Ice fishing derbies, clinics coming up

WYOMING –The subzero temperatures southwest Wyoming experienced in December and into January are producing excellent ice fishing opportunities on Flaming Gorge and Fontenelle reservoirs. With two burbot ice fishing derbies coming up and the ice continuing to build and thicken, now is a great time to get out those fishing poles and get ready to catch some burbot.

Flaming Gorge and Fontenelle reservoirs are popular ice fishing destinations. Most anglers target rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and burbot at both reservoirs and lake trout at Flaming Gorge. Angler success will be high this year at both reservoirs with their high abundance of burbot in both and small lake trout in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Anglers will also enjoy liberal limits on lake trout in Flaming Gorge Reservoir that as of January 1, increased to 12 per day and 24 in possession, only one lake trout over 28 inches in possession. As always, check your fishing regulation for species-specific regulations.

Burbot in the Green River Basin behave like an invasive species. Area fisheries biologists are concerned with burbot as they compete with sport fish for food and are a voracious predator that eats prized sport fish like kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass and trout that would otherwise be available for anglers to catch. Fisheries crews from Wyoming and Utah have worked hard, since burbot were first discovered, to figure out ways to reduce their impact on sport fish populations.

Currently, the best option for controlling burbot numbers is angler harvest. The Game and Fish reclassified burbot in the Green River Basin as a nongame fish, allowing unlimited harvest and added a must kill regulation. Anglers are encouraged to take advantage of improving ice conditions to do their part for the sport fisheries and remove as many burbot as possible from local waters.

Every burbot removed from local waters saves sport fish. The upcoming ice fishing derbies are a great opportunity for anglers to have a fun weekend ice fishing, possibly win some money, and reduce the impact burbot are having on the sport fish in Flaming Gorge and Fontenelle reservoirs.

The 2019 Burbot Bash and LaBarge Ding the Ling ice fishing derbies aim to reduce the number of burbot and thereby the impact burbot are having on local fisheries.

“These derbies also provide a great opportunity to educate the public about the problems burbot are causing, to recruit anglers, and to remove thousands of burbot,” Green River Fisheries Biologist John Walrath said. “Since burbot derbies began on the Gorge in 2010 nearly 40,000 burbot have been removed – this doesn’t include burbot harvested by anglers the rest of the year. The Game and Fish appreciates the time and effort the Flaming Gorge Chamber of Commerce (Burbot Bash) and the La Barge Activities Committee (Ding the Ling) put into hosting these fun and productive derbies. These events require an enormous amount of planning and time to ensure they run safely and smoothly and that everyone has a great time.”

The 2019 Burbot Bash is being held January 25-27 on Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The 2019 Ding the Ling is being held February 8-10 on Fontenelle Reservoir.

Fishing clinic

If you feel a bit rusty on how to catch burbot or lake trout join the Game and Fish January 17 at 6pm at the Green River Game and Fish Office for a fishing clinic. Fisheries biologists will share tips and techniques, as well as some information regarding management of both species. Various rigs will be setup for viewing and we welcome additional insights from experienced anglers on the techniques they use and feel work best for them through the ice.

Sportsman’s Warehouse will also be present to display various types of gear they have available at their store in Rock Springs.

For more information about burbot and lake trout, including management strategies, tips on catching both species, and recipes, visit the following Wyoming Game and Fish Department website.

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