Even as rest areas in Glenwood Canyon remain closed because of concerns over possible rain and flash floods in burn scars that could result in mudslides, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking anglers to avoid fishing on more than 120 miles of the Colorado River from Kremmling to Rifle due to low flows and warm water temperatures.
The Colorado flows through Glenwood Canyon, where multiple mudslides caused by afternoon rainstorms have closed the interstate in recent days, but overall flows on the Colorado are down because of drought, and that is stressing fish. The USGS flow gauge at Dotsero, near the entrance to Glenwood Canyon, is running at 1,250 cubic feet per second, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, when it normally runs 3,000 to 4,000 CFS.
CPW declared a “voluntary” closure on Wednesday but said it could become mandatory if conditions don’t improve.
“We know that anglers care deeply about this fishery,” said CPW aquatic biologist Lori Martin. “We need their help to conserve this resource.”
Some fish mortality has been seen, CPW said. There are multiple stresses on fish in the river, including high temperatures and possibly low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. In addition, mudslides and flash floods in burn scars have increased the amount of sediment in the river.
“With the high sediment load, the fish can’t find clear water,” said CPW aquatic biologist Kendall Bakich. “They’ve got to sit through those conditions. And at nighttime, the temp isn’t coming down enough, so there’s no recovery for those fish right now. They’ve just got to hang on.”
A voluntary closure may be declared today on the Yampa River in the Steamboat Springs area, CPW said, and water temperatures in the Fraser and Upper Colorado rivers in Grand County also are getting close to dangerous levels.
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