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Statewide Regulations

Fishing Regulations Icon Wyoming Fishing

See Statewide Creel Limits. There are many exceptions to the following Statewide Regulations. Refer to How to Find Regulations for Specific Waters to learn to find regulation exceptions for specific waters and drainages in Areas 1-5.

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Terms and Definitions

Aquaria

Means any enclosures used to contain organisms that prevent escape. Aquaria shall have a closed system of water circulation with no risk of contacting the surface waters of this state.

Archery Equipment

Means crossbows, longbows, recurve bows, compound bows and arrows.

Artificial Flies and Lures

Means manmade flies and lures. Artificial lures are single devices regardless of the number of hooks, including spoons, spinners and plugs made of metal, plastic, wood or other non-edible materials, or plastic products made to resemble worms, eggs, fish or other aquatic organisms. Artificial flies includes flies, streamers, jigs, or poppers tied from such materials as thread, feathers, hair or tinsel. Artificial flies and lures do not include living or dead organisms or edible parts thereof, natural or prepared organic food stuffs, or chemical attractants, regardless if the chemical attractant is added in the manufacturing process or applied afterward.

Artificial Light

Means any man-made light or lighting device.

Aquatic Invasive Species include:

  • Zebra and quagga mussel (GENUS Dreissena);
  • New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum);
  • Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea);
  • Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus);
  • Brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans);
  • Bighead, silver and largescale silver carp (GENUS Hypophthalmichthys);
  • Black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus);
  • Snakehead (GENERA Channa and Parachanna);
  • Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata);
  • Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum); and
  • Curly pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)

Bait

Means living or dead organisms or edible parts thereof, natural or prepared organic food, and chemical attractants used in the taking of fish.

Baitfish

Means nongame fish not designated as aquatic invasive species that were collected or purchased for use as bait.

Business Establishment

Means a single business location with an associated physical address designated on the live baitfish dealer’s license.

Commercially Produced Live Baitfish

Means adult fathead minnows that were propagated and reared in a Department approved private fish hatchery.

Creel Limit

Means the total number of game fish a person may harvest and reduce to possession during any one (1) day regardless of the method or methods of harvest.

Dates

Means the dates mentioned are inclusive.

Day

Means calendar day.

Drainage

Means the river or stream proper and the area of land, including all streams and standing waters, that drains into that river or stream.

Fishing Contest

Means any event for catching fish on waters of this state, excluding licensed fishing preserves or hatchery catch out ponds, where an entry or participation fee is charged and fifty (50) or more adult (18 years of age or older) anglers participate on a given date.

Fishing Contest Permit

Means a document issued by the Department that grants the permittee authorization to conduct a fishing contest.

Game Fish

Unless otherwise provided for specific waters or drainages in Areas 1-5, means:

  • bass (GENUS Micropterus and Ambloplites);
  • bluegill, pumpkinseed and sunfish (GENUS Lepomis);
  • crappie (GENUS Pomoxis);
  • walleye and sauger (GENUS Sander);
  • yellow perch (GENUS Perca);
  • trout, salmon, and char (GENUS Salmo, Oncorhynchus and Salvelinus);
  • whitefish and cisco (GENUS Prosopium);
  • grayling (GENUS Thymallus);
  • pike (GENUS Esox);
  • catfish and bullheads (GENUS Ameiurus, Ictalurus, Noturus and Pylodictis);
  • burbot (GENUS Lota);
  • sturgeon (GENUS Scaphirhynchus); and,
  • freshwater drum (GENUS Aplodinotus).

Hook

Means a single hooked device or bait regardless of the number of prongs.

Lake

Means a body of standing water in a depression of land and includes reservoirs, ponds (excluding ponds created by beavers) and gravel and mining pits.

Live Baitfish Dealer

Means a person licensed by the Department to sell live baitfish.

Live Baitfish Dealer of Record

Means the designated individual legally accountable for all aspects of the live baitfish dealer.

Length

Means the total length of a fish in inches, as measured in a straight line along a flat surface, from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail.

Nongame Fish

Means all fish not defined as game fish or aquatic invasive species, including baitfish.

Personal Watercraft

Means any inboard motorized watercraft less than sixteen (16) feet in length which has a water-jet pump as its primary source of motor propulsion and which is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on the watercraft, rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the watercraft.

Possession Limit

Means the maximum number of game fish that may legally be in possession at any time and in any form. Game fish in transit or storage, including home or domicile, shall be considered in possession. Possession limits apply regardless of how many days an angler has fished.

Snag

Means attempting to take a fish in a manner that the fish does not take the hook voluntarily in its mouth.

