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Don't Find Yourself in Hot Water


At some point nearly every summer talk turns to water temperatures.  And rightly so.  In Colorado, and in cold water fisheries in general, fish thrive when water temps are in the 50-60 degree range.  As we approach the mid-point of summer, and the dog days in August, it’s vital to pay attention to the conditions around us – including the temperature of the streams and rivers we are fishing. In fact, it really is a life or death situation for our trout.


An unwritten but wise rule has been adopted by catch and release anglers:  stop fishing when water temperatures reach 70 degrees.  In fact, Colorado Parks and Wildlife asked anglers just yesterday (July 11) to adopt a “voluntary fishing closure” for the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs in northwest Colorado.  Water temps on that fishery are hitting 75 degrees in the afternoon.  As seen in the chart from Colorado Trout Unlimited, they are suggesting to stop fishing when the water temps hit 68 degrees.



All of our fisheries are susceptible to reaching these higher temperatures.  Some conditions – such as flows levels and currents – will impact the water temps, for sure.  But fish thrive in cold water.  When water temps rise, oxygen decreases, food sources are impacted, fish are more susceptible to disease and illness, they tire more quickly under the strain of the fight.  A fish’s metabolism changes along with temps (think of how sluggish fish are in the winter months).  Those changes as the water warms and water temps reach 70 degrees over a long stretches of days are life threatening.  



Part of our role as anglers is to be good stewards of our limited resources.  


  • Fish earlier in the day and maybe even call it a day at noon.  
  • Fish some of our stillwaters from the shore, from a belly boat, or maybe book one of our guided kayak fly fishing trips.  
  • Buy a thermometeras your next gadget and check the temps (also a great tool along with a seine to see what food sources are in the water). 

We knew we were in for a hot summer and high water temps  when we had such a dry winter and low snowpack. When air temperatures in May were reaching the mid-80s, we all began to anticipate what the summer would have in store.  And here we are.  


And it’s not even August yet.  



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