Barker Reservoirs (North Creek Lakes)

Image of Barker Reservoirs (North Creek Lakes)

This area is an extreme southwest extension of Boulder Mountain. The area was developed for sport fishing recreation beginning with a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources project that dates back to 1959. At that time, water rights were acquired from the local irrigation company allowing storage for fisheries in the headwaters of the North Creek drainage. In 1960 plans were developed in cooperation with the Forest Service to build a number of small dams, reservoirs, and canal systems that supplied water and formed small lakes in natural basins. These waters and canals have been re-built a number of times and continue to be maintained today.

Fish-able lakes include: Barker Reservoir, Lower Barker Reservoir, Blue Lake, Flat Lake, Yellow Lake, Joe Lay Reservoir, Dougherty Basin Lake, Tall Four Lake, Round Willow Bottoms Reservoir, Long Willow Bottoms Reservoir, and other beaver ponds. The gravel access road extends to within a few hundred feet of Barker and Lower Barker Reservoir, and a trail system provides walk-in access to the other waters. The Barker reservoirs provide good fishing for rainbow and brook trout. Flat, Yellow, and Joe Lay contain brook trout.

Dougherty Basin and Tall Four contain native Colorado River cutthroat trout originating from local streams and are used as brood stock lakes. Each spring, eggs are taken from the wild cutthroat trout in these lakes and propagated in State Fish Hatcheries. The fish are then used to stock many other lakes on Boulder Mountain and other locations throughout southern Utah. Because of the need to maintain high numbers of larger fish for egg production, special fishing rules apply at Dougherty Basin and the fishing proclamation should be checked before fishing this water.

Long and Round Willow Bottoms contain a combination of native cutthroat trout and tiger trout. The tiger trout are a sterile hybrid cross between a female brown trout and male brook trout. Because they are sterile it prevents hybridization with the native cutthroat and the total number of tiger trout can be controlled by stocking. Native cutthroat spawn in the inlets and outlets at the Willow Bottom reservoirs.

Bank fishing with bait, lures, and flies are popular methods of fishing at all of the lakes, but bank access is restricted in many areas because of extensive marshy shorelines. A fly and bubble combination with spinning tackle is a good shallow water method. Float tubes work well on most lakes. The area is generally accessible June through October. Other nearby fisheries include North Creek, North Creek Reservoir, Wide Hollow Reservoir, Calf Creek, Posey Lake, and other Boulder Mountain lakes.

Latest fishing report

The Willow Bottom reservoirs are closed to fishing until April 20. Lakes should have safe ice, but snow is making it difficult to access the area. (Last update 02-13-19)


  • Location: Southern Utah, Garfield County, NW of Escalante
  • Directions: 20 miles northwest of Escalante, on a gravel Forest Service road
  • Type: Fishing
  • Size: 1-12 acres
  • Elevation: 9500-9850 ft
  • Hours: No restrictions
  • Likely catch: Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Tiger Trout
  • Possible catch: Splake
  • Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
  • Site amenities: A Forest Service campground is located nearby with facilities for large and small groups. Pack-in camping sites located at many lakes. Gasoline, stores, and lodging available in Escalante.
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