Special Fishing Contest Provision

Means a provision promulgated for exclusion of fishing contests from specific waters.

Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision

Means a provision promulgated for the ice covered period for specific waters.

Stream

Means water in a permanent bed or channel with a current that is usually continuous in one direction and includes creeks, rivers, irrigation ditches, drains, canals, sloughs and ponds created by beavers. Streams may not flow continuously during low-flow periods. Ponds or puddles in a stream channel during low flow periods shall be considered to be a stream.

Trout Bead

Means a bead constructed from any non-edible material to resemble a trout egg that is fished on a line or leader above a hook or artificial fly. Beads associated with spinners, bait harnesses and other types of artificial lures are not considered trout beads.

Wild Caught Live Baitfish Possession Area

Means the specific locations in Area 2, 3 or 5 where wild caught live baitfish may be possessed regardless of whether they were captured by a seining license holder or obtained from a live baitfish dealer.

Seasons and Fishing Hours

Fishing is permitted year-round twenty-four (24) hours a day in any waters of this state except as otherwise provided by Commission regulation for specific areas, streams, lakes, or portions thereof. Exceptions are listed with the regulations for each drainage area 1-5.

Emergency Closure

Specified waters may be closed to all fishing because of an emergency upon forty-eight (48) hours notice.

Methods

Except as otherwise provided, fish shall only be taken or fished for with a maximum of two (2) rods or poles, with lines and hooks attached and the angler in attendance. No line may have more than three (3) single hooked devices attached. It is legal to use hand lines, set lines, poles, or tip ups when fishing through the ice and the angler is in attendance.

Internal organs, eggs, eyes, fins, and skin of game fish are the only portions that may be used legally as bait. Any part of nongame fish may be used as bait. The use of bait may be restricted on specific waters as described in the Areas 1-5 Regulations. Use or possession of bait is prohibited in areas or on waters where fishing is permitted by the use of artificial flies and lures only. Corn may be possessed and used as bait in all waters where fishing with bait is permitted.

It is unlawful to snag fish.

A trout bead fixed on a line or leader two (2) inches or less from the eye of a bare hook is considered an artificial lure. Fishing with a trout bead more than two (2) inches from the eye of a bare hook or artificial fly is considered snagging and is prohibited.

It is unlawful to take, wound or destroy fish with a firearm of any nature or by using poison, deleterious drug, electrical device, chemical, explosive or any similar substance or device. It is legal to take nongame fish with archery equipment without a license or permit, but it is always unlawful to take game fish with archery equipment.

Artificial light may be used while fishing with legal fishing methods except as prohibited for Underwater Spear Gun Fishing below.

Underwater Spear Gun Fishing

Fish may be taken by underwater spear gun fishing only in lakes.

No person shall use an underwater spear gun to take game fish under water without obtaining a fishing license.

The use of artificial light to take game fish with a spear gun is prohibited.

No game fish may be taken unless the underwater spear gun fisherman is completely submerged.

All spears used on spear guns shall be attached to the spear gun with a lanyard with a maximum length of twenty (20) feet.

Underwater spear gun fishing is not permitted within one hundred (100) yards of any designated swimming or water ski areas, boat dock, ramp or spillway.

A diver flag shall be displayed on the water when diving or underwater spear gun fishing. It shall be a rectangular flag that is either blue and white in color (alpha flag) or red in color with a white diagonal stripe (diving flag), not less than twelve (12) inches x twelve (12) inches and displayed no less than three (3) feet above the surface of the water.

The limit on walleye taken by spear gun shall be two (2) per day or in possession, except where designated as nongame fish or where otherwise provided for Alcova Reservoir in Section 33. All other general and water-specific creel and possession limits shall apply.

Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision

The following method restrictions apply for waters covered by the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision.

  • The use of more than two (2) lines is permitted only during the ice covered period, and only when the angler is fishing through the ice, on waters listed below as being included under the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision.
  • No person shall use more than six (6) lines at any time to fish.
  • When using more than two (2) lines, the angler’s name shall be attached to each line, pole or tip-up; the angler shall be no more than three hundred (300) yards from all lines; and, the angler shall check his/her own lines.

