Low Water Levels In Bighorn Basin Could Hurt Trout

Jul 6, 2016

Clear Creek near Buffalo, Wyoming.
Credit Hatches Magazine

Streams in the Bighorn Basin are seeing low water levels earlier than usual this summer, which could lead to trout die-offs.

Local anglers near Sheridan and Buffalo first reported unusually low water levels in Little Goose Creek and Clear Creek to Wyoming Game and Fish. Shallow water raises water temperatures, which can fatally stress trout. 

A combination of low rainfall, little snowpack and high spring temperatures are all factors in the low water levels. Game and Fish is projecting the trend could continue in the Bighorn Basin if the summer continues to grow hotter.

“Our mountain run-off is probably pretty much over by now," said Game and Fish Spokesman Bud Stewart. "And if we continue with not much rain and some hot temperatures in July and August, we’re probably going to see some problems."

While water levels in the Bighorn Basin are unusually low, in some other parts of the state they are above average for this time of year. In Albany and Laramie counties, substantial rainfall and melting snowpack have kept water levels above normal.