CPW encourages anglers to be cautious when trout fishing in heat
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is encouraging trout anglers statewide to consider fishing early in the day and in higher altitude lakes and streams as hot, dry conditions and reduced water levels may increase stress to trout populations.
Heat, drought, and low water levels are contributing to elevated water temperatures in much of Colorado, depleting oxygen levels and leaving trout vulnerable. Trout are cold-water fish that function best in 50-60 degree waters. When temperatures exceed 70 degrees, they often stop feeding and become more susceptible to disease. Warm temperature and low water levels can also lead to algae blooms in rivers and reservoirs which cause oxygen levels to drop when algae die and decompose.
Anglers are asked to carefully consider the water and weather conditions when they go fishing for trout. If water seems too warm or fish appear lethargic, it would be best to leave the fish undisturbed. During mid-summer, try to fish early in the morning when the water is coolest.
“CPW recommends anglers hit the water early in the morning to avoid the higher water temperatures commonly seen in the afternoon and evening,” said Matt Nicholl, CPW’s Aquatic Section Manager. “Anglers are also encouraged to seek out high-elevation trout lakes and streams, where water temperatures are more suitable and fishing doesn’t potentially add additional stress.”
Nicholl also urged anglers to add a hand-held thermometer to their fishing kits so they can test the waters they intend to fish.
“Anglers should monitor water temperatures and end their trout fishing adventures when water temperatures start to approach 70 degrees,” he said. “If trout have difficulty recovering after being caught and are acting lethargic, it’s a good decision to call it quits for the day.”
Other suggestions include using heavier tippet and line to quickly reel in and release the fish and using barbless hooks to reduce the time required to unhook the fish. When fish are hooked, their metabolic rate and oxygen consumption soar, greatly increasing their risk of disease and death, especially if water conditions are marginal.
CPW reminds anglers to always wet your hands before handling fish, and to keep the fish submerged while unhooking and releasing it. Avoid taking the fish out of the water even for a quick photo in these conditions.
CPW has not issued any fishing closures at this time, but CPW staff are monitoring waters and fisheries across the State. Future closures may be required to protect aquatic resources from severe fish mortality or detrimental impacts to fishery resources as a result of sub-optimal water conditions.
To check for fishing closures, call your CPW regional office. In the Northeast Region, call the Denver office at 303-291-7227. In the Southeast Region, call the Colorado Springs office at 719-227-5200. In the Southwest Region, call the Durango office at 970-375-6708. In the Northwest Region, call the Grand Junction office at 970-255-6100.
For more information about local fishing regulations and alternative places to fish in Colorado visit our online fishing atlas, or visit the CPW website, or download our new Fishing App for Android and IOS devices.