CHEYENNE - Even though snowpack has been below average in most drainages this year,fishing is expected to be very good as the favorable precipitation of the past few years continues to have a positive effect on Wyoming fisheries.
With the lower snowpack, the runoff should be over sooner this year which means streams and rivers will be in good fishable condition weeks earlier than the last few years. The good water levels of the recent past arecarrying over and boat ramps are generally accessible. Here is a rundown of what anglers and boaters can expect in Wyoming waters in 2015:
In the Jackson area, fishing should be good in popular rivers such as the Snake, Hoback, and Greys. Due to a smaller snowpack this year the runoff is not anticipated to take as long as last year and depending on runoff rate, rivers should be fishable by early summer. As is customary, the higher elevation lakes will be very good later in the summer.
This spring Pinedale area anglers have been fishing and floating the Green and New Fork Rivers and these waters will continue to be productive until the runoff increases river flows. But, as with other western Wyoming waters the low snowpack will shorten the runoff period. Fishing is anticipated to be good throughout the summer. Ice is off Fremont, Boulder, and Halfmoon lakes and now is a good time to fish for rainbows and lake trout. Meadow Lake and CCC pond are also ice free.
The Bighorn River near Thermopolis continues to be excellent with many large trout available for anglers. The extended period of runoff in 2014 may have affected the growth and condition of trout in Buffalo Bill Reservoir, so expect the fish to be a bit on the thin side for the beginning of 2015. Many of the rainbows, cutthroats, and cutbows from Buffalo Bill Reservoir washed into the Shoshone River through Cody in 2014 and anglers have been catching many of these large trout through this past winter. Upper and Lower Sunshine reservoirs remained near full through 2014, and those waters are expected to be producing some great angling opportunities in 2015. Fishing on Big Horn Lake will be open by early May and fishing is expected to be good especially for channel catfish. Sauger fishing on the lake typically is at its best in the fall months.
Fishing in the Sheridan area is anticipated to be very good this summer. The Bighorn Mountains have numerous high lakes with excellent fishing and are expected to be accessible by early summer. One of the most popular streams in the Bighorns is the North Tongue River where anglers can find cutthroats up to 20 inches as well as rainbow, brown and brook trout. For anglers up for a hike into the canyon, the Outlaw Cave section of The Middle Fork of the Powder River west of Kaycee is another excellent stream producing rainbows and browns up to 20 inches. The Bighorn Mountains also has numerous high lakes with excellent fishing and are expected to be accessible by early summer. The popular lower reservoirs in the region are full and fishing is good especially in the spring. Keyhole Reservoir will provide good to excellent walleye and northern pike fishing. There is a large population of northern pike that are just under the 30-inch minimum size limit required to harvest a northern. Crappie anglers at Keyhole should also find angling pretty good in 2015. Anglers at Lake DeSmet will find many rainbow trout in the 18-inch size range. The lake also has cutthroats and trophy brown trout and some large walleyes. Healy Reservoir is another water where anglers can find a variety of fish. Best known for its abundant yellow perch population, the lake also has tiger musky and largemouth bass.
In the Green River region, anglers are currently experiencing good fishing opportunities in the major waters, and the good fishing is expected to continue. On Flaming Gorge, fishing for rainbow trout and small lake trout from both shore and boat has been productive. As water temperatures warm into the mid-50s, kokanee fishing should start picking up. Anglers at Fontenelle Reservoir have been treated to some fast action on rainbow and brown trout from shore this spring. As with Flaming Gorge, boat action picks up as water temperatures warm in June. Kokanee fishing should pick up this year in Fontenelle, but the schools of fish can be spotty. Anglers who catch a kokanee are advised to circle back through the same area as this tactic will oftentimes produce additional bites. Other waters expected to be good include Viva Naughton and Kemmerer City reservoirs north of Kemmerer on the Hams Fork River. Both have produced good angling opportunities for rainbow trout the past few years and are expected to be equally good this year. Viva Naughton was also stocked with tiger trout last year and fisheries managers are watching to see the growth rates the next few years
Fishing at the Jim Bridger Pond right next to the power plant has been producing nice fish for anglers this spring and should continue into the summer. Many fish are between 15 and 20 inches with some fish over 20 inches. Jim Bridger pond has rainbow and cutthroat trout as well as smallmouth bass. Tiger trout were first stocked in the pond last year and should be 10-12 inches long by June. They will grow fast and could reach impressive sizes in a few years.
The Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir supports good populations of rainbow trout and brown trout and the Game and Fish also stocks Snake River and Bonneville cutthroat trout in the river. The fishing in the Green River has been good the last couple years as a result of favorable water levels in the river and the Game and Fish stocking of 8-inch rainbow trout the last few years. Anglers are cautioned to review the fishing regulations and to make certain they are in compliance on the section of river they are fishing.
In the Laramie region, water levels in reservoirs are good and ramps are accessible thanks to a good carryover of water from previous wet years. Based on recent sampling by Laramie fisheries managers, fishing on the Laramie Plains lakes is expected to be the best it has been in a number of years. As example, rainbows sampled in Twin Buttes, averaged nearly 17.5 inches and more than 80 percent were over 16-inches long. In Alsop, it was even better with rainbows averaging more than 22 inches with many five to six pound fish. Fish were also large in Gelatt Lake, averaging nearly 19 inches for the rainbows and more than 17 inches for cutthroats. Twenty percent of the fish sampled in Gelatt were over 20 inches. Meeboer Lake, which has been a victim of winter kill in many years, produced numerous fish this year with rainbows in the 16-18 inch category including one 22 inch fish that weighed in at 6.5 pounds. Spring surveys in Leazenby, showed good numbers of brook and rainbow trout. Wheatland Reservoir #3 has good populations of larger brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout with many fish over 20 inches. Fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass in Grayrocks reservoir is also expected to be very good. Anglers are reminded that the 15-inch minimum size limit on bass has been removed from Grayrocks and anglers can now keep three bass, but no more than one can exceed 12 inches. High lakes in the Snowy Range should again offer good fishing with brook, rainbow, cutthroat and splake available. The popular upper North Platte River should also be productive this year and depending on the rate of runoff, should be in fishable condition by mid June.
In central Wyoming, walleye numbers are increasing in Boysen Reservoir and should lead to good fishing for 18-19 inch walleye this year. The reservoir also has a large number of 16-18 inch sauger and anglers are advised to know the difference between the species as there are separate limits for each. Rainbow trout numbers are good in Boysen and fishing this year is expected to be good. Walleye numbers in nearby Ocean Lake are below average, but there are a number of fish in the 16-18 inch range. High lakes in the Wind River Mountains have a variety of species including rainbow, cutthroat, brook and golden trout and fishing is generally excellent. The below average snowpack will make the area accessible earlier this year and most streams are expected to be fishable by mid to late June.
The Casper region should have good fishing throughout the summer. According to fisheries managers Seminoe, Pathfinder and Alcova reservoirs offer good walleye opportunities from eaters to trophies, but because walleye populations are up, the trout fisheries are not as hot as they have been in the past few years. In terms of trout fishing, the best bet is Pathfinder, Seminoe and Alcova in that order based on size of trout and catch rate. After experiencing winterkill last year, Goldeneye Reservoir has been restocked, but water levels are low this year and without spring moisture and increased water levels, things might get rough. Those venturing to Glendo Reservoir will find good numbers of walleyes over 15 inches however there is a shortage of smaller fish which could affect the fishing next year. On the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River, anglers should expect to see good numbers of medium to large fish with good fishing throughout the fishing season. The popular Gray Reef to Glenrock section of the North Platte is in good condition for trout and excellent fishing has already been reported this year with continued superb fishing throughout the fishing season expected. Large numbers of big trout are available through this stretch of the river.
Anglers are reminded to check fishing regulations for the water they plan to fish. In addition, a Wyoming Fishing Guide can be found online at wgfd.wyo.gov.
(Contact: Al Langston, (307) 777-4540)