Some good news about the Colorado River and fly fishing

Posted 11/6/19

In terms of water development by public agencies of western slope water resources there is no greater nor numerous partnerships than Denver Water and the Colorado River water system, and the Fraser …

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Some good news about the Colorado River and fly fishing

Posted

In terms of water development by public agencies of western slope water resources there is no greater nor numerous partnerships than Denver Water and the Colorado River water system, and the Fraser River supply in specific. Certainly projects that lead to controversy seem to involve the Fraser River supply. Maybe that is why it is especially encouraging to see Denver Water and the Grand County Fraser River/Colorado River water interests join hands to enhance the Colorado River/Fraser River and tributary stream sources. 

Such a fishery habitat project was accomplished this past summer.

More specifically a major fish habitat enhancement was undertaken in the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) Kemp-Breeze State Wildlife Area positively impacting the Williams Fork River that enters the Colorado (Fraser) River flows near the town of Parshall. We who fly fish are drawn to this stretch of the Colorado River as a challenging and beautiful run of mountain river water that supports colorful brown and rainbow trout. The river is a mix of deep runs, feeding pools, healthy population of growing trout and a fishing environment that completes a setting of one of Colorado’s prime fly fishing experiences. But over time the Denver Water flows from the Williams Fork River have compromised the trout habitat. Denver Water stepped-up with CPW to restore the river bed for improved trout health and spawning cycles. “This project will turn a very good trout fishery into a great one, so we asked anglers for a little patience during the stream bed work,” Jon Ewert, area aquatic biologist with CPW” reflected.

The improvements included reshaping the channel to enhance habitat diversity for all life-stages of trout. The river flow over time had created an overabundance of long riffles. In addition, pools that provided excellent trout holding areas had fill-in with sediment, further diminishing trout holding pools and spawning.

The Williams Fork Dam completed in 1959 with a power plant feature releases water and electricity to the west slope when Denver Water diverts Fraser River water to the east slope Front Range area. The dam holds 97,000 acre-feet of water, which is the second largest water body in Grand County.

This type of public agency cooperation happens frequently and gives promise of continued quality fly fishing in Colorado.

Outdoorsman Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch@comast.net.

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