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Bill Prater
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What to do about "ice out"

Blog by: Bill Prater 4/15/2020
During a normal early spring, Colorado’s most fanatic anglers follow every rumor about “ice out” in the high country, that brief period when big trout crowd the shorelines. This spring the fish may not notice, but coronavirus is changing everything else about our sport.

Around Walden, near the Wyoming border, rivers and streams are starting to open, and shoreline fishing is reportedly beginning in some area lakes. But camping is banned until at least April 26 at all the area’s State Wildlife Areas, and similar bans are in place in all National Forests and Bureau of Land Management properties. 

Even privately owned Lake John Resort, offering year-round cabins and camping and other fishing services, is closed until at least the 26th.

North Park Anglers in Walden, the area’s only fly shop, hopes to open by May 1st. As of this writing, there was no restriction on fishing itself in Jackson County. But here’s the advice we have from Scott Graham at North Park Anglers: 

“I am recommending that any anglers wanting to travel and fish to do so with caution. Be prepared to be self-sufficient and plan day trips only. The more visiting anglers can limit their impact on small communities, the better.  

Walden is a small town and doesn’t have the support to deal with this virus. We  don’t have the human resources to support individuals coming here to fish that get stuck, get hurt, have issues, etc. I understand how much we’re all getting cabin fever, but the more of us that stick home and wait this out, the better off we will be in the coming months.”

North Park Angler’s online store IS operational and Scott can handle curbside service for things like tippets and flies. Walden’s reliably friendly restaurants are closed except for carryout. 

Meanwhile, fishing is still possible in nearby Wyoming and you can buy an out-of-state license – but out-of-state residents are expected to quarantine themselves for 14 days after entering the state. It’s just as restrictive elsewhere – in New Mexico, the Department of Game and Fish is telling all anglers “stay home, mend equipment and prepare for the upcoming fishing season.” 

If ever there was a time to be like Ghandi, and view the world through someone else’s eyes, this is it. Let’s realize that folks in the High Country depend on and welcome visitors’ business, but maybe not right now.

Side Note:  Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued an updated guidance on boating this week, saying: "While boating is still open, CPW urges the public to only go boating in your local area." They also said: "only go boating with the people who are currently living with you. Do not invite your friends or extended family to join in during this time of social distancing." I'd take that to also mean, no carpooling to fishing spots outside the immediate family.
Blog content © Bill Prater
Blog Comments
nparker, CO   4/16/2020 9:24:41 AM
I have not seen an order to prohibit camping on Federal Forest or BLM land. Any links?
 
x597, CO   4/16/2020 10:17:51 AM
Wyoming nonresident daily and 5-day fishing license sales are suspended until further notice. Wyoming has lots of north park like places, same concerns, I guess.
 
Bill Prater (fishthumpre), CO   4/16/2020 3:22:05 PM
Re prohibited camping, nparker, both Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Forest Service closed all developed recreation sites in Colorado including campgrounds on March 26, and the Forest Service issued a clarification last week that dispersed camping was discouraged but not outright forbidden, and "dispersed camping essentially means backbackpacking on national forests or grasslands where there are no facilities or services." The BLM has only closed Wolford Mountain Recreation Area in Colorado, but Gunnison and San Juan counties have asked all non-county residents to stay away from those counties, including Forest Service and BLM lands, and said all camping areas are closed. It's not clear the counties have legal authority to close federal land, but it's more a question of whether or not they want anyone driving in. Here's a link to a couple Denver Post articles (not sure the links will work here in Comment section) https://theknow.denverpost.com/2020/03/26/forest-service-colorado-parks-campgrounds-closed-coronavirus/236228/ https://theknow.denverpost.com/2020/04/08/forest-service-camping-hiking-coronavirus/237100/
 
nparker, CO   4/17/2020 7:28:10 AM
Thanks Bill. It appears that we can camp in some areas in the national forest and BLM areas. We have to do some research before camping in dispersed areas.
 
sowhat, CO   4/17/2020 9:01:49 AM
Second article says backpack camping is allowed. Does not say a camper is ok.
 
elkskinner, CO   4/17/2020 10:55:41 AM
Concerning that Wyoming edict closing the state to non- residents...….the gov says anyone coming into the state must quarantine for 14 days. If you are going to be in Wyo for less than 14 days, you must quarantine for that amount of time. Question ….I am a Colo resident. Say I decide to drive north and fish the Platte River for 2 days. I will be in an area where there are very few people, and I plan to sleep in my truck one night. I will not stop anywhere for meals or supplies. Am I sufficiently "quarantined"?
 
SirGreg88, CO   4/17/2020 12:44:46 PM
Try it and you will be quarantined in a nice cell for a while with some great sustainable food and a few thousand dollars in fines. But hey--no due process which puts everybody at risk. Good night now...…….
 
sowhat, CO   4/17/2020 3:28:00 PM
elkskinner, fishing is not quarantining. That kind of defeats the whole purpose of what they are trying to do.