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Wyoming Game and Fish asking anglers to practice heat-awareness when fishing

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Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:37 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (MEDIA RELEASE) - As Wyoming faces with another year of drought, trout are grappling with reduced food and oxygen, and in many instances, their very survival.  The conditions have fish managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department concerned about the impacts on fish in many of the local rivers and lakes. 

As the water levels drop, the temperature rises. Warm water is a threat to trout and other cold water species.  

Pinedale Fisheries Supervisor, Hilda Sexauer, says trout experience significant mortality at prolonged exposure to water temperatures greater than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and brief exposure to temperatures over 80 degrees are lethal.  

“Unfortunately, we anticipate there will be fish kills this summer due to high water temperatures and low oxygen,” Sexauer said. 

Fish stress quicker in warmer water because the water holds less oxygen, which greatly hampers a fish’s ability to recover from the rigors of being caught.  As water temperature approaches 70 degrees the chance for any fish species to survive being caught and released is greatly reduced.  

Water temperature is particularly important for anglers practicing catch and release or where our regulations require fish to be released. The department asks all anglers practicing catch and release to consider the following during the dog days of summer:

  • Fish early in the morning while water temperature is cooler.
  • Carry a pocket thermometer and monitor the water temperature.
  • If the water temperature is at or above 70 degrees, consider keeping what you catch within the regulations.
  • As water temperature increases, using the proper techniques to catch and release a fish become increasingly more important to help ensure the fish has a chance to survive:
  • Play and 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 fish 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 supper because the fish has a poor chance of surviving.

These are not new regulations, just recommendations to assist with the conservation of the fishery resource. If water temperatures are high, perhaps fish only during the very early morning or take a trip to the high country.

To learn how to release a fish properly, click here.

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