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RBC I To stem the proliferation of illegally stocked northern pike in Green Mountain Reservoir, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Water Conservation Board have created the Green Mountain Reservoir Angler Harvest Incentive Package, which gives anglers the opportunity to earn $20 for every northern pike caught in the reservoir and delivered to Heeney Marina.
The incentive encourages anglers to participate directly in ongoing efforts to remove the illegally introduced predators from Green Mountain Reservoir.
“The fish were dumped in there several years ago by someone who selfishly didn’t consider the serious consequences we are now dealing with,” said CPW’s Jon Ewert, aquatic biologist from Hot Sulphur Springs. “People should know that illicit stocking is a problem not only for ethical reasons but legal reasons as well. Anyone caught doing it faces severe penalties.”
In addition to preying on fish in the reservoir, state biologists are concerned that any northern pike that escape may take up residency in the Blue River downstream of Green Mountain Dam. From there, the fish may eventually reach federally listed critical habitat in the Colorado River, where they could prey on the state’s endangered native fishes—the Colorado pike minnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker and bonytail.
According to the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, the presence of predators like northern pike and smallmouth bass in native fish critical habitat significantly increases the difficulty of delisting the endangered fishes.
“Northern pike are aggressive predators with big appetites and if their population continues to grow, that will have profound impact on the fish we have stocked there as well as potential impacts to the endangered native fish we are currently trying to recover,” Ewert said. “This is a win-win for the agency and anglers. They can catch a predatory fish and earn some money; it helps us protect our native fish and we can manage the reservoir responsibly into the future.”
To participate, anglers must bring their northern pike to the Heeney Marina along with their driver’s license and fishing license.
CPW will keep fish heads for analysis, returning the body of the fish to the anglers. Anglers not wishing to keep the northern pike can donate their catch to the marina.
There are no limits for northern pike and smallmouth bass in Western Colorado. Anglers are encouraged to catch and keep as many of the fish as they desire, unless special regulations are in effect on specific waters.
For more information, contact CPW’s Hot Sulphur Springs office at 970-725-6200.
Heeney Marina can be reached at 970-724-9441. To report illicit stocking or any other illegal wildlife activity anonymously, anglers can call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648.