DOW stocking 359,000 trout locally

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— The Yampa Valley will receive at least 359,000 fish when the Colorado Division of Wildlife starts stocking lakes, streams and ponds this summer.

Local residents had to come up with the money to stock Fetcher's Pond.

Stocking plan for the Yampa Valley this summer: Steamboat Lake:130,000 subcatchable rainbows and 20,000 Little Snake River cutthroat; Stagecoach: 100,000 subcatchable rainbows and 10,000 catchable rainbows; Yampa River: 40,000 fingerling brown trout, 25,000 Colorado River rainbows and about 300 hybrid rainbows; Hahns Peak Lake: 30,000 catchable rainbows; Bear Lake: 4,000 catchable rainbows

"The numbers you'll be seeing, although they are not as large as the past, are pretty good," DOW spokesman Todd Malmsbury said.

Recently, DOW officials realized that more fish in the state hatchery were infected with whirling disease than previously thought. That put a big dent in the number of fish that could be stocked in waters around the state.

Most of the fish to be stocked in the Yampa Valley are categorized as "subcatchables" fish that are 3- to 7-inches long.

"The reason you guys are getting subcatchables is because you have good trout water and (the fish) grow fast," Malmsbury said.

Also, high levels of whirling disease weren't present in most of the hatcheries that raise subcatchables.

The local fishing spots that were impacted by this year's whirling disease problem and won't receive their normal amount of fish are Fetcher and Casey's ponds, both of which are popular with children and families.

Members of the Yampa Valley FlyFishers were concerned about that because many children have their first fishing experience at Fetcher or Casey's pond.

Aided by donations from local businesses, the group raised $2,700 to stock about 900 fish in Fetcher Pond.

"They're 12- to 16-inch rainbow hybrids with some large fish thrown in there for fun," said Duncan Draper, FlyFishers vice president and owner of the Steamboat Fishing Co.

The fish were scheduled to be put in the lake Sunday.

"There were a bunch of people who donated money," Draper said. "We couldn't have done it without them."

All of the fish going into Fetcher Pond were raised at a rearing unit on the Elk River.

"I thought it was kind of neat the fish were raised in the Yampa Valley," Draper said.

As for what the DOW is stocking, the local area receiving the most fish this summer is Steamboat Lake. It will receive 130,000 subcatchable rainbow trout and 20,000 Little Snake River cutthroat trout.

Stagecoach is going to get 100,000 subcatchable rainbows and 10,000 catchable rainbows.

The Yampa River also will receive a hefty population increase. About 40,000 fingerling brown trout and 25,000 Colorado River rainbow trout will be released in and around Steamboat Springs.

In addition to the DOW's contribution to the river, the Yampa Valley FlyFishers will release about 300 hybrid rainbows in the river.

"We just had so much fun last year," said Draper, who hopes to have another good fishing year because of the stocking.

Malmsbury said the Elk River also has a good supply of rainbows and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness is full of brook trout.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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