While local fly fishing outfitters are gearing up for a busy June and July, low-stream flows and drought conditions could be deadly for the fish stock later this summer.
Aspen Outfitting Co. already has seen a spike in early bookings because of predictions that the rivers will remain low, said Jarrod Hollinger, owner of the fly-fishing guide company. That’s good for business, but come August, the low-water levels could end up being more damaging than beneficial.
Local fishing outfitters are counting on an active monsoon season and a surplus of water from Ruedi Reservoir to keep the stock healthy.
Hollinger is advising locals to follow fishing protocol to protect the stock. Use rubber nets, barbless hooks and be sure to only have fish out of the water for under 30 seconds, said Hollinger.
“What I hate to see — and you notice it on Facebook sometimes — is there will be a fish lying next to a rod on the ground and that’s extremely dangerous for the fish,” Hollinger said. “You might as well take it home. A lot of times the fish is compromised.”
Never touch a fish with dry hands and make sure the fish is revived before it is released, Hollinger said. Fish get tired in low-stream flows and if fishermen aren’t careful, they could damage the stock, he said.
“We need to understand that there are circumstances this year that we need to be extra mindful of,” Hollinger said.
Low-water levels are going to be a boon for the recreational fishing industry in June and July when the river usually peaks.
During those months, high-stream flows typically push fishermen upstream where the flows aren’t as powerful. At lower stream flow levels, there are more options available to fishermen, and tourists opt to fish rather than raft.
“The perception out there is that with high water you can’t fish,” said Chris Lemons, owner of Aspen Flyfishing. “That’s not necessarily true ... You just have access to more spots at low water.”