The forecast is for a bit of soggy weather today but it should clear and warm up starting Sunday. Heading into next week, expect afternoon thunderstorms nearly every day. In other words, it sounds a lot like fishing season has arrived where getting out early is the best bet.a
Such moisture is good news, although area reservoirs and lakes are already in good shape in spite of the somewhat less-than-stellar snowpack this winter.
Steve Gale, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Fisheries Biologist for the Laramie region, said we are blessed in southeast Wyoming with a wide range of fishing options.
“In general, you can’t go wrong no matter where you go,” Gale said. “The fishing forecast for this season looks excellent across the region.”
In a nutshell, while precipitation has been a bit behind up to now for this year, it is still in the healthy range. Gale said all it could take is a few good rainstorms and those levels could be right at average rather quickly.
Laramie Plains Lakes
Across the Laramie Basin, the angling season is off and running at all the lakes that dot the area.
Gale said 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.
“There’s really great fishing at all the plains lakes,” Gale said. “You really can’t go wrong no matter where you toss your line.”
Probably the hot spot right now is Meebour where the new aeration system installed about five years ago has continued to function well. There has been no winter kill since the system was installed. If anything, the fish there might be a bit smaller than in other plains lakes but that is due to the high number of fish.
“This is an excellent lake for all types of anglers — from those who use bait to spinners to fly casters,” Gale said. “It’s a great place for success at all skill levels.”
Another hot spot is Twin Buttes, an example of a fishery that came back after being plagued with low water with high alkalinity. It’s been on the rebound for six to seven years with anglers catching both rainbow and brown trout over 20 inches in length.
Alsop Lake has struggled but the fishing there is also picking up. Gale said the rainbow trout there are approaching 20 inches in length while the Yellowstone cutthroats are a bit smaller, not quite 19 inches in length. There is also the chance of hooking a grayling in the 14 to 15 inch range.
Grayling were also stocked in Gelatt, where the angling is also picking up after a partial winter kill a couple years ago. Snow fencing was erected south and southwest of the lake last fall in an effort to decrease the potential for snow accumulating on the ice. It is hoped such efforts will decrease the potential for winter kill at the lake. The Snake River cutthroats there are now about 17 inches long while the rainbow often exceed 20 inches in length.
Sodergren is a family-friendly lake that is stocked with catchable rainbow and cutthroat trout. It is not as productive as some of the other basin lakes but is a good option for children who are eager to catch a fish.
Lake Hattie has a slower catch rate than some of the other plains lakes but the wait can be well worth it. Gale said fish weighing 8 to 9 pounds are caught regularly. The kokanee salmon are also doing well there. Perch are present but tend to be spread out across this large reservoir.
It’s back. Diamond Lake is located 31 miles northwest of Laramie and two miles north of Interstate 80 off the Cooper Cover exit (Exit 279). That makes it a bit of a haul but it is worth the trip to see a lake that had been reduced to a puddle come back and become an excellent fishery once again.
Once a popular fishing area, complete with outhouses at the public fishing access, the lake was reduced to a puddle by 1999. Instead of a valued trophy fishery in the 1980s and 1990s, the fishery was completely lost by the end of the decade.
Two years ago a steady water supply was secured and the lake has been stocked with both catchable and smaller fish.
“There have been a good two years of stocking once we had a stable water source,” Gale said. “We are excited for this season and are seeing very good catch rates with fish in very good condition.”
Anglers can expect to catch rainbow trout in the 14 to 16 inch range but a few getting up to 18 inches is also possible. The lake is also stocked with brook trout and those will be in the 12 to 14 inch range.
Medicine Bow Mountains
Fishing season “up top” in the Snowy Range is not that far off while open water abounds at the lower elevations. When Highway 130 opens, Lake Marie and Mirror Lake should be excellent options once the ice melts. Those two lakes are stocked with catchable trout that usually survive through the winter, so they are ready to go once there’s open water.
Both Lake Owen and Rob Roy Reservoir tend to attract the crowds and both are in excellent shape. One new treat for anglers at Rob Roy Reservoir is the stocking of kokanee salmon three years ago. Those are best caught from a boat but Gale said the trout fishing was phenomenal at the reservoir last year with anglers having success both from boats and when casting from the shore.
For those looking for a bit of adventure, head for the hidden beaver ponds across Pole Mountain. Thanks to volunteer efforts every June, fish are stocked across the area.
“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,” Gale said. “It’s a great place to explore and see what you find.”
The Laramie River continues to improve and is turning into quite a brown trout hot spot. The fish are bigger in the river stretch through Monolith Ranch and on into town but more numerous and a bit smaller in the upstream reaches. 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.”
Wheatland Reservoir Number 3
Another exciting fishery revival is at Wheatland Reservoir No. 3. This was a struggling reservoir about five years ago due to low water but it has been full since 2009.
“This is the place to go to catch the largest trout you’ll ever get,” Gale said. “It may take a bit of effort to fool the fish but it’s worth it to catch a real lunker.”
The bottom line is that no matter where you head, the fishing looks to be very good this year. Hopefully Mother Nature will continue to deliver the moisture but also pop in some warm and sunny days to make for some pleasant outings on through the season.
Amber Travsky earned master’s degrees in wildlife biology and exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming. She runs her own environmental consulting company, as well as a martial arts school. She authored “Mountain Biking Wyoming” and “Mountain Biking Jackson Hole,” both published by Falcon Books. She is the tour director and founder of the Tour de Wyoming bicycle tour, which crosses the state every July.