On July 7, 2021, Colorado wildlife officials issued a voluntary fishing ban along a 120-mile stretch of the Colorado River due to “record heat and drought,” The Associated Press reports. “The extreme drought on the Western Slope, plus the sediment and debris in the waterway, have created a really challenging situation for fish,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman, Travis Duncan said. 

Since river temperatures are higher than usual during this time of year, Rainbow and brown trout become too tired to eat and die while oxygen levels are depleted. “We’re asking folks to voluntarily refrain from fishing,” Duncan continued. “If the conditions persist, we’ll need to adopt a mandatory ban.”

“There’s No Recovery For Those Fish Right Now. They’ve Just Got To Hang On”

In addition to record heat, the wildfires from last year dumped mudslides and burnt sediment into the river leaving fish unable to find clear water. “They’ve got to sit through those conditions,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Kendall Bakich. “And at nighttime, the temp isn’t coming down enough, so there’s no recovery for those fish right now. They’ve just got to hang on.”

While anglers may ignore the ban and decide to catch a releases, some fishing professional claim that could be just as deadly. “In these temperatures, it is hard to catch and release the fish and have them survive the experience,” Tom Trowbridge, manager of Roaring Fork Anglers, said.