Colorado Parks and Wildlife lifts mandatory fishing closure at Stagecoach tailwaters | SteamboatToday.com

Colorado Parks and Wildlife lifts mandatory fishing closure at Stagecoach tailwaters

A dry winter and an early summer has left trout struggling in warmer water across the state.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is lifting the mandatory fishing closure on the sixth-tenth mile section of the Yampa River below the dam at Stagecoach State Park, effective immediately.

“Due to contracted water release agreements between the Colorado Water Trust and Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, this stretch has seen increased stream flows,” aquatic biologist Bill Atkinson was quoted as saying in a news release. “That said, we will likely be enduring a hot, dry spell for the foreseeable future. We’ll keep on top of conditions and will advise the public if anything changes.”

Voluntary closures remain in effect on the river through Steamboat Springs between the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area and the west end of town.

Parks and Wildlife officials caution some form of angling restrictions could be re-enacted should environmental conditions worsen.

When water flows are minimal, fish gather in residual pool habitat and become stressed due to increased competition for food resources. Under these conditions, fish become easier to catch, an added stressor that can result in increased mortality.

“Stream temperatures and dissolved oxygen concentrations within the tailwater fishery of the Yampa River downstream of Stagecoach dam are more favorable to trout as compared to river segments further downstream,” Atkinson was quoted as saying in the release.

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He reminds anglers there are things they can do to lessen stress to fish during the hottest part of the year.

“Fish early when it's cooler, and take care when handling fish,” he said. “Land them quickly, handle them gently with wet hands, or use a net, then return them to the water as soon as possible.”

The mandatory closure was implemented June 14 to protect the fishery after minimal snowpack resulted in low stream flows during the hottest time of the year. Since then, Parks and Wildlife has been continuously monitoring conditions on this stretch of river.

Anglers are encouraged to call their local Parks and Wildlife office for the latest information about fishing closures, fishing conditions and alternative places to fish.

For more information, contact Stagecoach State Park at 970-736-2436, or Parks and Wildlife’s Steamboat Springs office at 970-870-2197.

For more information about fishing in Colorado, including alternative places to fish, visit the CPW website.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck

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