May 31, 2022 |

Boating and fishing at Saratoga Lake won’t be much fun this summer, and even less this fall.

The illegal stocking of Saratoga Lake with yellow perch last year has forced Wyoming Game and Fish to make a hard decision—kill all of the fish and rebuild the lake. The fish kill, using rotenone, is scheduled for September. The drastic measure is being taken to protect trout habitat downstream in the North Platte River system where they could destroy trout habitat. A public meeting is scheduled next week to discuss the operation.

Allan Osterlund, the chief of fisheries for the state game agency, told Bigfoot 99 in March that the discovery of the yellow perch in the lake last year was “devastating.” Their presence threatens more than just the trout in the lake.

Yellow perch. Photo courtesy WGFD.

Osterlund said while some people like to fish for perch, their presence in Saratoga Lake poses a threat to species downstream, including walleye in Seminole and the blue-ribbon trout in Grey Reef.

Pictured above: Saratoga Lake campground. Photo courtesy of the Town of Saratoga.

Osterlund said recently that Game and Fish needs to do all it can to stop to stop the threat to the river system. That means treating the lake with rotenone, a broad spectrum insecticide, to kill all of the fish in the lake.

Water levels in the lake have been dropping all spring because of the pending treatment. The lake was isolated from the river system last month. Bobby Compton a fisheries supervisor for the Laramie Region said the inflow and outflow to the lake have been turned off.

Evaporation will cause water level at the lake to drop even lower, creating muddy shorelines and less than ideal boating conditions. Dangerous algal blooms could be more intense and prolonged this summer. So take precautions for yourself and your pets if visiting the lake.

Fisheries biologists discovered yellow perch in Saratoga Lake in 2021 during routine sampling. The lake is managed as a trout fishery. Game and Fish has not stocked yellow perch anywhere in Wyoming for many years. Osterlund said someone stocked the perch illegally.

Penalties for illegally stocking fish could be up to $10,000. Wyoming Game and Fish is still investigating the illegal stocking of perch in Saratoga Lake.

In the meantime, department officials will hold an informational meeting next week about their plans to kill off the all the fish in the lake. The public meeting is planned for 6 p.m. June 9 at the Platte Valley Community Center in Saratoga.

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