Around Our Town...Game and Fish
Casper Region Fishing Forecast
04/01/2006 - Several years of below average precipitation have left fishing opportunities uncertain for many of the popular fishing spots around Casper. But the winter's snowfall has things looking up.
"The moisture we've seen this winter could potentially benefit a lot of our fisheries," said Al Conder, Casper regional fisheries supervisor for the Game and Fish Department. "More water means more opportunities for fishing."
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One of the areas that could benefit the most is 33-Mile Ponds. Fish biologists hope to stock 3- to 5-inch rainbow and brook trout in several of the ponds this spring if favorable water conditions allow.
"If we are able to stock this spring, anglers won't see anything very big until fall," Conder said, "but these fish could be 8- to 10-inches by then." Still, everything depends on water levels and if the trend of spring moisture continues.
Despite six years of drought, the fishery on the North Platte River has been holding up well and should continue to offer good fishing into the summer. "Flushing flows have helped maintain the river from Gray Reef to Glenrock and fishing has been pretty good," Conder said. Flushing flows are generally performed each spring and fall when conditions allow and help clean trout spawning areas of sediment and improve overall habitat conditions.
Reservoirs in the Casper region could certainly benefit from more water, and it was good news last month when the Bureau of Reclamation announced that spring snowmelt runoff is expected to be 117 percent of the 30-year average within the North Platte Basin.
Even so, we're not out of trouble yet.
"Irrigators have been conservative with their water use in recent years because of drought conditions," Conder said. "Now that we may have extra water in the system, they might want to catch up. So reservoirs may or may not gain any water this year. It's still too early to tell."
Still, any extra water that remains will improve the habitat condition in the large reservoirs and could reduce the likelihood of summer fish kills due to poor habitat conditions in smaller ponds and reservoirs. And as reservoirs recover from drought conditions, they sometimes experience a surge in productivity and anglers see an improvement in fishing conditions.
Even as anglers cross their fingers, brown trout and walleye are still struggling with low water levels in Seminoe and Pathfinder reservoirs. "But both species are hanging on," Conder said. "And rainbow fishing is still pretty fair in both reservoirs."
However, rainbow fishing is down at Alcova Reservoir. But that won't affect walleye fishermen, as walleye numbers are up and the reservoir is offering some pretty nice fish. Biologists will modify stocking at Alcova to improve the trout fishery. "We're going back to stocking bigger fish, about 8- to 9-inches," Conder said.
Speaking of bigger fish, anglers at Glendo Reservoir should see an increase in 5- to 16-inch walleye this summer. "Fish large enough for anglers to be interested in," Conder said. He reminded anglers that Glendo is also a good fishery for channel catfish.
Yesness Pond will be stocked as weather warms, but is first dependant on the city filling the pond. Fish managers hope to stock the pond with catchable rainbow trout prior to the Kid's Fishing Derby on May 6.
So does all this talk about fishing have you ready to grab your pole and head to the water? If so, consider taking advantage of several of the region's Walk-In Access Areas. "There are a lot of walk-in fishing areas open to anglers in the Caper area," said Matt Buhler, statewide access coordinator. Anglers can pick up a copy of the 2006 Walk-In Area Fishing Atlas, which provides information on public fishing access on private lands.
"These landowners are allowing the use of their land, so please be considerate," Buhler said. He requests that anglers avoid dirt roads during muddy conditions to avoid creating ruts.
"If using access areas, please respect the landowner," he said. "This is a privilege that could disappear with bad behavior."