Flaming Gorge Management

​Photo: Lucy Wold, WGFD
boater on Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Anglers asked to voluntarily suspend catch and release fishing on Gorge and Green River

GREEN RIVER—Air and water temperatures are soaring, river flows are coming down, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Green River fish management staff is very concerned about the impacts catch and release fishing may be having on local fisheries, especially the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River.

Green River Fisheries Supervisor Robb Keith says fish survival in Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a concern as surface water temperatures are warming up.  “Catch and release mortality is a concern for all sport fish in Flaming Gorge Reservoir, especially kokanee,” Keith said. “For kokanee, the death rate is higher than other fish species because kokanee don’t handle well the stress of being caught and released, even when the water is cold.  Survival of released kokanee plummets when surface water temperatures warming above 65 degrees F."

“Kokanee fishing has been great this year, but with current warm water temperatures anglers need stop to catching and releasing kokanee,” Keith said.  “If you are fishing for kokanee, we recommend you stop fishing after you catch your limit, especially when surface temperatures are warm and the kokanee are deep. Surface temperatures are reaching the low 70’s on hot days. The kokanee are living at depths where the water temperature is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Under ideal condition some Kokanee die as a result of the stress of being caught, handled, and released.  Add to that the more than 20 degree temperature change from depth to the surface and post release mortality sky rockets. The result is died Kokanee floating on the surface.  Flaming Gorge kokanee anglers are getting tired of seeing kokanee floating on the surface after being released by unethical anglers. “

 “If you must catch and release Kokanee never bring them into the boat.  As soon as you bring a kokanee into the boat it’s as good as dead,” Keith said. “The best strategy is to give the fish some slack and try to shake it free.  Second best it to net the fish with a rubberized net keeping the fish in the water at all times.  Carefully remove the hook and release the fish.  If you release a fish and it floats to the surface turn the boat around, collect the fish and add it to your limit.  A kokanee that floats on the surface is not going to survive.  Anglers planning to harvest fish can reduce their impact to the fishery by harvesting the first few fish they catch instead of releasing small fish in an effort to take home big fish home.  Be sure to bring a cooler and plenty of ice to keep the fish fresh after harvesting it and during transport.”

The management crew has similar concerns with catch and release fishing for trout in local streams and rivers, especially the popular Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir.  “Trout experience significant mortality at prolonged exposure to water temperatures greater than 75 degrees Fahrenheit and brief exposure to temperatures over 80 degrees are lethal,” Keith said. “As water levels drop and water temperatures rise we are asking anglers fishing on the Green River to monitor water temperatures while fishing. Anglers should stop fishing when water temperatures reach over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish handling mortality can be quite high when water temperatures get over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if a fish swims away from an angler it does not mean it is going to survive.”

Keith says anglers can reduce impacts to fish by fishing early in the morning while water temperatures are cooler and carry a thermometer to monitor water temperature. If the temperature is at or above 70 degrees, reconsider your plans to catch and release trout in local rivers and streams.  It’s a good idea to stop fishing for the day and give the fish a break.

For more information about catch and releasing fish properly call the Green River Region Game and Fish Office at 307-875-3223. Anglers will find additional information at the Game and Fish website


Questions and Answers Regarding Lake Trout in Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a magnificent, man-made reservoir, offering so many recreational opportunities, especially fishing and boating. Flaming Gorge Dam stands 502 feet tall and was completed in 1964. The surface area of the reservoir is over 65 sq miles, with varying depths, and is 430 feet deep in its deepest spot,

So many anglers have asked questions about lake trout management in Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Wyoming side that Green River fisheries managers have put together a list of these questions and their answers for anglers to review. Click below to learn more about lake trout management in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Lake trout management in Flaming Gorge Reservoir

A couple of anglers enjoyed a beautiful December day jigging for Lake Trout ranging from 19 to 22 inches, just out from Buckboard Bay. Fish were caught on 1/2 ounce jigs dressed with a lime green skirt and tipped with a small piece of sculpin.  Anglers caught their limit (8 Lake Trout less than 28 inches) in just over 4 hours.

Fishing for small Lake Trout on Flaming Gorge Reservoir is hot now and will be good through the winter whether ice arrives or not.  Lake Trout from 18 to 25 inches are plentiful and easy to catch whether fishing from shore casting spoons  and white jigs or casting out a dead minnow on the bottom.  Fish are also easy targets from a boat whether you like to vertical jig deep water or troll.  Boat anglers are finding fish in 45 to 65 foot of water on flats adjacent to deep water.  Fish can be caught vertical jigging tipping the jig with a little piece of fish or by trolling the same habitat with lures just a few feet off the bottom.  Lake trout can also be pursued near shore from a boat.  Cast white jigs to shore in 10 feet of water and hop them back to the boat along the bottom.

Photo: Lucy Wold, WGFD

One of the trophy lake trout weighed and measured and released back into the Gorge.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is known for its trophy lake trout. Currently, the population of smaller lake trout is high and fisheries managers want anglers to catch the smaller lake trout to help maintain the trophy class lake trout. Small lake trout also taste really good. You can learn more about how to catch smaller lake trout and how to cook smaller lake trout by clicking on the attachments below.

Tips on how to catch small lake trout
Recipes for cooking small lake trout


Photo: Lucy Wold, WGFD
​This is just one of the illegally introduced burbot in Flaming Gorge Reservoir. This fish was caught by the Green River Fisheries Crew during annual gill netting operations on the Gorge. The burbot has swallowed a rainbow trout whole. 

Sometime in the late 1990's or early 2000, someone or some persons illegally introduced burbot
, also known as ling, into the Green River Drainage. The invasive species began showing up in WGFD Green River netting surveys in 2003. Their presence as changed area fishing management and opportunities forever. The only way to have some sort of control on burbot is with angler harvest and liberal regulations.

Fishing for illegally transplanted burbot in the Green River drainage has become popular with ice anglers.  Fishery managers have set liberal regulations on burbot to encourage anglers to harvest as many burbot as possible and help suppress these voracious non-native predators.  There is no limit on burbot in the Area 4, which includes all of the Green River drainage including Flaming Gorge, Fontenelle Reservoir and Big Sandy Reservoir.
​You can learn more about how to catch burbot and how to cook burbot by clicking on the attachments below.

Tips on how to catch burbot
Recipes for cooking burbot




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