Colorado wildlife officials urge anglers to take care with heat-stressed fish
DENVER — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging anglers statewide to consider trout fishing early in the day and in higher altitude lakes and streams, as hot, dry conditions and reduced flows are stressing trout.
Heat and drought have pushed water temperatures to dangerous levels across much of Colorado, depleting oxygen levels and leaving trout vulnerable. Trout thrive around 50 degrees, get more lethargic when at 60 degrees and can become stressed at 70 degrees.
“CPW recommends anglers hit the water early in the morning to avoid the higher water temperatures in the afternoon and evening,” said Josh Nehring, senior aquatic biologist in the agency’s Southeast Region. “Anglers are encouraged to seek out high-elevation lakes and streams, where water temperatures are suitable and fishing does not cause undue stress.”
Nehring also urged anglers to add a hand-held thermometer to their fishing kits so they can test the waters they intend to fish.
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“Anglers should end their trout fishing adventures when water temperatures reach 70 degrees,” he said. “If trout have difficulty recovering from a catch and are acting lethargic, it’s probably time to call it quits for the day.”
Other suggestions include using heavier tippet and line to quickly reel the fish in and release fish and using barbless hooks to reduce the time required to unhook the fish. When fish are hooked, their metabolic rate and oxygen consumption soar, greatly increasing their risk of disease and death.
Always wet your hand before handling fish and keep the fish submerged while unhooking and releasing it. Avoid taking the fish out of the water even for a quick photo.
Current closures include:
• Yampa River, mandatory closure from Stagecoach Reservoir dam downstream .6 of a mile to the state park boundary.
• Yampa River, voluntary closure to all fishing from the upper boundary of the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to the western town limits of Steamboat Springs.
In addition, angler organizations and a fishing guide alliances have posted signs, with CPW approval, on the Roaring Fork River from Carbondale to the confluence with the Colorado River and the Colorado River from the confluence with the Roaring Fork River to Rifle, for a voluntary “Hot Spots for Trout” alert which requests anglers stop fishing by 2 p.m. daily.
For more information about local fishing regulations and alternative places to fish in Colorado, go to the agency’s online fishing atlas, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, or download the agency’s new fishing app for Android and IOS devices.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.