September 7, 2023 – Press Release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of our diverse aquatic ecosystems. To that end, annual fishing closures are in place to protect spawning kokanee salmon and other species in Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River below Fontenelle Dam.
Shoreline spawning kokanee are crucial for maintaining and recovering the kokanee population in Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Research indicates that they constitute a significant portion of the kokanee population, ranging from 50-80% depending on the year. A combination of good natural recruitment, maintaining stocking rates, and reducing predation is essential for improving the kokanee fishery.
“While it’s not illegal to fish for kokanee during the fall, anglers are required to release them immediately. Kokanee put all their energy into spawning and die soon after, so they should not have to endure additional stress if it can be avoided,” said John Walrath, Green River Fisheries Biologist.
Anglers are encouraged to target other species this fall, such as lake trout, allowing kokanee to spawn without added stressors. Small lake trout (<23 inches) will start staging for spawn in September, positioning themselves within 40-70 feet of water near spawning areas. In October, they will move to shorelines within 5-35 feet of water. These small lake trout typically range from 16-23 inches in size and can be anywhere from 7 to 20 years old. Recent research has shown that they make up a significant portion of the lake trout fishery and may consume 15-33% of their annual diet in kokanee, which can impact kokanee recruitment to the fishery.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir Fishing Closures:
September 10 – November 30: All kokanee shall be released into the water immediately. This closure aims to protect shoreline kokanee spawning, which is a vital component of the kokanee population in FGR, constituting 50-80% of the population.
Oct. 15 – Second Saturday in December: Linwood Bay is closed to nighttime angling. This regulation, mandated by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, is in place to protect spawning trophy lake trout and encourage boater safety.
Fishing Closure on the Green River:
October 1 – December 31: The Green River from Fontenelle Dam downstream, approximately one mile to the U.S. Geological gauge station (cable crossing) at the Weeping Rocks campground, is closed to fishing.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds all anglers to respect these closures and regulations to ensure the long-term health of our fisheries in the Green River Region. Although some areas are closed, fall fishing can still be exceptional, especially for small lake trout.
For more information about these fishing closures and regulations, please visit the Flaming Gorge Management page or contact the Green River regional office at 307-875-3223.