Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

Game and Fish trout meetings generate consensus

WORLAND – Designated the state fish in 1987, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, a native to Wyoming before settlement and once abundant, is scheduled to be reintroduced to the Absaroka, Beartooth and Big Horn Mountains, but ahead of the measure, Game and Fish officials have been taking public input from interested anglers and outdoors enthusiasts.

 

April 20, 2018



WORLAND – Designated the state fish in 1987, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, a native to Wyoming before settlement and once abundant, is scheduled to be reintroduced to the Absaroka, Beartooth and Big Horn Mountains, but ahead of the measure, Game and Fish officials have been taking public input from interested anglers and outdoors enthusiasts.

Starting in February in Worland, a group of wildlife officials led by Cody Regional Fisheries Supervisor Sam Hochhalter met with a half dozen residents to take recommendations before holding similar meetings in Cody and Lovell.

This week Game and Fish released their final public input from those meetings, and announced that a comprehensive study will be released this fall, while examination of the release areas will begin this summer.

After reviewing input from the approximately 80 participants spanning three meetings across the Big Horn Basin, input levels were calculated to determine where the species might be reintroduced.

Findings from the Nowood District (Worland and Ten Sleep) indicated a strong approval to stock Canyon Creek, Leigh Creek and East Tensleep Creek, with some hesitation to stock Meadowlark Lake due to the location’s vicinity to the Ten Sleep Hatchery.

The Clark’s Fork District (Cody) indicated a strong approval to stock Crandall Creek, Line Creek and Littlerock Creek, with no overall consensus regarding introducing the cutthroat to Sunlight Creek. Cody’s North Fork District findings included strong approval to stock Eagle Creek, while Elk Creek gained little support due to flooding issues and existing rainbow trout spawn areas. The South Fork area saw high approval for stocking Ishawooa Creek while little support for Boulder and Rock creeks due to flooding and accessibility.

The Big Horn Lake District (Lovell) found high approval for Shell and Trapper creeks and Shell Reservoir as cutthroat habitat, while Porcupine Creek fared low due to existing brook trout populations.

Overall, it was decided that a balance needs to be found concerning opportunities to fish for native and nonnative trout species, opportunities for both consumptive and non-consumptive users and opportunities for both backcountry and front country experiences.

Also of importance were access considerations (public/private; motorized/non-motorized), preserving existing the populations of cutthroat, and better understanding impact of regulations (catch & release, creel limits, bait, etc.)

Due to the smaller number of participants in Lovell and Worland, Game and Fish merged meetings 2 and 3 into one. 

Going forward, Hochhalter notes that the Game and Fish will investigate barrier options in East Tensleep Creek, Willett Creek and Leigh Creek. The department will also do a fish population survey and suitability study in Ishawooa Creek.

More information can be found online at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Get-Involved/Cutthroat-Trout.

 
 

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