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"We are very disappointed that someone would purposefully attempt to ruin undoubtedly the best trout fishery in the Cody area by illegally introducing walleye," said Steve Yekel, Cody region fisheries supervisor. "There will be a direct impact on angling success if walleye become established in Buffalo Bill Reservoir."
During the first two weeks of August, four anglers reported catching walleye while trolling for trout in the reservoir. The five walleye caught ranged in size from seven to fifteen inches.
Yekel does not know who is responsible for this illegal introduction yet. The Game and Fish will conduct an investigation, which includes up to a $10,000 monetary reward to apprehend the person(s) responsible.
The effect that walleye will have on the trout population of Buffalo Bill Reservoir cannot be answered with certainty right now. If walleye numbers are low they probably won't do much harm to the trout fishery, however, according to Yekel, there is ample walleye spawning habitat available in the rock riprap protective covering on the face of the dust abatement dikes.
"Walleye are a top predator and in most cases, where walleye have been introduced into Wyoming waters that contain trout, the walleye have flourished and the trout and trout fishing have suffered," Yekel said. "It does not bode well for trout in Buffalo Bill Reservoir to have two predators that love to eat fish in this system, the lake trout (mackinaw) and walleye. We do not want to lose this important trout fishery."
Yekel points out that the Buffalo Bill Reservoir fishery contains a species of special concern, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, that accounts for 20 percent of the Buffalo Bill fishery and could certainly be compromised by this illegal introduction.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir is presently managed as a "wild" trout fishery” it is not stocked with hatchery-reared fish. It is supported mainly by recruitment of naturally spawning fish from the North Fork Shoshone River and its tributaries.
"We don't want to have to stock bigger trout to get around the predators and besides we stocked years ago with limited return to the creel," Yekel added.
According to Yekel, the Cody fish management crew will use electrofishing and gill netting techniques to determine the extent of the illegal walleye introduction and remove any walleye captured. They will also begin examining options to regulate against walleye in the reservoir.
Anglers catching walleye in Buffalo Bill Reservoir are asked not to return the walleye to the water, but instead harvest these fish. In addition, anglers catching walleye are asked to contact the Cody Game and Fish Office at (800) 654-1178 toll free, or (307) 527-7125 so that information on the date, time, location, bait and size of the fish can be recorded.
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