KOTA Territory fishermen could see a lot less fish swimming around Northeast Wyoming lakes. The Game and Fish Department needs to trim ten percent off its budget and that will mean less fish getting stocked in area lakes.
Tom Ellis of Sheridan started coming out to fish Lake De Smet more than thirty years ago and he's caught plenty while ice fishing on the lake this winter.
"Well, this winter we've been doing pretty good," said Ellis.
But anglers will have a tougher time catching fish if the Game and Fish Department goes through with proposed budget cuts.
"Lake De Smet's likely to see a cut of 50,000 fish in 2014. We annually put in 150,000 fish," said Regional Fisheries Supervisor Paul Mavrakis.
The cuts are set for 2014, so anglers won't see any reductions in this year's stock. But with 35,000 anglers visiting the lake each year, each fisherman will take home fewer fish than they hope.
"There's bound to be some people that would probably not come, especially if it did deteriorate, the fishing, to where they weren't catching any at all," said Ellis.
Even though the cuts take effect next year, anglers won't feel the impact until a year or two later.
"The fish, as we put them in, are between seven and nine inches. People usually don't start taking them home in Lake De Smet until 12-plus inches, usually more like 14, 15 inches. So they need to be in there for a year or so," said Mavrakis.
Ellis says he'll keep coming to the lake and thinks most anglers will too.
"I don't think most people really care that they catch a lot of fish. They just like to catch fish," said Ellis.
But they'll see less action on their lines unless the Game and Fish Department works something out with the state.
"That's going to almost completely depend on our funding situation," said Mavrakis.
The Game and Fish Department stocks Lake De Smet with rainbow and cutthroat trout.
The Game and Fish Commission will review the proposed budget cuts at a meeting next week in Gillette.