Willow Creek Reservoir Drawdown and Dam Repairs

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 broken equipment.

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.