Game & Fish Says Fall is a Great Time to Get Hooked on Fishing

Nov 1, 2023 | Featured, Regional News

Cheyenne, WY (RELEASE) November 1, 2023 —

Wyoming’s largest reservoir will be a hot spot for lake trout again this fall, and anglers can help the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in its management of the fishery. Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which is nearly 91 miles long and stretches in Wyoming and Utah, can provide anglers with fast and fun action in the fall for lake trout, particularly fish less than 23 inches long.

“We have a lot of compelling data that suggests lake trout less than 23 inches are taking a toll on the kokanee salmon recruitment in the reservoir,” said Robb Keith, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Green River Region. “Every small lake trout harvested is a savings in juvenile kokanee and the other trout we stock.”

Over the last few years, Game and Fish has identified at least six segments of shoreline where smaller, adult lake trout gather to spawn in depths up to 25 feet and as early as Oct. 10. The spawn is usually in full-swing by mid-October and typically lasts two to three weeks. Lake trout stay in shallow water and remain vulnerable to anglers into early November. Game and Fish will share maps with the locations highlighted where anglers can target the small spawning adults, and will post the locations on the Flaming Gorge Fishery Management page of the Green River Region webpage.

Most of the spawning grounds are on the east side of the reservoir and are most easily accessed by boat. However, some of the spawning areas can be accessed on foot, and Game and Fish has identified a few spawning grounds on the west shoreline. The spawning areas go from the south end of Big Bend to Boars Tusk in Utah. Small lake trout gravitate to the gravel, cobble slopes and submerged ridges that are 30 degrees or steeper. At times they can also be found in the backs of the deeper bays associated with these habitats.

Techniques to catch small lake trout include long-line trolling with lures such as spoons and Rapalas in 10-25 feet of water. It’s also a lot of fun to work a shoreline staying in 30-40 feet of water while casting lures to shore and working the lure back close to the bottom. 

Keith said one-quarter ounce or three-eighth ounce black, white and luminescent grub body jigs work well when doing this. They also work well when vertical jigging in 10-20 feet of water over structures that fish are actively using such as submerged ridges. Tipping the jigs with a small piece of sucker meat can help, especially when vertical jigging.

The limit for lake trout at Flaming Gorge in Wyoming is 12 per day, 24 in possession and only one over 28 inches in possession. The regulation is the same in Utah, except after the first day anglers can have a second lake trout over 28 inches in possession. 

“With such liberal limits, it’s a great opportunity for anglers to catch a mess of fish for smoking, canning or vacuum sealing and freezing to be eaten later,” Keith said. “The fall on Flaming Gorge is gorgeous. The recreational boaters and jet skiers have gone home. It can be quite lonely at times because there are so few other boats on the water.”

Anglers after small lake trout also have chances to catch other species, including rainbow and cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass and burbot.

Jackson Region
Lake trout fishing also picks up in the fall in the Jackson Region.

“Boat anglers will have the best luck early in the fall finding concentrations of feeding lake trout on deeper points and drop-offs,” said Darren Rhea, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Jackson Region. “Later in the fall, toward the end of the spawn and into November, bank anglers can experience great success for lake trout along the shores of any of the large lakes in the area, including Jackson, Jenny and Slide lakes. Jackson Lake is closed to fishing in October.

Area creeks and rivers provide good opportunities for trout. The brown trout spawning run in the Salt River is something anglers should try.

“These fish will be extremely aggressive as they move into their typical spawning period and provide an excellent opportunity to fish for large, mature brown trout sporting their best spawning colors,” Rhea said. “Streamers and Rapalas are the ticket here as you are trying to agitate these aggressive fish.”  

Casper Region
Many may think of walleye when fishing Glendo Reservoir, but Matt Hahn, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Casper Region, encourages anglers to go after channel catfish this fall. Hahn said channel catfish can be targeted from shore and boat. Fresh cut-bait such as suckers, carp and shad is an effective method.

“Anglers can expect to catch fish in the 18-25-inch range, with fish over 30 inches also present,” Hahn said.

If you are interested in going after big walleye, Hahn said Pathfinder, Seminoe and Alcova reservoirs are the places to go as the water cools down and fish become more active.

“All three reservoirs routinely produce walleye greater than 10 pounds,” Hahn said. He added trolling with crankbaits and casting large swimbaits are effective methods.

