Rain Changes Fishing Opportunities for some Southeast Region Lakes

John Martin Reservoir WEBCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –  Much needed precipitation has fallen on southeast Colorado through the spring and early summer, providing significant relief to this drought-stricken part of the state.

As an added benefit, several lakes that had been previously dry (or very low) have been refilled. Many of these lakes now provide excellent aquatic habitat for sustaining sport fisheries. Colorado Parks and Wildlife southeast region aquatic biologists have begun the work of evaluating habitat and, in some cases, stocking fish in several of these newly filled lakes.

Plans for rebuilding and managing fisheries at the newly filled waters are summarized as follows:

Ramah Reservoir (Ramah State Wildlife Area): Rain in early May completely filled the reservoir and it was actually spilling for a few days. The water level is currently about one foot below the spilling point. The boat ramp is now open and boating is allowed. The reservoir has been stocked with largemouth bass (fry and a hundred or so adults), bluegill (several hundred brood-adult) and black crappie (fry). Additional largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish are planned for the fall. In the past, fish have grown very quickly when this reservoir fills.

Palmer Lake: Palmer Lake is currently about two-thirds full and water is being added. No fish have been stocked to date. Water temperatures are being closely monitored and trout will be stocked as soon as conditions allow, likely in early September.

Upper Queens Lake: Currently, the lake has depths of over 20 feet. Water is now running into Lower Queens as lake levels continue to rise. Fish stocked so far include gizzard shad (forage), saugeye (fingerling), walleye (fingerling), largemouth bass (fry) and red-ear sunfish (brooder-adult and fingerling). Species planned for this fall include black crappie, channel catfish and blue catfish. Wipers will be introduced next spring as well as another full complement of the above mentioned species.

Nee Noshe Reservoir: Water levels have currently risen to the lower reaches of the low-water ramps. Large volumes of water were being added a few weeks ago, but flows have slowed significantly since then. CPW is closely watching developments at Nee Noshe to determine if lake levels will be high enough to sustain a fishery for a significant amount of time. CPW has already stocked gizzard shad (forage) and largemouth bass (fry). Other species will be added this fall and next spring if conditions allow.

Horse Creek Reservoir (Timber Lake): Currently, Timber Lake is almost full. Most of its water (all but 2,000 – 3,000 acre ft.) can be drained quickly for irrigation. According to the superintendent of the Ft. Lyon Canal Co., Jared Hoffman, no one knows how long water will be at Timber. It all depends on future river flows. CPW plans to introduce some species of fish this summer/fall. Gizzard shad (forage), largemouth bass and crappie have already been stocked. Channel catfish and blue catfish may go in this fall (fingerlings). If lake levels remain full, other warm water species will be added in spring 2016.

Holbrook Lake: Water levels remain high, but like Timber, the future is uncertain. All of Holbrook’s water can be drained in a short amount of time. Species that are tolerant of low-water conditions may be stocked this fall as supplies allow. Black crappie, channel catfish and blue catfish are being considered. All will be fingerling in size.

Thurston Lake: This lake is about 50 percent full. Water levels are too shallow to establish a fishery at this time. If the lake fills in the near future, gizzard shad (forage), largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish and bluegill will be stocked. All will be fingerling sized. As in years past, fish would grow quickly in Thurston’s productive waters.

John Martin Reservoir: After almost going dry in 2014, John Martin now contains over 300,000 acre ft. of water covering over 11,000 acres. The overgrown areas that are now flooded should provide excellent habitat for existing species, as well as providing added productivity and nutrients for stocked fish. Species available at John Martin include catfish (blue, channel and flathead), white bass, wiper, saugeye, walleye, bass (largemouth & smallmouth), bluegill and drum. All species should thrive in the large lake environment.

Adobe Creek Reservoir (Blue Lake): Water levels are higher than they have been in many years, with high water boat ramps currently in service. Spring fishing for crappie was outstanding and despite slowing, anglers can still catch good numbers of these fish. Catfish (blue and channel) are plentiful as well. Other species available include saugeye, wiper and drum. All species should do very well in the full-lake environment.

Lake Minnequa: This lake is the fullest it has been in quite some time. Biologists are closely monitoring water temperatures and pH levels. Rainbow trout will be stocked as soon as conditions allow, likely late in September. CPW intends to develop this lake into a warmwater fishery with seasonal trout plants.


CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 42 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.

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For more news about Colorado Parks and Wildlife go to: http://cpw.state.co.us

For more information about Colorado Parks and Wildlife go to: http://cpw.state.co.us.

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