Aquatic Life

8/28/23 Advisory from Colorado Parks & Wildlife about fish in Ridgway Reservoir:

To address concerns of anglers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife submitted fish from Ridgway Reservoir and the San Miguel River to be analyzed for metal contaminations. The results showed fish from these bodies of water are safe to eat as long as people follow statewide fish consumption guidelines.

Public concern stemmed from historic mining activity along the Uncompahgre River valley as well as the San Miguel River. CPW aquatic biologist Eric Gardunio heard the longstanding rumors from anglers regarding consumption of fish in these areas and submitted several samples to a state toxicologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) as well as CPW’s water quality monitoring section.

Read the full news release:

The amount of cadmium, copper, lead, silver, zinc, and pH (acidity) in several streams in the Upper Uncompahgre Watershed do not meet standards used to protect aquatic life. Fish, macroinvertebrates, and other aquatic species are often more sensitive to metals than humans because these species spend most of their lives in or near water, including during very sensitive early stages of life. As a result, aquatic-life standards often are more stringent and more protective than human-health standards. So, eating limited amounts of local fish is safe for your health.

The image below from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has guidelines for eating fish including those commonly found in our watershed like several trout species, Kokanee salmon and smallmouth bass. You can download to save or print your own copy of the image with this file link.

Want to find out about fishing conditions in the Uncompahgre River? Check out the fishing reports from RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service, a locally owned Ridgway small business and supporter of UWP.