Emergency public fish salvage begins immediately at Barr Lake
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is announcing an emergency public fish salvage at Barr Lake State Park beginning Friday, Sept. 4.
Due to a combination of extremely low water levels, high water temperatures and a previous algae bloom, a major loss of fish is probable. CPW enacted the public fish salvage in order to optimize use of the fishery resource.
“We are experiencing low dissolved oxygen levels in the lake,” Barr Lake State Park Manager Michelle Seubert said. “This is one of the many factors we look at when determining if a public fish salvage is needed. We had an algae bloom in July and August in about 20,000 acre-feet of water that grew algae and now all that algae is dying in about 4,000 acre-feet of water. So, lots of decomposition in a small body of water is contributing to the low dissolved oxygen levels.”
The public fish salvage is outline as:
-- The emergency fish salvage is permitted only at Barr Lake State Park Reservoir and only during daylight hours (sunrise to ˝ hour after sunset).
-- All anglers must have a valid Colorado fishing license in accordance with state statutes.
-- No commercial angling is allowed.
-- Only angling methods that are currently legal at the reservoir are allowed.
-- Current size, bag, and possession limits for all species are suspended for Barr Lake State Park Reservoir until the emergency public fish salvage is terminated.
-- Notification of the emergency public fish salvage opening and closure will be made through press releases and signs will also be placed at the reservoir.
-- No motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are allowed on the lake bed.
-- The end date of the emergency public fish salvage will be announced by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Like most of Colorado’s reservoirs, Barr Lake serves as a water storage reservoir first and is used as a recreational source secondarily. Barr Lake offers fishing for rainbow trout, walleye, wiper, black crappie and yellow perch.
Seubert said Barr Lake had similar water levels in 2012 and 2013 and the fishery rebounded to have one of the best walleye years in 2016.
“We will rebuild the fishery immediately when we can have water coming back into Barr Lake,” Seubert said.
Barr Lake’s popularity has exploded and fishing has become one of the many attractions to the park. In 2016, total visitation at the state park was 140,329 for the entire year. Through July of 2020, the total visitation was 184,665, easily surpassing the high visitation tally on record in just seven months.
Some of that is attributed to the bird oasis Barr Lake has become. Wintering bald eagles also utilize the fishery resource along with the large cottonwood trees that surround the 8.8-mile trail around the reservoir.
“I truly think the eagles will still come,” Seubert said. “We will still have some fish. Right now we have 150-200 pelicans on the lake and fishing seems to be good for them. We might not have as many, but in previous drought years we still had eagles.”
Barr Lake has many activities to offer in the fall season, including its archery range, bird-banding station, fall bird migration watching opportunities along with dove and waterfowl hunting. The park offers lots of kids and family activities and its nature center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The boat ramp at Barr Lake State Park is closed for trailered boats, but still open for hand-launched boats.