Fall is a good time to fish for large brown trout along the Miracle Mile of the North Platte River. Hahn said browns begin moving into the river from Pathfinder Reservoir in October. He also said there are good numbers of kokanee salmon in the river at that time, along with rainbow trout and walleye.

Lander Region
Boysen Reservoir has been a good spot for walleye the past couple of years, and should be again this fall. There are a lot of fish in the 17-18-inch range, and a good number of fish 25 inches and above.

“Anglers catch those bigger fish later in the fall more than anytime of the year,” said Paul Gerrity, Game and Fish fisheries biologist in Lander. “I can’t rave enough about the walleye at Boysen right now. It’s really good.”

Lake Cameahwait near Boysen Reservoir — also known as Bass Lake — should be good for largemouth bass, and Gerrity said anglers have been catching some nice tiger muskies.

Stream fishing should be good, especially for cutthroat trout in the East Fork Wind River drainage, which includes the Wiggins Fork and Bear Creek. The Wind and Popo Agie rivers should be good for brown trout and rainbow trout. Gerrity said the Sweetwater River has been plagued by low water years recently, but higher water levels this year improved the fishery for brown and rainbow trout.

High-alpine lakes in the Wind River Mountains are always good in the fall for trout, and Gerrity said he’s received positive reports from anglers going after golden trout this summer. 

Two popular spots in the region suffered winter kill and have no fish: Badwater Pond near Shoshoni and Cow Lake above Lander. Badwater Pond had some big tiger muskies, and Cow Lake had tiger trout that were 4 pounds and above.

Laramie Region
Fall is a good time to fish the North Platte, Encampment and Laramie rivers — along with some of their tributaries — for spawning brown trout.

“There are robust brown trout fisheries in all three of those rivers, and to me fall is the time you want to fish for brown trout,” said Bobby Compton, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Laramie Region.
Compton said the Laramie River upstream from Woods Landing should be good due to the brown trout spawn and because 2023 was a good water year for river habitat.

About two-thirds of the high-elevation lakes in the Snowy Range have brook trout, and Compton said fall is a good time to go after those fish.

“They are trying to spawn, are getting into shallower water and they’re more visible,” Compton said.“Not only can you fish for them in the fall, but I use that time to figure out where the good fish are. You can fish for them and observe them in the fall, then come back the next year and you know what’s there.”

A similar scenario takes place for brook trout at the numerous beaver ponds in the Pole Mountain area between Laramie and Cheyenne.

Compton said Dipper Lake in the Snowy Range has an abundant population of grayling and would make for a nice walk and angling opportunity.

Pinedale Region
Soda Lake near the town of Pinedale provides anglers with an opportunity to catch large brook and brown trout.
“The number of trout present is low, but the size is rewarding,” said Hilda Sexauer, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Pinedale Region.

Sexauer also said lake trout fishing in the Finger Lakes near Pinedale will pick up as air and water temperatures decrease. Some of the Wyoming Range streams like LaBarge, North Cottonwood and South Cottonwood creeks will pick up for cutthroat trout during the fall.

Sheridan Region
Paul Mavrakis, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Sheridan Region, said a couple of great year-classes of walleye are in Keyhole Reservoir between Sundance and Moorcroft.

“Fall fishing for walleye at Keyhole is typically pretty good, this year it should be really good,” he said.

Mavrakis said there are good numbers of small lake trout between 14-18 inches in Lake DeSmet near Buffalo, which is a little concerning to Game and Fish because kokanee salmon numbers are lower. One reason for fewer kokanee salmon was because of fewer fish to stock a few years ago, but there’s also fear of those smaller lake trout feeding on the kokanee.
As for stream fishing, Mavrakis said the Middle Fork of the Powder River outside of Kaycee looks to be “really strong” for brown and rainbow trout, along with Sand Creek near Beulah for brown trout. Anglers can access the creek at the Sand Creek Wildlife Habitat Management Area.

Cody Region
There is good access and good numbers of trout for shore and boat anglers at Buffalo Bill Dam and Willwood Dam. Anglers should expect good action for fall-spawning brown trout in Paintrock, Medicine Lodge and Shell creeks in the Bighorn Mountains. Closer to Cody, Dead Indian, Crandall and Sunlight creeks also should be good.

“Fall is a phenomenal time of year for a lot of our fisheries in the Cody Region,” said Sam Hochhalter, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor in the Cody Region.

Additional resources: