Outlook better for anglers on Fryingpan this summer | VailDaily.com

Outlook better for anglers on Fryingpan this summer

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesBaron Zahuranec of El Jebel fishes the Fryingpan River above Basalt late Wednesday morning. Flows below the Ruedi dam were flowing at an easily fishable 115 cubic feet per second.

BASALT – Water releases from Ruedi Reservoir shouldn’t boost flows in the Fryingpan River to a level that interferes with trout fishing this summer, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Wednesday.

Carlos Lora, a hydrology engineer with the reclamation bureau, cautioned that an extremely rainy summer, a drought or some other unknown factors could alter preliminary plans. However, as it stands now, water releases from Ruedi will remain at about 110 cubic feet per second until the reservoir fills to capacity in late June, he said. The releases will spike for a week or so in late June to about 300 cfs, then settle to the 200 to 250 cfs range through July before rising slightly to around 275 cfs through August.

The projections were welcomed by roughly 20 anglers, Basalt town officials and water managers attending a meeting on Ruedi operations. Water levels in the Fryingpan exceeded 350 cfs on 23 days between June 1 and Sept. 1 last year. Many fishermen have trouble maintaining their balance in waters flowing greater than 300 cfs, Warrick Mobray, owner of Frying Pan Anglers, said after the meeting. He was pleased with the bureau’s projections.

Basalt officials said poor fishing conditions added to economic woes created by the recession last summer. Anglers watch river flows like skiers read snow reports. Many canceled trips during the heart of the summer when Fryingpan River flows weren’t favorable.

Basalt and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, a consortium of local governments that monitors water issues in the Fryingpan Valley, sent a letter to the reclamation bureau last winter asking for more sensitive management of Ruedi this year.

Mark Fuller, director of the water and power authority, said after last night’s meeting that he was encouraged by what he heard. “The release predictions are far more in line with what we expect,” he said.

Last year’s releases were atypical for a variety of reasons that hit all at once. Ruedi is one of a handful of reservoirs tapped to supply water to the Colorado River for an endangered fish recovery program on a stretch near Palisade. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service felt they could create peak flows in the endangered fish habitat because the snowpack was high going into spring and reservoirs were full, said Jana Mohrman, a hydrologist with the agency. When conditions dried out and streamflows fell in July and August, higher releases were required from reservoirs.

Also in August, a dam inspection at the Shoshone Power Plant in Glenwood Canyon lowered flows on the Colorado River because it wasn’t exercising its senior water rights. That required more water from sources like Ruedi, officials said.

The same factors aren’t expected this year. Mohrman said the Fish and Wildlife Service won’t try to create peak flows at Palisade because of the snowpack levels. And no work is believed to be scheduled at Shoshone this summer.

Boaters can anticipate Ruedi being full from late June through July, with levels dropping slowly for the remainder of the summer, Loras said.

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