As Colorado prepares to drain Bonny Reservoir to help the state come into compliance with the Republican River Compact between Kansas and Nebraska, the Colorado Division of Wildlife will recommend lifting bag and possession limits on all sport fish caught at the southeastern Yuma County reservoir.
The Colorado Wildlife Commission will be asked to approve removing bag and possession limits at its May meeting in Salida. A press release issued Friday incorrectly stated that relaxed bag limits would go into effect May 1.
This fall, the State Engineer will begin to drain the reservoir to satisfy a legal obligation to release all the water to Kansas and Nebraska. The result will most likely be the loss of the entire fishery.
"Right now it is unknown how long it will take to drain the lake, but it looks like this might be the last year for fishing at Bonny," said DOW Area Wildlife Manager Cory Chick. "The Division wants anglers to have an opportunity to harvest as many fish as possible before the water is gone."
At present, the water level at Bonny Reservoir is about 18 feet below normal, but the boat ramp at the State Park is still operational.
Aquatic Biologist Gary Dowler said that recent sampling indicates that the overall number of sport fish is good, particularly for walleye and catfish. Numerous flathead catfish over 10 pounds were landed in 2010 and sampling efforts revealed a strong population of walleye with many fish over 20 inches.
But Dowling said he expects fishing for larger wipers and white bass to be fair to poor because large wipers and bass were impacted by low water levels over the past few years.
In addition to relaxing bag limits, the DOW will propose moving some of the sport fish to other reservoirs with public fishing.
"We typically are able to move no more than 10 percent of the fish," said Chick. "That is why we would like anglers to have an opportunity to try to catch as many as they can, too."
If the Commission approves the recommendation, recreational anglers will still need to have a valid Colorado fishing license, and must fill out a two-part form indicating the number and species of fish kept when they complete their fishing.
Boating and shore access could be closed as a safety precaution in the event that unstable banks and muddy conditions create a danger to anglers.
The reservoir will reach its lowest level when the water level drops to a point even with the outtake valve, which is expected to occur sometime in the fall or winter.
"We won't know the final depth of the reservoir until that happens, but it doesn't look like the boat ramps will ever be usable again past 2011," Chick said.
Bonny Reservoir was created in 1951 when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built a flood control dam on the South Fork of the Republican River.
Recreation on the reservoir, and the land on the east end of the lake, is managed by Colorado State Parks. The DOW manages the recreational use on the lands adjacent to the park and below the dam as the South Republican State Wildlife Area.
Please contact Colorado State Parks website for hours of operation, current boat launching conditions as well as camping information http://parks.state.co.us /.
For more information on the South Republican State Wildlife Area go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/LandWater/StateWildlifeAreas/ .
For more news about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/news/index.asp?DivisionID=3 
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us .