FISHING AND BOATING

Deep Creek

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Length: 3.5 miles
Priority Date: 12/19/1995
Printable Access Map: Download Map
Technical Report: Download Technical Report
X-Stream Angler Article: Download XStream Angler Article

*Angling regulations may have changed since X-Stream Angler Articles were written. Please check current Fishing Regulations for current fishing limits.

About the segment - Deep Creek is a relatively small stream located on the west slope of the Sierra Madre Mountains in south central Wyoming. To the casual observer, the stream may look like just another of the numerous rivulets that flow off the mountain. However Deep Creek is not just another pretty stream. It actually plays a critical role in helping to restore populations of native Colorado River cutthroat trout. Over a period of several years in the late 1980's and early 1990's, non-native brook trout that had displaced the native species were removed and native cutthroats were reintroduced. This action and similar ones on other streams played a key role in defeating attempts by special interests to have the Colorado River cutthroat formally listed as an endangered species.

Rationale - The primary purpose of the filing was to maintain adequate base flows for native Colorado River cutthroat trout. The purpose of any water right is not so much to change the amount of water in the stream today as it is to protect an interest in existing flow patterns for future use. The various flow levels filed for are intended to address habitat needs for spawning in the spring, maintain growth rates in the summer, and minimize winter mortality. Channel maintenance and flushing flows that provide long-term habitat by cleaning riffles, scouring deep pools and keeping the stream banks from encroaching (narrowing) were not filed for. The state engineer has ruled that the state's instream flow law does not allow flows for these habitat needs.

Fishery - Colorado River cutthroat trout are the only trout species present within the instream flow segment. Mottled sculpins and mountain suckers, both native to the drainage, are also present. Brook trout may be found downstream from the instream flow reach. Cutthroats here seldom reach more than 10 inches in length. This is a tough stream to fish because of the dense growth of willows along portions of the stream, but there are numerous beaver ponds throughout the reach that provide good opportunities to entice a trout to your lure or fly. Native cutthroats are typically vulnerable to angling so just about any attractor pattern, wet or dry, on a size 10 or smaller hook should work. In the event you wish to harvest trout for dinner, you may keep up to six fish, but only one may be a cutthroat trout.

How to get there - Take highway 71 south from Rawlins about 48 miles until you reach the Medicine Bow Forest boundary. The pavement ends at Sage Creek but it's a well-maintained gravel road the rest of the way to the forest boundary. There the road turns into Forest Service Road 801. Deep Creek flows under this good gravel road in another 2 miles. There isn't an official parking area here but the road is wide enough you can pull over to the side and strike out from there. Go upstream and you'll encounter only native cutthroat trout. Go downstream and you'll find a few brookies in the mix.
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