State eyes regs for stretch of the Blue | AspenTimes.com

State eyes regs for stretch of the Blue

Bob Berwin
Summit County correspondent

Water rushes through a narrow section of the Blue River below the dam at Green Mountain Reservoir. The area, soon to be traded into public hands, is likely to get stricter fishing regulations to protect the fishery there. (Summit Daily file)

Aspen, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Colorado Division of Wildlife has moved one step closer to adopting strict catch-and-release regulations for the Blue River between Green Mountain Reservoir and the confluence with the Colorado River.

The state wildlife agency issued a draft conceptual catch and release proposal as its preferred alternative for review by the Colorado Wildlife Commission at a November meeting. That plan got a thumbs-up from the commission, so now the agency is in the process of writing draft regulatory language that will again be reviewed at a wildlife commission meeting in January. The draft language should be posted on the CDOW web site in early January.

The thriving fishery in the Lower Blue will soon face increased angling pressure, as a pending land trade eases public access. Catch and release regulations are the only appropriate way to protect the aquatic resource in the pristine canyon, said Highlands Ranch angler Chuck Obermeyer, one of the leading advocates for the new rules.

“It’s one of the most beautiful and pristine places in the state for anglers,” Obermeyer said, explaining that he’s watched bald and golden eagles circle overhead, seen bear on the riverbank and spotted mountain lion tracks – all on the same day. The new regulations would also be consistent with rules for other heavily fished stretches of river located below dams around the state, Obermeyer said.

The catch and release rule had widespread public support, said assistant CDOW director John Bredehoft.

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“As far as I could tell, no one testified in opposition,” Bredehoft said. “It seems all pretty copasetic,” he added, explaining that the agency received petitions in support of catch and release, and that adjacent landowners also favored the regulations.

Bredehoft said the new regs should be finalized by next spring or early summer.

“It’s a three-step process,” he said. The Wildlife Commission will consider the draft regulatory language at a meeting in January, and give final approval to the new rules in March.

“The regulations will simply state that all trout must be returned to the water immediately after catch,” explained Brett Ackerman, the agency’s regulations coordinator.

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