How to Follow "Leave No Trace" Principles When You Fish in Colorado | Fly Fishing Colorado
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How to Follow “Leave No Trace” Principles When You Fish in Colorado

Leave no trace sign

Fly-fishing in Colorado, particularly along the pristine waters of the Arkansas and Colorado rivers, is an experience like no other. The majestic backdrop, the shimmering gold medal waters, and the thrill of the catch combine to create memories that last a lifetime.

But as avid anglers and nature lovers, it’s our duty to ensure that these rivers remain as untouched and as pristine for future generations as they are today. Enter the “Leave No Trace” principles—a guide to sustainable fishing that every angler, novice or seasoned, should adopt.

Understanding the “Leave No Trace” Principles in Fly-Fishing Context:

The central philosophy of the “Leave No Trace” principles is simple: make as little impact as possible on the environment. When translated to fly-fishing on the Arkansas and Colorado rivers, it means:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Before you set foot on these iconic Colorado rivers, do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations pertaining to fishing in these areas. This may include:
    • Recognizing local fishing seasons and respecting them.
    • Knowing the limits of fish you can catch and keep.
    • Preparing for safe catch and release techniques.
    • Ensuring you have a valid fishing license.

person holding fishing pole

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stick to designated fishing spots along the Arkansas and Colorado rivers. Trampling riverbanks can cause erosion, which can in turn harm aquatic habitats. If you’re planning on camping on an overnight trip, choose established campsites far away from the stream.

tent at sunset

3. Dispose of Waste Properly: This goes beyond just taking your trash home. For anglers, it means:

    • Using biodegradable soaps if you must clean your gear on-site.
    • Properly disposing of fishing line. The leftover line can be fatal to wildlife if ingested or if they become entangled in it.

fishing pole and line

4. Leave What You Find:

    • Practice catch and release, using barbless hooks to avoid hurting the fish.
    • Keep fish under the water when preparing them for release.
    • As tempting as it might be to take home a unique rock or plant, resist the urge. Every element in nature, no matter how small, plays a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem.

A trout being held in water by two hands

5. Minimize Campfire Impact: If you’re camping alongside your fly-fishing expedition, use a camp stove for cooking rather than making a fire. Fires can cause lasting scars on the land and consume wood that aquatic species use for habitat.

6. Respect Wildlife: While fly-fishing on the Arkansas and Colorado rivers, you’re in the heart of nature. You might encounter various wildlife species. Always observe them from a distance, and never feed them.


7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: The serenity of the Colorado rivers is something everyone should be able to enjoy. Keep noise levels down, yield the trail to other anglers, and maintain a friendly demeanor. If driving a motorized boat, give right of way to non-motorized boats.

Benefits of Following “Leave No Trace” Principles:

By adhering to these principles, not only do you contribute to the conservation of the Arkansas and Colorado rivers, but you also:

  • Ensure a sustainable fishing future.
  • Preserve the natural habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species.
  • Foster a culture of respect and responsibility among the angling community.

person wading into river fishing

Fly-fishing on the Arkansas and Colorado rivers in Colorado offers a deep connection with nature. By incorporating the “Leave No Trace” principles into your fishing practices, you’re playing a crucial role in ensuring these beautiful rivers remain teeming with life and beauty for years to come.

Remember, it’s not just about the thrill of the catch—it’s about the legacy we leave behind. So, the next time you venture out with your fishing rod, embrace these principles and lead the way in sustainable fishing.

Whether you’re a novice angler looking for a guided trip or an expert seeking new challenges, consider our top-notch fly-fishing trips that emphasize sustainability and respect for Colorado’s majestic waterways. Embrace the “Leave No Trace” way of fishing, and dive deep into an unmatched angling experience!


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