Fish won’t be killed in Rifle reservoir |

Fish won’t be killed in Rifle reservoir

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentJanice Zielinski reels in her line after a morning of fishing on Rifle Gap with her fishing buddy Reed Stephens. Both anglers, from Rifle, say that the pike have taken over the gap.

RIFLE, Colorado ” Some anglers took issue with what they said was a Colorado Division of Wildlife proposal to poison the reservoir at Rifle Gap.

Of concern was a 2006 paper by a state biologist posted on Division of Wildlife’s Web site. The paper proposed killing off northern pike at the reservoir in order to reduce the population of the illegally introduced fish.

The report states that the pike have dramatically increased in population and threaten other native species. It says the pike could also escape the reservoir and harm endangered species in the Colorado River. As an alternative to killing fish, the paper proposed “chemical reclamation” to “eliminate” the northern pike.

Some anglers, including members of the Western Slope Anglers, feared fishing at the reservoir would be ruined by the chemicals.

Two anglers at the reservoir Monday were not fans of the pike.

“We are all for the DOW doing whatever they have to do to clear out all these pike,” said Janice Zielinski. “Unfortunately, that may mean killing all the fish in the lake and then restocking.”

She said it was a shame someone introduced the pike in the first place.

“The number of trout just keeps going downhill because of the pike,” she said.

Reed Stephens said, “Pike have taken over this gap. Nine out of 10 fish caught here are pike.”

But the Division of Wildlife said it’s already a dead issue. The mandatory kill and chemical reclamation options were denied in 2006 at the first level of review before reaching the state level, spokesman Randy Hampton said.

The Division of Wildife is attempting to re-establish a walleye fishery at the request of anglers at Rifle Gap, Hampton said, and the reservoir is not large enough to support both pike and walleye because both are major predators.

The agency hopes that its current practice of encouraging voluntary removal of pike will solve the problem, he added.

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