Hitting the river? Know the regs | AspenTimes.com

Hitting the river? Know the regs

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
An angler nets a trout on the Fryingpan River, where Gold Medal Water means the fishery is exceptional, but the angling regulations are strict. (Aspen Times file)

Visitors who plan to try a little fishing while they’re in Colorado, and particularly in the Roaring Fork Valley, should keep a few things in mind ” namely, the regulations.

Unlike some states, Colorado allows year-round trout fishing, but the state Division of Wildlife has placed restrictions on various rivers and lakes, particularly with regard to what bait is allowed, and where anglers may keep the fish they catch.

In addition, all resident and nonresident anglers who are ages 16 to 63 are required to purchase a fishing license. Locally, they are available at fly shops throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and at City Market locations. Youths and Colorado residents who are age 64 and older may fish for free (without a license).

Those who only plan to fish for a limited period can buy a one-day license (you must pick the specific date it will be valid) for $9 (residents and nonresidents). A five-day license (again, you must select the specific dates it will be valid) is available to nonresidents for $21.

Pick up a free copy of the Colorado fishing regulations anywhere licenses are sold (or, see the 2008 Colorado Fishing Regulations link on this web page). The regulations and other fishing information is also available at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/

Most anglers visiting the Roaring Fork Valley are fishing one of the area’s three big rivers ” the Colorado, Fryingpan and Roaring Fork. Both the Pan and the Fork offer Gold Medal Water ” a designation the state gives its top trout fisheries ” but strict rules are in effect to protect the rivers, which see heavy angling pressure. Keep in mind, even where anglers are allowed to keep trout, many practice catch-and-release fishing.

See a copy of the regulations for complete details, but here’s a brief summary:

Artificial flies only are permitted from McFarlane Creek above Aspen downstream to the upper Woody Creek Bridge (this means no lures or bait). All trout must be returned to the river immediately.

From the upper Woody Creek bridge to Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, artificial flies and lures only. The bag limit is two trout that are no less than 16 inches in length. The stretch from Basalt to Glenwood is classified as Gold Medal Water.

Gold Medal Water from the Ruedi Dam to the Roaring Fork River at Basalt (a 14-mile stretch). Artificial flies and lures only. All trout except brown trout must be returned to the water immediately. The bag limit for brown trout is two fish that are no more than 14 inches in length.

From Troublesome Creek, five miles east of Kremmling, to Rifle Creek in Rifle (the stretch that encompasses the river as it flows through Glenwood Canyon, Glenwood Springs and West Glenwood), the bag limit is two trout (no size/species restrictions other than those applicable statewide). No bait restrictions aside from those applied statewide.