Stretch of Yampa River below Stagecoach Dam closed to fishing due to low water flow

Staff report
Anglers cast into the Yampa River tailwaters below Stagecoach Dam. A 0.6-mile stretch of the river below the dam is now closed to fishing due to low water flow.
Matt Stensland

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife will close a stretch of the Yampa River between the dam at Stagecoach State Park down to the lowermost park boundary  to fishing due to critically low water flow caused by dry conditions and minimal snowpack levels.

The closure, which affects a 0.6-mile section of the river, begins June 14 and will continue until further notice.

“This stretch of the river receives a tremendous amount of fishing pressure, especially in the spring when other resources might not be as accessible,” said Bill Atkinson, area aquatic biologist, in a news release. “This emergency closure is an effort to protect the resource by giving the fish a bit of a reprieve when they are stressed like they are right now.”

When water flows are minimal, fish become concentrated in residual pool habitat and become stressed due to increased competition for food resources. The fish become much easier targets for anglers, an added stressor that can result in increased hooking mortality.

CPW advises anglers to find alternative areas to fish until the order is rescinded. Many other local areas are now fishable, with tributaries contributing water to maintain various fisheries. Several area lakes are also open and fishing well.

Wildlife officials warn when a fish population is significantly affected by low flows or other unfavorable environmental conditions, it could take several years for it to fully recover if not protected.

“We ask for the public’s patience and cooperation,” said Atkinson. “It is very important that we do what we can to protect this unique fishery, not only for anglers, but for the communities that depend on the tourism revenue this area provides for local businesses.”

If the flow rate increases substantially for a continuous period of time, CPW will re-evaluate the emergency fishing closure, CPW officials said.

The closure will be enforced by law with citations issued for anyone violating the order.

Contact Stagecoach State Park at 970-736-2436 or CPW’s Steamboat Springs office at 970-870-2197 for more information.

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