Archive photo of Jumbo Reservoir (courtesy of Mandi Brandt/CPW)
BRUSH, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife is announcing an emergency public fish salvage at Jumbo (Julesburg) Reservoir effective immediately (Monday, July 25).
Due to high irrigation demand created by severe drought, the water level in Jumbo Reservoir is expected to decline to a point that will likely result in a loss of the entire fishery resource. Water levels are expected to be below the boat ramp in early August, which would eliminate access for trailer-launched boats.
The public salvage is being announced in order to optimize use of the fishery resource as outlined:
— The emergency fish salvage is permitted only at Jumbo (Julesburg) Reservoir from sunrise to one half 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. Learn more by clicking here.
— Current size, bag, and possession limits for all species are suspended for Jumbo (Julesburg) 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.
— If weather conditions change and significant rain events occur near Jumbo Reservoir, CPW may rescind this public salvage.
— No motorized vehicles, including dirt bikes, ATVs, or UTVs, are allowed on the lake bed.
— The end date of the emergency public fish salvage will be announced by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
If the fishery resource is lost, CPW plans to rebuild Jumbo’s fishery as soon as water levels allow, according to local fisheries biologist Mandi Brandt.
“It is very unfortunate to possibly lose such an incredible and popular fishery,” Brandt said. “The fishery plays an important role in the local economy. This public salvage provides a great opportunity for anglers to take advantage of the current resource in Jumbo Reservoir, which includes walleye, saugeye, crappie, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish.”
Fortunately, CPW has experience rebuilding fisheries and will plan on doing just that when adequate water levels return to Jumbo.
If the fishery at Jumbo needs to be rebuilt, anglers are encouraged to fish the other reservoirs on Colorado’s northeastern plains.
“North Sterling and Prewitt Reservoirs both have great walleye and crappie populations for anglers to utilize, and Jackson Reservoir is a great walleye and wiper fishery.”
Similar to all northeastern plains reservoirs, Jumbo Reservoir was constructed to store irrigation water for agricultural use. Water used to fill the reservoir is diverted from the South Platte River between the towns of Proctor and Crook, and flows through a 22-mile earthen inlet canal before reaching the reservoir.
First filled in 1907, Jumbo Reservoir is 115 years old. Since the primary function of Jumbo Reservoir is to store irrigation water, water levels routinely drop during the irrigation season. During a typical year, water levels are drawn down by approximately 15 feet. During dry years more water is needed for agricultural purposes, drastically reducing water levels and creating many fish management challenges.
Due to severe drought conditions, the reservoir was completely drained in the early fall of 2006. Severe drought conditions returned in 2012 and 2020, resulting in CPW initiating public fish salvages in those years.
General Information: Jumbo Reservoir is a 1,578 acre water (at full capacity) located on the Jumbo State Wildlife Area. Fishing pressure is moderate to high.
Location: Logan and Sedgwick Counties. From I-76 take Exit 155 and head 3 miles north to Hwy 138. Take Hwy 138 1 mile northeast to CR 95. Take CR 95 2 miles north to the reservoir.