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Emergency Catch-It-All Fishing Allowed at 2 Reservoirs

G&F News Digest: Low water, drought, dam repairs result in no limits on all fish species at Malheur (OR), Johnstown (CO) reservoirs.

Emergency Catch-It-All Fishing Allowed at 2 Reservoirs

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Oregon and Colorado are lifting virtually all fishing limits on two reservoirs needing its gamefish species removed before they simply die off.

Extremely low water level at one lake, and emergency dam repairs on another prompted the reg changes.

It's great news for anglers as the state agencies try to optimize use of the resources at the troubled waters. As long as an angler has a fishing license, he or she can catch-and-keep everything caught.

Oregon's Malheur Reservoir

Oregon Fish & Wildlife have lifted daily and minimum and maximum size limits for all species of fish through the end of the year at Malheur Reservoir near Ontario, Ore. Gear limits also are removed.

The reg change was forced due to drought conditions. The reservoir is at a very low water level after low winter and spring precipitation and exceptionally hot weather this summer. Fish kills are expected this winter, the agency said, adding "ODFW staff have observed fish kills during previous winters when such conditions exist."

"I'm not one to take lightly the liberalization of limits and gear restrictions but given the current water levels and past experience we expect fish will die during the winter due to low oxygen levels," ODFW District Fish Biologist Dave Banks said. "My goal with the removal of limits and gear restrictions is to provide opportunities for anglers to use these fish."

Malheur has a variety of gamefish species, including rainbow trout and smallmouth bass.

Trout stockings are planned next spring to rebuild the fishery.

"Malheur Reservoir is a productive waterbody that will grow three-to-four-inch fingerling rainbow trout stocked in the spring into eight-to-11-inch fish by the fall," ODFW said.

Find more info here

Colorado's Johnstown Reservoir

Fearing the entire fishery may be lost, Colorado Parks and Wildlife enacted "emergency public fish salvage" regulations at Johnstown Reservoir in advance of emergency repairs at the dam. There are no size, bag and possession limits until Nov. 1, after which the Town of Johnstown will drain the lake and make the repairs.

The emergency regs include:

  • The emergency fish salvage is permitted only at Johnstown Reservoir and only during daylight hours (sunrise to ½ 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 Johnstown 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.
  • Angling is prohibited from the dam located on the east side of the reservoir, as well as 500 feet west of the dam along the north and south shoreline.
  • Anglers shall assume any and all liability and shall hold the Town of Johnstown harmless from any and all damages, either direct or consequential.
  • A Town of Johnstown angling permit will be waived for anglers during the emergency salvage.


Johnstown Reservoir has been stocked with trout, and other species include largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, common carp, channel catfish, black and white crappie and walleye.

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