Area waters teem with trout | AspenTimes.com

Area waters teem with trout

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Can’t catch a trout? It’s not because they aren’t there.

On the other hand, a lot of the fish that Colorado Parks and Wildlife will stock in lakes and rivers in the vicinity of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley this summer aren’t quite ready for the frying pan.

The agency’s 2012 stocking schedule calls for the addition of 260,500 fish to Ruedi Reservoir east of Basalt, but most are of the “sub-catchable” variety – they’re only a few inches long. The Ruedi total includes 11,000 3-inch rainbows that were scheduled for stocking in April; 200,000 2-inch kokanee salmon to be stocked this month, 28,000 5-inch lake trout to be added to the reservoir throughout the summer and 31,500 10-inch rainbows, also to be stocked in batches through early August.

The lake at Chapman Campground in the upper Fryingpan Valley will see the introduction of 1,500 10-inch trout over the course of the summer, according to the schedule.

“The 10-inch fish is our typical stocker,” said Mike Porras, Parks and Wildlife spokesman. “We stock them in areas where fishing is a little more popular.”

It’s the expectation that those fish will be kept when they’re caught.

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In addition to the 10-inchers are the unexpected lunkers – brood fish that have been reared in state hatcheries specifically for egg production rather than introduction into lakes and streams. They’re typically big fish, and some will be culled from hatchery populations and added to popular fishing waters.

Maroon Lake near Aspen, for example, has been the occasional repository of brood fish in past seasons. This year’s schedule calls for putting only 2-inch cutthroats (25,000 of them) in the lake, but that doesn’t mean some brood fish won’t find their way there.

The agency’s stocking strategy, however, is about more than emptying a tank of hungry trout into the water for eager anglers to take back out.

“It’s much more complex than, we want people to catch fish and enjoy them,” Porras said.

In addition to the plans for Ruedi and Maroon Lake, roughly 100,000 fish are scheduled to be stocked in other high-mountain lakes and streams this summer, in quantities that range from 100 fish to 1,000 or several thousand.

Virtually all of them are 5 inches long at most. A long list of lakes, many of them in wilderness areas, will see the introduction of 1-inch cutthroats, though those bodies of water often boast bigger fish from previous years’ stocking efforts.

“We’re trying to get populations stimulated and going where nature hasn’t established a population,” Porras said.

For the remote lakes, tanks of tiny trout must be packed in, though drops from airplanes also are used, he said. The stocking of the high lakes is scheduled for August.

Among area rivers, the upper Roaring Fork above Aspen is scheduled to receive 20,000 3-inch rainbow trout late in the summer, while the upper Crystal River, south of Carbondale, will get 10,000 5-inch rainbows.

For a sure bet, if there is such a thing in the fishing realm, try the ponds at the Aspen Golf Club. The golf course arranged to have some 450 farm-raised rainbow trout in the 10- to 12-inch range stocked in the large pond next to Highway 82 recently. Some trout also were stocked in the smaller pond behind the clubhouse.

janet@aspentimes.com