Walleye fillet giveaway starts at 8:00 a.m. Saturday at Rifle Gap | PostIndependent.com

Walleye fillet giveaway starts at 8:00 a.m. Saturday at Rifle Gap

Any angler with a fishing license need not find their own breakfast on Saturday as wildlife officials will be handing out walleye fillets at Rifle Gap State Park all-morning.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be giving away approximately 216 walleye fillets on a first-come, first-served basis.

“This is a win-win for everyone,” Ben Felt, CPW area biologist said in the press release. “We are protecting Colorado’s native fish, complying with the requirements of the Lake Management Plan, maintaining Rifle Gap Reservoir as a great sterile walleye fishery and providing the angling public with an opportunity to sample great tasting fish for free.”

Walleye is considered to be one of the best best-tasting fish in the world, according to wildlife officials.

The frozen, vacuum sealed fillets will be from 108 fertile, female walleye which were removed by biologists to match CPW’s fish management goals for the reservoir.

Approved in 2015 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Utah and Wyoming, the Rifle Gap Reservoir Lake Management Plan guides wildlife officials to ensure a healthy ecosystem for the reservoir.

Biologists have been removing ripe, female walleye and donating them to the public every year since 2017, states the press release. 2019 will mark the final year of the walleye removal effort.

State biologists will also donate 20 northern pike and 16 smallmouth bass fillets, according to the press release. All three species are considered to be detriments to the recovery of native fish downstream of Rifle Gap Reservoir.

“Our surveys and conversations with anglers show that there is currently a good number of walleye in the reservoir,” Felt said. “That bodes well for the future of the walleye fishery and also strongly suggests that stocking of sterile fish has been successful.”  

CPW has also stocked 12,800 black crappie since 2015, with an additional estimated 6,200 going into the reservoir this year, states the press release. In addition, the agency recently moved 1,500 yellow perch from nearby Harvey Gap to Rifle Gap, for the benefit of fishery management at both reservoirs.

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