Voluntary closure in effect on Conejos

Staff report
Posted 9/6/18

Due to extremely low flows and concerns about warm water temperatures, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking anglers to self-regulate their fishing activities.

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Voluntary closure in effect on Conejos

Posted

Due to extremely low flows and concerns about warm water temperatures, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking anglers to self-regulate their fishing activities. Effective immediately, CPW is placing a voluntary fishing closure on the Conejos River from noon through the remainder of the day.

This voluntary closure is in place for the section of the Conejos River from Platoro Reservoir down to Broyles Bridge. The voluntary closure will remain in effect until further notice, with a possibility of an emergency closure to all fishing if conditions worsen. The river is located in the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado.

Because of the ongoing drought, the river is flowing at far less than the historic flows. Normally at this time of year flows from the outlet at Platoro Reservoir are usually about 60 cubic feet per second. For the last few weeks flows have averaged about 10 cfs, only 19 percent of the historic average. Snowfall last winter of less than 50 percent of average in the Río Grande basin is the primary reason the river is running so low.

Water temperature is also a concern. At times temperature of the river has risen to 70 degrees, which is unhealthy for trout. The temperature of the river is highest from noon throughout the rest of the day. Water cools overnight, so fishing during the morning hours will help to minimize impacts to trout.

Many trout anglers practice catch and release. But in these conditions it is extremely stressful on fish when they are hooked and handled.

They might look OK when they swim off quickly after they're released, but they use a lot of energy when caught and recovery is difficult in low, warm water. With less water there is less habitat available to the fish and warming temperatures means there's less oxygen available in the water. That can lead to increased trout mortality.

Brown trout, the predominant species in the river, spawn in the fall, so the current river conditions could impact spawning activities.

Like Southern Colorado, Northern New Mexico is experiencing a tough water year and anglers should consider the conditions and follow these guidelines as well.

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