Fishing limits lifted at Harvey Gap for repairs |

Fishing limits lifted at Harvey Gap for repairs

Ryan Hoffman
Anglers cast their lines out on Harvey Gap Reservoir as light rain falls Thursday evening.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is calling on anglers with a state fishing license to catch and keep as many fish as they want at Harvey Gap Reservoir, which is in the process of being drained.

CPW initiated an emergency fish salvage earlier this week, following an announcement from the Silt Water Conservancy District that it would be draining the reservoir in order to inspect a dam outlet structure.

The reservoir is not being drained 100 percent, but water levels will be much lower than the typical end-of-summer water level decrease, said Mike Porras, public information officer for CPW’s northwest region.

The water conservancy district has indicated it wants to have the reservoir mostly drained by the end of October, Porras added. It will remain largely empty until the inspection is complete.

The reservoir is a popular fishing destination located in Harvey Gap State Park north of Silt.

For the last fiscal year, which spans from July to June, the park recorded 16,940 visitors, a significant increase from the 12,195 visitors the previous year, according to Brian Palcer, park manager for Rifle state park complex. He attributed the spike in visitors to higher water levels in the reservoir.

CPW has used emergency salvages elsewhere in the state for different reasons, Porras said.

The salvage announced Wednesday removes bag limits and allows anglers with a valid Colorado fishing license to catch, using legal tackle only, and keep as many fish as they want.

Illegal tactics — such as explosives, firearms, archery, electricity, toxicants, gigs, jugs and trotlines — remain prohibited.

Nighttime fishing restrictions also are now lifted, although overnight camping and pets remain prohibited.

The salvage only pertains to Harvey Gap, and a valid state park pass is still required.

According to a press release from CPW, the gap currently offers tiger muskie, northern pike, channel catfish, black crappie, trout, yellow perch, bluegill, and largemouth and smallmouth bass.

CPW does intend to restock the reservoir after it is refilled, but when that might be and what type of fish will be stocked both remain unknown.

If the conservancy district discovers issues that require future repairs, CPW will wait until those repairs are completed, even if that means refilling the reservoir and draining it again later to complete repairs.

Additionally, the type of fish will differ. CPW intends to restock with popular fish and approved species, which means northern pike, smallmouth bass and yellow perch will not be restocked.

Other factors must be considered, which means there is no guarantee that all the other fish will be restocked, Porras said.

CPW urges caution due to the deep mud that will be present while the reservoir is drained, and anglers planning to launch a boat should call 970-625-1607 to get the latest conditions.

Park passes are available at self service stations at Harvey Gap State Park, as well as at the visitor center at nearby Rifle Gap State Park.

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