The Colorado Division of Wildlife is starting its 5-year review of statewide fishing regulations and is asking anglers throughout the state to provide comments and suggestions on regulations and possible changes.
Regulation planning will be discussed throughout Colorado at "Angler Roundtable" meetings that will begin in late March. Management and research for various waters will also be discussed at the meetings. Dates and locations of those meetings are still being scheduled and will be announced later.
Aquatic biologists continually evaluate fisheries, and every five years the Colorado Wildlife Commission looks at all fishing regulations to ensure that the DOW continues to meet fisheries management objectives and recreational needs of anglers. The regulations set allowable methods of take, season dates, size requirements and bag limits. The regulations include statewide rules that apply to individual waters throughout Colorado.
Besides regulations, DOW biologists will examine biological and social data from state waters. These include fish and creel surveys, research and trend information, water quality issues, stocking activity and angler-satisfaction surveys. That information will be considered in the decision-making process for setting new regulations.
"We actively seek input from anglers during this process," said Greg Gerlich, aquatic section manager for the DOW. "Colorado's anglers represent a diverse group who enjoy angling for everything from trout to walleye. We enjoy hearing from anglers and also educating them on how they play a role in management and regulatory decisions."
Every year more than 600,000 people buy fishing licenses in Colorado. The state offers a wide variety of angling opportunities. Anglers can fish at warm- and cold-water lakes and reservoirs, in numerous big rivers, and in alpine streams and lakes. Every year, fishing in Colorado generates about $1.2 billion in economic benefits.
The DOW requests that angler comments be received by the end of April.
The DOW is also asking for comments from fishing organizations, sportsmen's groups; water resource managers including ditch companies, conservancy districts, and state and federal government agencies; land management agencies, local governments and private landowners; and businesses and communities that have an economic stake in fishing activity.
In addition to specific suggestions for individual waters, the DOW also wants to hear suggestions on statewide "big picture" issues.
"Colorado has very active associations that are concerned about specific species, such as bass, walleye and trout. We want to hear from those groups. But it's also important for us to receive comments from individual anglers to get a balance of opinions," Gerlich said.
After receiving input from anglers and an internal review, draft regulations will be prepared by July and presented for more public comment. The draft regulations will be sent to the wildlife commission in September for review; more public comment will be allowed at that time. New regulations will be adopted formally in November.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is divided into four regions: northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. Aquatic biologists in each region are responsible for maintaining waters.