The Elkhead Reservoir (Moffat and Routt counties) Fishing Classic tournament will take place June 27th through July 5th. This tournament will target smallmouth bass and northern pike, and anglers will earn an angler ticket for every smallmouth bass and northern pike that they catch from this reservoir and turn in during the tournament. The format for the 2020 tournament has changed slightly due to the pandemic. This year, 20 northern pike and 20 smallmouth bass will be tagged and released immediately prior to the tournament with individually numbered 2020 passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Fish will be checked for tags at the CPW fish scanning station. If any of the 2020 tagged smallmouth bass and/or northern pike are/is caught during the tournament, the respective angler(s) will receive a cash award (check) of $150 per fish on the day the fish is caught. If none or a subset of the 2020 PIT tagged fish are caught during the tournament, the remaining cash awards (checks) for this category will be drawn for and presented by CPW during the angler ticket drawing at the conclusion of the tournament (approximately 3:30 pm) on Sunday, July 5th.
Additionally, northern pike and smallmouth bass were also PIT tagged in advance of the 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Elkhead Reservoir Fishing Tournaments. Some of these fish are still at-large in the reservoir. These previously tagged fish are excluded from the 2020 tagged fish category, but are still eligible for $50 cash awards (checks). A $50 cash award will be provided for each of the first ten tagged northern pike and/or smallmouth bass caught from previous years. Similar to the 2020 tagged fish, if none or a subset of tagged fish from previous years are caught during the tournament, the remaining cash awards for this category will be drawn for and presented by CPW during the angler ticket drawing at the conclusion of the tournament.
Further, two $1,500 checks will be awarded to the angler(s) who has/have caught and turned in the most northern pike and/or the most smallmouth bass across the nine day tournament.
Daily prizes will NOT be awarded in 2020.
There is no bag or possession limit for northern pike or smallmouth bass at Elkhead Reservoir.
Participants must check in at the registration area at the maintenance shop near the park entrance when they arrive at Elkhead Reservoir. Youth under 16 can fish without a license. For those over 64, annual licenses are $9.85. Anglers ages 16-63 must possess a valid Colorado fishing license. All Colorado Fishing Regulations and Boating Regulations apply. It is recommended that anglers purchase their 2020 fishing license in advance of the tournament as licenses are not typically available at the reservoir.
There are 46 campsites available at Elkhead Reservoir State Park ranging from $22 to $30/night. Reservations are currently required. The daily entry fee into the park is $9.00.
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.
There are two prize categories.
Everyone who catches a smallmouth bass will be awarded a raffle drawing. The Grand Prize will be $1,000 with ten additional winners of $100 each.
The angler who catches the most smallmouth bass will win $5,000! The angler who catches the second highest number will win $2,000, and the third highest will win $1000.
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.
Tournament Rules for Ridgway.
Anglers can fish as many times as they want during the 29-day tournament and are responsible for turning their fish in at the drop-box located at the Ridgway State Park Main Office. When turning fish in at the drop-box, anglers will be responsible for completely filling out a contact form in order for the fish to count toward the tournament. These steps are necessary for running a safe and fun tournament during the current COVID pandemic.
Learn the best ways to catch smallmouth bass and learn about issues related to non-native fish species.
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 $9, 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.
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 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.
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, in 2019, 95 adult largemouth bass, 540,000 juvenile largemouth bass, 26,000 juvenile bluegill, and 16,762 juvenile black crappie were stocked into Elkhead Reservoir. In 2020, 155 adult largemouth bass and 30,000 juvenile bluegill have been stocked into Elkhead Reservoir so far. An additional 30,000 juvenile black crappie are also scheduled to be stocked in 2020. 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 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.
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.