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2021 Free Fishing Tournaments at Elkhead Reservoir State Park and Ridgway State Park
2021 Free Fishing Tournaments at Elkhead Reservoir State Park and Ridgway State Park
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Ridgway State Park Tournament: July 10 - August 8

Angler, Chase Nicholson, holds up his winning smallmouth bass from the 2020 tournament.

The 7th annual Ridgway Smallmouth Bass Classic will be held at Ridgway State Park from Saturday, July 10 through Sunday, August 8.

For more information, see the Ridgway Tournament Rules.

Elkhead Reservoir Fishing Classic Tournament: June 19 - June 27

Elkhead winning angler with pike, 2018The 2021 Elkhead Reservoir (Moffat and Routt counties) Fishing Classic tournament took place June 19 through June 27. This tournament targeted smallmouth bass and northern pike. Anglers earned an angler ticket for every smallmouth bass and northern pike that they catch from this reservoir and turn in during the tournament. One northern pike and one smallmouth bass was tagged internally and released immediately prior to the tournament with individually numbered 2021 passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Fish were checked for tags at the CPW fish scanning station. If the 2021 tagged smallmouth bass and/or northern pike are/is caught during the tournament, the respective angler(s) would receive a cash award (check) of $1,500 per fish on the day the fish is caught. If only one or neither of the 2021 PIT tagged fish were caught during the tournament, the remaining cash awards (checks) for this category (either one or both awards) will be drawn for and presented by CPW during the angler ticket drawing at the conclusion of the tournament on Sunday, June 27.

At the conclusion of the tournament, two $750 checks were 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.

Additional prizes totaling $4,500 were also be awarded daily after 5:00pm 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.

Tournament angling began at 6:30am on Saturday, June 19. Anglers need not register in advance of tournament angling, but anglers fishing prior to the 6:30am start of the tournament on June 19 will be disqualified. Tournament angling concluded on Sunday, June 27. Anglers must have their catch of northern pike and smallmouth bass for that day turned into the CPW fish scanning station by 3:00pm on June 27 to qualify for tournament awards/prizes. Fish checked-in at the CPW fish scanning station after 3:00pm on June 27 will not be considered for awards/prizes for that day and/or the tournament overall. There are no daily time restrictions on angling within the official tournament period, other than the tournament start time of 6:30am on June 19 and final check-in of fish by 3:00pm on June 27.

With the exception of the last day of the tournament, Sunday, June 27, anglers must have their catch of northern pike and smallmouth bass turned into the CPW fish scanning station by 5:00pm on the day the fish are caught (so the fish can be scanned for PIT tags) to qualify for the daily “most fish caught” prize. Fish caught after 5:00pm must be presented at the CPW fish scanning station before 9:00am the following morning to be entered into the current day’s prize tally.

Participants must register, and this can be completed when anglers first present their fish at the CPW fish scanning station located at the Elkhead Reservoir State Park maintenance shop near the Park entrance. Youth under 16 can fish without a license. For those over 64, annual licenses are $10.07. 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 2021 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.

Be a partner with Colorado Parks and Wildlife 

Participating in these fishing tournaments will help assure a variety of game-fish opportunities in Elkhead and Ridgway reservoirs. Smallmouth bass and northern pike are not compatible with endangered fish recovery in waters downstream of both 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. Anglers are asked to catch and keep all smallmouth bass and northern pike that they catch from these reservoirs. CPW reminds anglers 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.

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.​