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Statewide Regulations Overview

For comprehensive regulations, refer to the Statewide Creel Limits. Keep in mind that numerous exceptions apply to the following Statewide Regulations.

Finding Regulations for Specific Waters:

To discover regulation exceptions for particular waters and drainages, follow these steps:

  1. Start by reviewing the Statewide Creel Limits.
  2. For detailed exceptions and specific regulations, refer to "How to Find Regulations for Specific Waters," starting on Area 1 Regulations.

Terms and Definitions in Fishing Regulations

To ensure clarity and compliance with fishing regulations, it's essential to understand the following terms and definitions:

Aquaria

  • Enclosures used to contain organisms, ensuring no escape and with a closed water circulation system.

Archery Equipment

  • Includes crossbows, longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and arrows.

Artificial Flies and Lures

  • Manmade flies and lures excluding living or dead organisms, natural or processed food stuffs, scents, flavors, or chemical attractants.

Artificial Light

  • Any man-made light or lighting device.

Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Includes various species like Zebra and quagga mussel, New Zealand mudsnail, Asian clam, etc., causing environmental harm.

Bait

  • Living or dead organisms, edible parts, scented materials, or flies/lures containing flavor, scent, or chemical attractants.

Baitfish

  • Nongame fish not designated as aquatic invasive species used as bait.

Business Establishment

  • A single business location with an associated physical address for live baitfish dealers.

Commercially Produced Live Baitfish

  • Adult fathead minnows propagated and reared in approved private fish hatcheries.

Creel Limit

  • The maximum number of game fish a person can harvest in a day, regardless of the method used.

Dates

  • Inclusive dates mentioned in regulations.

Day

  • Calendar day.

Drainage

  • River or stream and the land area draining into it.

Fishing Contest

  • Events for taking fish where cash or prizes are awarded, involving a certain number of participants.

Gaff

  • A spear or hook used for holding or lifting fish.

Game Fish

  • Various fish species designated for game fishing.

Hook

  • A single hooked device or bait.

Koi

  • Ornamental varieties of domesticated carp.

Lake

  • Standing water body including reservoirs, ponds, and gravel pits.

Live Baitfish Dealer

  • A person licensed to sell live baitfish.

Length

  • The total length of a fish measured in inches from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail.

Nongame Fish

  • Fish not defined as game fish or aquatic invasive species.

Personal Watercraft

  • Inboard motorized watercraft designed for sitting, standing, or kneeling on.

Possession Limit

  • The maximum number of game fish one can legally possess at any time.

Seining License

  • License for seining or trapping fish for baitfish.

Snag

  • Attempting to catch a fish in a manner not voluntary for the fish.

Special Fishing Contest Provision

  • Regulations for excluding fishing contests from specific waters.

Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision

  • Regulations applicable during the ice-covered period of specific waters.

Stream

  • Water in a permanent bed or channel with a continuous current.

Trout

  • Various trout species excluding brook trout, lake trout, and splake.

Trout Bead

  • Bead resembling a trout egg fished on a line or leader above a hook or artificial fly.

Wild Caught Live Baitfish Possession Area

  • Specific locations where wild-caught live baitfish may be possessed.

Seasons and Fishing Hours

  • Defined periods for fishing activities.

Unlawful Actions Regarding Fish and Aquatic Species

Release of Fish

  • Stringer, Container, Live Well: Releasing fish alive that have been placed on a stringer, in a container, or in a live well is strictly prohibited without prior written approval from the Department.
  • Immediate Release: Fish must be released immediately to the water unless otherwise authorized by the Department.

Planting or Releasing Fish

  • Consent Required: It is unlawful to plant or release live fish or fish eggs without the explicit consent and supervision of the Department or its authorized personnel.
  • Exception: This does not include fish captured by legal means and released immediately upon capture.

Sale or Disposal of Game Fish

  • Prohibition: Selling, bartering, disposing of, or abandoning any edible portion of any game fish in the state is strictly prohibited.

Access to Private Land and Streambeds

  • Permission Required: Entering, fishing from, beaching, anchoring, or tying off a boat upon private land or streambed without securing the landowner’s permission is unlawful.
  • Refer to Important Information: It is essential to review additional guidelines regarding this matter.

Acting on Behalf of Others

  • Proxy Fishing: Taking game fish for another person is against the law.

Transport and Possession of Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Legal Prohibition: Possessing or transporting an aquatic invasive species within the State of Wyoming is strictly prohibited.

Fishing Methods Regulations

To ensure responsible and lawful fishing practices, the following regulations govern fishing methods:

Rods and Lines

  • Fish may only be taken with a maximum of two rods or poles, with lines and hooks attached, and the angler must be in attendance.
  • Each line may have a maximum of three single hooked devices attached.
  • Hand lines, set lines, poles, or tip ups are permitted when fishing through the ice, provided the angler is in attendance.

