Steamboat Springs For trout fishermen who want to put food in the freezer, the time is now and the place is Dumont Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife managers temporarily have lifted bag and possession limits on trout at Dumont Lake on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass in preparation for draining the lake to make dam repairs. That means Parks and Wildlife is encouraging people to catch and eat the rainbow and brook trout in the lake that wouldn’t survive anyway.
“This lake is considered an above-average fishery and is currently stocked with catchable, 10-inch rainbow trout that we don’t want to see go to waste,” Northwest Region senior biologist Sherman Hebein said. “As they have in the past, we anticipate that anglers will assist in the effort to quickly salvage the fish.”
Using hook and line with conventional tackle, anglers will be allowed to catch as many fish as they can during daylight hours. Snagging or the use of dip nets also will be allowed. However, the use of explosives, toxicants, firearms or electricity will remain illegal.
Draining operations will begin as soon as possible, and the lake is due to be drained completely before the temporary lifting of restrictions ends Oct. 31.
The drastic measures are necessitated by recently detected structural damage to the Muddy Creek Dam, Parks and Wildlife officials wrote in a news release. The dam, adjacent to a picnic area and campground within sight of the Rabbit Ears rock formation, contains 220 acre-feet of water.
All anglers are required to have a valid Colorado fishing license, and the usual restrictions will remain in place at all other lakes in the area.
The dam repairs are scheduled to be completed next year, and managers will resume stocking the lake with catchable-size rainbow trout once the lake is refilled.
Parks and Wildlife officials urge anglers to be wary of deep mud that could be revealed as the lake is drained.
Those with questions about the lake and the fish salvage should call the Parks and Wildlife Hot Sulphur Springs office at 970-725-6200.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com