DENVER – Aurora Reservoir continues to produce record-sized fish in Colorado but the latest whopper out of the impoundment wasn’t a fish most people think of when they think “trophy”. Parker angler Jay Grupp was hoping to catch walleye near the dam at the reservoir when he hauled in a new state record sucker on Tuesday, May 3.
Grupp’s 23 3/8 inch, 5 pound 6.65 ounce white sucker was caught on spinning tackle with a jig lure. The catch breaks a 21-year-old state record and one that was set four times in 1990.
The sucker isn’t the only state record fish caught at Aurora Reservoir in recent months. On Nov. 12, 2010, 11-year-old Conner Peitsmeyer caught a 20 3/4 inch, 6 pound 8 ounce smallmouth bass at the reservoir east of Denver. On Oct. 4, 2010, 20-year-old Jessica Walton landed a 43-pound channel catfish at Aurora Reservoir.
“Aurora Reservoir has ideal forage conditions to produce very large fish,” said Paul Winkle, DOW aquatic biologist who manages the fishery. “There’s an outstanding population of crayfish and yellow perch, which provides an excellent food source for fish to grow to enormous sizes.”
In the last decade, the DOW has stocked more than 135,000 fish at Aurora Reservoir, including trout, bass, catfish, walleye and wiper, helping to establish the 640-acre reservoir as one of the state’s most popular fisheries.
Despite the propensity of Aurora Reservoir to produce huge fish, a new statewide record sucker wasn’t on the minds of most of the people around the Division of Wildlife.
“Not a lot of anglers target suckers,” said Greg Gerlich, statewide aquatic manager. “Most people catch suckers to use for cut bait so it’s unusual to have one turned in for a record but I’m glad Mr. Grupp recognized that this fish was a nice catch.”
The previous record for a sucker was set in September 1990 when Joel Musich of Northglenn landed a 23 1/4 inch, 4 pound 5.5 ounce flannelmouth sucker in the Colorado River in Garfield County. Interestingly, the state record for suckers was broken four times during the summer of 1990 and has not been touched since. Was there something about 1990 that made the sucker fishing prolific? Will the same hold true for anglers looking for a way to get in the record books in 2011?
“I’m not sure there is anything environmental occurring that would lead one year to be better for suckers than any other,” said Winkle. “It’s probably just related to anglers hearing about the old record falling and heading to the water to try and do better. Who knows, maybe this record will be broken several times this year when word of the achievement gets out.”
Anglers who are targeting suckers should rig their line with several small weights to keep the bait along the bottom of the lake or river. Slow, wide river sections tend to be good for finding the fish. Suckers generally prefer worms, night crawlers and dough balls but other baits, lures and even flies can be effective if they’re along the bottom where suckers feed.
Colorado is home to eight species of suckers, including the endangered razorback sucker found in the Colorado River Basin. Anglers that catch an endangered razorback sucker don’t want to hang on to it in hopes of getting a state record, those fish must be returned to the water immediately in accordance with federal law. The bluehead and mountain sucker are common in the state but it’s the flannelmouth sucker and white sucker that grow to be the largest.
The DOW tracks fish records by weight in 43 different species categories. Potential record-holders must have a valid Colorado fishing license or be under the age of 16. The fish in question must be weighed on a state-certified scale, and a weight receipt must be signed by a person who witnessed the weighing. The fish, before being frozen, gutted or altered in any way, must be examined and identified by a DOW biologist or wildlife manager before an application is submitted.
To view Colorado’s Fishing Records, please visit the DOW’s website at: