Less water means fewer places for fish and other wildlife to live, swim and avoid predators. Shrinking streams and lakes inevitably leads to fewer fish, at least in the short term. In drought conditions, the water temperature can rise, which can impact cold-water species like native trout. Warmer water also means less oxygen for fish. Just like a series of high water years can usher in good fishing, a series of dry years can be slower for anglers.

Warmer water can also welcome the proliferation of unwanted species. Illegally introduced critters might gain a foothold in abnormally low or warm waters. Warm-water predators, like bass, could find their way upstream at places typically too cold for them, and eat their way through the fish community, changing it forever. Smaller unwanted species in the form of parasites and diseases have a window of opportunity when flows recede, lakes and reservoirs drop and waters warm. 

While the Wyoming Game and Fish Department can’t control the weather, the department does the next best thing by devoting considerable resources to aquatic habitat improvements, creating fish passage and protecting what water is available with instream flow water rights.  The main goal is to foster streams, wetlands and lakes that are resilient to the highs and the lows of water availability. To learn more about habitat work in Wyoming, view our habitat plan.
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Paul Dey
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Aquatic habitat program manager
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