GOLD MEDAL ON THE ARKANSAS: CAN I STILL FISH HERE?
Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
No fishing regulations were changed when the river was designated Gold Medal. Designating waters as Gold Medal does not automatically place them under restrictive regulations, but anglers do need to be aware of previous regulations on some upper sections of the river.
The Gold Medal reach is 102 miles long and stretches from the confluence with the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River, near Leadville, downstream to Parkdale at the Highway 50 bridge crossing above the Royal Gorge.
"Regulations are often used as a tool to help maintain quality in a fishery but they are not automatically applied if they are not necessary, as is the case of the Arkansas River," said Greg Policky, aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Salida.
The upper Arkansas River was designated Gold Medal status because of improved water quality, flow management and fish abundance. In 2012, an angler survey ranked the Arkansas River as the favorite fishing destination for residents of Colorado and even though thousands of anglers are casting into the water each year the fish population remains healthy.
"Our current regulations are sufficient to maintain the quality of the fishery," said Doug Kreiger, senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "In fact, a recent angler survey shows that more than 95 percent of trout caught on the river are released voluntarily."
Standard statewide regulations regarding bag and possession limits apply to most of the river. However, there are some special regulations for the very upper reaches in the Hayden Meadows area and for a seven-mile reach below Salida. Those special regulations were in place prior to the Gold Medal designation and have not changed since the designation.
"The upper Arkansas River fishery is the best it has been in years and we want anglers to get out there and enjoy it," Policky said. "Being designated Gold Medal is something we should and can all celebrate."
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Did the designation of the Arkansas River as Gold Medal Water change the fishing regulations? No. The Gold Medal program is meant to recognize the "best of the best" that Colorado has to offer in terms of quality fishing, but it does NOT carry with it any requirement for enacting restrictive harvest regulations.
- Is the entire reach of Gold Medal on the Arkansas River catch and release only? No.
- Does this mean I can't use bait now? No. There are a few special regulation stretches on the Arkansas that have been in effect for some time and those have not changed. The majority of the river is regulated under standard statewide fishing regulations, which allows fishing using bait. Please refer to the CPW Fishing Regulation Brochure(http://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/RulesRegs/Brochure/fishing.pdf) or cpw.state.co.us for specifics.