Angler success this summer at Antero Reservoir in the upper South Platte River drainage has catapulted the impoundment into one of the best trout fisheries in the state, according to a Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist.
In recent weeks, anglers have reported catches of brown trout up to 6 pounds, a rainbow trout of 15 pounds and a Snake River cutthroat of 25 inches, according to Division aquatic biologist Greg Gerlich.
Gerlich said anglers are hauling in 3-4 pound rainbows on a consistent basis.
"The fishing has been good," he said.
Yet, Antero is just one of the reservoirs considered to be whirling-disease positive that are producing good numbers of big trout, Division biologists say.
Others include the big Metro area impoundments such as Aurora, Chatfield, and Cherry Creek reservoirs as well as Barr Lake, according to Metro area wildlife manager Dave Nesler.
"All these big metro area reservoirs do pretty well for trout, especially in the spring," Nesler said. "Anglers are catching 18-inch rainbows with great regularity."
North Park impoundments such as Seymour Lake, which was reclaimed to eliminate sucker populations two years ago, have been producing 20-inch rainbows, with catches of 16-to 17-inch rainbows common, according to Northeast Region biologist Kenny Kehmeier. Other North Park impoundments, such as Peal, Tiago, and Calgary lakes are producing abundant catches of "catchable-sized and up" rainbows. Lake John has fished well this summer but has fallen into the typical mid-summer slump in recent weeks, Kehmeier said.
In the upper Arkansas Basin, fisheries biologist Greg Policky said that Mt. Elbert/Forebay and Clear Creek reservoirs are consistently producing good takes of rainbow, brown and Snake River cutthroat trout between 10 and 20 inches.
"Clear Creek Reservoir has the best lake fishing in the Arkansas basin," Policky said. He said anglers are still able to catch large kokanee in Clear Creek Reservoir.
He added that O^Haver Reservoir and Wright^s Lake are both well-stocked with rainbows and consistently producing bag limits of 10-to-12-inch fish. All these impoundments are listed as "B" or "C" waters, meaning they have tested positive for whirling disease organisms and can be stocked with fish from hatcheries that have tested positive for whirling disease.
Eric Hughes, Division hatchery chief, said that while a couple of the Division fish
productions units will never be certified as whirling-disease negative because of their river water
supplies, hatchery managers continue to implement fish rearing strategies that reduce the effects that whirling disease can have on fish.
These facilities are shifting production into more disease-resistant fish, protecting fingerlings from exposure until they reach a larger size.
Symptoms of whirling disease are typically manifested in trout exposed to high-levels of whirling disease organisms in the fingerling stage (smaller than three inches). If fish are raised to five or six inches in length before they are exposed, they may become hosts to the organisms but don^t typically exhibit the symptoms or succumb to the mortality caused by WD-exposure.
"We stock a quality product and the results can be seen in reservoirs such as Antero," Hughes said.