Fall fishing offers less crowds, ample opportunities
For many, fall is a time for hunting — especially in Wyoming.

But fall offers great opportunities for fishing throughout the Cowboy State, and fisheries supervisors at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department expect good fishing at various lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams.

Darren Rhea, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Jackson Region who also used to work in the Pinedale Region, said the Snake River, Flat Creek and all the bigger rivers in the Jackson Region historically offer good fall fishing as well as small, wadeable streams. 

Jackson Lake is closed in October to protect spawning lake trout.

Sam Hochhalter, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Cody Region, said the opportunities for anglers throughout the Big Horn Basin are numerous.

“Fall is a phenomenal time of year for a lot of our fisheries in the Cody Region,” Hochhalter said. 

Between Buffalo Bill Dam and Willwood Dam there are more than 4,000 trout per mile with good access for both shore and float anglers. Paintrock, Medicine Lodge and Shell creeks in the Bighorn Mountains should have brown trout gearing up to spawn. Closer to Cody, Dead Indian, Crandall and Sunlight creeks also should be good.

Anglers can pursue lake trout this fall at Flaming Gorge Reservoir in the Green River Region. 

It’s especially good for smaller lake trout less than 24 inches long.

“We need more small lake trout harvested to reduce impacts on the kokanee salmon population,” said Robb Keith, fisheries supervisor in the Green River Region. 

These smaller lake trout spawn along the reservoir’s shoreline. Keith said in recent years it has been between Oct. 10 and Nov. 10 with a 2-3-week window where fishing is best. Another spot to check out is the Green River below Fontenelle Dam, although the first mile below the dam is closed Oct. 1-Dec. 31. 

Bobby Compton, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Laramie Region, said his neck of the woods offers quality lake and stream fishing. The Laramie Plains Lakes, especially Twin Buttes, Meeboer, Alsop and Diamond should be good for trout. Lake Hattie and Wheatland No. 3 are low but still accessible by boat and shore angling where fall-spawning rainbow trout cruise the shorelines.

The Miracle Mile stretch of the North Platte is known for its brown trout run in the fall. Matt Hahn, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Casper Region, said anglers should have a chance to target big browns along that stretch from mid-to-late October through December.

Hahn reminds anglers, especially fly anglers along rivers and streams, to take precautions to not spread aquatic invasive species by following the Clean, Drain, Dry message for boats, boots, waders and other fishing equipment.

“We have New Zealand mudsnails in all of the North Platte River reaches, plus curly pondweed is working its way downstream,” Hahn said.

Walleye fishing at Alcova, Glendo and Pathfinder reservoirs in the Casper Region should be good, especially for bigger fish. Hahn said jigging spoons for suspended walleye is a good technique at Glendo. Swim baits over rock piles or steep drop-offs are effective at Alcova and Pathfinder.

Two large bodies of water that should offer good fishing this fall in the Sheridan Region are Keyhole Reservoir and Lake DeSmet. Andrew Nikirk, Game and Fish fisheries biologist in Sheridan, said netting in August revealed walleye that are a good size to eat. Crappie fishing at Keyhole can be good in the fall in deeper water with vertical jigs. Check updated boating protocols for Keyhole meant to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species before heading out.

Lake DeSmet offers anglers diversity with kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, Bonneville cutthroat trout, walleye and lake trout. 

Healy Reservoir offers anglers a chance at largemouth bass, tiger muskie and walleye.
Paul Mavrakis, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Sheridan Region, said the Middle Fork Powder River should offer anglers good trout fishing opportunities this fall. He also said Sand Creek near Beulah should be good for brown trout.

Ocean Lake and Boysen Reservoir in the Lander Region are expected to be good for walleye.

“The walleye population in Boysen is doing really well,” said Paul Gerrity, Game and Fish fisheries biologist in Lander. “There are lots of good eater-size fish under 20 inches, but also have some good year-classes in 2011 and 2014 that provide people a chance to catch walleye over 20 inches.”

Boysen should also have good fishing for sauger and rainbow trout.

Joe Deromedi, Game and Fish fisheries biologist in Lander, said Lake Cameahwait near Boysen Reservoir — also known as Bass Lake — should be good for largemouth bass and tiger muskie. 
The Popo Agie and Wind River drainages should be good for trout with solid water flows this year. Wiggins and Bear creeks should provide stream anglers opportunities to catch cutthroat this fall.

Brooks Lake near Togwotee Pass is scenic and a good place for rainbow trout with a chance at small brook and lake trout too. Ring and Trail lakes east of Dubois give anglers opportunities for trophy-sized trout. 

The Finger Lakes near Pinedale are good spots to target lake trout. The New Fork River for brown trout and the Green River should be good for brown and rainbow trout until they ice up.

Helpful fishing links

2022 fishing regulations

Wyoming interactive fishing guide

Fish stocking reports

Aquatic invasive species prevention

Fishing challenges

This story, written by Robert Gagliardi, associate editor,  originally appeared in the Oct. 2022 issue of Wyoming Wildlife magazine. Call (800) 710-8345 or go online to subscribe for $14.95 for 12 issues.
Sara DiRienzo, Public Information Officer - (sara.dirienzo@wyo.gov)

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