Bait Usage

  • Only internal organs, eggs, eyes, fins, and skin of game fish are legally allowed as bait.
  • Any part of nongame fish may be used as bait.
  • Bait use may be restricted on specific waters.
  • Corn may be used as bait in waters where fishing with bait is permitted.

Snagging

  • It is unlawful to snag fish.
  • Fishing with a trout bead more than two inches from the eye of a bare hook or artificial fly is considered snagging and is prohibited.

Prohibited Methods

  • Fish may not be taken with firearms, poison, drugs, electrical devices, chemicals, explosives, or similar substances or devices.
  • Taking game fish with archery equipment is prohibited.

Use of Artificial Light

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

Underwater Spear Gun Fishing

  • Fishing with underwater spear guns for game fish requires a fishing license.
  • Only permitted in lakes.
  • Prohibited within 100 yards of designated swimming or water ski areas, boat docks, ramps, or spillways.
  • A diver flag must be displayed while diving or spear gun fishing.
  • Artificial light use for spear gun fishing of game fish is prohibited.
  • Game fish may only be taken when the fisherman is completely submerged.
  • Spears must be attached to the spear gun with a lanyard.
  • Walleye limit taken by spear gun is two per day or in possession unless specified otherwise.

Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision

During the ice-covered period, specific method restrictions apply to waters covered by the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision:

Line Usage

  • The use of more than two lines is permitted only when fishing through the ice on waters listed below.
  • No more than six lines may be used at any time for fishing.

Additional Regulations

  • When using more than two lines, the angler's name must be attached to each line, pole, or tip-up.
  • Anglers must be within 300 yards of all lines they have deployed and are responsible for checking their own lines.

Waters Covered

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

  1. Alcova Reservoir
  2. Bighorn Lake in Big Horn County
  3. Big Sandy Reservoir
  4. Boulder Lake in Sublette County
  5. Boysen Reservoir
  6. Deaver Reservoir in Park County
  7. Flaming Gorge Reservoir
  8. Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County
  9. Glendo Reservoir
  10. Goldeneye Reservoir
  11. Gray Reef Reservoir
  12. Grayrocks Reservoir
  13. Guernsey Reservoir
  14. Harrington Reservoir in Big Horn County
  15. Hawk Springs Reservoir
  16. Keyhole Reservoir
  17. Kortes Reservoir
  18. Lake DeSmet
  19. Lake Hattie
  20. Ocean Lake in Fremont County
  21. Pathfinder Reservoir
  22. Pilot Butte Reservoir
  23. Seminoe Reservoir
  24. Sulphur Creek Reservoir in Uinta County
  25. Wardell Reservoir
  26. Wheatland Reservoir #1 in Platte County
  27. Wheatland Reservoir #3 in Albany County
  28. Woodruff Reservoir

Ice Fishing Shelters Regulation

When using enclosed ice fishing shelters on the waters of this state, the following regulation applies:

Shelter Removal

  • Any person using an enclosed ice fishing shelter must remove the shelter from the body of water before the occurrence of ice-out.

Fishing Contests Regulations

Fishing contests held on the waters of this state must comply with the following regulations:

Permit Requirement

  • Fishing contests must be approved and authorized in writing by the Department.
  • No person shall conduct a fishing contest without obtaining a fishing contest permit.
  • The permittee must adhere to all requirements and stipulations provided on the fishing contest permit.

Application Process

  • Those interested in holding a fishing contest must submit an application for a fishing contest permit on a form provided by the Department.
  • Fishing contest applications may be submitted up to one year (365 days) prior to the contest start date but must be submitted at least thirty (30) days before the contest begins.

Live Release Fishing Contests

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

Reasons for Denial

  • The Department may deny an application if the information provided is falsified, incomplete, or incorrectly filled out.
  • Fishing contest permits shall not be issued if the Department determines that the contest does not comply with Wyoming Statutes or Commission regulations, is harmful to the fisheries resource, or if public use facilities are inadequate to support the contest.
  • Failure to comply with the requirements of the fishing contest permit may result in denial of future permits.

Post-Fishing Contest Report

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

Fishing Contest-Free Period

  • Waters covered by the "Special Fishing Contest Provision" have restrictions on fishing contests.
  • The Department shall authorize fishing contests in a manner that ensures each water under this provision has at least a two-week period when contests are not allowed.
  • Specific dates when contests are not allowed are listed with the regulations for the respective drainage areas.

