Before heading to your favorite water, be sure to check new fishing regulations
Anglers eager for the spring thaw can spend the next month reading the newest fishing regulations on their favorite waters.
Most of the new regulations were adopted last November by the Colorado Wildlife Commission and went into effect Jan. 1.
However, many of the new changes won’t be noticed by anglers until this spring, when the first inkling might come immediately after a wildlife officer asks to see their license.
Thirty bodies of water in every region in the state have something new and the Western Slope certainly is no exception.
Here is a brief rundown of what to expect and how to act on popular fishing waters in the region:
Connected Lake and Duke Lake: Bag and possession limit and minimum size for largemouth bass is two fish, 18 inches in length. This regulation allows harvest of largemouth bass while increasing the quality aspects of the population;
Highline Res.: The bag and possession and minimum size for largemouth bass is two fish, 15 inches in length. Smallmouth bass were dropped from the regulation because they are not managed in Highline Reservoir.
Parachute Creek, East Middle Fork: This small stream on the Roan Plateau faces threats associated with energy development. It’s been added to the list of protected cutthroat waters along with special regulations, including artificial flies and lures only and all cutthroat trout must be returned to the water immediately upon catch;
Rifle Gap Res.: Bag and possession limit and minimum size for walleye is one fish, 18 inches in length or over. This regulation will protect a declining walleye population while biologists work on a long-term option to manage and stock walleye;
Trappers Lake: All cutthroat trout must be returned to the water immediately upon catch. This regulation is designed to help protect the population of genetically pure cutthroats;
Yampa River: From Stagecoach Dam downstream to Catamount Lake: Spawning areas (redds) are closed to fishing as posted to protect spawning fish. This regulation will protect large fish that are spawning and prevent destruction of redds while fish eggs are incubating.
In the Gunnison area, four notable changes are highlighted. They include:
Blue Mesa Res.: The bag and possession limit for lake trout is unlimited. No more than one lake trout greater than 38 inches in length may be taken per day. This regulation is intended to balance the fishery by reducing the lake trout population.
Crawford Res: No limit on northern pike;
East River: Fishing is by artificial flies and lures only. The bag and possession limit and maximum size for trout is two fish, 12 inches in length.
Sweitzer Lake: All fish must be returned to the water immediately upon catch. Anglers are cautioned against eating fish from this lake due to its high levels of selenium.
Also, there no is no bag or possession limit for catfish, bass, northern pike and other warmwater species on the Colorado River, the lower Dolores River, Uncompahgre River below Ridgway Reservoir and the Eagle and White rivers.
Also, spawning areas in the stretch of quality water immediately below Stagecoach Dam and reaching to Catamount Lake are now closed to fishing.
Biologists are aware that fishing over spawning fish not only disrupts the spawning process but also wading anglers cause destruction of the spawning areas.
Now, similar regulations should be enforced on the Gunnison River below Crystal Dam and anywhere else sensitive trout populations are threatened by heedless anglers.
The entire list of changes can be found on the Division of Wildlife website, wildlife.state.co.us.