By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Unlimited fishing will be temporarily allowed at Saratoga Lake in advance of plans to kill all of the lake’s fish, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced on Wednesday.
The creel and possession limits were lifted Wednesday due to the department’s plans to chemically treat the lake in September, killing any fish left in the water.
Typical Wyoming regulations allow anglers at the lake to keep six trout per day.
Earlier this month, the Game and Fish Department announced it would kill all the fish in Saratoga Lake because of the illegal introduction of yellow perch. The decision forced the cancelation of Saratoga’s annual Ice Fishing Derby because there will be no live fish in the lake by January.
The fish will be poisoned using “rotenone” at the lake in mid-September, so anglers have at least two months to fish for trout and yellow perch to their stomach’s delight. There are rainbow, tiger and brown trout in the lake.
The perch are actually not native to the lake and are the reason the lake’s population must be wiped out.
“Last summer, we discovered [yellow] perch in the lake during routine university sampling,” Alan Osterland, Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s fisheries chief, told Cowboy State Daily this month. “We manage that as a trout fishery, so having perch so high up in the system could be a problem for many reasons.”
Osterland said the plan is to restock the lake with trout next summer.
Although the fish kill has caused the cancellation of the popular and long-running Saratoga Ice Fishing Derby, which was set to celebrate its 40th year in 2023, the event is planned to return in 2024 without yellow perch in the water.
The fishing derby was started in the 1980s by Wyoming author C.J. Box, who has since become a household name for his series of Joe Pickett and Cassie Dewell novels.
This is not the first time the department has had to treat Saratoga Lake, but Osterland said it has been many years since this last occurred.