High water temperatures, low flows lead to voluntary fishing bans in Colorado

DENVER -- Portions of Colorado rivers are under full-day voluntary fishing bans.

Daylong fishing closures are in place for the Yampa River from Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to western Steamboat Springs city limits and the Crystal River from Avalanche Creek downstream to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River.

In southwest Colorado, there is a voluntary closure between noon and midnight on the Conejos River from Platoro Reservoir down to Broyles Bridge.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants anglers to avoid the Eagle River from Wolcott downstream to the Colorado River from 2 p.m. until midnight.

High water temperature and low flows have created less-than-perfect living conditions for fish.

“I would say the quality of fish today was great,” said Allen, a fisherman on the Colorado River near Rifle.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hoping to protect and maintain that quality.

The state recently lifted the fishing ban in the Rifle area but continues to enforce voluntary bans in hopes of protecting cold-water fish such as trout.

“In this valley and as [in] many places happens in Colorado, we really live and die water-wise by how much snow we get each winter,” Tom Trowbridge said.

Low snowpack, combined with weeks of sweltering heat with little rain, prompted the voluntary fishing ban.

“It affects your day by changing what you do, and it affects our business by … we’ve only been doing half-day float trips," said Trowbridge, who operates Roaring Fork Anglers.

CPW placed signs along the impacted sections of the rivers to let people know about the restrictions.

“It can create a lot of stress,” said Lori Martin, Colorado’s top aquatic biologist. “It’s mainly the drought. This is the worst we’ve seen in quite awhile.

"And it’s lasted for the longest period of time we’ve had recently in terms of duration ... and then the geographic extent across the western portion of the state."

Attention Anglers

The warm temperatures create low oxygen levels and an unhealthy river for fish, which means they might not reproduce.

“It can result in killing fish. It can also be a population-level impact. We may not know for several years down the road," said Martin.

Anglers are not prohibited from fishing in the voluntary ban areas, but wildlife experts have asked people to consider their recommendations until conditions improve.

Officials suggest fishing at higher elevations where these factors are less severe.

AlertMe