Check Stations and Reporting Requirements

Mandatory Reporting

  • Stop Requirement: Every angler must stop and report at every check station when traveling to or from any fishing area, regardless of whether they have fish in their possession.
  • Compliance: Upon request of any authorized Department representative, individuals who have been fishing must produce a valid license and conservation stamp, if required, as well as any fish in their possession.
  • Transported Fish: Even if the fish in possession have been cut, wrapped, or processed, individuals transporting fish must still stop and report at the check station.

Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations

Compliance Requirements

  • Express Condition: Compliance with aquatic invasive species inspection requirements is a mandatory condition for allowing a watercraft to contact any waters of this state.
  • Immediate Action: Upon removing a watercraft from any state waters, the operator must:
    • Remove all visible vegetation from the watercraft and trailer.
    • Drain all water from the watercraft, including hull, ballast tanks, bilges, live wells, and motors.
    • Remove or keep open all bilge and ballast plugs and other barriers preventing water drainage during land transport within the state.
  • Transportation Inspection:
    • From March 1 through November 30, any person transporting a watercraft into the state by land must have it inspected by an authorized inspector before launching.
    • If the watercraft has been in contact with water known or suspected to contain zebra or quagga mussels within the past thirty (30) days, inspection is required before launching regardless of the time of year.
  • Check Stations: All individuals transporting motorized or non-motorized watercraft must stop at aquatic invasive species check stations along their travel route.
  • Inspection Process: During inspections, all compartments, equipment, and containers that may hold water must be completely drained as directed by authorized inspectors.
  • Non-Compliance Consequences:
    • Refusal to permit inspection or complete required removal and disposal of aquatic invasive species will result in the prohibition of the watercraft from contacting state waters.
    • Non-compliant watercraft may be impounded until an aquatic invasive species inspection and decontamination is completed.
  • Decal Requirement:
    • Watercraft owners or operators who haven't paid the aquatic invasive species program fee with the motorized watercraft registration fee must purchase and display an aquatic invasive species program decal valid for the current calendar year before contacting state waters.
    • The decal must be properly affixed to the watercraft as evidence of purchase.
    • Decals may be transferred between multiple non-motorized watercraft owned by the same individual, with each watercraft requiring a valid decal while in state waters.
    • Proof of decal purchase is accepted in lieu of a properly affixed decal for up to fifteen (15) days from the purchase date.
  • Exemptions: Non-motorized inflatable watercraft ten (10) feet in length or less, solid and inflatable paddleboards of any length, and devices classified as water sport toys are exempt from the decal provision.

Live Fish Transportation and Fish Holding Regulations

Transportation of Live Fish

  • Prohibition: No individual shall transport live fish or live fish eggs from the water of capture, except as permitted by Commission regulations or authorized by the Department.
  • Scope: This restriction encompasses transporting live fish in the live well of a fishing boat that has been removed from the water.

Tagging or Marking Fish

  • Unauthorized Tagging: It is prohibited to tag or mark fish and release them into state waters without prior written approval from the Department.

Closure of Fish Holding Facilities

  • Facility Closure: All fish rearing and retaining ponds utilized by the state, including those at state fish hatcheries or elsewhere, are closed to fishing year-round.
  • Spawning Station Closures: Temporary facilities at spawning station sites are also closed to fishing during their use by the Department.

Winter Closures

  • Accessibility Restrictions: Some fishing waters may be inaccessible due to land use restrictions during winter.
  • Collaborative Management: The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and US Forest Service implement seasonal closures to safeguard wintering big game herds.
  • Precautionary Measure: Individuals planning winter fishing trips should verify access with the relevant land management agency beforehand.

Seining and Trapping of Baitfish Regulations

License Requirement and Restrictions

  • License Mandate: No individual shall seine, net, trap, or spear baitfish without a valid seining license.
  • Acquisition: Seining licenses can be obtained from Department regional offices or Cheyenne Headquarters, with a limit of one (1) license per calendar year.
  • Designated Locations: Locations for obtaining, possessing, and using baitfish are specified on the seining license.
  • Regulation Adherence: Seining, trapping, and baitfish use must comply with regulations specific to each drainage area.

Authorized Gear and Methods

  • Accepted Gear: Legal equipment for baitfish capture includes seines, traps, cast nets, umbrella nets, and dip nets.
  • Size Restrictions: Seines shall not exceed five (5) feet in depth, while traps must not exceed specified dimensions.
  • Mesh Size: No restrictions apply to mesh or net size for cast nets, umbrella nets, or dip nets.
  • Hand Operation: All collection gear must be manually operated.

Handling and Disposal

  • Immediate Release: Game fish caught by trap, net, or seine must be promptly released into the water.
  • Brook Stickleback Handling: Brook stickleback must be killed immediately and not possessed or transported.
  • Goldfish and Koi Treatment: All goldfish and koi used as bait must be promptly killed per Commission Regulation Chapter 52.
  • Live Baitfish Handling: Any live nongame fish captured for use as dead bait must be killed immediately and not transported live.