The following 28 waters are included under the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision:

  • Alcova Reservoir
  • Big Horn Lake in Big Horn County
  • Big Sandy Reservoir
  • Boulder Lake in Sublette County
  • Boysen Reservoir
  • Deaver Reservoir in Park County
  • Flaming Gorge Reservoir
  • Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County
  • Glendo Reservoir
  • Goldeneye Reservoir
  • Gray Reef Reservoir
  • Grayrocks Reservoir
  • Guernsey Reservoir
  • Harrington Reservoir in Big Horn County
  • Hawk Springs Reservoir
  • Keyhole Reservoir
  • Kortes Reservoir
  • Lake DeSmet
  • Lake Hattie
  • Ocean Lake in Fremont County
  • Pathfinder Reservoir
  • Pilot Butte Reservoir
  • Seminoe Reservoir
  • Sulphur Creek Reservoir in Uinta County
  • Wardell Reservoir
  • Wheatland Reservoir #1 in Platte County
  • Wheatland Reservoir #3 in Albany County
  • Woodruff Reservoir

Ice Fishing Shelters

Any person utilizing an enclosed ice fishing shelter on the waters of this state shall remove the shelter from the body of water before ice-out.

Fishing Contests

Fishing contests held on waters of this state shall be approved and authorized in writing by the Department. No person shall conduct a fishing contest without first obtaining a fishing contest permit. The permittee shall adhere to all requirements and stipulations provided on the fishing contest permit.

Applications

Anyone desiring to hold a fishing contest shall submit an application for a fishing contest permit on a form provided by the Department. Fishing contest applications may be submitted one (1) year (365 days) prior to the start of the fishing contest, but shall be submitted at least thirty (30) days prior to the start of the fishing contest.

Live Release Fishing Contests

No person shall release live fish in a fishing contest without a fishing contest permit authorizing live release.

Reasons for Denying Fishing Contest Permits

The Department may deny an application if information is falsified on the application, or if the application is incomplete or incorrectly filled out. Fishing contest permits shall not be issued if the Department determines the fishing contest does not comply with Wyoming Statutes, Commission regulations, shall be harmful to the fisheries resource, or that public use facilities such as boat ramps, parking areas, campgrounds, and related facilities are inadequate to support the contest. Failure to comply with the requirements of the fishing contest permit is a violation of Commission regulations and may result in denial of future fishing contest permits.

Post-Fishing Contest Report Required

Within thirty (30) days after completion of the fishing contest, the permittee shall submit a legible, complete and accurate written report to the Department on a form provided by the Department. Failure to submit this report may result in denial of future fishing contest permits.

Fishing Contest-free Period

The following restrictions apply for waters covered by the “Special Fishing Contest Provision.”

Waters included under the “Special Fishing Contest Provision” are listed with the regulations for those drainage areas in Area 5.

The Department shall authorize fishing contests such that each water included in the “Special Fishing Contest Provision” has a period of at least two (2) weeks when fishing contests are not allowed.

The specific dates when contests are not allowed are listed with the regulations for the drainage areas.

Established Check Stations, Mandatory Reporting

Every angler shall stop and report at every check station on route to or from any fishing area regardless if the person has any fish in possession. Upon request of any authorized Department representative, anyone who has been fishing shall produce a valid license and conservation stamp, if required, and fish. Even if the fish in possession have been cut and wrapped or processed, the person transporting fish shall stop and report at the check station.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Compliance with aquatic invasive species inspection requirements is an express condition of allowing a watercraft to contact any waters of this state.

Immediately upon removing a watercraft from any waters of this state, the operator shall remove all visible vegetation from the watercraft and trailer and drain all water from the watercraft including, but not limited to, water in the hull, ballast tanks, bilges, live wells and motors. All bilge and ballast plugs and other barriers that prevent water drainage from a watercraft shall be removed or remain open while a watercraft is transported by land within the state.

Any person transporting any watercraft into the state by land from March 1 through November 30 shall have the watercraft inspected by an authorized inspector prior to launching.

Any person transporting any watercraft that within the past thirty (30) days has been in contact with a water known or suspected to contain zebra or quagga mussels shall have the watercraft inspected by an authorized inspector prior to launching regardless of time of year.

All persons transporting a motorized or nonmotorized watercraft shall stop at aquatic invasive species check stations that are established on their route of travel. As part of all inspections, all compartments, equipment, and containers that may hold water, including, but not limited to, live wells, ballast and bilge areas shall be completely drained as directed by authorized inspectors.

Any person who refuses to permit inspection of their watercraft or refuses to complete any required removal and disposal of aquatic invasive species shall be prohibited from allowing the watercraft to contact any waters of this state and the watercraft will be subject to impoundment until an aquatic invasive species inspection and decontamination is completed.

