Fishing heating up in Southeast Colorado

LAMAR, Colo. – Spring fishing is beginning to heat up in
southeastern Colorado.

“Anglers are getting their gear out to go after crappie, bass,
wipers, walleyes, catfish and other warmwater species,” said Jim
Ramsay, the Colorado Division of Wildlife aquatic biologist for the
lower Arkansas River Basin. “Based on our sampling results and
incremental stocking, anglers in the southeast part of the state
should be in for a good season.”

“This is the time of year we start seeing anglers on the local
waterways,” he said. “Warmer water temperatures make fish more
active and catch rates should steadily improve as we move toward
summer.”

Ramsay said the Division has undertaken several projects to
improving fishing in the region including repairs to the dam at Two
Buttes Reservoir, which is dry at this time. The repairs will allow
for increased water storage in the future.

On the plus side, the Division has obtained supplemental water to
fill Turk’s Pond and he expects good fishing conditions
there.

Many of the reservoirs in the southeast corner of the state are
supplied by irrigation companies, so water levels and fishing
conditions vary throughout the region. Ramsay suggests anglers call
the local office in Lamar to check specific conditions before
heading out.

Here is an abbreviated summary of Ramsay’s 2011 fishing forecast
for the lower Arkansas basin.

Turks Pond (55 acres)

Located on the Turks Pond State Wildlife Area in Baca County near
the town of Two Buttes. This winter, the DOW supplemented water
from an existing well with additional water from a neighboring
farm. The result is water levels high enough to resume boat
launching from the ramp. Boaters are restricted to electric motors
only.

Historically, Turks Pond has been a good crappie fishery, but
declined to the point the DOW began additional stocking. Fishing
for crappie is expected to still be somewhat slow in 2011. Wipers,
largemouth bass and bluegill are present, and can be caught on
traditional baits. In addition, catchable rainbow trout are stocked
in spring and fall.

Night anglers are often more successful for catfish. Grass carp are
stocked to control aquatic weeds. These fish grow to trophy size,
but are difficult to catch. Some anglers specifically target them
with flies and other small lures.

New regulations governing the use of live baitfish apply at Turks
Pond in 2011. Live bait fish must be purchased from a licensed bait
dealer (receipt required) or can be obtained from the pond itself.
No live fish may be brought to Turks Pond from any other source.
These regulations will help prevent the spread of disease and
aquatic nuisance species.

Nee Noshe Reservoir (about 250 acres)

Unfortunately, declining levels and poor water quality have taken
their toll at this once proud fishery. Fall sampling revealed no
fish. Fishery management will cease at Nee Noshe until the lake is
refilled.

Nee Gronde Reservoir (1,200 acres)

The waterfowl resting closure has been lifted at Nee Gronde
Reservoir and it is open for recreational use. Surface use is
limited to hand-launched vessels only. The ramps are unusable and
the shoreline is inappropriate for trailer-launched vessels.

Nee Gronde had a large winter fish die-off during the 2009-2010
season. Efforts were made during the 2010 summer to re-stock and
re-build this fishery, but the success of those efforts is unknown
at this time.

John Martin Reservoir (currently about 3,800 acres)

As an irrigation storage lake, fluctuating water levels continue to
provide a rapidly changing lake environment. Fishing success rates
were high at John Martin in 2010 for walleye, saugeye and white
bass. Other species that provided good action included drum,
catfish, smallmouth bass, and crappie.

Fishing in 2011 is again expected to be very good. The best fishing
usually occurs during the spring months (mid April-June). The most
abundant game fish species are walleye, saugeye, white bass, and
channel catfish. Good numbers of crappie are available as well.
John Martin has been a popular spring crappie-fishing destination
for many years. Although anglers have not often caught large
numbers of crappie the last couple of years, the fish harvested
have typically been larger, with 14-inch fish being common. Crappie
fishing is expected to be fair to good.

Boat inspections are required to prevent aquatic invasive species.
Boat anglers should call John Martin State Park or view their
website for details on the boat inspection schedule. Anglers can
also contact John Martin Reservoir State Park or check the DOW
fishing report on the internet for the latest fishing
conditions.

Adobe Creek Reservoir (a.k.a. Blue Lake) (variable, 700 – 2,500
acres)

Blue Lake is a popular catfishing destination. Two species of
catfish inhabit Blue Lake; channel catfish and blue catfish. Both
species can grow to large sizes. Anglers consistently catch these
fish from shore, with many using large, surfcasting-type rods that
can cast great distances. Popular baits include water dogs, large
minnows, cut bait, crayfish, shrimp, dough bait, and worms.

Crappies have made a nice comeback at Blue Lake. Fall inventory
sampling revealed that large numbers of fish in the 10-inch range
are present. Anglers usually begin catching good numbers of crappie
in late April to early May. Boat anglers tend to fish near the many
submerged tamarisk trees or drift in shallow water areas. Shore
anglers often prefer to fish near submerged tamarisk or in the
outlet canal.

