Wyoming anglers urged to adjust as heat threatens trout, especially on North Platte, Laramie River - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Wyoming anglers urged to adjust as heat threatens trout, especially on North Platte, Laramie River

(Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said on Friday, August 6 that fisheries biologists are urging anglers to adjust fishing practices due to high water temperatures in southeast Wyoming.

“High air temperatures and drought conditions are causing streams and rivers to flow with less water and at warmer water temperatures,” Game and Fish said. “Warmer water temperatures can affect fish survival, especially trout.”

The department said that areas of specific concern include the North Platte River from the Colorado state line to Seminoe Reservoir, the Laramie River from Monolith through the City of Laramie, and all lakes in the Laramie Plains, including Wheatland Reservoir 3.

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“Rivers and some reservoirs are running low, and this, combined with high air temperatures, causes water temperatures to get high enough to be lethal to trout,” Laramie Regional Fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton said. “Warm water also holds less oxygen, which can stress trout and other fish.” 

Trout experience increased mortality when facing prolonged exposure to water temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and even brief exposure to temperatures above 80 degrees can be lethal to trout, according to Game and Fish. Trout are also stressed more quickly in low-oxygen warm water.

“Anglers should monitor water temps while trout fishing,” Compton said. “When water temperatures hit 70 degrees, it is recommended anglers stop catching and releasing trout. Late afternoon into evening can be the worst time to fish for trout on a hot day, because the water temperatures don’t start to cool down until well after dark.”

Game and Fish provided the following recommendations to all anglers practicing catch and release fishing:

  • Fish for trout early in the morning while the water temperature is cooler.
  • Carry a pocket thermometer to monitor the water temperature.
  • If the water temperature is at or above 65 degrees, consider keeping what you catch within the regulations. If the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, do not attempt to catch and release trout.
  • As water temperature increases, using the proper techniques to catch and release a trout becomes increasingly more important to help ensure the fish has a chance to survive:
    • Land fish as rapidly as possible to reduce exhaustion stress.  
    • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
    • Do not squeeze the fish or place fingers in the gills.
    • Remove the hook gently. If hooked deeply, cut the leader.
    • Flies and lures are recommended whenever many trout are being caught and released.
    • Barbless hooks allow easier hook removal.
    • If a fish is exhausted and cannot hold itself upright, and if regulations allow, consider having it for dinner because the fish has a poor chance of surviving.

Compton said anglers can consider fishing for species other than fish during the summer months.

“While we need to be mindful of trout fisheries during the summer months, warm water fish such as bass and bluegill thrive in these temperatures,” Compton said. “These species fish really well in the middle of the summer.”