Sheridan Regional Game and Fish Office personnel have received several phone calls in recent days from individuals near Sheridan concerned about low stream flows and the fate of the fish, especially trout. Low water flows combined with high air temperatures will cause water temperatures to get high enough to be lethal to trout. Warm water holds less oxygen which can stress all fish, not just trout.
According to Sheridan Fisheries Supervisor Paul Mavrakis, “Low stream flows are out of Game and Fish control and unless we get some significant rains, streams around Sheridan and Buffalo will get lower and fish may die. Trout are already stressed when the flows get low and the stream water temperatures get high, so trying to move them would likely cause high mortalities. Additionally, streams nearby also have high water temperatures so there are really no places to move the fish to.”
Catch and release anglers can help reduce stress to fish with a few changes in their fishing techniques. Fish during the early morning hours when water temperatures are lower and there is more oxygen in the water available to the fish. Go to higher elevations where streams have higher flows, and the conditions are better for fish. After hooking a fish, land it as soon as practical and avoid playing the fish to exhaustion. Release all fish to the water as soon as possible.
Mavrakis continued, “With very low stream flows and hot temperatures trout are especially stressed. Anglers should avoid fishing trout streams off the Bighorn National Forest until temperatures cool and stream flows improve.”