Cheyenne - October is the golden month for fall fishing. The fish are active, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department fish managers around the state agree it's the best time to get outside with your rod.
Brown trout spawn in autumn so expect good action. A trip to the North Platte never disappoints, and there is plenty of public access. The Miracle Mile, Cardwell, Gray Reef and Saratoga reaches of the North Platte are all Blue Ribbon waters, holding more than 600 pounds of trout per mile. Anglers can expect to catch fish on streamers, nymphs and dry flies this time of year. The Miracle Mile is especially popular with fall anglers since October is when large brown trout from Pathfinder Reservoir begin moving into the river.
Brown trout seekers who visit the Salt River near Jackson will be rewarded with strong populations through December or January. The Salt River runs almost entirely on private land, but there are numerous public access areas for fishing. The Green and New Fork rivers are good options, too, that offer plenty of fishing access. Dry flies such as grasshoppers are still working during the day.
Some smaller North Platte tributaries near Laramie will also be rewarding. Laramie Regional Fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton recommends visiting Big Creek, Brush Creek, Douglas Creek, French Creek, or the lower Encampment River. And, as usual, the Laramie Plains lakes will be hopping as temperatures cool. Good fishing is predicted at Meeboer, Gelatt Lake, Twin Buttes and Lake Hattie. Wheatland No. 3 is also expected to be hot again this season. At Hattie and Wheatland 3, anglers should watch for fall-spawning rainbow trout populations that swim close to the shore.
Rainbows are also flourishing and growing large in Boysen Reservoir this year. Game and Fish is stocking almost double the amount than in year’s past, and people have noticed an increase in quality and numbers.
For an all-around good trout experience, the North Tongue River, Middle Fork Powder River and Sand Creek are northern destinations not to be missed. Also, the Green River below Fontenelle Dam will have plenty of rainbow, Snake River cutthroat and Bear River cutthroat trout eagerly feeding on nymphs, San Juan worms and minnow patterns. The Finger Lakes near Pinedale are a good destination for lake trout — try Fremont, Boulder, Halfmoon and New Fork. Lake trout will move into the shallows starting in October as the nights dip into the 30s. Soda Lake continues to fish well and will be open to fishing until Nov. 14. Healthy looking browns and brook trout over 16 inches are common.
Anglers who target warm-water species should plan to head to waters around Sheridan, Casper and Lander. Healy Reservoir, near Buffalo, is a great destination for bass, with some largemouths over 20 inches and 5 pounds. Keyhole, in the northeast, has good water levels and the summer treated the fish well. Casper and Lander area waters should hold active walleye thanks to higher-than-normal flows from good snowpacks around the state.
“At Glendo, the main forage fish in the lake — gizzard shad — begin to die off in September and October, and the walleye and channel catfish really key in on this,” said Matt Hahn, Casper regional fisheries supervisor. “Anglers should plan on trolling crankbaits that resemble shad or vertical jig schools of suspended fish with jigging spoons.”
Hahn also points walleye-seekers to Pathfinder and recommends casting large swimbaits to the shore, especially in the upper end of the lake.
Farther west, Boysen Reservoir cleared in the late summer and Craig Amadio, the Lander regional fisheries supervisor, has heard excellent reports from the field.
“Walleye fishing is the best it’s been in a long time, and I expect that to be the case this fall. Walleye in Boysen are feeding on bigger fish now — perch and rainbow trout. A lot of anglers will troll open water using crankbaits and planer boards,” Amadio said.
October isn’t too late for an adventure. Many alpine lakes offer quality golden trout and cutthroat trout if you’re prepared to fish in the snow. Higher elevations are known for storms as early as September. Thumb Lake and Atlantic Lake are a couple good golden trout waters, and the Wind River Range has goldens in the Sweeney Lakes and Hobbs Lake. Chasing tiger trout is an option for anglers wanting to reel in something different; visit Upper Silas Lake, Willow Park Reservoir and Cow Lake.
An added bonus of fall fishing is the solitude. Many avid sportsmen and women have exchanged rods for rifles by October. For those looking for a peaceful angling trip, visit Grayrocks and Hawk Springs in the southeast for walleye, crappie and bass. Boysen is also expected to be less crowded as hunters head afield. Robb Keith, Green River fisheries supervisor, reminds anglers that the Hams Fork River downstream of Kemmerer City Reservoir is home to a variety of trout species and has public access through a Game and Fish fishing easement along the river in a stretch of private land below the reservoir. Bring your streamers as the fall progresses, dry flies and grasshoppers won’t do here.
If elbow room and aggressively feeding fish sound like a good combo, the Shoshone River below Buffalo Bill Dam should be on the list. Between Buffalo Bill Dam and Willwood Dam there are 2,500 trout per mile and relatively good access for both wading and floating. Big Horn Lake and the Bighorn River will also be less crowded and the sauger big and active — the biggest tipping 5 to 6 pounds, with an average of 2 to 4 pounds. Sam Hochhalter, Cody regional fisheries supervisor, recommends everything from jigs and crankbaits to night crawlers and live minnows to bring in a big one.
Be sure to review the 2017 Fishing Regulations before heading out for limits and other fishing restrictions on the waters you plan to explore.
- WGFD -