YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK WATERS
If you are interested in wade fishing some of the waters within Yellowstone National Park, Long Outfitting can lead you in the right direction. The water diversity and scenery is second to none. Cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and grayling are commonly caught in the Park's waters. The following is a description of many, but not all of the waters we guide on.
Lamar River, Soda Butte Creek, and Slough Creek
Arguably, these three creeks that are in the northeast corner of the Park contain one of the healthiest populations of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the U.S. The fishing in this region is the best during mid-summer, since hatches of grey drakes, green drakes, pale morning duns, and terrestrials are all abundant, and the cool water from the Beartooth Wilderness has had a chance to warm up. Clients are always surprised by the size of the fish which range from 10-22 inches.
Just inside the North entrance is one of our favorite river systems in the park, the Gardiner River. It can be broken down into two separate sections. The headwaters above Osprey Falls contain a very healthy population of brook trout in the 6-11 inch range. The upper Gardiner and its tributaries are a great place to introduce beginning anglers to the sport of fly fishing, or for the more experienced to get off the beaten path and catch big numbers of fish. The lower Gardiner below Osprey Falls, contains multiple species of trout.
It is not uncommon to catch a brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, cutbow (hybrid), and a rocky mountain whitefish all in the same day. The fish in the lower river are not huge (6-15 inches), but their aggressive feeding habit makes up for their size.
Firehole River, Gibbon River, and Madison River
The Firehole and Gibbon are the headwaters of the Madison. Located in the cental western part of the Park, they all have great access for wade fishers looking to hook into some mid-sized rainbow and brown trout. The upper reaches of the Gibbon also have great brook trout fishing, and occasionally an arctic grayling will be caught.
Both the Firehole and Gibbon have large thermal basins dumping hot water into them, so quite often, but not always, the best fishing is right after the Park opens its season in late May through June, and then fishing picks back up in the fall. Cooler water and air temperatures keep these fish active. Large hatches of stoneflies, mayflies, caddis, and crane flies can bring large numbers of fish up to the surface in all three of these famous Yellowstone National Park fisheries.
The headwaters of the Gallatin are in the Park. Much of the easily accessed water flows through meandering meadows, with small to medium sized rainbow and brown trout typically hanging out in the head of riffles and under the cutbanks and overhanging bushes. Mayfly, caddisfly, stonefly, and terrestrials are top producers on this piece of water.
Even though this seldom fished stretch of water is in Yellowstone National Park, no entrance fee is required for a vehicle since there is not an entrance gate on the highway which gives anglers very easy access to the river.
Fishing in the Black Canyon and Grand Canyons of the Yellowstone can be rewarding if you like to get away from the crowds. You are often rewarded for your efforts with nice sized cutthroat trout that will feed on large stonefly and terrestrial patterns. Make sure you are in good shape before starting your hike. Our guides know how to access some sections of these canyons safely, and where there are great runs to spend the day fishing.
Another stretch of the river downstream of Yellowstone Lake is slowly coming back from lake trout predation and whirling disease. Some of our clients have stuck some absolutely beautiful cutthroat on dry flies the last couple of years, but the fishing is still spotty. There are locations in the river there are no fish, and there are locations where there are quite a few, so if you don't see fish, keep moving. If you are looking for that cutthroat of a lifetime in the 20-25 inch range, this might be the place to try.
If you want to catch your first arctic grayling or Yellowstone cutthroat, this is the trip for you. We have been guiding here since the mid 1990's and have always caught a few grayling on each guide trip. The 2.5 mile hike into the lake is covered with wildflowers, and quite often osprey and loons are common visitors.
Dry fly fishing works great for the eager 8-14 inch fish that reside in the lake when the wind stays down, but if the surface gets a little choppy, the nymph fishing can be lights out.
"Angling is extremely time consuming. That's sort of the whole point."