In the 1970's Colorado Parks and Wildlife introduced a handful of nonnative fish species into some of our warm water fisheries (including Smallmouth Bass, Walleye and in some bodies of water, Crappie and Largemouth Bass). Rifle Gap Reservoir was one to welcome these new species.
Sadly, after introducing the new fish, CPW did a poor job of managing these new species in Rifle Gap and other fisheries. It was almost unheard of to catch Walleye because of this. It wasn't until the early 1990's that a bag limit was imposed to help protect the population of different species in these lakes and reservoirs. A screen was installed in 2013 to ensure no nonnative fish could venture into the waterways connecting to the Colorado River.
Since the Bag Limit was enforced, both Walleye and Smallmouth Bass seem to be thriving in Rifle Gap. Fishing is good and anglers enjoy the opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish species.
In the Spring of 2015, CPW stocked Triploid Walleye in hopes of bringing more anglers to the reservoir. This attempt fell short as they stocked Rifle Gap with 2" fry and anglers would often catch Pike, Trout and other species that would have the "small fries" in their stomachs.
Just recently, in 2016, CPW lifted the limit on Smallmouth Bass and are encouraging anglers to keep everything they catch. They are also gill-netting (removing and killing as many female Walleye as possible).
Apparently, CPW relies on grant monies funded by the Federal Fish and Game that encourages the removal of all nonnative fish species and promoting native only fisheries. Not only does this limit the variety of fish species available in our fisheries while turning people away from our communities to travel elsewhere, it is also inhumane and wasteful. There should be more discussion made with local anglers to help make these decisions. There is a roundtable but it is poorly advertised/promoted and many are unaware of the ability to have their opinions heard. There are other ways of managing fisheries to allow these fish species to naturally thrive in the environment they were introduced into so many years ago.
The ultimate goal of this petition is to raise awareness with local sportsmen/fishermen and to prove that we do have a voice when we band together. Also to stop the war against our "non-native" sport fish that the CPW and Federal Fish and Game Dept. have declared in Western Colorado fisheries. What the CPW has decided to do is not only wasteful, it's unethical and we shouldn't stand by and not let our voices be heard!