Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Keyhole closes check stations for ice fishing season


December 8, 2022

Wyoming Game & Fish (WGF) has announced that the watercraft check station at Coulter Bay has been closed for the season to allow recreationists to enjoy Keyhole Reservoir for its more winter-based activity: ice fishing.

Regulations came into effect a couple of months ago to protect Keyhole Reservoir from the growing threat of invasive zebra mussels, which had been documented at Pactola Reservoir in South Dakota in July. This was considered concerning as it was the first time zebra mussels had been found in a body of water so close to Wyoming, and also because many boaters frequent the waters on either side of the state line.

Though the mussels had not been detected in Wyoming, the department opted to take a proactive approach because, once established, it’s extremely difficult to rid a body of water of zebra mussels.

This involved restricting shore launching to Coulter Bay and the use of the boat ramp to certain hours of the day.

The precautions appear to have paid off. The department revealed this week that collaborative efforts with Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources led to increased compliance by the public to stop at the required watercraft check stations.

Wyoming remains one of the few states in the nation to not have quagga and zebra mussels.

However, as the lake has now begun its annual freeze, boat ramp barriers are to be removed at Tatanka, Pat’s Point, Wind Creek and Coulter Bay to allow for ice fishing, though the access barriers at the marina boat ramp will remain.

Meanwhile, WGF has offered its thanks to boaters and anglers who have followed the guidelines since they were put in place.

“We recognize the restrictions were inconvenient, but we’re grateful for your efforts and working with Game and Fish and State Parks to protect Wyoming’s waters from aquatic invasive species,” said Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, in a press release.

Safety on the ice

As ice fishing season begins, WGF has offered ice safety guidance for anglers.

Check the thickness of the ice – contact a local bait or sporting goods store before you leave and check once you arrive, as well as every 100 to 150 feet. Stay off the ice if it is 2 inches or less in thickness. Four inches is ok for activities on foot.

Never take vehicles, snowmobiles or ATVs onto the ice.

Avoid pressure ridges and large cracks in the ice. Clear ice is stronger than white, which has thawed and refrozen and can also be from air bubbles or frozen snow. For white ice, double the recommended thickness.

Never fish alone – always take a friend and make sure someone knows where you are going.

Pack extra clothes and hot liquids to prevent hypothermia if an accident occurs.


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