The Colorado Division of Wildlife has begun its five-year review of statewide fishing regulations and is looking for input from anglers and sportsmen organizations.
DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said the review process is designed to include local input as the first step because the DOW values the voice of the sportsmen who support and fund the agency.
“People need to remember we’re not a tax-funded agency,” Hampton said. “We’re funded by people who do hunt and fish, and by those licenses. We want to be as responsive as we can.”
Two “Angler Roundtable” meetings will take place in Steamboat Springs and Meeker in late April.
The exact dates are to be announced.
The roundtables will offer opportunities for local anglers to give input on specific issues.
“Typically, we find at local meetings people want to talk about specific waterway regulations,” Hampton said. “For example, someone might come in and have input on fisheries management in Elkhead Reservoir. That’s something we want to hear. Obviously, there are limitations on each one. We’re not going to create a tuna fishery at Elkhead. But there are things we can do.”
According to a news release from the DOW, the Colorado Wildlife Commission looks at all fishing regulations every five years to ensure that the DOW continues to meet fisheries management objectives and recreational needs of anglers.
The regulations include allowable methods of take, season dates, size requirements and bag limits.
“We actively seek input from anglers during this process,” said Greg Gerlich, aquatic section manager for the DOW, in the news release. “Colorado’s anglers represent a diverse group who enjoy angling for everything from trout to walleye. We enjoy hearing from anglers and also educating them on how they play a role in management and regulatory decisions.”
The diversity of anglers around the state is valuable to managing populations, but Hampton said it also is one of many challenges to overcome in wildlife management.
“We have different kinds of fisherman,” Hampton said. “We have bass fisherman and trout guys. They’ll say, ‘We want more trout,’ or, ‘We want bigger bass, trophy bass.’ And we might be able to do that by raising the limit on the size of fish people can take, so it lets the smaller fish grow.”
After receiving input from anglers and an internal review, draft regulations will be prepared by July and presented for more public comment.
The draft regulations will be sent to the wildlife commission in September for review. Wildlife commission meetings rotate location, and the September meeting is scheduled to take place in Craig.
Hampton said that meeting will offer a second opportunity for Northwest Colorado residents to add their input.
The new regulations will be formally adopted in November.
“It’s very challenging,” Hampton said about balancing diverse needs during the review process. “ Sportsmen often want what they want. Sometimes we can’t do those things biologically or even politically.
“Wildlife management is never easy, but we try to balance needs of the public with biological, social and political needs.”