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Colorado pikeminnow

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Fort Bottom Ruin on the Green River in Utah, north of its confluence with the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park, seen from a commercial flight, Oct. 2, 2022.

In its heyday, the olive-green and gold Colorado pikeminnow was a big catch. Anglers a hundred years ago caught fish more than 5ft long and upwards of 80 pounds, lured from rivers with hardware or baited with frogs and chicken. But by 1973, the fish became one of the first fully protected by the Endangered Species Act. Decades of damming the riverways of the West had severely restricted its range, and stocking non-native sportfish in streams and reservoirs had introduced fierce competition. Another factor: pikeminnow breed only when temperatures are just right, and summers – and summertime rivers – are warming. Today, just two wild populations of Colorado pikeminnow remain in the upper reaches of the Colorado and Green river systems – two to three feet long, four to nine pounds fully grown.

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Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.