From the Wyoming Game and Fish Department
CHEYENNE, WYOMING (June 26, 2020) — Fisheries biologists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department report both good and bad news after sampling Cheyenne’s Lake Absarraca.
Biologists conduct nighttime electro-fishing surveys at Lake Absarraca every two years to monitor the largemouth bass population. “The bass are doing well in Absarraca. There are many different size classes present, and we’re seeing good reproduction,” said Laramie Region Fisheries Biologist Chance Kirkeeng. He reports bass up to 18.5 inches and weighing 4.5 pounds. “There’s also a strong year-class of 14-inch fish, all weighing about 2 pounds. These are nice looking fish,” he said.
Absarraca is one of the best lakes in southeast Wyoming for bass and offers a great opportunity to catch a Master Angler largemouth bass. The minimum qualifying length for a Master Angler largemouth bass is 16 inches. Kirkeeng also reports healthy populations of bluegill and golden shiners in Lake Absarraca. That’s the good news.
The bad news is biologists also found fish that aren’t supposed to be in Absarraca. “We caught a 13-inch goldfish and a 19-inch, 3-pound walleye. People want to catch walleye, so they introduce walleye in a lake. They don’t want to kill their pet goldfish, so they put those in a lake. Introducing new fish species can change the ecological dynamics of the existing fishery, and is illegal,” he said.
As for goldfish, pet owners sometimes release an unwanted fish into a local pond or lake, resulting in populations of these undesirable species. “Goldfish grow quickly and can have lots of offspring very fast,” Kirkeeng said. “When this happens, these fish grow too big for bass to eat, and often use up a lot of resources in the lake.
Kirkeeng said “bucket biologists” illegally move fish into lakes in hopes of building populations of species they desire to catch. Unfortunately, walleye can have a negative effect on the bass population by slowing their growth due to competition for food and reducing the bass population by preying on young bass. “Undesirable species will change the system and the way it works, and can change the way we manage a lake,” Kirkeeng said.
Penalties to introduce fish illegally may include lifetime revocation of Wyoming hunting and fishing privileges, a fine up to $10,000, up to one year in jail, and civil penalties in an amount not to exceed the costs incurred by the department in removing the fish from the waters affected by the violation.
Biologists will continue to monitor Lake Absarraca to determine if there are more walleye and goldfish. Anglers who catch a walleye in Lake Absarraca are asked to contact the Laramie Game and Fish office at (307) 745-4046. Anglers should keep in mind that the 15-inch limit on largemouth bass is still in place in Lake Absarraca. The complete fishing regulations and more information about the Master Angler program can be found on the Game and Fish Department webpage at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/.