Wyoming Free Fishing Day is June 6. That means both residents and nonresidents alike can fish for free without a license. There’s no need to wait for the free day, though. Grab the fishing license and dust off the tackle box; the fishing season is off and running.
This weekend looks particularly inviting with warm to even hot temperatures. Thunderstorms might crop up in the afternoons, as is typical as we head into summer, so keep an eye to the sky later in the day.
Steve Gale, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Fisheries Biologist for the Laramie region, said the fishing has really been great in a number of regional waters.
“There are some really nice caddis hatches in the evenings at Meebour and Gelatt lakes,” Gale said, referencing two of the Laramie Plains lakes. “Those hatches really make for some great fishing action.”
Laramie Plains LakesAcross the Laramie Basin, the fishing has been doing very well since March. These are generally shallow, high production lakes where it is not uncommon to lose fish over the winter. The good news – very good news – is that no lake or reservoir experienced a winter kill. This marks the fifth winter in a row where fish at all the basin lakes made it through the winter.
“Our goal is to prevent a winter kill,” Gale said. “The aerators quit working for a bit at Gelatt Lake, so we had to cut holes in the ice to ensure there was oxygen getting to the fish. That worked and Gelatt is in excellent shape.”
Alsop Lake is another that has winter aeration that helps it through the winter. It’s been five years since the lake saw a winter kill and now there are some hefty trout, although it might take a bit of patience to catch them.
Meebour has also fared well since the installation of electric aerators in 2013. Gale said they skipped a couple of stocking periods to help the fish get more elbowroom and gain some size. There are now plenty of trout measuring more than 20 inches.
Another hot spot is Twin Buttes, another example of a fishery that came back after being plagued with low water and high alkalinity.
“Twin Buttes was phenomenal this spring,” Gale said. “It should pick back up again when the caddis hatch takes off in the next couple weeks.”
Diamond LakeIf you’re looking to get away from the crowds and willing to drive a little farther to get there, head to Diamond Lake, 31 miles northwest of Laramie and two miles north of Interstate 80 off the Cooper Cover exit (Exit 279).
The fishery was revived in 2016 and now, after four years of stocking, anglers can catch rainbow trout up to 22 inches in length and cutthroats around 20 inches.
“Diamond Lake did really well in March but it’s getting weedy with aquatic vegetation nearer the shore now,” Gale said. “Getting out in a float tube, canoe or boat is the way to go.”
Medicine Bow MountainsFishing season “up top” in the Snowy Range is not far off while open water abounds at the lower elevations. Lake Owen is great for catching nice brook trout with some getting over 12 inches in length, which is large for brook trout. There are also rainbow trout in the 14 to 17 inch range. Rob Roy Reservoir, another hot spot in the Snowy Range, has the added attraction of having kokanee salmon as well as some nice rainbow trout. Gale said the reservoir always has great bank fishing for Father’s Day.
Pole MountainFor those looking for a bit of adventure, head for the hidden beaver ponds across Pole Mountain. The annual stocking this year will be done by Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel instead of an army of volunteers due to Covid-19 concerns.
“We’ll still get them stocked,” Gale said. “It’s a great area to explore,” Gale said. “You might find a pond that has brook trout more than a foot long, while another one might have smaller fish but with a high catch rate.”
Laramie RiverThe Laramie River is running high, but will likely ease soon. The runoff this year has been fairly mild due to the bouts of cooler weather to slow things down. The Laramie River offers an excellent wild brown trout fishery going right through town. The fish are bigger in the stretch through Monolith Ranch and on into town but more numerous and a bit smaller in the upstream reaches near Jelm. Generally, expect to catch fish in the 14 to 16 inch range.
“The Laramie River has turned into an excellent wild brown trout fishery,” Gale said. “It is also so convenient to get out after a day of work and toss a line in the evening.”
Upper North Platte and Encampment rivers
For those headed to the Saratoga side of the Medicine Bow Mountains, there’s plenty of excellent fishing. Gale said they sampled fish in the Pickeroon area and found plenty of brown and rainbow trout in the 11 to 12-inch range. With fish numbering around 1,300 per mile, it qualifies as a Blue Ribbon Fishery.
Wheatland Reservoir Number 3
If landing a big trout is your goal, head to Wheatland Reservoir Number 3. Rainbow and brown trout measuring more than 24 inches are common. This large reservoir also has walleye, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. There’s even a chance to catch a tiger trout, which is a hybrid of the brown and brook trout.
“The fishing was good from the bank through most of May,” Gale said. “It might slow from the bank heading into the summer. Getting out in a boat might be the better bet.”