RANGELY, Colo. (CBS4) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is willing to pay you $20 for every northern pike you can catch at Kenney Reservoir, the White River and other waters in northwestern Colorado, beginning June 1 and continuing through Nov. 30.
CPW officials say northern pike are indiscriminate predators and consume any fish they catch, putting Colorado’s endangered fish – Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail and razorback sucker – at risk.
“The rare species exist nowhere else in the world except in the Upper Colorado River Basin,” CPW officials stated.
Additionally, CPW stocks rainbow trout annually at Kenney Reservoir but because of the presence of northern pike, officials say they will have to cancel the remaining catchable trout plants in the reservoir this year. Officials say they can’t resume stocking until the issue is resolved.
To protect the other fish, several agencies came together to offer a harvest incentive targeting all northern pike found within the District’s boundaries – including Kenney Reservoir, the White River and other waters, from approximately Stedman Mesa to the Utah border.
Northern pike can attain lengths up to 4.5 feet and weigh up to 62.5 pounds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
CPW officials believe the northern pike were most likely dumped illegally into the reservoir, or the White River.
“We will take action one way or another to deal with this illegal introduction because it is very harmful and the stakes are so high,” officials stated.
CPW says illegal fish stocking can result in fines up to $5,000 and the permanent loss of hunting and fishing privileges. In addition, anyone convicted of illegal fish dumping will likely have to pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars to reclaim the body of water.
Other Northwest Region reservoirs dealing with the repercussions of unlawful stocking of northern pike include Green Mountain Reservoir and Wolford Mountain Reservoir. CPW and the Colorado River Water Conservation District initiated angler harvest incentives at both reservoirs several years ago, similar to the one planned at Kenney Reservoir. Licensed anglers can earn $20 for each northern pike caught and removed.
To participate in the angler harvest incentive within the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District’s boundaries, anglers should bring their freshly caught northern pike to the District office at 2252 East Main Street in Rangely during typical business hours, 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday – Thursday, and 7 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Friday.
To collect CPW’s angler harvest incentive at Green Mountain Reservoir, anglers can bring freshly caught northern pike to the Heeney Marina during business hours. Call 970-724-9441 for more information. To collect the Colorado River Water Conservation District’s angler harvest incentive at Wolford Mountain Reservoir, take the freshly caught northern pike to the campground host, or call 970-724-1266.
Anglers must present their fishing license to qualify for the harvest incentive.