Throwing the ground under a steep shore with long grass with bison groaning in the distance was the draw for me at the age of eight. Geysers that explode in an instant, open space without development and an abundance of water with large and native species of trout. With my periphery on full radar for anything that might come my way and the splashing of my bear hanging from my chest pack, my heart is drawn to the savagery of this place year after year.
Soon 26 years ago, and now I live in the park; casting, walking, rowing and orientation. In those 26 years of visiting and working, every year there are moments that make me scream. The visit to the park did nothing but climb up. Fly fishing has grown in popularity. And with Yellowstone National Park turning 150 this year, the pressure needs to be exponential and fishing needs to be tougher, for both fish and fishermen. But with some simple and ethical practices, your time in the park along with everyone else should be as smooth as your crossings for the local trout.
Yellowstone fly fishing season:
The park is not a year-round fishery. The season for Yellowstone begins on Memorial Day Saturday and runs until Halloween. But due to the opening dates of the season, it does not mean that all rivers and lakes are open for fishing. For example, the Yellowstone River is not open until July 1st. Along with many other rivers and lakes. There is also fishing only from sunrise to sunset, artificial lights or night fishing are not allowed.
Licenses required to fly Yellowstone Fish
A park fishing license is required to fish in Yellowstone. Since the park is in three states: Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, only one parking permit is required. The park license is $ 40 for a three-day leave, $ 55 for a week and $ 75 for the entire season. Available for purchase online at Recreation.gov.
Weather in Yellowstone:
There is a saying in Yellowstone, “We have two seasons, winter and July.” Even without trying to be funny, it’s correct. Meteorologists have no idea what the weather is doing. The record high temperature in the park is 99 degrees, where the coldest recorded is 66 below zero. Expect the worst and hope for the best. Snow can come in any month and an afternoon rainstorm is 5 days a week in a normal summer.
Explore the rivers in Yellowstone:
The main attraction for catching fish in the park is targeting the local Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. Endemic to the park and surrounding desert areas of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. But a chance to throw and land one of these fish in their waters and their names is the draw.
Although the chances of catching other non-native species like rainbow, coffee and stream trout are very high. The regulation may require you to release or kill non-native fish depending on drainage. Research is paramount and with the new regulations for 2022 and any body of water representing its own set of rules for capture or release, avoid a penalty and do your homework.
The only exceptions to the rule are lake trout and sea bass. No matter where you are in the park, if you catch a lake trout or small-bodied sea bass, you need to remove them from the water to ensure the protection of the gorge. That said, all native fungi should be released and treated with extreme caution.
If growth is to be as expected, the goal of sea bass in the Yellowstone and Gardner rivers and lake trout in Lakes Yellowstone, Lewis and Shoshone is an effort that all fishermen and biologists in Yellowstone welcome with open arms.
Yellowstone National Park Fish Treatment Label:
This is the number one thing I notice in the park every year that makes me shiver. Don’t pull the fish out of the water for your damn Instagram! It is astonishing the choking and smile I see where the likelihood that that fish will cross rises to the sky with every direct photo and post that should happen. Just stop! After all, no one will care that you caught a small fish on your social networks and the worst part is that the fish is likely to die because of it.
Wash your hands. This helps to keep the mucus slurry in the fish to keep it from growing bacteria and choking from dry Instagram sticky fingers. Keep the fish submerged as much as possible. River temperatures in summer can rise to deadly levels even for fish if not caught, so the added pressure of angle shooting certainly does not help their mortality. Keep the water flowing over their gills all the time. The water is clear, you can take a nice picture with the fish partially submerged and still breathing on your social networks.
Recommended Fly fishing equipment:
To help stop the introduction of further invasive species, all down boots are illegal in the park. Likewise, if you want to bring your belly boat, or kayak or your boat to Yellowstone, Shoshone or Lewis Lake, the only water bodies where boating is allowed, you should also inspect and allow them. Navigation on any of the rivers in the park is illegal.
Lead-weight beads and lead-weight flies and separate blows are also prohibited. Lead is a pollutant and toxic to the environment. If a fish is swallowed by lead, it can lead to poisoning, causing death for both the fish and a host of other species that kill the fish. A fisherman will discover that the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout is a key species in the park. It means that if the fungus were to become extinct, other species including megafauna like grizzly bears could also be threatened or extinct. Just do not use bullets.
Due to the nature of catching and releasing most of the fishing in the park, especially for local mushrooms, all your hooks should be barbed or crushed. This is a practice in which I would like all fishermen within the park and around the world to participate. It minimizes the impact on the fish during capture and release, so that it can live another day and spawn.
Stay away from thermal areas:
The main attraction for most of the tourism in Yellowstone are the active thermal features like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. But next to these as well as other thermal features around the park are rivers like Firehole, Gibbon, Madison and Yellowstone. All of these rivers are fished and can be great, just stay away from the thermal areas near which these rivers flow. There are hotspots along the shores where you have to step on them, they can make you fall to the surface and burn yourself. On a fishing note, if you attach a fish near these thermal properties, the water is likely to be much higher than a surviving temperature for a fish to be caught and fought, so it should simply be avoided.
Do you have to fish in these areas, do it at dawn in order to fish their coldest waters and try to fish only during the early or late season. Pay attention to the Yellowstone website and social media for updates on closures. They often close rivers in the middle of summer if the water exceeds certain temperatures that harm or threaten the fish’s livelihood.
Yellowstone is not a pet zoo and animals do not have hours of daylight where they are either released or placed back in their cages. They are wild and free and do whatever they want to do. If you see a bear, it is not in a pen. You see a wolf, he does not have an invisible fence with a collar on it. He is wild and will approach you if you wish. Keep bear spray and know how to use it. Whether you are in a remote part of the creek or you are fishing right off the road, a bear can and will walk wherever it wants and this includes roads, buildings and desert areas.
You smile, heck!
The park is busy, the streets will be full of construction and if a tourist sees a squirrel, you better believe it will cause a traffic jam to photograph him. But after all, it is the first national park of our nations and it just had its 150th birthday. He boasts thousands of miles of fishing ground, in which if you find the desire to jump, he can bless you with all the loneliness you desire and paint that smile on your face for which you have come across the country.
Just please follow the rules, respect the other fishermen in the park and please, please, please, keep the fish wet. Remember that there is almost no service in the park, a spiritual and peaceful place away from all connections with the outside world. No need to explode fish misuse and spills near thermal characteristics to tell the world about your irresponsible shooting. Only you, your stick, the water that rolls with your feet and that big cut local trout that thinks of eating your fly.
Article and photo by Sean Jansen, an avid fisherman and writer based in Bozeman, Montana. Follow along with his adventures on @jansen_journals.
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