Inspection and Compliance

  • Inspection Requirement: Seining license holders must allow Department personnel to inspect live baitfish and aquaria during reasonable hours.
  • Compliance Verification: Aquaria and enclosures must display the owner’s name and seining license number while in use.
  • Species Disclosure: If inspection reveals unauthorized wildlife species or aquatic invasive species, the Department may order their removal or destruction.

License Usage and Transfer

  • Distribution of Live Baitfish: License holders can give live baitfish to anglers in their fishing party, but baitfish must remain in the possession area listed on the license.
  • Dead Baitfish Distribution: License holders can provide dead baitfish to other anglers for use.
  • Sale Prohibition: License holders cannot sell, trade, barter, or broker live baitfish without a valid live baitfish dealer’s license.

Enforcement and Appeals

  • License Revocation: Failure to comply with regulations may result in seining license suspension or revocation.
  • Appeal Process: License holders have the right to appeal Department decisions through written requests to the Chief of Fisheries, as per Commission Regulation Chapter 46.

Regulations on Use of Baitfish

Live Baitfish Prohibition and Exceptions

  • Areas of Prohibition: Live baitfish use or possession is banned in Areas 1 and 4 and on all waters in Areas 2, 3, and 5 unless specified otherwise in Area 1 Regulations.
  • Designated Waters: Specific waters where wild caught live baitfish may be seined, netted, or trapped are listed in Area 1 Regulations.
  • Transport Limitation: Wild caught live baitfish must not leave the designated possession area listed on the seining license, live baitfish dealer license, or receipt.
  • Fishing Prohibition: Live baitfish possession is prohibited while fishing in waters where live baitfish use is banned.

Commercially Produced Live Baitfish

  • Permitted Areas: Commercially produced live baitfish may be transported and possessed in Areas 2, 3, and 5 (east of the continental divide), except where live baitfish use is prohibited.
  • Usage Restrictions: Use or possession of commercially produced live baitfish is banned on all waters unless exceptions are provided in Area 1 Regulations.

Specific Prohibitions

  • Brook Stickleback: Possession of live brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans) is forbidden in Wyoming.
  • Goldfish and Koi: Live goldfish (Carassius auratus) or koi are prohibited while fishing, following Commission Regulation Chapter 52.
  • Verification Requirement: Persons possessing live baitfish must present a live baitfish dealer’s license, receipt from a licensed dealer, or valid, unexpired seining license upon request from Department personnel.

Handling and Transport

  • Containment Requirement: All live baitfish must be held in aquaria or exclosures when not in use or transport.
  • Transport Containers: Containers used for transporting legally obtained live baitfish must be free of aquatic vegetation and not part of a watercraft.
  • Release Prohibition: Live baitfish must not be released, abandoned, or allowed to escape, and must be killed upon receipt expiry.

Use of Dead Baitfish

  • Legal Use: Dead baitfish may be utilized, with usage restrictions specified in drainage area regulations.
  • Source Limitation: Nongame fish captured using legal fishing methods during open seasons for game fish may be used as dead bait.
  • Immediate Killing: Any live baitfish captured for use as dead bait must be promptly killed and not transported live.

Live Baitfish Dealer Licensing

Licensing Requirements

  • Prerequisite: Any individual intending to commercially utilize live baitfish must obtain a valid live baitfish dealer’s license before engaging in activities such as selling, trading, bartering, or brokering live baitfish.
  • Exceptions: Holders of a valid Wyoming commercial fish hatchery license are exempted, allowing them to sell or transfer live baitfish to live baitfish dealers for resale.
  • Application Process: Prospective dealers must submit an application for a live baitfish dealer’s license using forms provided by the Department.
  • Required Information: Applicants are obliged to furnish details such as the physical location of the business and a comprehensive description of the facilities designated for holding fish.

Additional Resources

For further guidance on live baitfish dealer licensing, interested parties can access detailed regulations and relevant information via the Department’s official website at https://wgfd.wyo.gov.

Use of Other Animals as Bait

Prohibited Use

  • Amphibians and Reptiles: It is strictly prohibited to use amphibians and reptiles as fishing bait. Furthermore, the possession of live or dead amphibians and reptiles while fishing is also not permitted.

Crayfish Regulations

  • Usage Limitation: Crayfish may only be utilized as live fishing bait in the water body from which they were originally captured.
  • Transportation Restrictions: Once crayfish are transported away from their original water source, they cannot be used as live fishing bait.
  • Trapping Regulations: Traps utilized for capturing mollusks and crustaceans must have the owner's name and address attached while in use.
  • Importation Prohibition: Importation or possession of Rusty Crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) is strictly prohibited.
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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.