CHEYENNE - The recent warmer weather has effectively removed the ice from many waters in the state and anglers in increasing numbers are taking advantage of the good fishing that is usually available once waters open up. With the increased activity, anglers are reminded that several major changes in fishing regulations from previous years are now in effect.
The most significant changes involve separate trout limits for reservoirs/lakes and streams. In previous years, anglers could only keep one trout over 20 inches, but that regulation is now history on Wyoming's lakes and reservoirs. Anglers lucky enough to catch multiple trout over 20 inches can keep all of them – up to their six fish limit. According to the Game and Fish, a number of lakes and reservoirs harbor good numbers of trout greater than 20 inches and the new regulation allows the keeping of these fish.
“Most reservoirs host stocked trout – which are put in for anglers to catch, so it made sense to let anglers decide what size they want to keep,” said Dirk Miller, fisheries management coordinator. “With the higher water levels the last couple of years, growth rates have increased significantly and there are just more 20-inch-plus trout out there.”
Anglers looking to keep fish on streams and rivers now have the limit of three fish per day and only one can exceed 16 inches. In drainages 1 (Snake River), 2 (Wind/Big Horn), and 4 (Green and Bear) of western Wyoming, there is also the stipulation that no more than one of those fish can be a cutthroat over 12 inches.
“Streams and rivers are a significantly different trout habitat than lakes and we manage them differently,” Miller said. “Trout don’t grow as fast and most stream populations are wild fish that rely on natural reproduction, so it makes sense to have more conservative limits.”
Other changes include the removal of brook trout length restrictions and reducing the whitefish limit.
“Brookies reproduce so well and generally grow so fast, we just didn’t think size restrictions were needed on most waters,” Miller said. “And in most cases the populations would benefit from the additional harvest.”
But, as with most regulations, there are exceptions such as the heavily fished brook trout waters in the Pole Mountain area between Cheyenne and Laramie, which still have the normal six fish limit.
The reduction in the daily whitefish limit from 25 to six fish is due to the indication that fisheries managers are not seeing nearly as many whitefish in their surveys as were once present. This decline appears to be not only in Wyoming but all across the West.
Fishing regulations are reviewed every two years with changes occurring at the start of even numbered years. It is always a good idea to check the regulations prior to fishing, but it is particularly important to check for any changes at the beginning of an even numbered year. Waters with exceptions to the general statewide regulations are in blue type in the new regulations.
As in previous years, there are a number of waters in the state that have exceptions to the general statewide provisions. These exceptions are listed on pages 23-33 in the fishing regulations booklet. Regulations are available at Game and Fish offices, license agents, or online at the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. Anglers are also reminded that their fishing license can also be purchased through the WGFD website.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)