There are abundant ice fishing opportunities in northeastern Wyoming for trout and other popular game fish. Most of the waters are not yet safe to fish through, but good ice is expected to form soon.
Muddy Guard Reservoir No. 1, just south of Buffalo, is likely to produce trout this winter. At this reservoir, all trout less than 20 inches must be immediately released - and the possession limit at Muddy Guard No. 1 is one trout. Remember, only artificial flies or lures can be used there and no bait is allowed.
Healy Reservoir is expected to provide nice ice fishing for yellow perch this winter. Other possible catches include Snake River Cutthroat trout, splake, largemouth bass, walleye - and if you're lucky - some of the small tiger muskies that were stocked recently.
Lake DeSmet is notorious for developing pockets of unsafe ice, which are prone to swallowing up vehicles. Driving on ice - in any lake - is not recommended, but Wyoming Game and Fish says it's especially worse on Lake DeSmet. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and yellow perch will be the most likely catches there this season. Anglers might also see an occasional large brown trout or walleye. On Lake DeSmet and Healy Reservoir, anglers can also use commercially produced live minnows.
There are many alpine lakes and reservoirs along the east side of the Bighorns that provide excellent ice fishing. Willow, Park and Kearny Reservoirs, Sibley Lake and Tie Hack Reservoir are among good spots for ice fishing. Game and Fish advises ice anglers to be especially cautious at Tie Hack due to possible water level fluctuations. Lake trout are present at Kearny Reservoir and at Twin Lakes.
According to the department's sampling data, there are decent numbers of 12-16 inch walleye and plenty of 8-10 inch crappie in Keyhole Reservoir. There's also the possibility of catching a legal, 30 inch plus northern pike there. Along with Lake DeSmet, keyhole is one of the Wyoming waters where special ice fishing regulations are in effect. It's legal to use hand lines, set lines, poles or tip-ups, provided no angler uses more than six lines.
The department says a less popular spot in the area is LAK Reservoir near Newcastle - but there's plenty of variety there. Ice anglers can look for walleye, tiger muskies, smallmouth bass and the occasional brown trout at this Reservoir.
Officials want to remind all ice fisherman to check the thickness of all ice before venturing out on top of it, checking every 100 to 150 feet. Four inches of clear ice is usually safe for fishing. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice - which has frozen, thawed and then refrozen. White ice is not always stable and is much weaker than clear blue ice. While fishing on white ice, be sure to double the recommended thickness.
Low water temperatures can be life threatening this time of year - and hypothermia is a serious risk for anyone who falls through. Before venturing out, learn to recognize the signs of hypothermia and how to treat it. Ice anglers should always have dry clothing and hot liquids close at hand, recommends the department.
As the end of the year approaches, don't forget to purchase your 2013 fishing license and conservation stamp. A lifetime fishing license conservation stamp can be purchased at a variety of local vendors. Game and Fish says to check current regulations before fishing an unfamiliar water and always before fishing during a new year, as regulations may change.
Editor's note: This report is courtesy of Warren Mischke, Public Information Specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.