Grab your gear and head over to Blue Mesa Reservoir to reel in some prize money!

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced a new competition that offers some pretty juicy bait: no entry fee and $10,000 in prizes. 

From February 1 through July 31, head over to the Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison and drop a line in the water to catch lake trout. Anglers are asked to target trout that are 24 inches and smaller. The idea here is quantity not size, and it's all done in an effort to ensure that the reservoir can maintain its kokanee salmon population by limiting predation by lake trout.

“By sponsoring this tournament, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking anglers to be our partners in helping to manage the renowned Blue Mesa Reservoir fishery,” said Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist for CPW in Gunnison in a press release. “We know we can have an excellent kokanee fishery and a trophy lake trout fishery, but we need to continue our work for both species and we need the help of Colorado’s anglers.”

lake trout

Lake trout caught via ice fishing. Courtesy of CPW.

How it works:

Anglers who have a valid fishing license and catch lake trout 24 inches or smaller should remove the heads and place them in a plastic bag provided at one of three boat ramps at the reservoir: Iola, Elk Creek, and Lake Fork. Heads can also be turned in at CPW’s offices in Gunnison (300 W. New York Ave.) or Montrose (2300 S. Townsend Ave., U.S. Highway 550). 

At the conclusion of the tournament, you are eligible to win cash prizes in one of three categories:

  1. CPW has tagged 23 fish in the reservoir but anglers won’t know if they’ve caught one; CPW will scan the heads, and those who caught the tagged fish will receive $250 for each.
  2. Anglers who catch the most fish: 1st place, $1,000; 2nd place, $500; 3rd place, $250.
  3. Anglers will be entered in a raffle for every lake trout head turned in; a total of 20 winners will be selected, each winner will receive $200.

The whole contest sounds like a great way to catch some tasty fish, possibly win some prizes, and do your part to ensure Colorado's lakes continue to be viable for as many fish species as possible. 

“Anglers harvest about 6,000 lake trout each year,” Brauch said. “But we need increased harvest of small lake trout to keep population growth in check and to reduce the need for additional lake trout suppression work by CPW. By utilizing anglers’ skills and expertise we’re confident that we can maintain balance of the Blue Mesa Reservoir fishery,” Brauch said.
For more information about the contest at Blue Mesa Reservoir visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife webpage.