Limits on fishing at the Crystal Creek Reservoir on Pikes Peak’s northern slope were lifted Wednesday, a perk of a Colorado Springs Utilities dam repair project.
The reservoir’s four-trout limit was suspended, allowing local anglers to take as many fish as they can catch.
People lined up at the reservoir ahead of the 9 a.m. Wednesday start, eagerly anticipating the start of the season.
“It’s all you can catch and keep day, no release, no limit,” John Shroka said Wednesday morning at the reservoir. “So everybody’s been waiting on this May 1st to get here.”
Utilities will be draining the reservoir through midsummer to expose the entire 84-year-old dam and bring it to modern standards, says a news release from Utilities.
So Colorado Parks and Wildlife called for an “emergency fish salvage” to make use of the brook, brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout that otherwise would die.
“It’s my understanding they’re going to be draining the reservoir to do work on the dam, so in Colorado’s wisdom — and greatness, I think — they want to make sure all of the fish are out of here, so it’s open for all of the fisherpeople for as many as you can catch,” said Sonya Zamora, who also was at the reservoir Wednesday.
“I think that’s great, instead of wasting fish at the bottom of a puddle.”
The reservoir stores drinking water, but the project won’t harm Colorado Springs’ supply because the water can be moved to other reservoirs, the news release says.
Officials can’t be sure how long the project will take until they can assess the dam’s dry surface, but Utilities expects construction to continue through 2020 and the reservoir to be refilled in 2021.
The 136-acre reservoir, which sits at 9,230 feet, is one of three Utilities reservoirs in the North Slope Recreation Area, accessible via the Pikes Peak Highway toll road. Harvesting limits will remain in place at the other two reservoirs, North and South Catamount. Visitors ages 16 and older must pay a $5 admission fee to the recreation area.
Anglers must be licensed and use legal fishing methods during the recreation area’s open hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 1-May 23 and 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 24 through Labor Day.
The Gazette’s Katie Klann contributed to this report.