All watercraft owners or operators that have not paid the aquatic invasive species program fee as part of the motorized watercraft registration fee, shall purchase and display an aquatic invasive species program decal valid for the current calendar year prior to contacting any waters of this state. Purchase of this decal shall be evidenced by an aquatic invasive species program decal properly affixed to the watercraft. Owners of multiple non-motorized watercraft may transfer valid decals between their own non-motorized watercraft, however, each non-motorized watercraft shall display a valid decal while contacting any of the waters of this state. Proof of decal purchase may be used in lieu of a properly affixed decal for up to fifteen (15) days from date of purchase. All non-motorized inflatable watercraft ten (10) feet in length or less, all solid and inflatable paddleboards regardless of length, and all devices defined as water sport toys are exempt from this decal provision.

Visit the Aquatic Invasive Species website at wgfd.wyo.gov/AIS for detailed regulations and to determine if your watercraft requires a decal, purchase a decal, find inspection locations and dates and hours of operation, and to find a list of U.S. waters known or suspected to contain zebra and quagga mussels.

Transportation of Live Fish

No person shall transport live fish or live fish eggs from the water of capture, except as provided by Commission regulations or as authorized by the Department. This includes transporting live fish in the live well of a fishing boat that has been removed from the water.

Tagging or Marking Fish

No person shall tag or mark fish and release them into the waters of this state without prior written approval from the Department.

Closure of Fish Holding Facilities

All fish rearing and retaining ponds used by the state including those located at state fish hatcheries, or any that may be constructed elsewhere, are closed to fishing throughout the calendar year. Temporary facilities at spawning station sites are closed to fishing during the time they are in use by the Department.

Winter Closures

Some waters that are open to fishing are not accessible due to other land use restrictions. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and US Forest Service have seasonal closures to protect wintering big game herds. Be sure to check with the appropriate land management agency before planning a winter trip.

Bait Regulations

Seining and Trapping of Fish

Seining and trapping licenses (hereafter referred to as seining license) for the purpose of taking baitfish may be obtained from Game and Fish Department Regional Offices or from the Cheyenne Headquarters. No person shall seine, net, trap or spear baitfish without first obtaining a valid seining license. A valid seining license is required when using a seine, net, trap or spear to take baitfish, even those that will be used as dead bait.
No person shall have more than one (1) seining license each calendar year.

Seining or trapping and use of baitfish shall only be done as specified in regulations for each drainage area. Locations where baitfish may be obtained, possessed and used shall be specified on the seining license.

Legal gear for taking baitfish includes seines, traps, cast nets, umbrella nets and dip nets. There are no restrictions on the size of mesh or net size for cast nets, umbrella nets or dip nets. Collection gear shall be hand operated.

Any brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans) taken must be killed immediately and shall not be possessed or transported.

Seines used for the purpose of taking baitfish shall not be more than five (5) feet deep.

Traps used for the purpose of taking baitfish shall not be more than thirty-six (36) inches long, twelve (12) inches deep, twelve (12) inches wide or twelve (12) inches in diameter and the throat shall not exceed one (1) inch width.

A seining license holder shall not use more than five (5) traps at a time.

A holder of both a seining license and live baitfish dealer’s license shall have no restriction on the number of traps that can be used.

The owner’s name and seining license number shall be attached to each trap while in use.

Any game fish taken by trap, net or seine shall be released to the water immediately.

No person shall intentionally tamper with or remove a trap or net, or remove fish from a trap or net that is set and maintained in compliance with Commission regulations without written permission from the seining license holder.

Any live nongame fish captured for use as dead bait shall be killed immediately and shall not be transported live.

All wild caught live baitfish transported out of the water of capture shall be held in aquaria when not in use. Wild caught live baitfish confined to a live car, net, pen or other enclosure in the same water from which the baitfish were captured are exempt from the aquaria holding requirement.

All aquaria and enclosures shall have the owner’s name and seining license number attached while in use.

A seining license holder shall allow Department personnel to inspect live baitfish and all aquaria and enclosures used to hold live baitfish during reasonable hours. If an inspection discloses species of wildlife not authorized by the Department or an aquatic invasive species, the Department may order the wildlife, including all fish in aquaria and enclosures, removed from Wyoming or destroyed.

Wild caught live baitfish may be held indefinitely by the holder of a valid, unexpired seining license, but shall not be released, abandoned or allowed to escape.

A seining license holder shall not sell live baitfish without first possessing a valid live baitfish dealer’s license.

A seining license holder shall be allowed to give live baitfish to other anglers in his or her fishing party for use only when the seining license holder is present. All live baitfish shall be returned to the seining licensee while not in use, and shall remain in the wild caught live baitfish possession area listed on the seining license.

