DENVER – More Colorado rivers are being put under voluntary fishing closures to avoid harming fish while the waterways are running low and warm.
The latest voluntary closures are on the Eagle River from Wolcott downstream to the Colorado River and for the Roaring Fork River from Carbondale downstream to the Colorado River, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
CPW Aquatic Biologist Kendall Bakich said both of the rivers have been consistently topping 71 degrees Fahrenheit this week. Water temperatures above 67 degrees, and especially above 70 degrees, are unsafe for trout because oxygen increasingly dissolves at higher temperatures.
“Anglers fishing in these reaches have reported sportfish mortalities and, in the case of the lower Roaring Fork, mudslides have muddied the waters from the Crystal River tributary and contributed to fish stress in the hottest section of the Roaring Fork,” Bakich said.
Sections of the Colorado River downstream of the Eagle and Roaring Fork remain under voluntary closures because of high temperatures. A full-day voluntary closure is in place between Red Dirt Creek and Rifle, and a post-noon voluntary closure is in place from State Bridge down to Red Dirt Creek.
There is a mandatory full-day closure in place on the Yampa River within Stagecoach Reservoir Park, and a voluntary full-day closure from the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to the western edge of Steamboat Springs.
There are also voluntary closures of the Yampa River after noon within the Yampa River State Park near Hayden and within Yampa River State Wildlife Area.
CPW put a voluntary closure in place after noon on the Elk River within the Christina State Wildlife Area on July 13. And in late June, a voluntary closure after noon was put in place on the Dolores River from McPhee Reservoir down to Bradfield Bridge.
Many of the creeks and rivers are running well below their typical flows for this time of year and much warmer than normal amid extreme and exceptional drought conditions.
The Colorado River at Dotsero reached water temperatures of above 70 degree several times this week and was running about 400 cubic feet for second below its median flow levels for the past 80 years this week, with a federal water shortage expected to be declared in coming weeks amid historic drought conditions and climate change.