Upper Arkansas River Now a Colorado Gold Medal Trout Water

January 10, 2014

 On January 10, 2014 the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission designagted the upper Arkansas River as a Gold Medal Trout Water, doubling the state's miles of gold medal waters.  Hats off to the CPW aquatic biologists and public support ! 

Here is the CPW press release: 


The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is pleased to announce the
upper Arkansas River as the newest addition to the statewide list of
Gold Medal Trout Waters.

The Gold Medal reach is 102 miles long from the confluence with the Lake
Fork of the Arkansas River, near Leadville, downstream to Parkdale at
the Highway 50 bridge crossing above the Royal Gorge.

The designation has been 20 years in the making, and although anglers
have enjoyed the improved conditions for years, it is an official
acknowledgement of the myriad efforts undertaken by state and federal
agencies to turn an impaired river into one of the most popular fishing
destinations in Colorado.

“The upper Arkansas River fishery is the best it has been in over a
century thanks to the efforts and hard work of many agencies and
individuals that have recognized its great potential,” said Greg
Policky, CPW Aquatic Biologist. “I am very pleased that this outstanding
river has received the Gold Medal designation and is now ranked among
the elite trout fisheries in Colorado.”

In order to receive a Gold Medal listing, a body of water must
consistently support a minimum trout standing stock of 60 pounds per
acre, as well as consistently support a minimum average of 12 quality
trout – trout larger than 14 inches – per acre.

In the last 20 years, the upper Arkansas River has undergone a habitat
transformation. Fish populations in the area were impacted by heavy
metal pollution from mining in the Leadville area. Because of the
pollution, trout could not live in the area, and they did not live
beyond three years old further downstream.

Today, trout are living up to ten years old due to habitat restoration,
improved water quality and creative fishery management. The present-day
fish population has benefited from these habitat efforts and has met the
Gold Medal designation since 1999 for both the quality of trout per acre
and the standing crop.

The Arkansas River ranked as the favorite fishing destination for
residents of Colorado, according to a 2012 angler survey. Angler use
reached a significant milestone in 2012 when an estimated 100,000
anglers fished the river throughout the year between Leadville and
Parkdale. More than 65 percent of the river stretch is open to the
angling public via federal and state-owned land and numerous
state-controlled fishing leases and easements.

With the addition of the Arkansas River, total Gold Medal stream miles
in Colorado increases by 50% to 322 total miles. It will also be the
longest reach of Gold Medal water in the State.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, more than 300 state
wildlife areas, all of Colorado's wildlife, and a variety of outdoor
recreation. For more information go to www.cpw.state.co.us

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