Crystal River's voluntary fishing closure lifted, river recovering from extremely low flow and high water temperatures this summer
CPW News Release
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. - Due to recent rains, cooler temperatures and the end of water diversions in the area, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are lifting the full-day, voluntary fishing closure on the Crystal River from Avalanche Creek downstream to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River, effective immediately.
Across Colorado's northwest region, CPW biologists say trout accustomed to 50-60 degree water struggled as daily temperatures in several rivers often reached well-above 70 degrees, where they remained during the hottest part of the day throughout the season. In addition to high temperatures, extremely low stream flows were also tough on trout, leaving them trapped in dispersed pools of remaining water.
The severe conditions prompted CPW to implement mandatory and voluntary fishing closures on several stretches of river across the region however, as conditions have improved, they have all been lifted. The Crystal River voluntary closure is the last to be rescinded in the region.
"It's was a very tough summer across the region, but the Crystal experienced some of the most severe conditions for cold-water fish we've seen," said Kendall Bakich, area aquatic biologist from Glenwood Springs. "During the hottest and driest part of the summer, we saw fish in the Crystal lying on their sides on the river bottom, trapped in residual pools and unable or unwilling to move. We did not see extensive mortality, but it was a very close call. It helped that folks honored our call to voluntarily stop fishing."
Bakich says she is grateful for the many anglers and local outfitters that led the efforts to limit or stop fishing on their on their own volition, in addition to honoring the voluntary closure implemented by CPW.
"Fish are doing much better but it will take some time for them to fully recover," said Backich. "We encourage anglers to fish and enjoy their resource but we recommend treating hooked fish gently, land them quickly, handle with wet hands and release them quickly."
Bakich adds brown trout, brook trout, and mountain whitefish are beginning their spawning period, a strenuous activity even during optimal conditions.
Senior Aquatic Biologist Lori Martin thanked the public for their cooperation.
"Anglers and outfitters know full well how precious our state's fishing resources are, not only for them but also for the local communities and businesses that depend on outdoor recreation like fishing," she said. "We extend our thanks for everyone's patience and cooperation. Let's hope for better conditions next year."
For more information about fishing conditions in Colorado, including the latest information about current fishing closures, visit the CPW website.