Ban on autumn fishing could end

Ban on autumn fishing could end
Denver Post – Denver,CO,USA

Consider, if you can, that magic place where science and politics meet harmoniously, a kind of Neverland often imagined but seldom found.

At least for the nonce, such a place actually exists on the South Platte River where it wanders through the Tomahawk Ranch just upstream from Hartsel.

The science comes from a recently concluded four- year study of the effects of angling on brown trout spawning success. The aspect pertaining to people is happening even as you read this, as part of the five-year review process of Colorado’s fishing regulations.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife aquatics staff is considering lifting the ban on autumn fishing on this DOW-owned property. The stricture has been in effect since 2002 while researcher George Schisler completed his landmark study to determine whether fishermen pounding through the redds adversely impacted trout recruitment.

The science: “As far as I can tell, the closure hasn’t changed anything,” Schisler said of his data analysis.

The politics: Biologists seem likely to recommend that the Sept. 1-Jan. 31 Tomahawk closure be lifted in response to popular demand for access to the large trout that move upstream from Spinney Mountain Reservoir each autumn.

It’s all part of a review process that has included 24 public meetings in the past few months. Staff will meet Wednesday to iron out final recommendations to be presented to the Colorado Wildlife Commission at a May 5-6 meeting in Snowmass. DOW biologists might accept some of the proposals listed below and spit others out. Additional public comment may be made directly at the May meeting.

Commission decisions become effective Jan. 1, 2006, and will remain in effect through 2010.

While the list includes a couple of dozen items for waters all across the state, the Tomahawk decision stands out. Schisler’s finding is that with or without angler traffic, the section produces more brown trout progeny than the habitat will bear.

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