Steamboat Springs — The average maximum temperature for July so far is 83.8 degrees. That’s 1 degree higher than the month’s average high for the previous 20 years.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider the fish in the Yampa River that also are dealing with flows below the historical median.
The Colorado Water Trust started releasing the water it leased in Stagecoach Reservoir this week to help with flows through town, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Billy Atkinson is asking anglers to get their fishing in early.
“The water temperature is a lot more favorable in the morning,” Atkinson said Thursday. “By the afternoon, water temperatures are well into the 70s.”
It would be beneficial for the health of the fish in the Yampa if people refrained from fishing in the afternoon, he said.
There’s no closure, like what happened during last year’s even lower flows, but if anglers could call it a day by noon, it would help. Dissolved oxygen levels in the river still are good, he said, and the fish still are spread out.
Nevertheless, high water temperatures can be stressful for the fish.
“When you hook them and play them, you add another stressor,” Atkinson said.
Luckily for anglers who are looking for full days of fishing, there are plenty of other options in the Yampa Valley.
Higher-elevation streams and lakes will be cooler, Atkinson said.
Rock Creek near Gore Pass and the upper Bear River above Yampa are two good choices, he said, as are Steamboat Lake, Hahn’s Peak Lake or out by Big Red Park.
“Hopefully, we’ll continue to get some rains and get through this once things start cooling down,” Atkinson said.