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Salomone: Time to reach for some Colorado gold

Michael Salomone
Vail Valley Anglers
Waters that display the “highest quality cold water habitats” from Colorado Parks and Wildlife can obtain Gold Medal status.
Josh Duplechian/Trout Unlimited

Colorado possesses some of the best trout fly-fishing destinations to be found. People can try to talk about other places like Wyoming, Idaho or Montana, but when it comes down to it, Colorado just shines brightly. And in Colorado, the waters that have received Gold Medal status from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife shine the brightest. However that shine might not last forever.

Waters that display the “highest quality cold water habitats” from the CPW can obtain Gold Medal status. A few other indicators must be met but when a watershed receives this designation. Anglers know it is a destination that possesses trophy class trout. Local guide shops, neighboring communities and the general area surrounding Gold Medal waters glean the rewards traveling anglers distribute.

However, dealing with the ongoing and ever-increasing water issues on the western slope of Colorado has become all too common. Warm water temperatures, low river flows and increasing angling pressure exacerbate an already taxed resource. Too much of a toll and watersheds feel the negative results.



Warm water temperatures, low river flows and increasing angling pressure exacerbate an already taxed resource: Colorado’s prized rivers.
Josh Duplechian/Trout Unlimited

A prime example is the Blue River, a formerly world-class destination, which has felt poor overall water conditions to the point where CPW removed the Gold Medal designation from the section of river flowing through Silverthorne in 2016.

Trout Unlimited has stepped up and created a Colorado Gold program (ColoradoGoldMedalWater.org) with a focus on changing the way anglers look at Gold Medal waters and the areas that create high quality angling opportunities. Colorado Gold also focuses efforts to renew delisted Gold Medal waters to their glory.

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Anglers seeking out the highest quality fly-fishing experience choose Gold Medal waters for their favored destinations to travel to.
Josh Duplechian/Trout Unlimited

Colorado Gold is also focusing on existing dangers to present day Gold Medal waters that could threaten the area. Addressing hazardous conditions in a proactive manner can prevent catastrophic results in the future. Protecting is much easier than resurrecting.

The Colorado River from just above Pumphouse to the Rock Creek confluence is designated Gold Medal water. Most locals don’t realize the gem flowing through our backyard. People from around the country come to fly-fish on our river and for good reason.

The Colorado River is not our only local Gold Medal water. Gore Creek flowing through the heart of Vail has a significant stretch of Gold Medal designated water. From where the Red Sandstone Creek drainage flows into Gore Creek to the confluence with the Eagle River the water in Gore Creek holds the trophy trout anglers travel many miles to chase.

Honoring and protecting the places that form Gold Medal water is a primary goal of Colorado Gold and Trout Unlimited.
Josh Duplechian/Trout Unlimited

The Gore is not without its faults. On a watch list as “impaired” but still Gold Medal, the town of Vail, Trout Unlimited and Colorado Gold are actively involved in maintaining the health of the Gore.

Obtaining Gold Medal status is a nod to the quality of a watershed and the resulting trophy trout size. Anglers seeking out the highest quality fly-fishing experience choose Gold Medal waters for their favored destinations to travel to.

Honoring and protecting the places that form Gold Medal water is a primary goal of Colorado Gold and Trout Unlimited. Focusing efforts on restoring Gold Medal status to waters that have diminished indicators is another primary goal for Colorado Gold.

With Gold Medal waters flowing across Eagle County local anglers provide lots of opportunities for fly fishing in some of the best angling destinations in the state. I for one appreciate any effort Colorado Gold makes to protect, enhance and restore the angling opportunities found in the shining state of Colorado.


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