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Regulations still in effect on free fishing day

Although Saturday is free fishing day, it behooves potential anglers to bone-up on Wyoming fishing regulations before wetting a fly or drowning a worm.

In conjunction with National Recreational Fishing and Boating Week, free fishing days are designed to educate folks about fish habits and the means to catch fish, said the Wyoming Game and Fish Department 2012-13 fishing regulations.

Regulations can be obtained by clicking on the department’s website at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/fishing-1000428.aspx#fishregs or at a regional office like the one in Cody off Wyo. 120.

No license is required Saturday, but regulations still are in effect, and game wardens will be checking creels.

“Even though it is free, you still have to abide by the (creel) limits and regulations,” said Game and Fish Cody Fisheries Supervisor Steve Yekel.

Area 2 consists of Wind, Big Horn, Shoshone, Clark’s Fork and Yellowstone river drainages.

Fishermen need to keep their bearings while fishing the North Fork of the Shoshone.

The North Fork is closed to fishing from Gibbs Bridge upstream to, and including, Newton Creek through June 30 to allow trout to spawn. It is open to fishing above Newton Creek, Yekel said. 

In addition, “That portion lying west of a straight line connecting the mouths of Rattlesnake Creek and Sheep Creek (commonly known as Spring Creek) up the drainage to Gibbs Bridge is closed to fishing from April 1 through July 14,” the regulations say.

That closure is to allow some breathing space for trout that spawned upstream and are returning to Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Yekel said. 

The rest of Buffalo Bill Reservoir is open.

All lakes in area 2, unless otherwise specified, have a limit of six trout with only one exceeding 24 inches.

Anglers can take as many walleye as they want from Buffalo Bill. Jigging with sucker meat may be effective to catch them, Yekel said.

East Newton Lake regulations allow the harvest of one trout, and it must be 22 inches or longer. All others must be released immediately.

No motorized boats are allowed on Beck Lake.

Anglers can keep or have in their possession six trout per day in lakes like West Newton Lake or the Beck lakes. Those lakes are well stocked with trout, and it may be a little easier for young anglers to catch them, Yekel said.

Only three walleye are allowed in possession per day on Deaver Reservoir, and no motorized boats of 15 horsepower or more are allowed, the regulations say.

Regulations on Big Horn Lake downstream from the causeway (U.S. 14-A) in Big Horn County allow five trout per day and 10 trout in possession. There is a limit of six bass per day and 12 in possession. A total of six walleye and sauger are allowed, but no more than three can be sauger, with a total of 12 in possession allowed. Of those 12, no more than three can be sauger.

Until off the lake for the day, all walleye and sauger must be kept whole, but gills and guts can be removed. Six channel catfish are allowed in possession. Three burbot (ling) are allowed in possession per day. Two shovelnose sturgeon are allowed in possession per day. There is no limit on other game fish in Big Horn Lake, according to the regulations.

All ramps are open on Big Horn Lake, although the water is not real deep, and water coming into the lake is not optimal. “We’re having another dry spring, and it is presenting water shortages there,” Yekel said.

Anglers would be wise to carry their regulations in the field and to make certain they know what species they catch, Yekel said. Distinguishing cutthroats from cutthroat/rainbow hybrids can be tricky, but if the trout has no white on its fins, it probably is a cutthroat.

“We have some pretty good diagrams or drawings of trout,” Yekel said.

A fishing license still is required in Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation Saturday.

A three-day fishing permit is $18, a seven-day permit is $25 and an annual permit goes for $40 in Yellowstone.

If you like catching and eating lake trout, Yellowstone Lake is the place to fish this summer. 

Because they prey on native cutthroat trout, all lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake, its tributaries, and the Yellowstone River must be killed, park regulations say.

“If you do not want to keep the fish, puncture the air bladder and drop it into water as deep as possible,” the booklet says.

The park’s regulations can be found at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/fishdates.htm.

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