Regional Offices > Laramie Region > Laramie Region News > Fish return to Saratoga Lake

Fish return to Saratoga Lake

May 04, 2023
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Laramie - To close out a challenging period of work at Saratoga Lake, fisheries biologists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have started rebuilding the lake’s fishery. The lake had to be eradicated of all fish last year to remove illegally introduced yellow perch. On Wednesday, trout were stocked back into the lake for the first time. The lake was stocked with tiger and rainbow trout that came from the Game and Fish Wigwam Rearing Station in Ten Sleep.

In 2021, Game and Fish discovered yellow perch in Saratoga Lake as a result of illegal stocking. The lake is managed as a trout fishery. A high abundance of stunted yellow perch can result in slower growth rates for managed sportfish due to increased competition for food. Fisheries biologists were also concerned about yellow perch escaping the lake into the upper reaches of the North Platte drainage, where they could do irreparable damage to other sport fisheries and native fish species.

As a result of those potential impacts, Game and Fish cut off water flow to the lake in summer 2022, and completed a rotenone project to kill all fish in the lake in September. This project was successful, allowing the Saratoga Lake fishery to now be rebuilt. 

The fish stocked on May 3 represent the start of the rebuilding process. Rainbow trout were stocked at 6.5 inches in length, and tiger trout were stocked at 8 inches. Additional 8 inch rainbow trout from the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery will be stocked in a few weeks. Brown trout and additional rainbow and tiger trout will also be stocked throughout the coming year. 

“We expect the fish we stock in May will grow quickly, and provide catchable fish to anglers at Saratoga Lake this summer,” said Laramie Region Fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton. “The severe winter in the area has also aided recovery of this ecosystem. The influx of water from heavy snowfall has refilled surrounding wetlands, helping to recharge the system following the cutoff to water flow last year.”

Additional measures are being taken to reduce the movement of undesired fish species from the North Platte River into Saratoga Lake. In partnership with the Town of Saratoga and the Bureau of Land Management, Game and Fish installed a fish screen on the inlet ditch where the North Platte River flows into Saratoga Lake. The screen will limit fish from moving into the lake from upstream reaches of the North Platte. These species include white sucker* and non-native brook stickleback. Brook stickleback are an aquatic invasive species of concern in Wyoming, with the potential to disrupt ecosystem functions. The fish screen will help reduce the movement of these fish into Saratoga Lake. Water to the lake will be turned back on after construction is completed.

“The work done at Saratoga Lake in response to the discovery of yellow perch has been challenging, but the quick response time and public support for this project were instrumental to its success,” said Compton. “It was exciting to see trout go back into the lake Wednesday, and we’re looking forward to seeing anglers back at Saratoga Lake this summer.”

Fish screen installed at the inlet ditch into Saratoga Lake.
Fish screen installed at the inlet ditch into Saratoga Lake.

*Correction: this article previously had white sucker listed as a non-native species. White sucker are native to the North Platte River drainage, but have a tendency to overrun Saratoga Lake, causing management challenges. Thanks to our reader who caught and reported that mistake.


- WGFD -

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