The 5 Best Fish to Catch in Wyoming This Summer

Written by Crystal
Updated: September 11, 2022
© ElvK/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

Wyoming’s unique geography promotes the presence of rich aquatic fauna. As a result, the lakes and rivers are home to some of the best freshwater fish species and opportunities to catch them. However, there are so many different fish species in Wyoming that it can be difficult deciding which ones to target. To help make things simple, we’ve put together this short but complete fishing guide.

Follow along as we go through the 5 best fish to catch in Wyoming this summer!

1. Smallmouth Bass

smallmouth vs largemouth bass
Most smallmouth bass run between 1-2 pounds.

©CSNafzger/Shutterstock.com

2,710 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

A few familiar names for smallmouth bass include black bass, brown bass, and bronze bass. These fish have a brown bronze color with dark bars on their sides. Their underparts are yellow, and their dorsal fin is continuous with a shallow notch.

Most smallmouth bass run between 1-2 lbs. However, some of the larger ones can exceed 10 lb. They taste great and make for a fun gamefish. Smallmouth bass is fast, strong, and active. They’re superb jumpers and have a reputation for being one of the best fighters in the black bass group.

When it comes to tackles, you’ll find that snags are rarely a problem with smallmouth fishing. Light spinning and baitcasting gear will give you the best sport. Crankbaits and spinners work well in most situations. Also, surface lures work great when you’re working shallow waters. Some of the best natural baits to use include crawfish, nightcrawlers, and hellgrammites.

Keep an eye out for these fish by fast flowing streams and rock-strewn lakes. Rocky areas are some of the best places to fish for smallmouth. You might even get lucky and find smallmouth and largemouth bass hanging out together by the rocky sectors.

2. Crappie

Crappie jumping out of water
There are only 2 species of crappie in the world; white and black.

©iStock.com/bbevren

There are only two crappie species worldwide, and Wyoming is home to both. Many anglers don’t bother distinguishing between black and white crappie because they’re similar. Both species belong to the sunfish family, including largemouth bass and bluegills. They are also worth adding to your list of the best fish to catch in Wyoming this summer.

Lakes and rivers are the best places to find crappie hotspots. Pick a spot, cast your bait, and start reeling in slabs. When choosing the right spot to cast from, look for fish shelters, cypress trees, and shallow ledges. Flooded willows and isolated stumps are also crappie hotspots.

If you can find a thick piece of structure, work your line around the edges. Use a jigger minnow dropped inside a thicket to entice the crappie. Work it slowly around the structure until they strike. If it recently rained, you’ll have an advantage. The rainwater degrades the water quality, making it harder for the crappie to see. You’ll be able to get closer to them using a 10 ft pole.

Longer poles are more advantageous if you’re fishing from the shore. They’ll give you the advantage of fishing your bait vertically from a greater distance, resulting in fewer snags.

3. Walleye

Happy fisherman with walleye fish
Walleye have excellent eyesight as young as 6 weeks old.

©FedBul/Shutterstock.com

The walleye is one of the most elusive and best fish to catch in Wyoming this summer. Their secretive nature has intrigued generations of anglers. It’s an intelligent fish with excellent eyesight that starts developing at 6 weeks of age.

Anyone who spent any amount of time fishing for walleye understands how unpredictable they can be. One day the walleyes will be biting like crazy, and then they’ll suddenly disappear for no apparent reason. If you have your heart set on catching a walleye this fishing trip, consider hiring a guide to improve your odds. They’ll know the best lakes to fish and the most popular times to make regular catches.

As a cool water species, walleye prefer intermediate temperatures. This differs from cold water fish like trout. During the summertime, walleyes hang out in water between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they will leave the warm zone to find food or to get out of intense light.

In clear water, they tend to feed at dusk and dawn. If the light levels are reduced, you can find walleye feeding in the middle of the day.

4. Lake Trout

Lake Trout
Lake trout usually top out at 60 pounds.

©iStock.com/VvoeVale

Wouldn’t it be amazing to catch a fish that weighs over 100 pounds? You might be able to do just that when you target lake trout! This species has more than earned its name on the list of the best fish to catch in Wyoming this summer.

On average, lake trout usually weigh between 5 to 30 lb. However, they occasionally top out at 60 lbs. They’re a good fish for experienced and new anglers. Even though they’re strong fighters, they’re not particularly showy.

During the summer months, lake trout like to roam shallow waters. You can catch them using all sorts of casting tackle, including fly rods. However, one of the most popular ways to catch lake trout includes trolling deep waters.

Lake trout reside very deep in the water, where it’s nice and cool. You’ll sometimes find them in tributary rivers as well. Anglers will troll the deep waters with spinning tackle or heavy baitcasting. They can pull in many of these fish using downriggers or wire lines. Some of the best lures in the shallow waters include large spinners and big streamer flies.

5. Kokanee Salmon

A bright red sockeye salmon swimming
Kokanee salmons like living in lakes.

©Beat J Korner/Shutterstock.com

Last on our list of the best fish to catch in Wyoming this summer is the Kokanee salmon. What this sport fish lacks in size, it makes up for in cooperativeness. The Kokanee salmon is a great game fish for beginners. They fight well on light tackle but are still easy to reel in.

Kokanee mainly feeds on plankton but still responds to various small baits. They’re a small landlocked form of the anadromous sockeye salmon. They usually run between 8 and 12 in and weigh between 1 and 5 pounds.

Lakes are one of the best places to find Kokanee salmon. They can be seen breaking the water’s surface as they feed on plankton. Some of the best lures and baits include salmon eggs, worms, canned corn, and small insects. You can also use tiny spinners, especially if you top it off with a little bit of worm.


The Featured Image

Fishing Walleye fish in the angler's hands.
Fishing Walleye fish in the angler's hands.
© ElvK/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

Crystal is a curious writer who's always looking to learn more. When she's not out in nature, she's writing about it. Animals, plants, survival tips, and more. It'll be exciting to watch this author grow and learn with her along the way.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.