Black Lakes on Vail Pass stocked with rainbow trout |

Black Lakes on Vail Pass stocked with rainbow trout

Daily staff report
Joe Mercer, of Denver, hooks one of the rainbow trout that was stocked in Black Lake No. 1 on Friday. Mercer said has been fishing the Black Lakes atop Vail Pass for “years.”
Special to the Daily |

VAIL — Eagle River Water & Sanitation District stocked Black Lakes with 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout on Friday. This is the first stocking this year of 10- to 16-inch-long rainbow trout into the two Black Lakes, which are located adjacent to Interstate 70 near the Vail Pass exit.

The fishery supplying the trout says the 2,500 pounds equates to more than 1,000 fish. The final stocking of 2,500 pounds of trout is scheduled for early July.

The trout are raised by a Boulder-based fishery that is licensed and health-inspected by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which annually tests the fishery’s trout to ensure each lot is healthy and free of disease.


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The district stocks the lakes annually with “catchable rainbow trout” under the terms of a 1986 agreement with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The two cold-water reservoirs are operated as part of the water supply system developed by the district, which is responsible for the public water system serving the town of Vail and by contract, communities from Eagle-Vail through Cordillera.

At various times of the year, the district releases water from the two lakes into Black Gore Creek that flows into Gore Creek, which runs through the town of Vail.

The released water augments Gore Creek streamflows and can be used per district water rights. The lakes are currently “spilling” as remaining snowpack melts and water beyond the storage capacity flows over the spillway into Black Gore Creek. Black Lake No. 2 is filled in early May while Black Lake No. 1 is filled in late May.

Both lakes are visible from Interstate 70, sitting to the west of Vail Pass at an elevation of 10,500 feet, and are easily accessed by the public. Black Lake No. 1 covers about 27 acres and has a capacity of 527 acre-feet of water, nearly 172 million gallons, while Black Lake No. 2 covers about 9 acres and has a capacity of 98 acre-feet of water or nearly 32 million gallons. The lakes are stocked proportionally, with about 80 percent of the 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout going into Black Lake 1 and the remaining fish stocking Black Lake 2.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife partners with the district to operate Black Lake No. 2 in support of fishing, wildlife habitat and recreation. Information on fishing licenses and fees is available online at

For information about district operations, go to or call 970-476-7480

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