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2019 Free Fishing Tournaments at Elkhead Reservoir State Park and Ridgway State Park
2019 Free Fishing Tournaments at Elkhead Reservoir State Park and Ridgway State Park
Elkhead 3 Big Winners 2018

​​​​​Big wins at Colorado fishing tournaments! 


Anglers lined up with bassCash was king this year with $12,000 in prizes awarded for adult anglers at the 5th Annual Smallmouth Bass Tournament at Ridgway State Park! The more fish anglers caught, the better their chances were of winning prizes. 

Anglers who participated in the 2019 smallmouth bass tournament at Ridgway State Park helped preserve native fish species in the reservoir. A total of 79 registered anglers removed 1,498 smallmouth bass in the month-long tournament that ended July 27.

There were two prize categories. ​


Everyone who caught a smallmouth bass was awarded a raffle ticket for a drawing. The Grand Prize was $2,500; the next six tickets drawn won $250 each.


Chase Nicholson of Ouray was the big winner this year, catching 571 smallmouth bass and the top prize of
$5,000 for most fish caught. He also won $500 for smallest fish caught - 3.3 inches. Nicholson tied with
Tyler Deuschle of Delta for biggest fish caught, 17.2 inches they split the $500 prize. Second place for
most fish caught went to Lawrence Cieslewicz of Montrose, who caught 283. He also won the grand-
prize raffle for an additional $2,500.  Chris Cady from Delta turned in 128 fish and placed third for most
fish caught.

Young anglers are also encouraged to participate in the tournament. Any angler 12 and under who turns in a smallmouth bass will be awarded a package of fishing lures. 

Girl with caught bass​See the Tournament Rule​​​s for Ridgway​.  

Learn the best ways to catch smallmouth bass​. For more about issues with non-native fish species, see the Smallmouth Bass at Ridgway Reservoir page. 

Camping facilities are available at Ridgway State Park, including 283 sites―many with full electric hook-ups―and three yurts. Daily entry to the park is $8, campsites range in​ price from $24 to $36 per night. 

​Those who plan to fish from boats must make sure their boats are cleaned, drained and dried before getting to Ridgway – or any other reservoir in Colorado.

For more information, call the park at 970-626-5822.​


The Elkhead ​Reservoir (Moffat and Routt counties) Fishing Classic tournament was June 22nd through June 30th. This tournament targeted smallmouth bass and northern pike. A total of 270 anglers removed 492 smallmouth bass and 419 northern pike, for a total of 911 fish. One northern pike and one smallmouth bass were tagged and released immediately prior to the tournament with individually numbered 2019 passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags.​ Fish were checked for tags at the CPW fish scanning station. If a 2019 tagged smallmouth bass and/or northern pike was caught during the tournament, the respective angler(s) received a cash award (check) of $1,500 per fish on the day the fish is caught. One lucky angler, Tyler Deuschle, was able to catch the tagged northern pike worth $1,500, and win a second $1,500 prize through the angler ticket drawing since the tagged smallmouth bass was never caught.

​​At the conclusion of the tournament, ​two $750 checks were awarded to the angler(s) who caught and turned in the most northern pike and/or the most smallmouth bass across the nine-day tournament.​ Juan Lara took home the prize for most northern pike, while Levi Archuleta took the prize for most smallmouth bass. 

Additional prizes totaling $4,500 were awarded daily between 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm in the following categories:

  • Northern Pike: smallest per day, largest per day, most caught per day​
  • Smallmouth Bass:  smallest per day, largest per day, most caught per day
There is no bag or possession limit for northern pike or smallmouth bass at Elkhead Reservoir.​

For more information regarding the Elkhead Reservoir Fishing Classic, please see the Tournament Rules and ​Tournament Flyer​​​​ or call the Yampa River State Park​​ at 970-276-2061.​​​​​​

    Be a partner with Colorado Parks and Wildlife 

    ​Smallmouth bass and northern pike are not compatible with endangered fish recovery and conservation efforts in waters downstream of Ridgway and Elkhead reservoirs. Smallmouth bass and northern pike can escape from reservoirs and/or be moved illegally to waters where these species can predate upon native fishes and compete with natives for food and habitat. We​ ask anglers to catch and keep all smallmouth bass and northern pike that they catch from these reservoirs. Anglers are reminded that is illegal to move live fish from one water to another in western Colorado.​

    If the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program​​ fails to make sufficient progress at recovering the four endangered fish species (Colorado pikeminnow, bonytail, razorback sucker, and humpback chub), all water users on the West Slope will likely be required to consult with the federal government if they need to use water for irrigation, to fill a pond, or to supply drinking water.

    Participation in these fishing tournaments can help assure a variety of future game fish opportunities in Elkhead and Ridgway reservoirs. For example, with the help of local anglers, CPW biologists stocked 120 adult largemouth bass on June 19, 2017 into Elkhead Reservoir. These bass averaged 22 inches in length, and on average weighed, almost 5 lbs.  An additional 30,000 juvenile black crappie and 15,000 juvenile bluegill were also stocked by CPW into Elkhead Reservoir in the summer of 2017. In June of 2018, CPW stocked 370,604 juvenile largemouth bass and 27,006 juvenile bluegill into Elkhead Reservoir. In August of 2018, almost 10,000 juvenile black crappie were also stocked into the reservoir. In 2019, 95 adult largemouth bass, 540,000 juvenile largemouth bass, and 26,000 juvenile bluegill have been stocked into Elkhead Reservoir so far. An additional 30,000 black crappie are scheduled to be stocked in 2019. These species are compatible with native fish recovery and conservation efforts. 

    CPW strives to provide the best fishing opportunities that are appropriate for each body of water in the state. Biologists must carefully consider a variety of factors when managing fisheries, including:  impacts to native fishes, water quality, habitat availability, size of water to be stocked, how water will be used, forage fish availability, federal and state laws, etc. Please help CPW manage YOUR fisheries by working with our biologists and not against them by illegally stocking fish!​

    Illegal stocking hurts Colorado's anglers

    Illegal stocking of fish is a significant issue that affects all Colorado anglers. In western Colorado, not every body of water or waterway is suitable for every species of fish. CPW must remedy fisheries where illegal stocking has taken place. This means the agency must expend significant resources that otherwise could be used to improve angling opportunities elsewhere. For example, in the fall of 2013, CPW spent more than $100,000 to eliminate smallmouth bass and restore the renowned trout fishery at Miramonte Reservoir in San Miguel County.

    ​Help prevent illegal stocking

    If you have information about illegal stocking of fish, please contact a CPW office immediately, or call Operation Game Thief​ at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be given anonymously and rewards are possible.​