Colorado Parks and Wildlife has lifted the bag limit for fishing on Groundhog Reservoir from July 9 to Oct. 31.
The lake 30 miles north of Dolores is being drained by the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co. for dam outlet repairs.
The Edith Jarmon Youth Fishing Tournament on July 23 has been canceled because of low water.
The emergency public fish salvage was implemented because lowering water levels have created poor water quality for fish and loss of habitat.
“Anyone with a valid license can catch as much as they want; there is no size limit,” said John Livingston, spokesman for CPW’s Southwest region.
The emergency regulation does not pertain to any portion of Groundhog Creek above or below the reservoir or Nash Creek above the reservoir.
CPW wants to provide the opportunity for the public to harvest fish from Groundhog and put them to use in the frying pan, smoker or grill before they perish from low oxygen levels and warming water, Livingston said.
The reservoir contains rainbow and cutbow trout, and some Colorado River cutthroat.
Bag and possession limits for the reservoir are removed for the duration of the salvage.
Anglers can keep all the fish they catch by lawful methods allowed at the lake, but must have a valid 2022 Colorado fishing license. Commercial angling is not allowed.
Anglers will experience changing conditions and a muddy approach to the water as the operation progresses.
When repairs are completed and the reservoir regains adequate water, CPW will restock the reservoir with hundreds of mostly rainbows and cutbows, and occasionally with Colorado River cutthroat.
The draining of the lake has impacted recreation at the Groundhog campground. Boat rentals have been suspended because of the dam repairs and lake conditions.
The dam upgrade, called Groundhog Outlet Modification Project, will install a guard gate system that allows future reservoir infrastructure work without draining the lake, said MVIC General Manager Brandon Johnson.
“It is totally new and allows us to make repairs more efficiently,” he said.
The project includes partial demolition of existing concrete intake structure and existing gates; construction of a concrete structure; installation of three hydraulically operated slide gates; construction of concrete grade beam and trash rack material unit; installation of hydraulic pressure unit for gate control and construction of 10 foundation piles.
The project is expected to be substantially completed by Nov. 1.