(Casper, Wyo.) –Anglers in the Casper Region should expect good ice fishing opportunities this winter as long as the ice remains safe.  “Common sense and caution are still the best defenses when ice fishing,” said Janet Milek, information specialist for the Casper Game and Fish office.

Anglers are urged to use caution when trekking out onto ice.  Ice conditions can vary on a daily basis due to temperature changes and wind. “If there is any question as to ice safety, it is best to avoid a situation that could result in an accident,” Milek said. Be sure to check the thickness of any ice before venturing onto it, and continue checking it every 100 to 150 feet. Four inches of clear ice is usually safe for fishing. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice, which has frozen, thawed and refrozen and is not always stable. For white ice, double the recommended thickness.

Ice fishermen should never go out on the ice alone. “It can make all the difference having somebody there to throw a rope if you do fall through,” Milek said. Low water temperatures can be life threatening this time of year and hypothermia is a serious risk for anyone who does fall through the ice. Ice fishermen should learn to recognize and treat hypothermia.

If the weather and the ice cooperate, anglers should expect good walleye fishing at Glendo Reservoir this winter, with a lot of 15-17 inch fish available. Anglers are reminded of the 15-inch minimum size limit on walleye at Glendo. Perch numbers are down, but average size is good at over 8 inches.  The channel catfish population is coming back with most fish ranging between 14 to 25 inches. The ice at Glendo can be unpredictable so use caution and check thickness before venturing out.

Alcova is the new hot spot for walleye, with plenty of fish averaging 15 inches. Beginning on Jan. 1, the creel limit for walleye at Alcova will be 12.  The limit was increased to allow successful walleye anglers the opportunity to harvest a few more fish and hopefully alleviate some of the predation pressure on stocked trout.  “Due to a very strong year-class of 2-year-old walleye, anglers can expect to catch a lot of fish in the 12-13 inch range this winter,” said Matt Hahn Casper fisheries biologist.  “The age 4 year class is also better than average meaning a lot of walleye in the 16-18 inch range as well.” But the fun doesn’t stop there as Alcova also boasts a lot of 10-pound walleye just waiting to be caught.

Despite predation by walleye, trout fishing should still be decent at Alcova Reservoir. Game and Fish stocked plenty of 9- to 11-inch rainbows in November.  Anglers can also expect to reel in trout up to 15 inches, with an occasional 20-incher to mix things up a bit.

Seminoe Reservoir holds good numbers of walleye, which average 15 inches.  “Seminoe currently has a strong age-3 year class meaning there are a lot of 13-inch walleye right now,” said Hahn. Some 30-inch (14-pound) walleye lurk in Seminoe as well, although they can be difficult to catch through the ice.

Biologists stocked Seminoe Reservoir with 8-10 inch Snake River cutthroats in the fall of 2011 and these fish have since grown to 16-inches.  There are also plenty of 16-inch rainbows, with a few 23-inch lunkers hanging around as well.

If larger trout are on your agenda, Pathfinder Reservoir is the place to go. There are plenty of rainbows over 16 inches including many over 20 inches. Browns up to 23 inches and Snake River cutthroats can also be caught.  Besides trout, Pathfinder also hosts a robust walleye population but catching them through the ice can prove tricky at this popular ice fishing destination.

Don’t forget to buy your 2014 fishing license and conservation stamp prior to your first fishing trip of 2014.  New Aquatic Invasive Species decals are also available for purchase for your boat. Anglers are encouraged to read the new Fishing Regulations before heading out in 2014.

Anglers should be aware of the special winter ice fishing provisions and also be aware of regulations concerning fishing with live minnows. Live baitfish shall not be transported out of the designated use area as listed by the WGFD on the live baitfish receipt. More information about the use of live baitfish and the special winter ice fishing provisions can be found in the 2012-2013 and soon the 2014 Wyoming Fishing Regulations and online at wgfd.wyo.gov.

–Wyoming Game & Fish Department