Runoff coincides with flood of anglers in the Roaring Fork Valley | PostIndependent.com
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Runoff coincides with flood of anglers in the Roaring Fork Valley

John GardnerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado Officially, the fishing season begins on Jan. 1 each year, but fishing enthusiasts dont typically start crowding the shores of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers until the spring thaw rolls. However, that is when the river flows are most aggressive.While high river flows during the runoff season impact fishing opportunities for anglers, it does have some positive affects according to Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.It can certainly change how you have to approach fishing, Hampton said. We may see areas that become boggy and wet and are flooded that are traditional stream access points.According to Larry Pretti at Roaring Fork Outfitters in Glenwood Springs, the big water periods effects business a little but the fishing can still be pretty good.It affects the float trips because we dont take boats down during the high water, Pretti said. But (the fishing) will pick up again right after the Mothers Day hatch.Fishing the rivers has already been pretty good this year, according to Pretti, and for those who are ready to get wet its still possible to fish the big waters.March and April is really good fishing, Pretti said. You could fish the river at high water if you can get down to the deep water where the fish are. You can catch trout if you can get down to them. But you dont want to go into the river, youd want to fish from the bank.The Mothers Day caddis hatch is the first big one for the year and its typically the time where real estate on the shores of the reservoirs and the river banks becomes scarce. This years high snowpack levels will have anglers dealing with high river flows. But according to Pretti, the high water anticipated is nothing unusual.The rivers kind of vary from year to year, Pretti said. It depends if we get some hot days in April and May. When the river is like it is this year, it usually peaks out around June 21.Pretti said that Roaring Fork Outfitters were doing Float trips the second week of June last year. But with all the snow this year, hes expects it may take a little longer for the rivers to calm down.It will probably have some affect on fishing until early July, Pretti said.Despite the low time for fishing, high runoff periods have definite benefits to the fish habitat. High runoff actually cleans out some of the sediment and other gravel thats built up during the low-flow periods. The water moves through the channels faster with higher levels of runoff cleaning deep pools where fish like to be, making for a healthier environment.There is definite long-term benefits for the fish with the high runoff, Hampton said.Regardless of high runoff or not, it hasnt had any negative effect on the fishing numbers throughout the years.The DOW feels the beginning of the fishing season is in March and April when anglers are gearing up for the year.March and April are the biggest months we see for license sales, Hampton said. You can fish anytime during the year but this is when we sell the most licenses.Statewide, the DOW recorded 654,864 fishing licenses sold for 2006. Data for 2007 wasnt compiled yet, according to Hampton. But for the past 30 years fishing has remained relatively level in terms of fishing license sales. The highest number of license sales was recorded in 2000 with 770,000.Glenwood Springs was recently ranked as the No. 1 town in the nation for fishermen to live by Field & Stream Magazine. The numbers dont discount that ranking, either.Residents still spend double the amount of non-resident in terms of total expenses, Hampton said.Garfield County receives around $14.1 million from in-state residents, while non-residents spent about $7.6 million in direct expenditures such as lodging, food and fishing gear. Garfield County residents spend more than $12 million annually on fishing in state.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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