Article and Photos by Scott Willoughby
Spawning kokanee by © Scott Willoughby
In a state that pretty much has it all, the most glaring gap in Colorado’s vast menu of outdoor options becomes obvious at its borders. The ability to walk across state lines almost anywhere without getting your feet wet serves as evidence of a basic reality: We’re landlocked. High and dry.
For a large chunk of the fishing world, that could be considered a problem. There are plenty of fish in the sea, as they say, and the opportunity to chase a wide variety of them is what drives many an angler to wet a line. But in the network of rivers and lakes draining from the mountainous spine of the nation to oceans east and west, well, the species selection falls a bit short by comparison. Sure, we’ve got a respectable assortment of more than 40 types of cold-, cool- and warm-water fish species statewide in Colorado, but it seems like the grass can always get a little greener. Read more
A Rio Grande cutthroat. Video capture by Jerry Neal (CPW).
Nestled in the rugged mountains of southwest Colorado lies a remote, privately-owned ranch that shelters the pristine waters of Haypress Lake. Each June, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s fishery biologists and hatchery personnel set up a spawn-take operation at Haypress to collect roe and milt from Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Haypress Lake is the primary collection site for Rio Grande cutthroat eggs in Colorado. The offspring of the Haypress fish are then restocked into nearly 80 lakes and streams throughout the Rio Grande Basin. This short video provides an intimate look at this unique, annual event. Special thanks to John Alves, Ben Felt, Doug Sebring, Kirt Achenbach, Landes Randall, Kevin Terry and Ruthie Brown for their contributions to the Haypress spawn-take and Rio Grande cutthroat conservation efforts.
Since their introduction into Colorado in the late 19th century, brown trout have established wild and self-sustaining populations throughout hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks. They occur today in nearly every mountain stream between 6,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation. In addition to the more accessible rivers and mountain reservoirs, where they can grow to trophy sizes, vibrant populations of wild browns provide sport-fishing opportunities for backcountry anglers.
The largest brown trout caught in Colorado weighed 30 pounds, 8 ounces. Although it was caught at the Roaring Judy Ponds, located at the state fish hatchery near Almont, it probably swam up the Gunnison River from Blue Mesa Reservoir. Blue Mesa is known for producing trophy-sized brown trout. Read more