(CBS4) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife say they have plenty of warm-water fish for people to pursue this summer! Every March, aquatic biologists catch and spawn walleyes to produce 130 million eggs, but this year the project was stopped due to social distancing guidelines and CPW was worried there would be a lack of fish for this season.
“The inability to spawn many walleye this year will indeed lead to the loss of a year class of walleye in most reservoirs that typically receive them – primarily on the Front Range and eastern plains,” officials stated. “But anglers can still catch their limit of the popular warm-water sportfish at many Colorado reservoirs, thanks to aggressive trading by CPW hatchery staff with North Dakota.”
“We will receive enough fish from North Dakota to fully stock our walleye brood waters of Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir and Lake Pueblo State Park,” said Matt Nicholl, CPW aquatic section manager. “North Dakota is giving Colorado priority on walleye and saugeye because Colorado has provided them with good numbers of largemouth bass fry over the past few years.”
There are other factors that will keep walleye fishing productive in Colorado’s warm water reservoirs.
“Walleye, saugeye and wipers are fairly long-lived species,“ Nicholl said. “They live up to eight or nine years, even longer. So missing one year class is not going to collapse the fishery.”
Other warm-water fish – bass, perch, crappie, and sunfish species – naturally reproduce in Colorado’s waters so there should be no impact from the aborted spawning this spring.
Colorado’s warm water fisheries feature many species popular with anglers including channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, green sunfish and hybrid sunfish.
Outside of the brood waters, no other waters in Colorado will receive walleye, saugeye or wiper this year. But Nicholl said the situation is not much different than other years when poor environmental conditions impact fish populations.
Anglers can do their part to ensure their own positive fishing experience into the future by closely following established size, bag and possession limits for all species. The statewide bag and possession limit for walleye, saugeye and sauger is five fish and 10 for white bass, striped bass and wiper.