The quality and diversity of fishing opportunities at Big Horn Lake (Yellowtail Reservoir) continue to improve. The reason for this improvement is directly attributed to higher year round reservoir elevations. A good water year in 2008 resulted in some of the best conditions for fish and fishing the reservoir has seen in decades.
Our surveys of fish populations at the reservoir have found that sauger continue to do tremendously well. Sauger catches are best in late summer and through the winter months as most adult sauger are spawning in the up-per Bighorn River in early summer. Good spots for catching sauger include the rocky points in and around Horseshoe Bend in late summer.
The relatively shallow turbid water in the Wyoming portion of the reservoir is just the habitat that sauger prefer. Walleye on the other hand typically choose water with better clarity. Because of these preferences, walleye are less abundant in the Wyoming portion of the reservoir. This isn't to say that walleye are gone, but our 2008 surveys found that sauger outnumber walleye about 25:1. The good news is that the walleye we do see are growing into some real lunkers and we could see a few trophy walleyes at the boat ramp this year.
For the first time in many years crappie numbers exploded in the reservoir in 2008. This increase is due to a bumper crop of crap-pie from the 2008 spawn. If these fish continue to grow and survive, the number of crappie available to catch should increase dramatically over the next few years. A good spot for catching crappie is Crooked Creek Bay in early summer.
Channel catfish can be found throughout the reservoir, but the largest concentrations are typically in the upper basin from Jim Creek to the Bighorn and Shoshone Rivers. Our surveys show that channel catfish over five pounds are common and fish exceeding ten pounds arenâ€™t unusual. Good spots for channel catfish include the area around the Kane Boat Ramp, Jim Creek and Mormon Point in early summer.
Smallmouth Bass like the other predators in the reservoir have benefited greatly from higher water levels and resulting in-crease in food supply. Like walleye they prefer slightly bet-ter water clarity than sauger or channel catfish but by mid-summer we are finding good numbers of smallmouth in Crooked Creek and Horseshoe Bend. Smallmouth bass are very structure oriented which means that they are largely found along large rock piles near the reservoir shore.
If you ignored my advice and didn't fish Big Horn Lake last year you should definitely make plans to fish the reservoir in 2009.
News Source: Wyoming G&FD -
Jun. 15, 2009
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