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Game and Fish: Catch and release fishing should be limited on North Platte River due to rising water temps

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Catch and release angling should be limited in certain sections of the North Platte River due to warmer-than-normal water temperatures, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said Friday. 

According to Game and Fish, the Bureau of Reclamation is currently running all water from Alcova Reservoir over the spillway, leading to heightened water temperatures below Alcova and Gray Reef dams while maintenance is completed.

“Typically, the water comes through the powerplant from the bottom of Alcova Reservoir and is in the 50-degree range in summer,” Game and Fish said in a July 28 press release. “Since the spillway pulls water from the top of Alcova Reservoir, the water entering the river is approaching 70 degrees and warming up as it flows downstream.”

Casper Regional Fisheries Supervisor Matt Hahn says catch and release–related mortality is significantly elevated when water temperatures are at or above 70 degrees.

“We ask that people be aware of the water temperatures in the river right now and consider limiting catch and release angling to the early morning hours or visiting one of the other regional tailwaters, such as the Miracle Mile or Fremont Canyon, where water temperatures remain cool,” Hahn said in the release. 

Water temperatures are expected to remain high throughout the weekend and into early next week until the Bureau of Reclamation can complete needed maintenance, Game and Fish says. 

“As water temperatures increase, anglers should monitor water temps while fishing,” Hahn said in the release. “When water temperatures hit 70 degrees, it is recommended anglers stop catching and releasing trout. Anglers should practice self-restraint to help fish survive.”

Once the maintenance is completed, water temperatures are anticipated to decline to normal levels, per Game and Fish.