GUNNISON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Anglers have a chance to win up to $10,000 while also reducing the number of predatory lake trout in western Colorado. The second annual Blue Mesa Reservoir Lake Trout Tournament is underway now near Gunnison.

Anglers have until July 31 to catch lake trout that are smaller than 24 inches. There are several cash prizes available, including $1,000 for whoever catches the most fish.

(credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

The tournament, sponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is free and no registration is required. Wildlife officials say the competition will help maintain adequate numbers of kokanee fry.

“We know we can have an excellent kokanee fishery and a trophy lake trout fishery, but we need to continue our work for both species and we need the help of Colorado’s anglers,” explained Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist for CPW in Gunnison.

The tournament started in February, and so far about 50 anglers have turned in about 900 lake trout heads. Last year, CPW says 339 anglers caught 4,055 target-sized lake trout.

CPW will only accept lake trout under 24 inches in length. Anglers must remove the heads and place them in a plastic bag provided at the reservoir boat ramps.

There are currently about 20 tagged fish in the reservoir, each worth $250. In addition, CPW will award $500 and $250 to the anglers who come in second and third places for catching the most fish. Winning anglers will be contacted in early August.

For more information about fishing at Blue Mesa Reservoir, click here. You can also call the Gunnison CPW office at 970-641-7060.

Audra Streetman