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Anglers reel in more than 2,000 bass at Ridgway tournament
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
"The results greatly exceeded our expectations and we want to thank all the anglers who came out to support the effort to reduce the number of smallmouth bass in the reservoir," said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for the Southwest Region of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

More than 200 anglers participated in the tournament from July 11-19.

Smallmouth bass were illegally stocked in Ridgway Reservoir. CPW and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are concerned that if the smallmouth bass escape the reservoir they will impact populations of native fish downstream in the Gunnison River. The native fish are unique to the Colorado River Basin and are found nowhere else in the world. Smallmouth bass are predator fish that can survive and proliferate in Colorado's Rivers and displace native species.

"As Colorado's wildlife agency it is our job to protect the native species of the state," said Alves.

Eric Gardunio, aquatic biologist in the Montrose area, estimated that the reservoir held about 3,600 smallmouth bass more than 6 inches long. Of the fish caught during the tournament, 1,300 were more than 6 inches long.

"Anglers made a significant dent in the population and we hope to have another tournament next summer," Gardunio said. "But there are still a lot of smallmouth bass in the reservoir."

Everyone is reminded that there are no bag or possession limits on smallmouth bass at Ridgway Reservoir.

Gardunio talked to dozens of anglers about why CPW is working to remove this species from the reservoir.

"Numerous fishermen told me that they were disappointed that smallmouth bass are not suited to this reservoir," Gardunio said. "But they also said they understood the problem and that they were happy to help. The fish they brought in also helped us to further our knowledge of how many smallmouth bass are in the reservoir."

Patt Dorsey, Southwest Region manager for CPW, said the tournament showed that public anglers are critical for the agency to meet its wildlife management goals. As part of the method to make the population estimate, a CPW crew spent more than 16 hours of night work to capture just 169 fish before the tournament.

"This shows that using anglers to harvest invasive species and to help us make science-based population estimates is very efficient," Dorsey said, "Not to mention that the tournament was lots of fun for anglers of all ages."

CPW's aquatic managers are aware of the popularity of bass fishing and are working to establish largemouth bass in waters in western Colorado. Largemouth bass do not pose a danger to native fish because they cannot survive in Colorado's rivers. Unfortunately, water temperatures are too cold for largemouth at Ridgway Reservoir.

Largemouth bass can be found at these waters: Crawford Reservoir, Delta County Echo Canyon Reservoir, Archuleta County Totten Reservoir, Montezuma County Rifle Gap Reservoir, Harvey Gap Reservoir and Elkhead Reservoir all in Garfield County.

To learn how to catch smallmouth bass, a very tasty fish, go to the Ridgway State Park link on CPW's web site,
Member comments
by: jibber on 7/23/2015 8:03:00 AM
This is an important article as it shows how damaging bucket brigade biology is to our fisheries. If nothing else look at the cost to CPW to put on this event. Money and time that could have been spent on improving fisheries was spent trying to clean up the mess created by a some selfish individuals.