Regional Offices > Green River Region > Green River Region News > Anglers asked to voluntarily suspend catch and release fishing with high water temps

Anglers asked to voluntarily suspend catch and release fishing with high water temps

July 15, 2018
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Anglers asked to voluntarily suspend catch and release fishing with high water temps

Green River - GREEN RIVER—Air and water temperatures are soaring, river flows are coming down, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Green River fish management staff is very concerned about the impacts catch and release fishing may be having on local fisheries, especially the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River.

Green River Fisheries Supervisor Robb Keith says fish survival in Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a concern as surface water temperatures are warming up.  “Catch and release mortality is a concern for all sport fish in Flaming Gorge Reservoir, especially kokanee,” Keith said. “For kokanee, the death rate is higher than other fish species because kokanee don’t handle well the stress of being caught and released, even when the water is cold.  Survival of released kokanee plummets when surface water temperatures warming above 65 degrees F. "

“Kokanee fishing has been great this year, but with current warm water temperatures anglers need stop to catching and releasing kokanee,” Keith said.  “If you are fishing for kokanee, we recommend you stop fishing after you catch your limit, especially when surface temperatures are warm and the kokanee are deep. Surface temperatures are reaching the low 70’s on hot days. The kokanee are living at depths where the water temperature is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Under ideal condition some Kokanee die as a result of the stress of being caught, handled, and released.  Add to that the more than 20 degree temperature change from depth to the surface and post release mortality sky rockets. The result is died Kokanee floating on the surface.  Flaming Gorge kokanee anglers are getting tired of seeing Kokanee floating on the surface after being released by unethical anglers. “

 “If you must catch and release Kokanee never bring them into the boat.  As soon as you bring a kokanee into the boat it’s as good as dead,” Keith said. “The best strategy is to give the fish some slack and try to shake it free.  Second best it to net the fish with a rubberized net keeping the fish in the water at all times.  Carefully remove the hook and release the fish.  If you release a fish and it floats to the surface turn the boat around, collect the fish and add it to your limit.  A kokanee that floats on the surface is not going to survive.  Anglers planning to harvest fish can reduce their impact to the fishery by harvesting the first few fish they catch instead of releasing small fish in an effort to take home big fish home.  Be sure to bring a cooler and plenty of ice to keep the fish fresh after harvesting it and during transport.”

The management crew has similar concerns with catch and release fishing for trout in local streams and rivers, especially the popular Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir.  “Trout experience significant mortality at prolonged exposure to water temperatures greater than 75 degrees Fahrenheit and brief exposure to temperatures over 80 degrees are lethal,” Keith said. “As water levels drop and water temperatures rise we are asking anglers fishing on the Green River to monitor water temperatures while fishing. Anglers should stop fishing when water temperatures reach over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish handling mortality can be quite high when water temperatures get over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if a fish swims away from an angler it does not mean it is going to survive.”

Keith says anglers can reduce impacts to fish by fishing early in the morning while water temperatures are cooler and carry a thermometer to monitor water temperature. If the temperature is at or above 70 degrees, reconsider your plans to catch and release trout in local rivers and streams.  It’s a good idea to stop fishing for the day and give the fish a break.

For more information about catch and releasing fish properly call the Green River Region Game and Fish Office at 307-875-3223. Anglers will find additional information at the Game and Fish website


- WGFD -

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