Western Colorado's heat and low water affecting fishing

As most of you know I'm a serious fisherman. Well, I used to be. I haven't had much spare time to enjoy my hobby recently but I try and keep up with things. I reported here a couple weeks ago about the record low water levels at McPhee Reservoir. It's been too dry and with the heat of summer added in, it's negatively impacting the fish.

Low water and higher water temperatures reduce the water's oxygen content. That makes it difficult for fish to breath. It's important that fisherman not add to the fishes stress level. How you catch, handle, and release them is more important under these conditions.

Our friends at Grand Valley Anglers have a few tips. First, try and keep the fish in the water for as long as possible. Take your time and reel them in gently to reduce stress. After the catch, hold the fish by the tail in the water and slowly pull it back and forth to force water over the gills and create more oxygen. A properly released fish should swim away on its own accord if handled properly. It's best to hold off on the pic too. During low oxygen levels, it's best to not remove the fish from the water. "There should be no pictures taken right now,” said Marc Batterson, of the Grand Valley Anglers. “The fish are really stressed out with the temperature of the water, and the sooner that you can get them back into the water the more chance it has to live."

Grand Valley Anglers said that cold-water fish like trout prefer water in the 50-60 degree range. Some valley waterways are currently at or above 70. They suggest if possible fish in the higher elevations at places like the Grand Mesa where the water temperatures are cooler.

Credit: KJCT8News