By Matt Kroschel
STEAMBOAT, Colo. (CBS4)– Low water flows and high temperatures have forced state officials to launch a voluntary fishing closure on the Yampa River in the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area and the western edge of Steamboat Springs.
During the closure, anglers are asked to voluntarily cooperate to help conserve the popular fishery in this stretch of the river.
Although anglers are not legally prohibited from fishing in this stretch, CPW and Steamboat Springs are asking anglers to find alternative places to fish until conditions improve.
“Great fishing can be found at several area lake and ponds, as well as the high-country.” Bill Atkinson, area aquatic biologist for CPW, stated in a recent media release. “Anglers still have great opportunities to fish while helping us protect this local resource.”
Additional Information From Colorado Parks and Wildlife:
Trout are cold-water fish that have evolved to function best in 50-60 degree waters. When temperatures exceed 70 degrees, they often stop feeding and become more susceptible to disease. A wide range of temperature tolerances for trout have been reported, but upper lethal limits range from 74 to 79 degrees. According to local officials, water temperatures in the Yampa River are now exceeding 75 degrees later in the day.
“When water flows are minimal, fish become concentrated in residual pool habitat and become stressed due to increased competition for food resources,” said Kris Middledorf, CPW’s area wildlife manager in Steamboat Springs. “Because the fish are already stressed by poor water quality conditions, any additional stress from being hooked could make them even more vulnerable to disease and death even if returned to the water quickly.”
Middledorf reminds the public that the mandatory fishing closure on a six-tenth mile section of the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir remains in effect, enforced by law.