The Willow Creek Reservoir,
located approximately 75 miles from Elko in Northwest Elko County, has drained
completely with a total loss of the reservoir storage and associated warmwater
fishery after the gate actuators and valve on the dam gate became broken and
stuck open. This resulted in rapid reservoir level drawdown with no repair
options available without complete draining of the reservoir to access the
Barrick, owner of Willow
Creek Reservoir, contacted Nevada Department of Wildlife Fisheries personnel
and informed them of the malfunction and decreasing water levels in mid-November.
As of November 21 the reservoir had drained completely.
NDOW fisheries personnel
were unable to salvage game fish due to a wet weather pattern and unfavorable
shoreline conditions associated with dropping water levels that limit salvage
success and vehicle access.
Willow Creek Reservoir is a
popular recreation destination for Elko, Humboldt and Lander county
residents. Known for good catch rates
and quality size white crappie, the fishery was rebounding nicely from the
extended drought of 2012-2015.
Restocking efforts of white crappie, channel catfish and black bass
species had occurred and the popularity of the fishery became prominent in the
summer of 2017, with noticeable increases in angling and camping presence
throughout the summer and fall.
Beginning in spring 2018, in
coordination with Barrick, NDOW will begin the rebuilding and restocking
efforts of Willow Creek Reservoir if habitat conditions and equipment
infrastructure allow. It is estimated to take 3-5 years under ideal conditions
to return warmwater game fish populations to sustainable levels.
Although unfortunate in
timing for this year, the productivity of Willow Creek Reservoir has
demonstrated that it can produce quality recreational fishing opportunities for
Nevada residents and visitors alike.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW)
protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing,
hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts
are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal
surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat
conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination
license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.