LARAMIE - When times are good at Wheatland Reservoir #3 they are very good. This reservoir suffers during drought conditions as water level decreases. However, adequate precipitation in recent years has kept water at beneficial levels for fish.
When full, Wheatland #3 is the largest reservoir in the Laramie Region at over 4,700 surface acres. It has a maximum depth of 50 feet and an average depth of 15 feet. Access to private lands owned by the Wheatland Irrigation District around the lake is provided through an agreement with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Large public areas around the lake are owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Facilities are managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as a Public Access Area.
Since the most recent filling in 2009, Wheatland #3 has developed into one of the most productive and popular fishing destinations in southeast Wyoming. It’s known for large trout, many of which are well over 20 inches in length. The current fisheries management consists of stocking 80,000 seven-inch rainbow trout and 7,500 brown trout annually. Tiger trout were stocked in 2017 and will be stocked again in 2020. Walleye are not stocked, but can be found in the lake. Wheatland Reservoir #2 has a limited Walleye population and no public access. When water is delivered from #2 to #3 Walleye come with the water and have established a population in #3.
One way managers evaluate a fishery is interviewing anglers to determine several “catch” statistics. These creel surveys provide valuable information into how a fishery is performing and if it meets the objectives set by managers. Game wardens frequently interview anglers during routine patrols and provide fishery biologist with the data. Three hundred ninety angler interviews were conducted at Wheatland Reservoir #3 from January through November in 2017. Residency was almost evenly split between resident anglers and nonresident anglers.
Anglers reported catching three species of game fish (1 brown trout, 350 rainbow trout and 27 walleye). They reported keeping 61 percent of the trout they caught. The average trout catch rate was 0.19 fish/ hour, meaning on average one fish was caught for every 5 hours of fishing. This catch rate is relatively slow, but consistent with lakes with large fish. The highest catch rates were in March and October, when anglers caught 0.40 fish/hour. Overall, the opportunity for anglers to catch large trout has made Wheatland # 3 a popular destination fishery in southeast Wyoming.