Skip to main content

Illegal fish discovered

News Letter Journal - Staff Photo - Create Article
Photo by Amy Menerey/NLJ Recently the Wyoming Game and Fish announced the finding of illegally stocked walleye in Black Elk Pond. The pond is stocked with several other fish to provide a fishing experience for those close to the area.
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

WG&F find illegally stocked walleye in Black Elk Pond

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is seeking information on illegally stocked walleye in Black Elk Pond after staff discovered the fish in a recent netting.

According to Paul Mavrakis, regional fisheries supervisor for the department, the fish could not have reached the body of water in any way other than illegal stocking. Game and Fish is unsure when the fish were released.

“We cannot be sure when the walleye were illegally stocked or how many were released. We last sampled the pond in 2021, and we did not find walleye then. Black Elk Pond is fed by a well, so there is no chance the walleye were able to get to the pond on their own without someone illegally stocking them,” Mavrakis told the News Letter Journal in an email.

He noted that the number of walleye in the pond is also unknown.

“Our netting in no way samples all the fish in the pond but provides a good statistical representation, so the fact we caught one walleye makes me believe there may be more, but we won’t know for sure unless more walleye are caught by anglers or found during future samplings,” Mavrakis said.

Built in 2015, the pond was originally stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and yellow perch, the release says. In recent years, the department has added catchable rainbow trout and channel catfish, but the release notes that walleye were not stocked in the pond due to the potential negative impact on the other fish species, but it is unlikely that the illegally planted walleye will successfully reproduce in Black Elk Pond.

“At just over one surface acre, Black Elk Pond is far too small to be good walleye habitat,” Mavrakis explained.

That doesn’t mean the predators that have been put in the water can’t do serious damage.

“If there are any other adult walleye in the pond, they can reach a large enough size to eat all the other species in the pond. Game and Fish manages this community fishery to provide anglers, especially youth and new anglers, the opportunity to catch a variety of species, and someone illegally stocking walleye has the possibility to upset the really nice fishery that currently exists,” Mavrakis said.

The wayward walleye at Black Elk Pond doesn’t seem to be the only incident of illegal stocking in Weston County.

“Illegal fish introductions are a serious problem and seem to be especially prevalent in northeast Wyoming,” Mavrakis said in the release.

He later told the News Letter Journal that yellow perch were found to have been illegally stocked in Black Hills Power and Light Reservoir in Osage in recent years.

“The yellow perch have reproduced successfully and now are so abundant, we have reduced trout stocking from 2,500 fish annually to 800 fish in the fall because the perch are eating much of the food trout require to survive,” Mavrakis said.

Anyone with information related to the stocking of the fish is encouraged to contact the Newcastle game warden or make an anonymous call the Stop Poaching Hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP.

He noted that should an individual be identified, that person can be charged with a high misdemeanor and could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

“Anyone providing a tip can remain anonymous, and if the tip leads to a conviction, there is a possibility of a reward,” Mavrakis said.

--- Online Subscribers: Please click here to log in to read this story and access all content.

Not an Online Subscriber? Click here to subscribe.

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates