Fish Flaming Gorge this fall
While many folks may have traded their rods and reels for rifles with the changing of the seasons, fall remains a great time to fish in Wyoming. Game and fish continues to encourage the harvest of small adult lake trout or “pups”.  Whether you are a kokanee angler or a trophy lake trout angler, the future of your fishery depends on continued harvest of these small predators.  High numbers of small adult lake trout remain a concern for fisheries managers. Due to competition for food resources, their growth rate has been substantially reduced. There is also concern regarding the number of young kokanee these small predators are consuming.
Flaming Gorge offers the opportunity to fill the freezer with smaller lake trout (those under 28 inches) and with liberal limits of 12 per day and 24 in possession there is potential for taking home a lot of tasty trout.  Small lake trout make great table fare smoked, grilled, fried, or canned.  If you try canning them, throw a few slices of jalapenos in the jar with the fish before canning. October is an especially good time to target these trout as they stage to spawn and while they actively spawn. Green River fisheries supervisor Robb Keith offered some valuable insight on how to target pups.
“In early October the pups begin to stage in large groups in the deep (50 feet-80 feet) water adjacent to their preferred spawning locations. Small adult lake trout spawn over large gravels/cobble on shallow underwater humps, ridges and rock slides.  Rock slides are typically associated with large and small cliffs and steep hillsides. Between Oct. 10 and Oct. 25 they can be found at depths of 1-25 feet, in and adjacent to their preferred spawning substrate.” Keith said.
Tips on targeting small adult lake trout:
  • Spawning activity in Flaming Gorge is typically observed south of Big Bend.
  • In early October, while the lake trout are still deep:
    • Vertical jigging grubs, tubes, and spoons - use light-colored lures that glow or earth toned lures
    • Trolling lures through these habitats is also very effective in early October, you’ll want to  keep the lures close to the bottom where the lake trout are staging
    • Tip hooks with a small piece of sucker meat, about the size of a dime
  • Mid to late October: Fish shallow water habitats (1-25 feet deep) from either a boat or from shore.  During the spawn lake trout can be found at the water's edge in 1-2 feet of water
    • Cast 1/8 to 3/8 ounce jigs to shore - white grub and tube jigs are really productive
    • Retrieve the jig erratically at slow to medium speeds close to the bottom
    • If you prefer trolling, use longline spinners, spoons and crank baits behind your boat and parallel to shore in 15-20 feet of water.  You can safely get your lures shallower by dragging them behind side planers
    • Small piece of sucker meat on the hook can help
    • Snags are common if you are fishing the right habitats
For more information including catching, cooking and management of small adult lake trout, look at previous issues of the Green River Regional Angler Newsletter or visit the Flaming Gorge Management page of the department website.

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