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Ash from Hayden Pass burn scar darkens river after rains but fishing available
April 25, 2017

Spring rains, snowmelt cause muddy flows in Arkansas River east of Coaldale

COALDALE, Colo. -- Ash from last July’s Hayden Pass wildfire, 20 miles southeast of Salida, is causing problems for anglers on the Arkansas River in the Coaldale area.

Spring rains and runoff from snowmelt is carrying ash and debris from the 16,754-acre burn scar down Hayden Creek and Big Cottonwood Creek it into the Arkansas, causing alarm among local residents and businesses around Coaldale.

But anglers looking for the famous spring caddis fly hatch should not avoid the river, said Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Jim Aragon, area wildlife manager based in Salida.

The water typically runs muddy only during and immediately after rainfall. And then it’s easily avoided, Aragon said.

“If anglers find the water looking muddy, they can just go to public access points along the river to the west,” Aragon said. “We have several public access points nearby.”

There’s no quick or easy fix for the ash flows, Aragon said. They showed up as soon as heavy rains in late July and August helped douse the wildfire, often darkening the Arkansas through Cañon City and into Lake Pueblo.

“With a fire of that magnitude, you’re going to have ash until it gets revegetated,” he said. “This is being dictated by Mother Nature. We’ll monitor it, but it’s a natural event. Things will correct themselves, eventually. It’s just a function of time.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Ash chokes the South Prong Hayden Creek on Sept. 28, 2016, after a flash flood caused by runoff from the Hayden Creek burn scar. A wildfire burned 16,754 acres in July 2016 leaving ash and debris that is being carried into area creeks and ultimately the Arkansas River near Coaldale. Photo by Colorado Parks and Wildlife