Wyoming Game and Fish Stocks 6.5 Million Fish in 2021
Written by Andrew-Rossi on December 14, 2021
Wyoming Game and Fish cold-stocked and warm traded its way through an extremely fishy year, enhancing future angling experiences across the state.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is wrapping up fish stocking for the year – and it was tremendous. Overall, the department put more than 6.5 million fish in 368 Wyoming waters to maintain the state’s top-notch fishing opportunities for anglers.
The majority of fish — cold-water varieties of trout — come from the department’s ten hatcheries and rearing stations scattered across Wyoming. However, Game and Fish trades trout or trout eggs with other states for cool and warm water species like catfish, bass, northern pike, and walleye to offer more variety for anglers.
Trading fish with other states is necessary because Game and Fish does not have a fish hatchery capable of rearing warm-water species. But that capacity is slowly changing.
Enhancing capacity to meet anglers’ demands is essential for Wyoming’s fish hatchery system and angling opportunities.
In 2021, Dan Speas Fish Hatchery in Casper continued its cool/warm-water expansion trials. These trails aim to raise walleye, one of the most popular sportfish in Wyoming.
“These trials are incredibly innovative. Game and Fish’s culture section has recognized the increased popularity of these cool/warm-water species in Wyoming,” said Alan Osterland, Game and Fish chief of fisheries. “These trials are the first step in a continued effort to provide Wyoming anglers excellent fishing opportunities.”
Another significant accomplishment for 2021 is reaching a landmark with the captive kokanee salmon broodstock at Tillett Springs Rearing Station near Lovell. Kokanee, a native land-locked salmon, is quickly becoming a favorite for many anglers.
“We saw a strong year of raising kokanee. The broodstock produced about 2.5 million eggs this year,” said Guy Campbell, fish culture supervisor. “It’s remarkable because our program was previously dependent on Wyoming’s wild population for eggs, now we are very self-sufficient to raise kokanee for anglers. We should be able to meet all stocking demands for kokanee next summer.”
Native trout species throughout Wyoming are flourishing – and Game and Fish managers are capitalizing on the growth.
Wyoming is the only state in the country with a captive broodstock of both kokanee salmon and golden trout. These fish are housed at Story Hatchery between Buffalo and Sheridan. But the standout in 2021 is the Bear River cutthroat trout.
Bear River cutthroat are raised at Speas Hatchery in Casper and Wigwam Rearing Station outside Ten Sleep. In 2021, Wyoming Game and Fish almost doubled the amount of cutthroat stocked across the state.
“We stocked 425,000 Bear River cutthroat in 2020 and 839,000 in 2021,” said Travis Trimble, assistant fish culture supervisor. “A few years back, fish biologists started noticing this species was showing up in the creel and their sampling efforts more and more. Not only showing up but also in great condition. Consequently, regional fish supervisors have been requesting this species in their region for anglers in greater numbers.”
Healthy fish and hearty stocking numbers are key as Wyoming continues to satisfy resident anglers – all they ask is that anglers call out their trout.
In the ongoing effort to understand fisheries in northwest Wyoming, biologists often offer incentives for anglers to call in any tagged trout they catch. Any tagged trout caught can be kept – all biologists want is the tag’s information for their research and records.
In Summer 2021, anglers in the North Fork and Buffalo Bill Reservoir were encouraged to report tagged Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Anglers were entered into a raffle sponsored by the Adiposse Chapter of Trout Unlimited for each tagged fish reported.
Anglers can see the Game and Fish stocking reports online as far back as 1985 by looking at Fish Stocking Reports on the Wyoming Game and Fish website.