Summer fishing is finally here

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— As the summer draws closer and the waters of the Yampa River begin to lower, locals start noticing fewer kayaks on the water and more fishermen. This is the time when warmer temperatures combine with lower water levels announcing to anglers that the summer fishing season has finally arrived.

This summer should continue to prove that the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs offers anglers one of the premier fishing opportunities in northwestern Colorado. However, due to recent changes in many of the local and statewide fishing regulations, summertime anglers should make sure to update themselves on new laws. The following regulations are in place locally on the Yampa River.

From the Stagecoach Dam to the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge on the west side of Steamboat Springs is designated as fishing with artificial flies and lures only. Bait fishing is prohibited anywhere along this stretch of the Yampa River.

Trout caught on the Yampa River starting at Stagecoach Dam and continuing 0.6 miles downstream from the dam must be immediately returned to the water. The stretch of the Yampa River beginning 0.6 miles downstream from the Stagecoach Dam and continuing to its confluence with Walton Creek has a bag and possession limit of two trout. Continuing downstream from, Walton Creek, the Yampa River through the city of Steamboat Springs to the James Brown bridge is designated as catch and release and all trout caught must be immediately returned to the water.

These special regulations for trout are helpful in protecting fisheries throughout the state. Trout fisheries such as the Yampa River often need this extra protection to maintain fish population due to heavy fishing pressures, minimal natural reproduction and reduced stocking as a result of whirling disease issues.

Pike are also commonly caught on the Yampa River. There is no bag and possession limit currently established for pike. Legal anglers may harvest an unlimited number of this species, and due to current Colorado Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policies, anglers are encouraged to harvest pike to eat or donate. The waste of any game fish is prohibited.

Many places along the Yampa River are privately owned, and fishing is not allowed on those properties unless permission has been legally granted.

Violations of any fishing and hunting laws can be reported to the Colorado Division of Wildlife Steamboat Springs Office at 970-870-2197. Furthermore, any reports particularly reports of violations occurring after hours and those currently in progress can be reported to the Routt County Sheriff's Office at 970-879-1090. Please provide accurate descriptions of the anglers, the location, and the violation.

If your angling adventures take you elsewhere, please check the regulations before you make that first cast. Fishing brochures are available at any location where licenses are sold. Please have a wonderful and legal 2001-fishing season.

Elizabeth Miller is a district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

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