Yampa River voluntary fishing closure lifted, portion of Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area still closed for construction project
Credit: CPW News Release
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Recent rainfall and releases from upstream reservoirs have improved aquatic conditions in the Yampa River in the past week. Flows are increasing and water temperatures are cooling, prompting Colorado Parks and Wildlife to lift the 24-hour voluntary fishing closure between the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to the western edge of Steamboat Springs, effective immediately.
CPW implemented the closure earlier this summer to protect fish stressed by severe drought-like conditions across the state's northwest region. Fish accustomed to 50-60 degree water struggled as daily temperatures in several rivers often reached well-above 70 degrees, prompting mandatory and voluntary fishing closures on several stretches of river across the region.
Although CPW is lifting the voluntary fishing closure, officials caution anglers to consider how long fish have been severely strained by some of the driest conditions they have seen in years.
"Conditions are much improved, but it's important for anglers to keep in mind that fish are still recovering from the stress caused by high heat and low water flow," said Bill Atkinson, area aquatic biologist in Steamboat Springs. "Anglers can now fish on this stretch, but we ask everyone to enjoy the resource in a responsible manner."
Atkinson reminds anglers to treat hooked fish gently, land them quickly, handle with wet hands and release them quickly. In addition, he reminds anglers to consider brown trout and whitefish will be spawning soon, a strenuous activity even during optimal conditions.
Within the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife, a construction project to improve habitat is still underway. A short section of the area remains closed until further notice. CPW officials remind visitors to observe posted signage and comply with the temporary closure.
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 active voluntary fishing closures, visit the CPW website.