WHEATLAND - When times are good at Wheatland Reservoir # 3, they are very good. This reservoir suffered from very low water levels during the last drought. The last several good water years have allowed water users to keep water at beneficial levels for fish. When full, Wheatland # 3 is the largest reservoir in the Laramie Region at over 4,700 surface acres. It has a maximum depth of 50 feet and an average depth of 15 feet. Access to private lands owned by the Wheatland Irrigation District around the lake is provided through an agreement with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Large areas around the lake are public Bureau of Land Management lands. Facilities are managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as a Public Access Area. Since the most recent filling in 2009, Wheatland # 3 has developed into one of the most productive and popular fishing destinations in Southeast Wyoming. It’s known for catches of large trout many of which are well over 20 inches in length. Angler use of the lake has increased over the last several years. The current fisheries management at Wheatland # 3 consists of stocking 70,000 seven inch Rainbow Trout annually with an additional 7,500 Brown Trout. Walleye are present that make their way into the lake from Wheatland Reservoir # 2.
One of the ways that managers evaluate a fishery is by interviewing anglers to determine several “catch” statistics. These creel surveys provide valuable information into how a fishery is performing and if it meets the objectives set by managers. Game Wardens frequently interview anglers during routine patrols and provide fishery biologist with the data they collect. Three hundred twenty-six angler interviews were conducted at Wheatland Reservoir #3 from January 22 to November 26, 2016. Residency was almost evenly split between resident anglers and non-resident anglers. Three species of game fish were caught by anglers (2 Brown Trout, 276 Rainbow Trout and 11 Walleye). Of the Trout caught by anglers, 85% were harvested. Anglers rarely kept their daily limit of 6 TRT. Seventy five percent of the anglers only kept only one fish. The average trout catch rate was 0.17 fish/hour. This means that on average 1 fish was caught for every 5.8 hours of fishing. Individual fishermen had highly variable catch rates. The fish caught were frequently well over 20 inches in length. This catch rate is relatively slow but consistent with lakes with very large fish. The fastest catch rates were in the spring and fall.
The opportunity for anglers to catch very large Trout has made Wheatland # 3 a popular destination fishery in South East Wyoming.