With its numerous lakes and thousands miles of streams, Yellowstone National Park offers anglers great fishing adventures and opportunities. Nowhere in the world are there so many rivers and streams that are available for public use and in such a condensed area. You can make a perfect Yellowstone fishing trip and access many small rivers right from the roadside as well as escape crowds by leaving your car and walking into the backcountry. All this gives an unforgettable experience and a nice source of natural admiration and beauty of Yellowstone.
You can find over twelve gamefish species that are native to the Park, including arctic grayling, cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, longnose dace, redside shiner, speckled dace, Utah chub, mottled sculpin, longnose and mountain sucker. Among non-native species are rainbow trout oncorhynchus, cutthroat/rainbow trout hybrid, brook trout salvelinus fontinalis, lake trout salvelinus namaycush, brown trout salmo trutta.
There are four sections in the Yellowstone Park, each divided by a network of roads that is called the Loop Roads: northwest (West Yellowstone), northeast (Gardiner, Montana), southeast (South entrance), southwest (West Yellowstone, Hebgen Lake Montana).
The Firehole River is the best option in the Yellowstone Park on the opener, and each May and up to the end of June, the river offers great fly fishing. The Maddison and Gibbon rivers are cleared from ice in the beginning of June. Approximately in this time, ice comes off Hebgen Lakeside and anglers get a great opportunity for fishing at Hebgen Lake and in other waters, too. By the second week of July, most rivers in the Park run clear of snow melt and become open for fishing. The last rivers to clear are usually the Lamar and Hebgen Lake Montana, which are cleared in the beginning of July that seems to be the best time to fish in the Yellowstone Park.
Fishing Season at Yellowstone
Each month of the fishing season offers its own great opportunities. Right from the opener late in May and until the end of June, the Firehole, Madison, Lewis and Gibbon rivers are the best options. The Trout and Yellowstone Lakes are open early in June and are considered to be among the best places to fish.
July is the favorite time for dry-fly anglers as it is the month when all waters in the Park become fishable. This includes small streams, too. The use of simple insect attractor patterns like coachmen, generic mayfly variants as well as all the many insect baits like grasshoppers and other flies, ants, or beetles will certainly add to your yield. In the season opener, fishing may be slow until early August or September. But July and August are considered to be the best fair-weather months, with the biggest hatches and favorable stream conditions.
Fishing at Hebgen Lake is the best in August, the mosquitoes and biting flies become not so boresome. All the rivers, except for Firehole and Madison, are full of fish through the whole August. During September and October, only a few game fish remains. The Slough Creek and Lamar River can still be fished and one can find the big Green Drakes here. In the late season, the rivers of Firehole and Madison are fishable again and one can hatch great trouts and midges here. If you want to catch the migrating fish passing through the Lewis and Madison Rivers, October is the best month to come. With the colder weather, this large trout fish becomes more aggressive and attacks baitfish or other large flies more eagerly.
More Remote Fishing Destinations at Yellowstone
Most likely, you will have a better success in your Yellowstone fishing trip, if you start with some of the more remote streams or lakes, which are located at some distance from the road. Here are some ideas for your consideration:
Just off the Grand Loop Road Lava Creek to the west from Mammoth, Lava Creek is located. It is a great place for west Yellowstone fishing and isn’t too far from the road. From the second week of June and July, the stream is full of brook trout that is a good game for any angler.
To the east of Lava Creek, you can find one more stream called Blacktail Deer Creek. It is situated in an open country allowing for ease of casting.
Tower Creek flows into the amazing Tower Falls, with its upper reaches providing great fishing opportunities. Brook trout is dominant here with occasional cutthroat game.
If you go upstream to the west Yellowstone fishing and up to the Upper Gibbon River, you will get a great Yellowstone vacation and fishing experience.
Another small stream located to the west of the Grand Loop Road is Winter Creek. Situated far from the road, this stream is a great choice for adventurous anglers wishing to have fast and successful esults.
A great trout stream, situated between Old Faithrul and Madison Junction, Nez Perce Creek is at some distance from the road and requires a little hiking to get to the trout-rich waters.
Lewis River is another great Yellowstone vacation, situated in a deep canyon, which is a rather remote place discouraging most anglers.
Fishing Fees and Regulations
Because of the increasing number of anglers in the National Park, Yellowstone has adopted several restrictive regulations, including season opening and closing dates, fishing permit licenses, catch-and-release only areas, number and size limits according to game species. To protect endangered species, some waters are closed for fishing.
If you are 16 ages old and up, you are required to purchase a Yellowstone National Park Fishing Permit, which costs $15.00 for the three days fishing, $20.00 for seven days, or $35 for an annual permission. Youth from 12 to 15 years old may obtain a free permission that must be signed by a responsible adult. With this permit, the young angler can fish without direct adult supervision. Children under 11 do not need a permit when supervised by adults. Yellowstone fishing permits can be purchased at all ranger stations, visitor centers and the Park’s general stores.
Among special regulations for Yellowstone vacations and fishing, are the following:
Five brook trouts of any size can be caught parkwide, except for Fawn Lake, Richard’s Pond, and Blacktail Ponds, where you are allowed to catch 5 trouts under 13 inches only. In the Pocket Lake there is no limitation on the number of trouts you can catch and keep.
Brown trout can be fished parkwide in the amount of two fish of any size, except for the Firehole and Madison rivers, as well as the Gibbon River, where you are allowed to catch two trouts under 13 inches. You are allowed to only catch and release fish in the Lewis River below the Lewis Falls.
Cutthroat and grayling fish is only allowed to be caught and released.
Lake trout can be fished parkwide in the amount of two fish of any size, except for the Yellowstone Lake, and the Yellowstone River.
One can fish rainbow trout parkwide. Two fish of any size is allowed, except for the Firehole and Madison rivers and the Gibbon River below Gibbons Falls. Only catch and release is allowed.