Fishing in Yellowstone is an experience that compares with few other places on earth.
What is it that makes a Yellowstone fishing trip so amazing?
It’s because legend and decades of fish tales are still true. You can be a hundred yards from another angler on the Lamar or Madison Rivers, for instance, yet still feel as though you were the first to cast to that inside seam.
There, a riffle turns into a quick chute of deeper water, and a trout lays waiting. Such is the Yellowstone experience.
Yellowstone is where two great rivers originate. The Snake heads to the Pacific via the Columbia River. The Madison River is headwater of the Missouri River, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico.
Your heartbeat will quicken upon entering Yellowstone. Can it be due to viewing cold, clear waters outside your window? The waters whisper your name as you slow down to take a closer look, perhaps spotting a flitting shadow of a trout in the stream.
As you drive past, you can almost feel the water flowing around your body, speaking a language that only an angler can understand. You inhale the sage and pine-scented air, each breath eliminating stress and replacing it with the knowledge that you are on vacation.
Not just any vacation, but a fishing vacation in the heart of the best wild trout rivers, streams and lakes.
Should you run out of waters to fish in Yellowstone, there are a vast swath of wild trout waters found on the borders of the park.
Wild trout real estate is also well-known in other parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, where millions of acres of public land are bisected by hundreds of miles of blue-ribbon trout waters.
Roads loop throughout America’s oldest national park, following the major watersheds of the rivers mentioned above.
Fly-fishing is highly recommended because single, barbless hooks cause the least damage to wild trout fisheries, when practicing catch and release.
The wild trout found inside Yellowstone and outside in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are generally larger on the average than most anglers catch in home state fisheries.
Anglers should not forget that they are guests in the park. Please treat it and its resources with regard to future anglers, and to maintain healthy fisheries. Read the regulations and always return your catch to water unless the regulations state otherwise, as with the lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake.
There isn’t room here to name each fishable river or lake in Yellowstone country, but suffice it to say, Yellowstone fishing is reliably incredible from Memorial Day weekend to the first weekend in November.
Between those dates, don your waders, match fly size to tippet, shake out some fly line, and nail the inside seam on your first cast.
Tim Wade owns North Fork Anglers, in Cody, Wyoming, and has been guiding Yellowstone waters for more than 20 years.