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It’s free fishing weekend in Colorado

Fishing for brookies at Officers Gulch Pond, in Summit County, Colorado.

Fishing for brookies at Officers Gulch Pond, in Summit County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

No license needed June 1-2

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — There’s no better way to start the summer than by wetting a line in one of Colorado’s sparkling streams or lakes, and to celebrate the start of the angling season, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is once again offering free fishing this weekend (June 1-2).

Each year, the agency designates the first weekend in June as the only two-day period that anglers all around the state are not required to have a fishing license. For the rest of the year a fishing license is required for anyone 16 years and older. Check all the Colorado Parks and Wildlife fishing online here and check out this guide for popular Summit County fishing spots here. Continue reading

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Colorado: Trouble in trout paradise

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Please click on the image to watch the short video clip.

An exclusive Summit Voice interview with Fraser Trout, a homeless fish seeking some love (and water) in the Colorado River Basin

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Defend the Colorado coalition’s new video, “Trout in Trouble,” features a lost-looking trout leaving his dried-up streambed in the Fraser Valley to go seek water in the big city of Denver, where he panhandles on the streets with a sign reading, “Anything helps.” A passing motorist gives him a bottle of water that he sprinkles over his head, but the expression on his face tells us it’s not enough.  The video’s message: Denver Water needs to do more to protect the Fraser River from future diversions to the Front Range.

The “homeless trout’s” performance has been hailed for its authenticity and raw power, with Denver’s Westword calling the film reminiscent of Chaplin and Capra.  Others have compared the trout to a young Brando.

Defend the Colorado has offered Summit County Citizens Voice an exclusive interview with the trout. The following is a highly edited transcript. Please click the read more button to check it ou. Continue reading

Colorado: Snowmaking impacts Snake River flows

Massive Snake River snowmaking diversions means tough times for trout after drought summer

This year’s snowpack is well below average and tracking just barely above last year’s.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The most recent snowstorm helped boost the overall Colorado snowpack just a bit, bringing it on par with last year’s level at this time, which is still well below average for mid-November. Statewide, the snowpack was at 57 percent of average, as of Nov. 15, with most West Slope basins between 50 and 60 percent of average. Even the North Platte drainage, which has seen some significant snows in the Never Summer Range, is only at 64 percent of average.

In Summit and Eagle counties, many streams are flowing at or below historic low levels, creating challenges for some ski areas that rely on direct stream diversions for snowmaking. Keystone, for example, has had to dial back its snow guns several times in the past week as the Snake River dropped to a flow of just six cubic feet per second, the minimum required under state regulations. Continue reading

Summit County: Missing insects a sign of trouble for the gold medal fishing waters of the Blue River in Silverthorne

Electroshocking and counting trout in the Blue River in Silverthorne. Click on the image for more details and a video of the sampling.

Stocked fish sustain gold medal status through Silverthorne

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Even though it’s classified as a gold medal trout stream, the Blue River below Dillon Reservoir is not all it could be. State water quality experts and biologists will scrutinize the river the next few years after recent sampling showed that there aren’t nearly as many aquatic insects in the riverbed as needed to sustain a healthy aquatic ecosystem. The summary of the assessment is online here.

The findings didn’t surprise Jon Ewert, an aquatic biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife who has been sampling and studying the Blue (along with other streams in the region) for several years.

“We’ve known for years that there’s a lack of productivity in the Blue,” Ewert said, describing how repeated sampling of trout shows very slow growth rates and fish in poor body condition —  consistent with similar sampling results going back to the 1980s. Continue reading

Colorado: Lake John reclamation complete

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has completed a restoration project at a popular fishing hole.

Thousands of rainbows and cutthroats stocked

By Summit Voice

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has completed a reclamation project at Lake John, setting the stage for a rejuvenated fishery that will be open for angling in early September. Lake John is located northwest of Walden along CO Road 7A.

“The success we have had with the reclamation is like a reset button for Lake John,” said Kurt Davies, aquatic biologist for the northeast region. “The lake will be back online by the first week of September and back to growing fish at its maximum potential. The fish we are planting now will see tremendous growth before the lake is even iced up and with the large brood fish we are putting in there, there’s the possibility someone will hook into a real trophy.” Continue reading

Restoring trout habitat, one stream at a time

A palm-size brook trout, caught in the Tenmile Creek drainage near Copper Mountain.

Scott Yates, of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water Project, honored for restoration work

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With low stream flows and increasing temperatures taking an increasing toll on aquatic habitat in the West, restoration efforts are more important than ever. Nobody knows this better that Scott Yates, director of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water Project.

Yates has been working for years with private landowners and state and federal agencies to try and improve habitat for fish, and this week he was honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the 2011 Outstanding Partner award for his collaboration with the agency’s national fish passage program, which aims to restore habitat connectivity. Continue reading

Colorado River: More protection needed in diversion plans

Trout like these brookies are barely hanging on in parts of the Fraser and Colorado rivers, and planned new diversions could have even more impacts unless mitigation measures are adequate.

Conservation group advocates for strict standards and an endowment fund that would ensure resources for long-term monitoring and restoration work

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups say planned new diversions from the Upper Colorado River and the Fraser River could push the river ecosystems even closer to the edge without additional safeguards.

Colorado Trout Unlimited, a cold water fisheries advocacy group, has launched a campaign to generate more awareness about potential impacts from the planned Moffat Tunnel Collection System expansion and the Windy Gap firming project.

The group says that, with more than 60 percent of the native flows  being diverted to the Front Range, the rivers are already on the brink of collapse.

Denver Water and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District recently outlined their mitigation and enhancement plans for the projects, but according to Trout Unlimited, those plans are lacking some significant measures. Continue reading

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