For the third time Colorado Parks and Wildlife, along with Florida Consolidated Ditch Company, will drawn down Pastorius Reservoir to address illegal stocking
La Plata County - Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), in cooperation with the Florida Consolidated Ditch Company (FCDC), will be draining Pastorius Reservoir to get rid of illegally stocked Northern Pike. The FCDC will be making a final stock run of water out of Pastorius in late October or early November.
“This is the third time Pastorius has been stocked illegally with Northern Pike,” said Jim White, aquatic biologist for CPW. Pike are voracious predators of trout in the lake and pose a serious risk to fish in the Animas River if they were to escape.
“When people illegally stock Pastorius we end up with few trout and lots of little stunted Northern Pike that anglers don’t like,” White said. “It’s not fair to punish law abiding anglers by draining the lake, but this is the best way to address illegal stocking and make a better fishery. The historic drought provides a great opportunity to do this with the cooperation of the water users,” he added.
In April 1998, CPW drained and treated Pastorius with Rotenone, a fish specific pesticide, to eliminate illegally stocked Northern Pike. Within months’ pike were illegally stocked again. That year, the lake “winterkilled” and the pike did not survive. In 2015, anglers noted pike in the reservoir again.
CPW regulations prohibit illegal transportation and stocking of fish in the state. Anyone caught moving fish illegally may be fined up to $5,000, may lose their hunting and fishing privileges, and may be held liable for the cost of eradication or removal. Chemical and mechanical removal efforts can cost thousands of dollars depending on the distribution and numbers of fish and the reservoir conditions.
Illegal fish stocking is a problem all over the western United States, where states work closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stock fish that provide diverse angling opportunities and limit the risk of harm to Endangered Fish Species.
“One person intent on illegally stocking can easily disrupt this delicate balance and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” White said.
In anticipation of the drawdown, CPW is lifting the bag and possession limit on trout, bass, and bluegill on October 8, 2018 through April 1, 2019. Under current regulations, there is no bag and possession limit on Northern pike. CPW will restock Pastorius with catchable rainbow trout and fingerling bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass in the spring of 2019.
To accommodate migratory birds and waterfowl hunters, CPW anticipates about half the lake will be drawn down during the stock run. The rest of the lake would be emptied during the winter months when the birds move off and the lake would normally freeze.