CO: Fish bag limits off at Woods Lake for summer

TELLURIDE, Colo. — A native trout reclamation project by the
Colorado Division of Wildlife will allow licensed anglers to keep
all the brook and brown trout they catch from Woods Lake and
upstream tributaries this summer.

The temporary lifting of the bag and possession limits will last
until Aug. 31. Eliminating bag and possession limits is authorized
by the Division of Wildlife through an emergency fish salvage
order. Anglers must hold a valid Colorado fishing license.

In late July or early August, the Division of Wildlife will begin a
long-anticipated project to restore the native Colorado River
cutthroat trout around Woods Lake, a popular fishing and camping
spot in San Miguel County just off Forest Service Road 618. Due to
habitat loss, water quality impacts and the introduction of
non-native fish over many years, the Colorado River cutthroat has
been eliminated from most rivers and streams in western Colorado.
The species can now be found in only a small percentage of its
historic range in Colorado and in the Rocky Mountain West.

“The Colorado River cutthroat has been petitioned for listing under
the federal Endangered Species Act and we want to keep that from
happening,” said Dan Kowalski, aquatic biologist for the Division
in Montrose. “Restoration projects like the one planned at Woods
Lake are proven methods for returning our native fish to their
previous habitat and prevent the need for future federal
listing.”

Eliminating non-native fish from Woods Lake and its tributaries is
the first step of the cutthroat restoration project. Biologists
will accomplish this phase of the project by applying Rotenone, a
chemical that has been used for decades in fisheries management
throughout North America. The chemical, derived from the root of a
tropical plant, is fast-acting, works only on aquatic species and
leaves no residue. Rotenone quickly degrades in the environment or
can be manually neutralized by the application of an oxidizing
agent. The lake is expected to be completely free of the chemical
and suitable for fish less than a week after the treatment.

In the interim, the water level of the lake is being dropped to
reduce the amount of chemical needed, and to ensure that all water
is contained in the lake so that it won’t affect the fishery
downstream.

Native fish will be re-stocked once it is confirmed that all
non-natives have been removed, probably this fall or the spring of
2012. The native fish population will build up in a few years, but
anglers should have fish to catch as early as summer of 2012. Fish
populations should increase to their previous levels in three to
five years.

The Woods Lake area was chosen as one of the locations for
reclamation work because it is isolated and the water is pristine.
Other species of trout will not be able to naturally swim back into
the reservoir or the tributaries.

“This is an outstanding area for the native cutthroat,” Kowalski
said. “There are only a few spots in western Colorado suitable for
restoration. This will help give the cutthroat a long-term foothold
in southwest Colorado.”

Another cutthroat restoration project for southwest Colorado is
planned for this summer in the upper Hermosa Creek drainage near
Silverton.

Before the chemical treatment at Woods Lake begins, the Division is
eliminating bag limits to afford licensed anglers the opportunity
to take as many trout as they can. Anglers must still possess a
2011fishing license and can take fish only by legal means as
defined in Colorado fishing regulations. Anglers can use hook and
line, lures and bait. Netting, snagging, electric shocking,
explosives, poisons, and use of bow and arrow or firearms are
prohibited for the take of fish.

The Division of Wildlife has held meetings in the area to explain
this project. Questions about the project can be addressed to
Kowalski at (970)252-6017.

Many other waters that are easily accessible to anglers can be
found in the Telluride area. For more information about the
Division’s cutthroat trout conservation work, please see:
http://wildlife.state.co.us/Research/Aquatic/CutthroatTrout/CutthroatTrout.htm.

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

 

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