Anglers’ odds rise at Ruedi | AspenTimes.com

Anglers’ odds rise at Ruedi

Janet Urquhart

Stephen "Chevy" Chevrette of Aspen hauls in a pan sized trout out of Ruedi Reservoir Thursday morning June 23, 2005. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

That’s why they call it fishing, not catching.The old adage aside, anglers looking for a sorta sure bet might want to try their luck at Ruedi Reservoir in the Fryingpan Valley above Basalt this summer.The Colorado Division of Wildlife’s plan to stock trout in area rivers and lakes this year puts heavy emphasis on Ruedi, a popular recreational spot for a host of pursuits, from water skiing to sailing and camping to fishing. Enthusiasts of the latter pastime will appreciate this number: 55,000. That’s how many “catchable” rainbow trout the DOW plans to add to Ruedi’s waters in five separate releases this summer.”Catchable,” by the way, does not guarantee a fish on the end of one’s line but refers to the size of the trout – fish in the 10- to 12-inch range will be released at Ruedi, according to the DOW.Ruedi is slated for far more stocked trout than any other local waters.”Ruedi will also, by far, get more fisherman,” said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the DOW in Grand Junction. “In order to meet angler demand, we’ll take those stockings and spread them out over the summer. It’s a supply-and-demand issue.”The DOW saw its supply of stockable trout plummet in the late ’90s, when various hatcheries around the state became infected with whirling disease, which can cripple young trout, particularly rainbows. Most hatcheries that rear trout for release are now disease-free and the division plans to stock nearly 6.5 million fish statewide this year, Hampton said. That sum includes trout as well as warm-water species such as bass and walleye.The DOW will stock 3.6 million catchable fish, which generally measure at least 8 inches; 14.4 million “subcatchables” of the 2- to 3-inch size, destined for streams; and 46.8 million warm-water fingerlings around Colorado. In some places, the division’s efforts amount to a put-and-take program, Hampton concedes. The fish are released, caught and taken home to a frying pan within a season. Others will wind up in rivers designated as catch-and-release only, where anglers must return them to the water.”We stock for the sport opportunity,” Hampton said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean people can take them home, though that’s certainly what happens with most of our fish.”Each fishery is really a little bit different in terms of what kind of fish we put in it and our expectation for what happens to those fish,” he added.In some cases, this year’s stocking program is not about upping an angler’s chances this summer; it’s about the future. It will be years, for example, before the 28,000 3-inch Colorado River rainbows destined for the Fryingpan River late this fall become a photo op-worthy lunker in someone’s net.The Colorado River in Garfield County will receive 30,000 of the Colorado River strain, all about 3 inches long, this fall, and the DOW plans to release 45,000 of them into the upper and lower Roaring Fork.In all three rivers, the hatchery-raised trout will augment natural trout populations.The Crystal River south of Carbondale is scheduled to receive rainbows in the 10-inch range by the end of August.Among lakes in the Aspen area, only Grizzly Reservoir on Independence Pass is on the DOW’s stocking schedule for catchable rainbows this summer.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com