The saugeye population continues to thrive at Blue Lake, with very
few anglers targeting this popular sport fish. All saugeye must be
15 inches or longer to keep, and many of the saugeye in the lake
should be in this range for 2011. Blue Lake is very isolated and
distant from most population hubs. Fishing pressure is low and good
opportunities await anglers willing to travel to this
out-of-the-way location.

Two Buttes Reservoir (Currently Dry)

Two Buttes Reservoir straddles the Prowers-Baca county line on Two
Buttes Creek. It once had a capacity of 41,000 acre-feet, but is
restricted to less than 10,000 acre-feet by dam safety issues.
Currently, the lake is dry. An engineering project is underway to
repair the leaky head gates on the dam. Once completed, the dam
will function properly to impound water collected from run-off
events.

Meredith Reservoir (3,000 acres)

The fishery at Meredith has improved dramatically since being
drained and refilled in 2004. Through systematic stocking efforts,
we have seen a shift to more desirable game fish species. A fish
retention screening system was constructed in 2005. This structure
allows the water releases but prevents fish loss.

Crappie fishing was good at Meredith in 2010. During peak crappie
fishing periods, anglers tended to crowd the pier next to the ramp
where many 10 inch or larger fish are taken. Efforts will be made
in 2011 to create other crappie holding areas that can be easily
accessed from shore. Boat anglers should try finding crappie around
the many submerged tamarisk trees around the lake. Typically,
crappies begin biting in mid-spring as lake temperatures warm into
the mid-50s. Anglers use live minnows and small jigs (less than 1/8
ounce) to catch these fish.

Good populations of saugeye and wiper are available at Meredith.
These fish can be caught in open water areas near schools of
baitfish. Channel catfish is another species that is gaining
popularity. All the typical catfish baits should be effective at
Meredith.

Henry Lake (1,000 acres)

Henry is a large shallow lake with average depths of less than
seven feet. Irrigation water is stored in Henry and used throughout
the summer. Crappie fishing should be fair to good in 2011. Anglers
commonly catch these fish along the large rock levy that surrounds
much of Henry Lake. The spring crappie bite typically begins in
late April.

Large wipers are common in Henry. These fish are very strong, and
provide plenty of fight when hooked. Anglers targeting wipers
should try fishing with shiny casting lures, jigs, shad imitating
plastics, or live bait. This year should be another good one for
wipers, as they were well represented in our creel survey and
inventory sample.

Thurston Reservoir (100 – 200 acres)

Thurston remained relatively full throughout 2010. Current water
deals are in progress that will hopefully ensure good water levels
for the immediate future. Thurston has been stocked annually since
2006. Shore access is very limited at Thurston. Anglers should plan
on wading, belly boating, or using small watercraft to fish
Thurston.

Midwestern Farms Pond (35 acres)

Midwestern Farms Pond is a 35-acre lake leased by the Colorado
Division of Wildlife. It is located on Highway 50 between the towns
of Granada and Holly at the Midwestern Farms gravel operation. This
gravel pit pond is fairly deep (over 50 feet) and has shoreline
access for anglers along the west side of the pond. Anglers can
fish between the marked parking areas only.

DOW began stocking this water in 2008. The pond has been stocked
with black crappie, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth
bass, bluegill, saugeye, wiper, yellow perch and rainbow trout.
Since the pond is deep, trout have been able to survive throughout
the summer in cool deep water. Trout fishing has been very popular,
as well as fishing for large brood catfish and smallmouth bass that
have been stocked.

Jackson’s Pond (eight acres)

This popular fishing area is located near the town of Eads. DOW
began stocking Jackson’s Pond in 2005. Efforts have been made to
create a pond featuring largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish,
and seasonally (spring and fall) stocked rainbow trout. Management
efforts have included: unwanted species removal, stocking of forage
species, aquatic weed control (grass carp), and supplemental
feeding of fish. Some large brooder channel catfish and smallmouth
bass were also stocked to improve fishing opportunity.

Holbrook Reservoir (675 acres)

Current water management at Holbrook Reservoir involves a cycle of
constant filling and draining of the lake. Fisheries management is
very difficult under this scenario. In 2011, DOW stocking will
introduce some channel catfish. This species should be tolerant of
the constant changes. In addition, rainbow trout are stocked as
conditions allow.

Upper Queens Reservoir and Timber Lake

Upper Queens and Timber Lake are currently dry. These lakes will be
restocked when conditions allow.

The complete version of Ramsay’s report can be found on the
internet at
http://wildlife.state.co.us/NR/rdonlyres/37C6EFED-8681-44EF-AEDC-E7F6E1A14C19/0/2011FishingForecast.pdf.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:
http://wildlife.state.co.us.

 

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