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Third annual Ridgway bass tournament set for July 7-30

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The third annual smallmouth bass tournament at Ridgway State Park is scheduled for July 7-30, giving anglers nearly a month to fill their creels and to vie for more than $8,000 in prizes.

No entry fee is required for the tournament and the more smallmouth bass anglers catch, the better their chances of winning prizes. Anglers will be given a raffle ticket for every smallmouth they catch. The top prize will be a 14-foot Tracker fishing boat with trailer, a 25-horsepower outboard engine, life jackets and a sonar fish-finder device. In addition, the second-tier prizes are five Creek Company Clark Fork single-person catarafts. All anglers 12 and under who turn in a smallmouth bass will receive a package of fishing lures.

Besides winning prizes, by participating in this tournament sportsmen and sportswomen take a direct role in helping to manage wildlife in Colorado. Smallmouth bass were introduced illegally into Ridgway Reservoir about 10 years ago; they are predators and there is a significant risk of them escaping the reservoir into adjacent rivers and consuming native Colorado fish that are found nowhere else in the world. Smallmouth bass have escaped other impoundments in Colorado and are adversely affecting populations of native fish in rivers throughout the western area of the state.

"A primary mission of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to work to sustain native species," said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for CPW's Southwest Region. "Colorado's anglers contribute significantly to our work and we greatly appreciate their support in helping us to maintain the state's fisheries."

CPW has posted a web page that explains the best way to catch smallmouth bass: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Ridgway/Pages/Smallmouth-Bass.aspx.

The web page also provides an in-depth explanation of smallmouth bass issues at Ridgway Reservoir.

Entry to the park is $7 per vehicle; rates for camping range from $20 to $30. A $70 annual pass provides entrance to all 41 Colorado state parks.

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