Yellowstone fishing

Fishing at Yellowstone National Park – Do not tell fish stories where people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish! – Mark Twain

It seems that our favorite heroes from America literature knew that if they could find their way to the nearest watering hole or river, they’d find the peace and clarity to overcome whatever obstacle lay in their path. That still rings true for the millions of visitors who come to Yellowstone National Park to fish today.

While bald eagles, otters, and grizzly bears are first in line to eat Yellowstone’s fish, the park offers 45 fishable lakes and several large lakes that are easily accessible to visitors. Fishing is a major reason many visitors come to the park each year and, incredibly, the park issues over 50,000 fishing permits each year!

Yellowstone fishing offers west slope cutthroat trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout, mountain whitefish and arctic Grayling. The park’s fishing season runs from the Saturday in May associated with Memorial Day to the first Sunday in November each year.

Despite the park’s fishing regulations, visitors can have a wonderful time enjoying the bountiful fishing available in the park. Additionally, Yellowstone National Park has become America’s top fly fishing destination. The insect rich rivers and streams provide reliable baiting, and the fish are abundant.
Regulations oversee the dates of fishing season, the restrictive use of bait, catch-and-release fishing policies for native fish, and fishing limits for non-native species.

Native species like cutthroat trout, Grayling and whitefish, must be immediately released unharmed. Non-native species like rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout have different size and count limits. All hooks used in the park must be barbless.

When Yellowstone became a national park, almost 40 percent of its waters were naturally barren of fish—including Shoshone Lake, Lewis Lake, and the Fire hole River. Early park managers thought it necessary to plant fish into new locations, and introduced non-native species which eventually became harmful to the natural wildlife. Fish stocking ended in 1956.

Fishing is allowed at Gallatin, Madison, Fire hole, Gibbon, Gardner, Lamar, and Soda Butte Rivers, as well as Upper and Lower Yellowstone River, and Shoshone, Grebe, Heart, and Yellowstone Lakes. Yellowstone Park’s Visitor Information Center offers maps and fishing permits, and nearly 20 different outfitters are available to help you plan your trip.