Any one curious what lies beneath the river at Deckers? One of our CSO regulars, Jim Mann, was there to find out. The Colorado Division of Wildlife did their annual fish survey and electro shocking of the South Platte in Deckers this week. You may be interested in what turned up. It was our prediction that the fish numbers were on the decline since the Hayman Fire, but things may be taking a turn for the better. Jim said that every run he assumed had 5-6 fish in it, actually had more like 30-40! This is very encouraging based on the past couple years. This does not mean all runs are full of huge hawgs, not at all. The DOW stocked fingerlings last year, more like fry. The fish were about 1/2 inches long. They did this to improve the survival rate of the stocked fish and also cut the costs. Each turns out to be true. The fish have grown to around 3 inches in less than a year and good numbers of them were shocked up this week.
Now, how big are the fish at Deckers? Well…not as big as you might think. We know that 30″ fish do not exist at Deckers. I know, I hate to burst all of your bubbles, but the largest fish shocked up this week was around 21-22″. Now that does not mean there are not larger fish in the river, just not in the mile or so around the bridge, although this is an accurate representation of the total population in the river. There are a solid number a fish larger than 20″ collected, Jim said somewhere around 20 or so. He said the majority of the sizable fish were 14-18″, the most common size we catch at Deckers on any given day.
So where were all these fish shocked up? Most of the browns were near the bank and the large rainbows were in the middle of deep runs. A lot of fish, he said, were hiding under and around rocks, out of sight. For people who complain and abuse the suckers, you need to calm down. Of the thousands of fish Jim and the DOW shocked that day, they found maybe 2-3 dozen suckers. That’s it! And there were a fair amount of big rainbows shocked up with them in the herd.
Another statistic seems to be changing. The majority of the 14-18″ were browns! Jim guessed that it was roughly 3 to 1 browns. Very nice to see! I have assumed this, since we are beginning to catch more and more of them. And this confirms it. All in all, this was great information for us. The DOW believes that stocking the small fry was a success and time will tell. But this seem to be looking up! Check out all Jim’s pictures he took during the day.