been very effective at removing these fish in prior tournament and we appreciate their assistance.”
If you’ve never fished for smallmouth bass, or if you want to improve your chances of catching them, CPW has posted a web page that explains the best ways to catch smallmouth bass. The web page also provided an in-depth explanation issues related to smallmouth bass at Ridgway Reservoir: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Ridgway/Pages/Smallmouth-Bass.aspx.
Ridgway State Park, located about 20 miles south of Montrose in southwest Colorado is one of the state’s most beautiful parks. Camping, yurts, playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, a swim beach, boating and river fishing are available. Entry to the park is $8 per vehicle rates for camping range from $20-$30. An $80 annual pass provides entrance to all 41 Colorado State Parks.
Boaters are reminded that their craft must be cleaned, drained and dry before entering Ridgway State Park.
For more information about the park and to make camping reservations, go to: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Ridgway/Pages/default.aspx.