May 19, 2013
The US Forest Service will be closing the road to North Fork Reservoir at the Angel of Shavano Campground starting July 23rd. The road will be closed until late August. There was tremendous blowdown of timber along the North Fork corridor this spring and the situation is unsafe. USFS crews will use this time to clear the timber. As a result, North Fork Reservoir and Billings, Island, and Arthur Lakes will all be inaccessible by the North Fork Road for the rest of the summer.
The lakes at the upper end of the North Fork of the South Arkansas River have excellent fisheries for those willing to drive the rough, high clearance road up from Maysville (about an hour). North Fork Reservoir is a large impoundment best approached from a small boat or float tube. There is a USFS campground there and it is a good base point for approaching the other lakes. Billings Lake is a shallow lake that is a short walk from the parking spot (10 minutes) and has a healthy population of small cutthroats. Casting is easy around most of the lake as there are few trees and the shoreline is easily negotiated. Island Lake is a thirty minute hike from the trailhead and sits high and to the west of the Reservoir. Island has some truly large cutthroats in its depths and sits in a spectacular cirque right at treeline. The more intrepid can try for Arthur Lake, another deep haunt of large cutthroats, by hiking south on the trail from Island Lake. This is a hike for folks who are in shape and those who go there should be prepared for the full range of alpine weather.