In the month of July in Southwest Colorado, you will find an event that turns ordinary mortals into legends. You’ve probably already figured out which grand tournament I’m talking about, but for those who are unaware: it’s the Ridgway State Park Smallmouth Bass Tournament.
Ridgway State Park is a park located about an hour and a half south of Grand Junction, Colorado and about 15 miles north of Ouray. The area features a beautiful lake surrounded by the gorgeous San Juan Mountains. There is no place more beautiful to catch a bass, and therefore this wonderful event was created that attracts novice and advanced anglers from across the state every year.
About the Tournament
The Tournament starts July 7th at 8:00am and ends July 28th at 5:00pm. There are 2 prize categories for the participating fishermen. First: the raffle competition. For every smallmouth bass an angler catches they will be awarded 1 raffle ticket. At the end of the tournament 4 tickets will be picked from the raffle with the first pick winning $1,500, and the next three raffle tickets picked winning $250. With this competition, the more fish you catch, the better your chances of winning. The other half of the tournament is the Angling Competition. This competition is purely about numbers. The fisherman who catches the most smallmouth bass will be awarded $1,500, with $500 for second, and $250 for third. There will also be a $250 prize for the biggest and smallest smallmouth bass. All the fishermen must possess a valid Colorado fishing license but are allowed to fish at any time as much as they like during the 22 days of the tournament.
Where to Stay
The park offers plenty of camping options of lodging with 283 campsites, many of which have full electric hook ups. For those wanting to camp in style, the park also has 3 yurts available. Entrance to the park is $7 per day and campsites range from $20-$30 per night.
Who Should Attend
Be sure to bring the whole family on this trip! Young anglers are encouraged to participate in the tournament, and anglers under the age of 12 who turn in a smallmouth bass will be awarded a package of fishing lures.
Can You Bring Your Own Boat?
If you plan on bringing your own boat to the tournament it must be cleaned, drained, and dried before getting into the Ridgeway Reservoir (or any other reservoir in the state of Colorado). Anglers are reminded to not move smallmouth bass from the reservoir. Smallmouth bass can be predatory fish and can hurt bodies of water they are put in if they are not already a part of that ecosystem and can cause further damage to various endangered and protected species.
There is no entrance fee for this tournament, so there is no excuse to not make a trip to Ridgway Park and see if you can have the lucky catch of the competition. The Park is also home to great hiking trails with amazing views, kayaking and rafting, and waterskiing is allowed on the reservoir so your whole trip doesn’t have to be spent fishing. If you do want to fish the whole time, there are other types of fish in the reservoir to mix it up for you.