If you are a backcountry adventurer like myself you have definitely chased these beautiful creatures with a fly rod or spin rig. They are in abundance throughout Yellowstone Country and more specifically inside the park. They are a symbol and testament to the conservation efforts set forth by park rangers, anglers, and scientists on a daily basis. These fish are built to survive, bottom line…however they still need the help and the careful guidance of anyone willing to contribute.
Within the park the Yellowstone Cutty is king. They can be found in pretty much every river and lake including the magnificent Yellowstone Lake. However, so are Lake Trout…the Cutthroat’s biggest rivals. It is said that these fish were illegally introduced into the lake and now compete with Cuttys for food and resources as well as prey on Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Fry (baby fish). There is a mandatory fish kill on Lake Trout within Yellowstone Lake and I hope that we can do our part to assure the survival of the beautiful Cutthroat fish and support the efforts of conservationists.
In terms of fishing, the Cuttys are a prime target for the catch-and-release angler. They grow large in the healthy, clean river systems within Yellowstone Park and you can regularly find them rising to dry flies…EVEN IN THE SNOWY MONTHS!! They are hard fighters and will prove it through many wild, acrobatic leaps after being hooked. Make sure to fish barbless flies and lures (less damage to the fish’s mouth) and give the fish time to revive it’s energy in the cold water before the release. If you’re looking to snap a couple photos…be as sensitive and respectful of the fish as possible. Running down the bank with your catch is NOT respectful. Cradling the fish in the water and then quickly holding it out for a quick pic IS! Respecting the fish and their habitat will only lead to better fishing for more and bigger fish. Check out the Firehole, the Upper Yellowstone, and the Upper Snake Rivers for some good Cutty fishing. These fish will be sure to put a bend in your rod and a smile on your face!