Flat Creek Fishery Better Than Ever?
The picturesque Flat Creek, winding its way through the National Elk Refuge just north of Jackson, is well-known for its trophy-class cutthroat trout. These Snake River cutthroat also have a reputation for being well-educated and difficult to catch. But when an angler does get one of the hefty cutties to take a fly, knots and line had better be sturdy.

Recently, the Jackson fish crew for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department sampled a section of Flat Creek to keep an eye on the renowned fishery. As expected, a number of trophy-class cutthroat were netted. And after reviewing the data, Jackson fish biologist Diana Miller confirmed her initial thoughts that they had gotten more big fish than any year in recent memory! 

Each fish is weighed, measured and inspected for maladies such as gill lice and hooking scars before being returned back to their haunts in the waterway. This year’s calculated number of fish/mile easily eclipsed the previous ten-year high that was recorded in 2018, for both fish in the 13-16-inch range and for those over 16-inches (see graph below). There were a number of fish in the 20-inch range with the largest being just over 21-inches and 3 pounds.

On another positive note, Miller reported this was the first year they did not capture any of the non-native brook trout. Fish managers have been asking anglers to keep any brook trout they catch from Flat Creek to reduce competition with the native cutthroats.

In addition, Game and Fish also recently completed an exclosure fence along Flat Creek to keep wintering elk from browsing willows along the riparian area. Willows provide valuable bank stabilization to reduce sediment loads in the water and provide shading to maintain cooler water temperatures and protection from predators. Songbirds will also take advantage of the added willow habitat as well.

By all accounts, things are looking good for the fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat in Flat Creek. Anglers are encouraged to get out and try their luck in the coming weeks, as the annual fishing closure will begin November 1.

Mark Gocke, Public Information Specialist, 307-249-5811

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