Yellowstone National Park is one of the most magnificent venues imaginable for fly fishing. With soaring peaks, abundant wildlife, and bubbling hot springs, the backdrop is unmatched. The rivers and lakes of the park offer an incredible variety of high quality fishing from late May until early November. While many of the waters are extremely famous and heavily fished, there are just as many unknown and under-utilized areas out there waiting for the intrepid angler. Fly fishing Yellowstone Park should be on the bucket list for any fly angler visiting the Northern Rockies.
Fishing Yellowstone National Park
Flowing right through the middle of the largest concentration of geysers in the world, the Firehole is without a doubt the most unique trout stream on the planet. As a fishery, the Firehole is renowned for its dry fly fishing, as it sees massive hatches of Caddis, Pale Morning Duns, and Blue Winged Olives. It fishes well in May and June and again in September and October. Leave this one alone during the hot days of mid-summer.
The Gardner is a smaller river located in the north-western corner of Yellowstone National Park. It is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, and the two meet right at the Park boundary at the town of Gardiner, MT. The Gardner fishes well throughout most of the Yellowstone Park season and is one of the more consistent fisheries in the Park.
Probably the most under-appreciated of the "famous" waters in Yellowstone Park, the Gibbon has a lot to offer to the fly angler. It varies drastically throughout its length, from placid meadows to crashing cascades. Each section fishes very differently, and it takes a long time to learn the intricacies of this little river.
Grebe Lake is the best place in Yellowstone National Park to catch a Grayling. This unique salmonid has disappeared from almost all of its native range in the Lower 48, and is a prized catch. Known for its distinct, large dorsal fin, Grayling are aggressive feeders and a great target on the fly rod.
The Lamar Valley is one off the most stunning sights in Yellowtone National Park. The river here is classic meadow water, 30 to 40 feet wide, flowing through miles of wide open grasslands that are often filled with Bison. Fishing is best here during high summer, when opportunistic Cutthroat Trout hunt terrestrial insects.
The Madison inside of Yellowstone National Park closely resembles a giant spring creek, broken with choppy riffles and long, glassy glides. Aquatic weeds and grasses dance in the steady current. During summer, this is a match the hatch fishery with prodigious hatches of Caddis and Pale Morning Dun's. In the fall, large trout migrate out of Hegben Lake and can be caught in deep, dark pools of the Madison.
This classic meadow stream holds some of the largest and most finicky Cutthroat Trout in Yellowstone Park. Most of the fishing here is done by sight fishing, so you will often feel more like a hunter than a fisherman. Slough features four distinct meadows, with only the lower meadow being accessible by road. The rest of the creek is a true Yellowstone backcountry experience.
The Park’s namesake river, the Yellowstone is among the best fisheries found in Yellowstone National Park. Throughout its length, the river is a bastion for the native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. While the fishery has been hurt by the introduction of Lake Trout into Yellowstone Lake, the river still offers some excellent fishing. The river traverses the entire park from south to north and varies considerably throughout its length.