BLUE MESA LAKE TROUT
April 22, 2005
Now through late May is an ideal time to fish for big
lake trout in Blue Mesa Reservoir. And by fishing at this time of
year, anglers can help to maintain a delicate biological balance in
Lake trout also known as mackinaw are now feeding in
shallow water at the reservoir and are easier to catch now than at
any time of the year, explained Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist for
the Colorado Division
of Wildlife (DOW) in Gunnison. As the water warms in late spring
the fish descend to deep waters and are difficult to catch.
Anglers can keep eight lake trout of any size - and there is a large
population between 20 inches and about 35 inches in size.
The lake trout population is strong in the reservoir perhaps
too strong, Brauch said DOW biologists are concerned that lake trout
- which feed on kokanee - are causing a decline in the population
of the salmon species. This has led to a shortage of kokanee available
to stock in
other Colorado reservoirs.
We do not have enough kokanee this year to meet our needs,
Brauch said. And in fact we are about three million fish short.
Consequently, the DOW would like to see anglers increase their harvest
of lake trout.
We know that there is significant predation of kokanee by lake
trout, Brauch said. We also know that lake trout are reproducing
on their own. So we need to maintain the pressure on lake trout.
Blue Mesa is the best waterway in the state for production of kokanee.
The reservoir produces large quantities of daphnia, a type of zooplankton
which is the preferred food for the salmon. After three to five years
of life in the reservoir, the kokanee swim 20 miles upstream to the
Roaring Judy fish hatchery where their eggs are gathered by DOW personnel
and volunteers. The eggs are incubated and hatched by the DOW and
are used to sustain kokanee populations in Blue Mesa and other reservoirs
Lake trout are large and voracious fish and were last stocked in Blue
Mesa in 1992.
The biggest fish ever taken in Blue Mesa was a lake trout measuring
42 inches long and weighing almost 47 pounds. Anglers need to be outfitted
properly to catch large fish. Brauch suggests using tube jigs tipped
with sucker meat, whole suckers or large, flashy lures. Brauch suggests
contacting bait and tackle shops in the Montrose and Gunnison areas
to learn what type of bait or lure is working best.
Blue Mesa Reservoir is located in south central Colorado, about 20
miles east of Montrose and about 10 miles west of Gunnison on U.S.
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