RBC I Colorado Parks and Wildlife is advising anglers about recent changes to the Gold Medal designations for sections of two rivers in the Northwest Region.
During a regular meeting in Denver earlier in March, the CPW Commission accepted staff’s recommendations to assign Gold Medal status to a 24-mile stretch of the Colorado River, from the confluence with Canyon Creek, at the mouth of Gore Canyon, downstream to the confluence of Rock Creek, near the town of McCoy.
The commission also accepted staff’s recommendations to delist the Gold Medal status of a 19-mile stretch of the Blue River, from the Hamilton Creek Road Bridge crossing at the northern edge of Silverthorne to Green Mountain Reservoir. In addition to staff, commissioners heard from a local angler who agreed that the stretch of the Blue River should be delisted.
In Colorado, Gold Medal status is reserved for state waters that produce a minimum of 60-pounds of trout per acre and 12 trout measuring 14 inches or longer per acre. The delisted stretch of the Blue River has not met that criteria for the last 15 years, according to CPW biologists.
“The overall goal is to maintain the integrity of the Gold Medal designation,” CPW aquatic biologist Jon Ewert of Hot Sulphur Springs, said. “As necessary, we will make recommendations to delist or upgrade waters, keeping in mind the intent of the designation—identifying waters where anglers can catch large, trophy-quality trout.”
Ewert adds that the quality of the delisted section of the Blue River declined due to the cumulative effects of a variety of impacts, including unnatural stream flows, sparse aquatic invertebrate populations, low nutrient content and degraded habitat.
“We’ll continue to monitor the stretch of the river,” said Northwest Region Senior Aquatic Biologist Sherman Hebein. “It does not meet Gold Medal criteria right now, but together with the Town of Silverthorne, Denver Water and local anglers, we will work towards relisting this section as a Gold Medal water in the future.”
The sections of the Blue River from Dillon Dam to the Hamilton Creek Road bridge crossing and from Green Mountain Dam to the confluence with the Colorado River, all exceed the minimum criteria and will retain Gold Medal status.
According to Ewert, the upgraded section of the Colorado River exceeds the minimum requirements for Gold Medal status.
“We studied this section of the Colorado River extensively over the past eight years,” he said. “We found that it is an excellent fishery.”
Currently, Colorado assigns Gold Medal status to three lakes including North Delaney Butte, Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Steamboat Lake, totaling 3,206 surface acres. Additionally, there are 329 stream miles considered Gold Medal waters in the state, out of a total of 9,000 miles.