The opening day for the North Fork of the Shoshone has arrived. This date could also be called the unofficial beginning of the summer fishing season in the Cody area. Sadly, July 1 is also the day many anglers cannot resist the temptation to harvest more trout than the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s regulations allow.

The North Fork has been heralded as one of the Top-10 freestone rivers in the Rocky Mountain West. As the word gets out, not just catch-and-release fly fishermen take advantage of the river’s fabulous rainbow, cutbow, brown trout and native Yellowstone cutthroat fishery. Fishermen are out who have no idea the numerous trout found on opening in the North Fork especially are wild trout, not a bunch of hatchery trout that have been dumped into the river to satisfy the craving to kill (better known as get your limit) trout on opening day.

Already, the local game wardens have been ticketing anglers, local anglers and those visiting the region, that have been fishing in the area that is closed to fishing April 1-June 30. Why anglers can purchase a fishing license but ignore reading the fishing regulations prior to wetting a line in the miles of rivers and streams found in this part of Wyoming is beyond the comprehension of this writer. Reading regulations is not difficult and should be the first thing fisher people should do before tying on a fly, lure or bait.

Kudos to the game wardens patrolling the North Fork, South Fork, Greybull, Wood and Clarks Fork rivers and drainages. Theirs is a thankless job, game wardens, but without them writing tickets and educating ignorant fisher types on what the regulations say and allow for harvest or no harvest, it would be safe to say our wild trout fisheries would be fished out in no time that would leave rivers and streams void of trout or possibly any fish, since Rocky Mountain whitefish and suckers also are good to eat, although not relished like trout.

Game hogs ruin the fishing for everyone. Please, do not be part of the problem when fishing wild trout rivers in Wyoming. Many anglers are guests and just passing through the region. If you’re killing trout, particularly wild trout, then giving them away or disposing of your catch in trash bins because you can’t eat them, you are depriving other anglers from the ability to choose whether to release or have a meal.

Yellowstone Park is also part of Wyoming and went to catch and release, flies or lures only years ago. It is ironic that most fisher persons take the time to read and obey Yellowstone’s fishing regulations, but do not do the same when fishing outside the Park. This year, do the environment a favor. Consider the fact more than a million people travel the North Fork to visit Yellowstone Park.

Imagine how many trout would be killed if just 10 per cent of those people caught a fish before entering the Park. If you cannot do the math, I will do it for you. One hundred thousand wild trout will have gone to waste and subsequently ruin a popular fishery.

There aren’t a fraction of that many trout swimming the North Fork in the best of years in case you are wondering. Remember, you can be a problem, or you can be a responsible angler. The choice is yours. If you make a bad choice, I hope the game wardens teach you a lesson you will never forget.

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