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Winter snow means more fish in spring

​Spring might be right around the corner, but there is still a lot of winter left in Wyoming. That’s a good thing for anglers because more water equals more fish.

Laramie – According to the Wyoming State Climate Office, by early February the Laramie River drainage was at 105 percent of normal snowpack and the Upper North Platte River drainage was at 108 percent. “Overall, we’re in better shape than this same time last year, which resulted in drought-like conditions last summer” said Bobby Compton, fisheries supervisor for the Laramie Region. “The snowpack in southeast Wyoming is solid and we hope spring snows keep it up.”

In 2018, the North Platte River drainage was at 85 percent and Laramie River drainage was at 106 percent. Even though the Laramie River drainage was above normal early last year, the lack of springtime snow resulted in drought conditions within the drainage. “This shows how important the spring snows are,” Compton said.

Snowpack is important to Wyoming’s freshwater ecosystems because it serves as frozen water storage. Fish species such as trout, as well as the aquatic insects that feed them, require rivers to flow at normal levels in order to flourish. Rivers that have adequate flows throughout the dog days of summer support healthy fisheries. The length of time the snow sticks around is important to fish. If the snow melts too rapidly, it could cause flooding in some areas, but also results in low summertime river flows and warmer water temperatures. But in years with cooler springs, the snow melts at a slower rate and stays in the ecosystem longer to benefit fish and other aquatic species. The added bonus to cooler springs and bountiful snowpack is that spring snowmelt fills up our reservoirs and sustains the fish that live in these still waters.

For now, the outlook is bright for the 2019 fishing season. “It’s a good time to start thinking about springtime fishing. Maybe plan to go after your Cutt Slam or XStream Angler challenge, or take the family to participate in some of the many fishing challenges for kids,” Compton said. Learn more about these challenges at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/Fishing-Challenges.

“Higher snowpack results in more water flowing in rivers and higher reservoir levels, and this all results in more fish,” Compton said. “So let’s do a snow dance.”