Due to critically low water flow caused by dry conditions and minimal snowpack levels, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will close a 0.6-mile stretch of the Yampa River between the dam at Stagecoach State Park down to the lowermost park boundary.
The closure begins June 14 and will continue until further notice.
"Should the flow rate increase substantially for a continuous period of time, CPW will re-evaluate the emergency fishing closure," said Senior Aquatic Biologist Lori Martin. "But for now, we need to take this course of action because of the current conditions at this popular fishery."
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 trout fishery we have downstream of Stagecoach Reservoir," said Area Aquatic Biologist Bill Atkinson. "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 when they are stressed like they are right now."
CPW advises anglers to find alternative areas to fish until the order is rescinded. Many other local areas are now fishable, with tributaries contributing water to maintain various fisheries. Several area lakes are also open and fishing well.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks for cooperation from anglers; however, the closure will be enforced by law with citations issued for anyone violating the order.
Wildlife officials warn when a fish population is significantly affected by low flows or other unfavorable environmental conditions, it could take several years for it to fully recover if not protected.
Like many rivers and streams in western Colorado, the Yampa River offers world-class fishing and attracts thousands of anglers each year, providing a source of income to local businesses that depend on outdoor recreation.
"We ask for the public's patience and cooperation," said Atkinson. "It is very important that we do what we can to protect this unique fishery, not only for anglers, but for the communities that depend on the tourism revenue this area provides for local businesses."