Wyoming's Zombie Lake Back From The Dead As Game And Fish Restocks Popular Saratoga Reservoir

After killing all the fish in Saratoga Lake last fall to rid it of invasive yellow perch, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is re-stocking the popular lake.

Mark Heinz

May 09, 20233 min read

After all the fish in Saratoga Lake were killed last fall to rid the lake of a yellow perch infestation, it's being restocked with trout.
After all the fish in Saratoga Lake were killed last fall to rid the lake of a yellow perch infestation, it's being restocked with trout. (Photo Courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

Saratoga Lake is back from the dead.

After deliberately killing all of the fish in lake last September, the Wyoming Game and Fish has began restocking it this month with trout of various sizes.

Every fish in the lake was condemned to death early last fall because of a persistent infestation of illegally stocked yellow perch. There was no way to single out the perch, either with fishing rods or by chemical elimination. So, everything had to die.

After allowing the public to pull as many fish as possible out of the lake, the agency applied poisonous rotenone.

By every indication, it worked, and the lake was devoid of life throughout the winter said Bobby Compton, Game and Fish Laramie Region fisheries supervisor.

Season Of Renewal

That meant Saratoga’s famed annual ice fishing derby had to skip a year, even though accompanying skijoring races went on as planned in February. Skijoring involves brave souls on skis being pulled by horseback riders at a full gallop.

However, winter releases its hold and new fish thrive in the lake, fishing is back on the roster this summer, Compton told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

“It should be better than it was before,” he said.

After this week’s stocking of trout, Game and Fish will stock the lake again around Memorial Day. And then again this fall and early winter, assuring that ice fishing can boom again, Compton said.

Reviving fishing in Saratoga Lake was important because it’s popular, he added. It’s long been a popular spot for locals, or people from Laramie and the surrounding region, to wet a line. But in recent years, it’s increasingly drawn people from across Wyoming and other states.

“Anymore, so many people are traveling to Saratoga, or just passing through, the lake has gained popularity as a destination for fishing, camping and other recreation,” Compton said.

Not The Only Zombie Lake

Saratoga Lake also not the only lake in the region coming back from the dead, Compton said.

Everything in Meeboer Lake roughly 15 miles west of Laramie died over the winter, although more from natural causes than deliberate killing, he said.

Because this past winter was so cold, the lake froze so hard that it put the fish there in jeopardy, Compton said. Then in February, the lake’s aeration system failed and everything died.

It’s the first time that’s happened in a decade, according to Game and Fish.

The agency has restocked trout into Meeboer – which is one of the popular Laramie pains lakes – and it’s expected to make a full recovery, he said.

It might take a while for fishing to kick back in there, however, as fingerling rainbow and Snake River cutthroat trout were stocked in Meeboer.

Mark Heinz can be reached at Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter