Anglers should keep Boulder Lake trout

Travis Chamberlain file photo

PINEDALE — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is encouraging ice anglers to keep lake trout caught at Boulder Lake, southeast of Pinedale. Removing some smaller lake trout will reduce competition for forage, which will ultimately lead to more trophy-class lakers.
Sampling conducted by Wyoming Game and Fish Department in May suggests an overabundance of lake trout less than 24 inches in size could be limiting the fishery at Boulder Lake. Angler harvest of these small, tasty fish is one of the best ways to remedy the situation. By keeping lake trout, anglers can free up resources for remaining fish, leading to bigger lake trout and better rainbow trout and kokanee fishing. 
Once lake trout reach a certain size, typically around 15 to 18 inches, their diet shifts from aquatic invertebrates to fish such as rainbow trout and kokanee. At this point, fish managers often see an overabundance of small, skinny lake trout competing for food with few fish making it to larger size classes greater than 30 inches preferred by anglers. Those that do may show poor body condition. Kokanee and rainbow trout fisheries are valued as well; hence, fish managers try to maintain a careful balance between predator and prey.
Winter is a great time to target lake trout through the ice and smaller fish make great table fare. Anglers are allowed to keep six lake trout per day from Boulder Lake, no more than one of which can exceed 24 inches. Boulder Lake is part of Wyoming’s special winter ice -ishing provision, meaning that anglers may use up to six lines at a time when fishing through the ice.   
Fishing underwater ridges, flats, bars and humps next to deep water is often productive during morning and evening hours. At that time, fish are located on these structures, close to the bottom. Vertical jigging grub jigs, tube jigs and rattle spoons tipped with sucker meat, frozen bullheads (sculpin) or grubs/worms work well. One-quarter to half-ounce glow jig-heads are commonly used. Dead-sticking, or leaving a baited lure sitting on or just off the bottom can also be effective. Low-memory braided lines tipped with a fluorocarbon leader will help anglers detect subtle bites. Fish finders, or flashers, can be helpful for finding fish and fish-holding structures, but if you don’t have one, try setting lines at multiple depths and distances until you locate fish.