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Fish & Aquatics
Fish & Aquatics
Brown trout underwater by Wayne Lewis
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Featured Projects​​

CPW and Partners Return Greenback Cutthroats to Ancestral Waters

CPW and its partners at USFWS, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, are determined to try to save the greenback cutthroats. Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists and volunteers carried 10-pound bags of rare greenback cutthroat trout up steep Herman Gulch near Georgetown this week in a bid to permanently return the state fish to its ancestral waters in an alpine stream fed by snowmelt.

Find out information on Greenback Cutthroat Trout and CPW’s aquatic research projects.

For more information about this exciting project, please read the press release.
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Hayden Fire Cutthroat RescueOne Year After Massive Wildfire, Surviving Cutthroat Rescued From Hayden Creek

Inside CPW’s Roaring Judy Hatchery, staff is working to save and breed 158 unique cutthroat trout rescued from Hayden Creek during last year’s devastating Hayden Pass wildfire, southwest of Cañon City. Today they may be the last survivors because no fish were found in an initial survey of the South Prong of Hayden Creek in the aftermath of the wildfire and subsequent flooding.

The coordination that occurred between the USFS staff and CPW to rescue these fish from the wild during an active fire was truly amazing,” said Josh Nehring, CPW senior aquatic biologist.

Read more about the joint CPW and USFWS efforts to rescue and restore the unique Hayden Creek cutthroat trout​.

Biologists Make Annual Trip up Bear Creek to Conserve Rare Greenback Cutthroat Trout

As part of an annual spawning effort, aquatic biologists collected eggs and milt from rare greenback cutthroat trout. The operation helps conserve and recover the species throughout its native range. It is a continuation of extensive work by CPW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, Great Outdoors Colorado, El Paso County, the city of Colorado Springs and other local government agencies.

Read the full CPW Biologists news release. Find out information on Greenback Cutthroat Trout and CPW’s aquatic research projects.

Video courtesy of Denver Post.


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Conservation. Preservation. Recreation.​

Fisheries management predates all other wildlife management activities in Colorado. The first Colorado wildlife law passed in 1861, and it addressed overfishing: “It is unlawful to take trout by seine, net, basket or trap.” The first wildlife official in Colorado was Colonel Wilson E. Sisty, who became the State Fish Commissioner in 1877.

Today, Fish Hatchery Technicians are responsible for the aquaculture of 56 separate strains of fish, and raise and stock over 90 million fish every year. Hatchery employees contribute to the preservation of threatened and endangered species such as boreal toads and pike ​​​​minnows. 

​​​​​Colorado Parks and Wildlife also has an Aquatic Research Section that conducts scientific investigations to develop the necessary knowledge, techniques, and procedures to effectively manage Colorado's aquatic wildlife.

​CPW has various educational materials available. Using sound, video, text, logic, and computer skills, the Fish Hatchery Game portrays some of the work of a 'typical' CPW fish hatchery. Working through the game, middle and high school educators and students are presented interesting (and often challenging) math and biology concepts in a meaningful, relevant and fun way.​​​​​

 Species Profiles



Colorado has over 40 species of aquatic mollusks, ranging in size from less than a quarter of an inch (2-3 mm) up to nearly 8 inches (190 mm). These include representatives of 8 gastropod families (snails and limpets with one shell) and 3 bivalve families (clams and mussels with two shells). Visit the Species Profiles page to learn about mollusks, fish and much more!

>> Read More

Anita Martinez, aquatic biologist (now retired) holds up bass


The Aquatic Research Section provides a combination of field and laboratory experimentation to answer statewide fisheries management questions, improve efficiency in production and management of aquatic species, and provide centralized fisheries management functions related to data management, stream habitat,  and brood stock development.​

 Activities & Learning

 Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

Nestled in the rugged mountains of southwest Colorado lies a remote, privately owned ranch that shelters the pristine waters of Haypress Lake. Each June, Colorado Parks and Wildlife fishery biologists set up a spawn-take operation at Haypress to collect roe and milt from Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

 Fall Spawning Runs

Watch Colorado mountain whitefish, brown trout, and kokanee salmon spawning runs from beneath the water.