After drainage, Harvey Gap ready for spring fishing |

After drainage, Harvey Gap ready for spring fishing

Water levels at Harvey Gap Reservoir are expected to be back to normal by the end of March as officials expect good spring and summer fishing.

Harvey Gap Reservoir, one of Garfield County's prized fishing spots, is expected to be back to full water levels in time for spring fishing after being drained for inspection in October. Park Manager Brian Palcer said that by the third week of March fishing conditions will be normal at the reservoir.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northwest Senior Aquatic Biologist Lori Martin explained that after a successful inspection in October, the reservoir has been refilling all winter.

Silt Water Conservancy District lowered the water levels to inspect the dam and to look at the health of the lake and associated piping. The state recommends the dam be inspected once every 10 years.

In September, Martin said officials will be monitoring fish survival and CPW will bring compatible fish species back into the reservoir as necessary. But, after a productive ice fishing season, she said on Tuesday she feels good about fish survival.

"We can't be sure how many took advantage of the salvage," she explained, but after the reservoir began refilling CPW received numerous reports of people catching fish in a variety of species and sizes.

Before the reservoir was drained, CPW lifted minimum size, bag and possession limits for all species in the reservoir including tiger muskie, northern pike, channel catfish, black crappie, trout, yellow perch, bluegill, and largemouth and smallmouth bass.

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At the time, Martin said the fish may survive depending on weather and a variety of conditions, but officials could not be certain.

"It's a good sign that there was survival," she said. "We are predicting great spring and summer fishing at the reservoir."

Palcer said he expects shoreline fishing to greatly improve over the next two weeks and anticipates it being ice-free for April.

While fishing conditions may be back to normal this spring and summer, Harvey Gap's boating restriction will still be in place until additional funding is received.

Due to lack of funding, the boat ramp will remain closed because the agency doesn't have the resources to conduct aquatic nuisance species inspections.

While the ramp is closed, the only boats permitted are hand-launched vessels, which include rafts, kayaks, belly boats, float tubes, windsurfer boards, sail boards, paddle boards and canoes.

Palcer explained there is a bill going through the state legislature that would allow the reservoir to charge a boating fee to help pay for aquatic nuisance species inspections, but it won't be ready in time for 2018 fishing.