Summit Lake not for suckers anymore |

Summit Lake not for suckers anymore

Shannon Livick
Courtez Journal/AP
Aspen, CO Colorado
**FOR USE IN WEEKEND EDITIONS OF MARCH 22-23**Fish fly from a pipe as they are dumped from tanks to stock Summit Lake as Jim White, an aquatic biologist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, looks on in this photograph taken on Wednesday, March 13, 2008, near Cortez, Colo. Nearly 20,000 rainbow trout were used to restock the lake, which was emptied six months ago to clear out a fish that over the years nearly took over the waters of the reservoir. (AP Photo/Cortez Journal, Sam Green)
AP | Cortez Journal

MANCOS, Colo. ” Nearly 20,000 good-sized rainbow trout were dumped in Summit Lake earlier this month, restocking a lake where just six months ago all fish were poisoned.

“We are just excited to get some fish back in the lake,” said Jim White, aquatic biologist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Twenty thousand of the 7- to 8-inch fish were stocked under the ice at the lake ” located in Mancos State Park on Highway 184 about 30 miles northwest of Durango ” during a recent Wednesday and Thursday.

The fish came from the Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery, located about 20 miles east of Delta. White said the fish were getting too big for the hatchery and needed to be released as soon as possible.

Ice and snow needed to be removed from the road so the truck carrying the fish could release them into the water, and large pieces of ice needed to be taken from the frozen-over lake.

White said fishing should be good this spring.

“They need a month or two to get good-sized,” he said.

In late August, about 40 Colorado Division of Wildlife employees, dressed in protective suits and breathing masks, dumped rotenone in the reservoir and one by one, dead fish floated to the surface.

All the fish in the lake were killed to get rid of the nonnative white sucker, a fish that over the years nearly took over the reservoir, making the water murky and difficult for other species to survive.

In all, 113 gallons of liquid rotenone was sprayed into the water last year, and 3,900 pounds of powdered rotenone were mixed into the water. Rotenone, a poison derived from a tropical plant, prevents fish from absorbing oxygen.

White said the poison broke down in the lake long before winter.

White discouraged anyone from fishing on the lake until later this spring because the ice is very unstable and the rainbows are still too small.

An additional 25,000 catchable rainbow trout will be stocked in the coming months, bringing the total number of rainbows in the lake to about 45,000. In addition, black crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish and blue gill will be stocked this spring, White said.

The only fish that will be worth catching are the rainbow because the others will be too small.

“This will be a good summer for rainbow trout,” White said.

The fish should have plenty of nutrients to survive in the lake because the white suckers are no longer in the water. The fish stir up the clay bottom of the lake, making it difficult for light to get through so plants can grow and create the foundation for an aquatic food chain. Also, all the fish killed last summer fertilized the lake, White said.

Summit Lake was also poisoned in 1993 because a nonnative fish took over.