Warm temperatures are ahead of us this week as we enter the first of May.
Snowmelt should begin in earnest now at the lower elevations. Rivers will see an increase in flow as side channels that seldom carry water become awash with the flushing snow and resultant sediments that will be channeling into waterways. The added flow and velocity in these arroyos and ditches will also increase turbidity.
The North Fork of the Shoshone has already seen a doubling in flow since last week, as has the lower Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone. Other rivers in the Absaroka, Beartooth and Big Horn mountains have risen as well, but their flows have gradually climbed, leaving fishable waters for a while longer before our annual spring runoff begins to truly rush out of the mountains.
When temperatures spike to a pleasant 65 degrees late April and early May, local waters such as the Newton Lakes, and the Luce, Hogan, Beck and New Cody reservoirs are beginning to warm up quickly. Anglers have already seen an increase in feeding activity by trout, crappie, bluegill, perch, bass and catfish. Bluegill and crappie are fine table fare for those who like to eat their catch rather than release them to fight another day.
With all the free time involuntarily given to fishermen and women due to business shutdowns and the recommended social distancing since mid-March, it is not hard to miss the anglers congregating on the shorelines of Beck Lake where the crappie action has been good on bait and small spinning lures like Mepps, Panther Martin and facsimiles of these. I have heard the bite is also going strong at Harrington and Deaver reservoirs for panfish and walleye. These impoundments are something to consider as an alternative to Beck Lake where the recommended distancing of six feet seems to be ignored as anglers rush to where other anglers are having more action or success.
Newton Lakes are also seeing some competition among paddle boarders, kayakers and fishermen due to the fact both lakes are more full of water than they have been in four decades. Because the former parking lots are under water now, anglers are complaining they have no way to launch boats into the East and West lakes because vehicles are blocking access or parking so close together in the graveled road way entrances that a trailer cannot be turned or backed without bending a fender or three.
It is good to know the Wyoming Game and Fish and the Bureau of Reclamation are trying to resolve this conflict between recreational paddlers and those with boats used for fishing at East and West Newton. We all have to be courteous when recreating and sharing the outdoors. Keep in mind, picnic benches and restroom facilities are also underwater, or soon will be, which means each person is responsible for practicing good hygiene when needing to go to the bathroom outdoors, exercising the good manners that would make your mother proud, and respecting another person’s reason for being at Newton Lakes.