Black Lakes near Vail Pass stocked with trout

Eagle River Water & Sanitation District stocks lakes with 2,500 pounds of “catchable” rainbow trout two times per year.


District employee Cody Birk, right, helps guide trout into Black Lake No. 2 on July 22, 2020.

The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District on July 22 stocked Black Lakes with 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout. This was the second stocking this year of 9- to 16-inch-long rainbow trout into the two Black Lakes, which are located adjacent to Interstate 70 near the Vail Pass exit.


The first stocking of 2,500 pounds of trout took place June 19. The fishery supplying the trout said the 2,500 pounds equates to more than 2,000 fish.


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.


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 EagleVail 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.


Liley Fisheries employee Joe Mosley, left, directs rainbow trout into Black Lake No. 1.

The lakes are currently “spilling” as water beyond each lake’s storage capacity flows over the spillway into Black Gore Creek. Black Lake No. 2 filled May 7 while Black Lake No. 1 filled May 17.


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. Black Lake No. 1 covers 27.7 acres and has a capacity of 527 acre-feet of water, nearly 172 million gallons, while Black Lake No. 2 covers 9.6 acres and has a capacity of 98 acre-feet of water or about 32 million gallons. The lakes are stocked proportionally, with about 80% of the 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout going into Black Lake No. 1 and the remaining fish stocking Black Lake No. 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.


For more information, contact customer service at 970-477-5451.