Below you will find definitions:
Many quality recreational fisheries are informally referred to as Blue Ribbon by government agencies, tourist, media, environmental, sportsman organizations and writers, but are not officially designated as such by established criteria."
Criteria as used by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Specific criteria may vary by state.
- Water quality and quantity: A body of water, warm or cold, flowing or flat, will be considered for Blue Ribbon status if it has sufficient water quality and quantity to sustain a viable fishery.
- Water accessibility: The water must be accessible to the public.
- Natural reproduction capacity: The body of water should possess a natural capacity to produce and maintain a sustainable recreational fishery. There must be management strategies that will consistently produce fish of significant size and/or numbers to provide a quality angling experience.
- Angling pressure: The water must be able to withstand angling pressure.
- Specific species: Selection may be based on a specific species.
It appears these definitions began in Missouri and have filtered into other states' fisheries:
"Missouri Trout Management Areas" From Ozark Fly Fishers.org: