The Easterner: Brook Trout Fishing Opportunities in the Pinedale Region
Brook trout are plentiful in the western U.S. Many of the first introductions of brook trout were by settlers who wanted to bring part of their heritage from the east coast of the United States. Brook trout have dark olive-colored skin speckled with orange dots, blue halos and yellowish-colored squiggly lines (called vermiculations) on their backs. Their fins are typically orange with white and black stripes on the leading edge. Brook trout, along with many other nonnative fish, add diversity to the fishing opportunities in the Pinedale area, and are often found in large numbers. Because brook trout can easily overpopulate and stop growing, regulations for their harvest are very liberal. Except for a few waters, the brook trout limit is 16 fish with no size restrictions.

Brook trout were introduced to many of the Pinedale area waters during the early and mid 1900’s. These fish were stocked by local fisherman and outfitters, Federal Agencies, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Brook trout are well adapted for many environments, but they are particularly well suited for small to medium-sized tributary streams and cool, clear lakes. Brook trout can be found throughout the Green River drainage and a handful of places in the Bear River drainage. However, anglers look-ing to target them might focus their efforts on one these especially productive areas.

The Wyoming Range provides excellent opportunities to catch brook trout. The Cottonwood streams (South and North Cottonwood creeks and their tributaries) have medium-sized brook trout for a small stream, and the Piney Creeks (North, Middle and South) are also known for providing excellent brook trout fishing. Due to the Fontenelle Fire, the South Piney Creek population has declined but brook trout are still present and will soon rebound as conditions improve. Surveys completed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have determined that brook trout in most of these streams are abundant, with an average size near 9 inches, and some growing as large as 14 inches. Roaring Fork Lakes (North Piney drainage), Fontenelle Lakes, and Soda Cottonwood Pond (North Cottonwood drainage) are lake options in the Wyoming Range. North Cottonwood, South Cottonwood and North Piney drainages all have tackle restrictions (artificial flies and lures only), while Middle Piney, South Piney (excluding Fish Creek), and Fontenelle creeks have no tackle restrictions. Streams in the Upper Green River area to the north also support dense populations of brook trout. Anglers seeking them in this area should head to North Beaver, Twin, Jim, Gypsum, Tepee, and Tosi creeks.

For lake fishing opportunities there are three main lakes near Union Pass: Mosquito Lake, Rock Crib Lake and Wagon Creek Lake. Rock Crib and Wagon Creek lakes are known to provide bigger brook trout, and therefore, the limit is only six (6) to help protect larger fish. Soda Lake, just outside Pinedale, is also known for its large brook trout and the limit here is one per day.

The Wind River Mountain Range provides ample lake opportunities for brook trout. You might have to hike or horsepack a few miles, but every drainage contains at least one lake with brook trout. A few of the shorter hikes include Miller Lake (Elkhart Park trailhead), Ruff Lake (Boulder Lake trailhead), Belford and Black lakes (Meadow Lake trailhead), and Boul-ter Lake or Big Sandy Lake (Big Sandy trailhead). These hikes range from 2 to 6 miles and offer reasonable day-trips for brook trout. The size of brook trout varies among the lakes. For the more adventurous or those that have more time available, Halls Lake area provides beautiful scenery and excellent fishing. In the New Fork River drainage you can fish Palmer, Dean, and Round lakes to name a few. Tommy, Peter, Don and others in the Pole Creek drain-age support healthy brook trout populations as well. Overall, it isn’t hard to find a brook trout in the Wind River Mountain Range.

Brook trout provide a diverse angling opportunity to those fishing in the Pinedale area. Not all of the waters produce “trophy” size brook trout, but they do provide an enjoyable fishing experience without the crowds of people. Brook trout make for some fast action for kids and adults due to their eager tendency to strike any-thing. They are fun to catch and make a tasty meal, so take advantage of this abundant sport fish. For addi-tional information on where and when to fish for brook trout or any other sport-fish in the region, feel free to call the Regional Office at 307-367-4353, or stop in anytime.

By Hilda Sexauer, Pinedale Regional Fisheries Supervisor. Read this and other stories in the Pinedale Region Angler Newsletter; published annually. 
Wyoming Game and Fish (307) 777-4600

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