Map of Illipah Reservoir
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Illipah Reservoir was first created in 1953 when Illipah Creek was impounded for irrigation purposes. In an agreement with the landowner to a guarantee a minimum pool, the Department of Wildlife paid for the construction of a new dam and the reservoir was enlarged in 1981. Although located almost entirely on private land, the adjacent land is managed for recreational by BLM under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Wildlife. The public can access the entire reservoir.
At capacity, Illipah covers 70 surface acres to a maximum depth of 50 feet. Rainbow trout, stocked twice annually, and a self-sustaining population of brown trout currently inhabit the reservoir. A gill net survey in 2010 found the most abundant brown trout population since the late-1980s. Volunteer, angler drop-box survey data in 2011 found an average angler’s catch rate of 5.7 fish per day. Good fishing can be found year around, but it peaks in spring and fall. Winter ice fishing (December through February) can also be good. A boat is not essential as many anglers catch fish from shore. Power Bait, night crawlers, and salmon eggs work well for bait fishing. The usual selection of spinners and lures (Mepps and Panther Martins) also work. Fly fishing with prince nymphs, wooly buggers, sheep creek specials, and pheasant tails on a sinking line is popular. “Hard Water” anglers prefer to use bait with colored jigs.
Approximately 7,500, 9-inch rainbow trout will be stocked in the spring, with an additional 7,500 rainbow trout stocked in the fall.
Open year around, any time of the day or night. The limit is 5 trout.
A vessel must be operated at a speed that leaves a flat wake, but in no case may a vessel be operated at a speed in excess of 5 nautical miles per hour.
The BLM maintains campgrounds with picnic tables, fire pits, windscreens, vault toilets, and trash barrels. An undeveloped boat launch is available.
Travel 34 miles west of Ely on Highway 50, turning south (left) at the sign and follow the dirt road 1 ½ miles to the reservoir. Muddy conditions occur when the road is wet, so use caution.