XStream Angler Instream Flow / Smiths Fork River

Smiths Fork River

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Length: 5.0 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 - The Smiths Fork is a tributary of the Bear River in far western Wyoming, draining the west slope of the Wyoming Range. The mountains through which this stream meanders are some of the most classically beautiful mountains in the state. Cokeville is the main population center near the Smiths Fork instream flow segment. About 150 years ago, the area witnessed the passage of thousands of emigrants passing through to California and Oregon. Today, the countryside is still important ranch country, though views and values are changing as evidenced by the recent creation of the Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the increasing number of properties being purchased for recreational purposes.

Rationale - The primary purpose for filing this water right was to protect vital habitat for native Bonneville cutthroat trout. The instream flow segment contains habitat for all life stages of this species. Consequently flows were filed for to maintain spawning habitat (May through June), adult and juvenile habitat (July through September) and winter survival (October through April).

Fishery - The lower portion of the instream flow segment contains a mixed population of native Bonneville cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish and brown trout. The proportion of native cutthroats generally increases as you progress upstream. Though there are occasional reports of large trout taken from this stretch of river, most are less than 16 inches long. Studies show cutthroats exhibit extensive spawning movements up and downstream including many of the river’s tributaries. These unrestricted movements are important for maintaining genetic diversity and numbers of native trout.

How to get there - Take state highway 232 east from Cokeville and continue about 12 miles to where the pavement ends. At this point the road forks, but stay to the left (go straight ahead). Continue another 10 miles on this gradually deteriorating gravel road that’s usually passable by most vehicles when it’s dry, but not a good place to drive a car during or after a rainstorm. You’ll see Hobble Creek canyon coming in on the right (east), at which point you’ll shortly find a two-track, 4-wheel drive road that forks off from the main gravel road and dead ends at the bottom of the instream flow segment after a half-mile. The main gravel road continues on parallel to the Smiths Fork, but you may need an off-road vehicle to get to the stream. You won’t find any developed camping or picnic areas near the segment, but you will find some great fishing for one of Wyoming’s often-overlooked native species.
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