Colorado Parks and Wildlife enacts emergency fishing closure on Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir |

Colorado Parks and Wildlife enacts emergency fishing closure on Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir

CPW cites ’critically low water flow’ due to dry conditions as reason for closure.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced an indefinite fishing closure of the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir on Monday afternoon, citing critically low water flow caused by dry conditions and minimal snowpack levels, the agency announced in a news release.

The agency said the mandatory fishing closure will take place on a 0.6-mile stretch of the Yampa River between the dam at Stagecoach State Park downstream to the lowermost park boundary.

The closure begins Tuesday, May 25 and will continue until further notice, CPW said.

“Should the flow rate increase substantially for a continuous period of time, CPW will re-evaluate the emergency fishing closure,” said CPW Senior Aquatic Biologist Lori Martin in the release. “But because of the current conditions, we need to take this course of action now.”

CPW works closely with the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District (UYWCD), which owns and operates Stagecoach Reservoir. The partnership allows CPW to stay informed on reservoir releases and monitor drought conditions.

According to UYWCD General Manager Andy Rossi, the emergency closure is critical to the river’s health, especially with hot and dry summer months looming.

Water releases from the reservoir are currently only at 20% of average, UYWCD said in the press release, and will be dropping to less than 15% of average for the closure.

According to CPW, 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.

“We are trying to be as proactive as possible to protect the outstanding catch-and-release fishery we have downstream of Stagecoach Reservoir,” said CPW Area Aquatic Biologist Bill Atkinson in the press release. “This stretch of the river receives a tremendous amount of fishing pressure, especially in the spring when other resources might not be as accessible. This emergency closure is an effort to protect the resource by giving the fish a bit of a reprieve as they can become quite stressed during these extreme low-flow conditions.”

CPW is advising anglers to find alternative fishing areas until the closure is lifted.

According to Stagecoach Reservoir Park Manager Craig Preston, officers will be patrolling the area to ensure anglers avoid the closure. Preston added that should anglers be caught in the area during the closure, citations and fines — up to $140 – will be levied.

Like many rivers and streams in Northwest Colorado, the Yampa River offers world-class fishing and attracts thousands of anglers each year, which provides a source of income to local businesses that depend on outdoor recreation.

With extreme drought conditions still in place, CPW said that other stretches of the river may be subject to additional closures this season.

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

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