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

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Win big dollars​!! NO entry fees for either tournament!


Anglers with lined up bass
Cash is king this year for adult angers at the 4th Annual Smallmouth Bass Tournament at Ridgway State Park! The more fish anglers catch the better their chances of winning prizes. 

There are two prize categories. 


Everyone who catches a smallmouth bass will be awarded a raffle ticket for a drawing. The Grand Prize will be $1,500; the next three tickets drawn will win $250 each.  


The angler who catches the most smallmouth bass will win $1,500! The angler who catches the second highest number will win $500; third highest number, $250.

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. 

Anglers can fish as many times as they want during the 24-day tournament. 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 $7, campsites range in​ price from $20 to $30 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 3rd annual Elkhead ​Reservoir Fishing Classic tournament took place June 23rd through July 1st. Anglers who participated in the tournament could catch and keep as many non-native smallmouth bass and northern pike from Elkhead Reservoir as possible. Funding from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and their Species Conservation Trust Fund allowed the tournament to offer both daily and tournament winner prizes to successful anglers. Anglers may have been lured by the thousands of dollars in cash rewards and fishing gear, but the true purpose of this tournament is protecting native fish species and water users downstream of the reservoir in the Yampa River. 

A key goal of this harvest incentive program is to engage anglers with non-native fish control projects. Anglers use their skills to help CPW remove these species and play a hands-on role in wildlife management and conservation. CPW has determined this program is more effective and efficient than CPW removal efforts alone. ​

Elkhead Angler with large pike 2018

This tournament targeted both smallmouth bass and northern pike, with no bag or possession limits. A total of 269 anglers removed 540 smallmouth bass and 319 northern pike, for a total of 859 fish. Smallmouth bass ranged in size from three to 19 inches, and northern pike ranged in size from nine to 41 inches.

Cash awards totaling $4,500 and over $4,500 of fishing gear and other prizes were awarded to participating anglers.  Anglers earned a tournament ticket for every smallmouth bass and northern pike they harvested. Biologists implanted internal tags into one smallmouth bass and one northern pike in advance of the tournament.  Neither tagged fish from 2018 were harvested during the tournament. Instead, two $1,500 checks were awarded by drawing tournament tickets. Levi Archuleta and Mike Satterwhite each won $1,500 during the drawing. Levi Archuleta also earned a $750 check for harvesting the most smallmouth bass across the tournament, and Bruce Bufkin earned a $750 check for harvesting the most northern pike across the tournament. Fishing gear and other prizes were also awarded daily for smallest and largest catch and largest number caught for both smallmouth bass and northern pike.  

During the 2017 Elkhead Reservoir Fishing Classic, 332 anglers harvested 963 smallmouth bass and 395 northern pike, for a total of 1,358 fish.  In 2016, the inaugural year of the tournament, 57 anglers harvested 529 smallmouth bass and 53 northern pike, for a total of 582 fish.

Winners at Elkhead Reservoir were: 

  • ​​Mike Satterwhite, Craig- drawing for 2018 tagged northern pike
  • Levi Archuleta, Hayden- drawing for 2018 tagged smallmouth bass
  • Bruce Bufkin, Meeker - most northern pike
  • Levi Archuleta, Hayden - most smallmouth bass

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. Juvenile black crappie are also scheduled to be stocked into the reservoir later in 2018. 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.​