Arkansas River receives Gold Medal designation
Colorado’s newest entry in the list of Gold Medal waters is a stretch of the upper Arkansas River downstream from Leadville.
Part of the river already carried Gold Medal designation and this newest reach brings the total on the Arkansas to 102 miles, stretching from the confluence with the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River, near Leadville, downstream to Parkdale at the U.S. Highway 50 bridge above the Royal Gorge.
No fishing regulations were changed when the river was designated Gold Medal.
Designating waters as Gold Medal does not automatically place them under restrictive regulations, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists said anglers should be aware of previous regulations on some upper sections of the river.
“Regulations are often used as a tool to help maintain quality in a fishery but they are not automatically applied if they are not necessary, as is the case of the Arkansas River,” said Greg Policky, aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Salida.
The upper Arkansas River, after years of restoration work to repair damage from earlier mining operations, was designated Gold Medal status earlier this year because of improved water quality, flow management and fish abundance.
Under Parks and Wildlife regulations, Gold Medal Waters are defined as being able to produce 60 pounds of trout per acre, and at least twelve 14-inch or larger trout per acre.
Only three lakes and 322 miles of Colorado’s 9,000 miles of trout streams, are designated Gold Medal waters.
A 2012 angler survey ranked the Arkansas River as the favorite fishing destination for residents of Colorado.
“Our current regulations are sufficient to maintain the quality of the fishery,” said Doug Kreiger, senior aquatic biologist for Parks and Wildlife. “In fact, a recent angler survey shows that more than 95 percent of trout caught on the river are released voluntarily.”
Policky said the upper Arkansas River fishery “is the best it has been in years and we want anglers to get out there and enjoy it.”
“Being designated Gold Medal is something we should and can all celebrate,” he said.