Yellowstone National Park is a Mecca of fly-fishing in the Rocky Mountains. The waters that leave the park form the nation's most famous trout rivers. There are 2,221,000 acres full of trout streams and lakes. Some are accessible by car, and some require a rigorous hike into distant backcountry. There is something for every angler.
The Madison and Firehole rivers are very popular with fly-fishers. The best fishing occurs in the spring and fall. In the spring there are tremendous hatches of caddis flies and Pale Morning Dun mayflies. As fall arrives, many anglers fish large streamers on the Madison River in hopes of catching large brown trout during their spawning migration. During mid-summer, thermal activity and warm days force the trout to find cool streams more suited to them.
The Gibbon River, which forms the Madison River when it meets Firehole River, fishes well throughout the summer. It is a beautiful meadow stream that hides some large trout, but requires a very cautious approach by the angler. In the Elk Park Meadow, the angler must approach the river on hands and knees to avoid spooking the fish, but the rewards are well worth it.
The Bechler River in the remote south end of the park is the place to hike for great fishing and some solitude. It fishes very well throughout the summer with beetle and ant patterns. During early summer, the mosquitoes and deer flies can be maddening.The Yellowstone River is very popular and is often crowded with anglers. The fishing is goes from opening day on July 15 throughout the summer. Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are common and always feeding from the lake all the way to Sulfur Cauldron. These slick gin clear waters are a dry fly fishing paradise. The cutthroat populations have dwindled over the last few years due to whirling disease and the introduction of non-native Lake Trout in Yellowstone Lake. Despite this, you would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful spot to fly fish.There are two remote canyon sections of the river-The Black Canyon and The Grand Canyon. It is an easy hike in, but a tough hike out. Lots of uneducated trout with eager feeding habits make tthese a great choice for the hiking enthusiast. Solitude can easily be found in these deep canyons.
The Lamar River and Slough Creek are tributaries to the Yellowstone River. They fish great throughout the summer, but are often dirty with snowmelt until mid-July. The fish in these streams can often be very picky when a hatch is in progress. These fish, although often stubborn, will sometimes greedily eat large terrestrial patterns such as oversized beetles, ants, and crickets.
There are more streams and lakes that deserve mention. Buy a topographic map or pick up a regulations booklet with us, which includes a general road map of the park. Make sure you get a fishing license for the park and use precautions when in bear country. You could spend your whole life in Yellowstone National Park and never fish the same place twice.