A seining license holder shall be allowed to give dead baitfish to other anglers for use as dead bait.

Seining licenses are subject to suspension or revocation for failure to comply with the seining and trapping conditions specified above or with the regulations for each drainage area.

Any revocation of a seining license other than a court hearing revocation shall be subject to contested case proceedings in accordance with Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Regulation Chapter 27, Rules Of Practice Governing Contested Cases Before The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

Use of Baitfish

The use or possession of live baitfish is prohibited throughout Areas 1 and 4 and on all waters in Areas 2, 3, and 5 except as otherwise provided on Areas 1-5 regulations which describe where live baitfish may be obtained, possessed and used.

The specific waters from which wild caught live baitfish may be seined, netted or trapped and used are listed on Areas 1-5 Regulations. Wild caught live baitfish shall not be transported out of the designated wild caught live baitfish possession area from which they were collected. This area shall be listed on the seining license, live baitfish dealer license or live baitfish receipt.

No person shall possess live baitfish while fishing on any water where the use of live baitfish is prohibited.

Commercially produced live baitfish may be transported and possessed throughout Areas 2, 3 and 5 (east of the continental divide) except where the use of live baitfish is prohibited. Use or possession of commercially produced live baitfish is prohibited on all waters except as otherwise provided on Areas 1-5 Regulations.

No person shall possess or transport brook stickleback in Wyoming.

Persons with live baitfish in possession shall produce, upon request from Department personnel, either a receipt from a licensed live baitfish dealer or a valid, unexpired seining license verifying the origin of the live baitfish.

No live baitfish shall be transported into the state for use as live baitfish except as provided in the LIVE BAITFISH DEALERS section below.

All live baitfish shall be held in aquaria or exclosures when not in transport or in use.

Containers may be used to transport legally obtained live baitfish or other wildlife by land, but shall not be part of a watercraft and shall be free of aquatic vegetation.

Live baitfish shall not be released, abandoned, or allowed to escape and must be killed when the receipt expires.

Dead baitfish may be used as bait. Restrictions on the use of dead baitfish are designated within the regulations for the specific drainage areas. Nongame fish taken by the use of legal fishing methods during any season open for the taking of game fish may be used as dead bait. Any live baitfish captured for use as dead bait shall be killed immediately and shall not be transported live.

Live Baitfish Dealers

Any person desiring to sell live baitfish shall apply for and receive a valid live baitfish dealer’s license prior to selling live baitfish except holders of a valid Wyoming commercial fish hatchery license who may sell live baitfish to live baitfish dealers for resale. Application for a live baitfish dealer’s license shall be made on forms provided by the Department. The applicant shall provide information including, but not limited to, the physical location of the business and a description of facilities to be used for holding fish.

Detailed regulations and information pertaining to live baitfish dealers is available online at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/Forms-and-Applications

Other Animals as Bait

All amphibians and reptiles may be taken throughout the calendar year for personal use without a permit, except the Columbia Spotted Frog, Wood Frog, Western (Boreal) Toad, Wyoming Toad, Northern Tree Lizard, Great Basin Gopher Snake, Midget Faded Rattlesnake, Black Hills Red-bellied Snake, Northern Rubber Boa, Pale Milksnake, Smooth Greensnake and Plains Box Turtle may not be taken. All amphibians and reptiles shall be confined at their final destination and shall not be released, abandoned or allowed to escape. Amphibians shall not be imported into the State for use as live fishing bait. Importation or possession Wyoming Toad is prohibited.

All mollusks and crustaceans may be take for personal use throughout the calendar year and shall only be used as live fishing bait in the water body from which they were captured. Live mollusks and crustaceans taken for person use shall be confined to aquaria at their final destination and shall not be released, abandoned or allowed to escape. Traps used to take mollusks and crustaceans shall have the owners name and address attached while in use. Importation or possession of live Asian Clam, New Zealand Mudsnail, Quagga Mussel, Rusty Crayfish or Zebra Mussel is prohibited.

It is Unlawful…

  • To release fish alive that have been placed on a stringer, in a container, in a live well, or not released immediately to the water without written approval from the Department.
  • To plant or release live fish or fish eggs without the consent and supervision of the Department or its authorized personnel. This does not include fish captured by legal means and released immediately upon capture.
  • To sell, barter, dispose of, or abandon, or obtain by sale or barter, any edible portion of any game fish in this state.
  • To enter, fish from, beach, anchor, or tie-off a boat upon private land or streambed without securing the landowner’s permission (see Important Information).
  • To take game fish for another person.
  • To possess or transport an aquatic invasive species in the State of Wyoming.