Shagwa is located in west Red Feather Lakes, reachable by Hiawatha Highway. While it's one of our smaller lakes, it is also one of our better producing fisheries. It's our shallowest lake so we augment it with aeration, which is why it has open water year around. Not only is Shagwa an excellent fishery, it's also a favorite place for waterfowl and moose.

Donaldson trout Fishing - Shagwa is a prolific fishery that is one of our best producing lakes. It has a wonderful eco-system for plankton which supports all the bug hatches that happen during the course of the season. Due to its size and ability to host fly fishing, it's one of our two catch and release lakes. Presently Shagwa is only stocked with Donaldson rainbows (see photo), which are a variety of rainbows that are more expensive but grow a little faster than some of our other trout varieties. Donaldsons are an aggressive fighting fish and prone to jumping more when hooked. Overall, we're carefully managing the lake to allow the minnows, crayfish and insects to further establish themselves in the fishery.

Two things to note for fishermen:

History - Shagwa was originally a classic irrigation reservoir, providing water to the hay meadows between it and Papoose, and into the pastures of what is now Apache. It was decreed in 1919 and used exclusively for irrigation until the early 60's. At that time, the Board decided to see how fishing might fare in such a small lake. It was quickly proven to be a prolific grower of fish, but its shallow depths didn't allow the fish to winter. In the late 60's when the Board was trying its hand at raising fish in Papoose, the dam was raised in order to release a little water to aid in harvesting the fish in Papoose. This added volume of water allowed the fish in Shagwa to survive most winters, thus producing large fish. In the 80's the Board added aeration of the lake in order to further prevent the occasional winter kills of the fish. In the 90's the dam was refurbished, and the lake was turned into the Company's first "Catch and Release" lake. The larger fish resulted in more fishermen per surface acre than any of our other lakes. Shagwa has also been one of the harder lakes to manage. Its shallow depth and prolific ability to grow water plants (from algae to rooted aquatic plants), has led us to control them with chemicals and grass carp. Even then, we've experienced several summer kills, and in the 2000's had to eradicate a perch infestation.

Shagwa depth contour

Rehabilitation of Shagwa - on June 27th 2015, we experienced a near 100% fish kill at Shagwa. We closed Shagwa to any further fishing and conducted several water tests in July and August of 2015. The early tests showed trace amounts of E.coli, which means sewage was entering the lake, and while not at the level to be a human health hazard it was sufficient to impact the fishery. Fortunately, water quality tests of the source water, and at Hiawatha and Papoose showed no water quality issues. We consulted with Larimer County Health Department and gained their support as we worked to find the source(s) of contamination.

Investigation work during 2016

Work in 2017

Shagwa dredging 10.20 Shagwa dredging 11.24

Work in 2018

2019 - In April we stocked Donaldson rainbows and opened the lake for fishing in May. The Donaldson's are a very aggressive fish when feeding and when caught will jump and run. Our fishermen have really enjoyed catching (and releasing) these Donaldson rainbows. We presently plan to have Shagwa be an exclusive Donaldson rainbow fishery. Our fish Biologist’s forage survey this summer determined the fathead minnows, crayfish and insect populations are in great shape.