WYOMING — In 2021, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department put more than 6.5 million fish in 368 Wyoming to maintain the state’s fishing opportunities for anglers.
The majority of fish — cold-water varieties of trout — come from the department’s 10 hatcheries and rearing stations across Wyoming. To offer more variety for anglers, Game and Fish trades trout or trout eggs with other states for cool and warm water species like catfish, bass, northern pike and walleye. Game and Fish does not have a fish hatchery capable of rearing these warm-water species, making these trades necessary.
But, that capacity is slowly changing. In 2021, Dan Speas Fish Hatchery in Casper continued its cool/warm-water expansion trials to raise walleye, one of the most popular sportfish in Wyoming.
“Put simply — 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.”
Enhancing capacity to meet anglers’ demands is important for Wyoming’s hatchery system. An accomplishment for 2021 was reaching a landmark with the captive kokanee salmon broodstock at Tillett Springs Rearing Station. 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.”
Wyoming is the only state in the country with a captive kokanee brookstock as well as captive golden trout broodstock housed at Story Hatchery.
Another standout for 2021 was the Bear River cutthroat. The species of native trout flourished and fish managers capitalized on the growth. Bear River cutthroat are raised at both Speas and Wigwam Rearing Station.
“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 in 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 again and again, and keeps the state’s fisheries a favorite for nonresidents as well. Anglers can see the Game and Fish stocking reports online as far back as 1985 here.