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    The Three Types of Regulations

    1. General - Familiarize yourself with these general regulations, which include information on permits, tackle and bait restrictions, and limits.

    2. Area Specific - Once you know where you will be fishing or would like to fish, check these regulations that address specific needs for the different watersheds.

    Species Specific - These regulations are specific to each species in the park and include basic field identification tips.

    Attention Anglers

    Yellowstone fisheries are threatened by two potentially damaging exotic organisms. Whirling disease has been implicated in the decline of wild trout in the Madison River in Montana and has been found in the park. The New Zealand mud snail, which occurs in the park's major drainages, may harm aquatic insect communities. Help prevent further spread of these invaders by thoroughly cleaning mud, plants, and debris from your fishing equipment, and inspecting footwear before entering or leaving your angling site. Drain livewells and clean fish ONLY near the same body of water in which they were caught. Report sightings of the tiny (less that .25 inch) black snails to a park ranger.

    Help Preserve Yellowstone for the Future.


    
    

    Accessible Fishing Site

    There is an accessible fishing ramp and platform on the Madison River at the Mount Haynes Overlook. This site is situated approximately 3.5 miles west (downstream) of Madison Junction or 10 miles east of the West Entrance.


    The Ecology of Fishing

    In Yellowstone there are:

    In Yellowstone, bald eagles, osprey, pelicans, otters, grizzly bears and other wildlife take precedence over humans in utilizing fish as food. Fishing management and regulations reflect this priority and that of maintaining fish populations that have sufficient number of spawning adults to maintain natural reproduction and genetic diversity.

    Fishing in Yellowstone National Park also emphasizes the quality of recreational fishing rather than providing fish for human consumption. Anglers, in return, have the opportunity to fish for wild fish in a natural setting.

    Because of the increasing number of anglers in the park, more restrictive regulations have been adopted in Yellowstone. These restrictions include: season opening and closing dates, restrictive use of bait, catch-and-release only areas, and number and size limits according to species. Some waters are closed to fishing to protect threatened and endangered species, sensitive nesting birds, and to provide scenic viewing areas for visitors seeking undisturbed wildlife.

    Yellowstone National Park has implemented a fishing program using non-toxic tackle. Nationwide, more than three million waterfowl die each year from lead poisoning through ingestion. Because lead from fishing tackle concentrates in aquatic environments, tackle such as leaded split shot sinkers, weighted jigs, and soft weighted ribbon are prohibited. Only non-toxic alternatives to lead are allowed.

    Report Violators by Calling: 307-344-7381 or contact the nearest ranger


    Yellowstone Fishing Fees


    General Regulations

    Fishing Season

    Open each day from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm, beginning on the last Saturday of May through and including the first Sunday in November. Exceptions are noted in Area Specific Regulations.

    Fishing Permits

    Anyone 12 years of age or older must be in possession of a valid Yellowstone National Park fishing permit to fish in the Park. A fishing permit is valid only if signed by the permittee. A permit fee is charged for anyone 16 years of age or older. Children 11 years of age or younger may fish without a permit when supervised by an adult. The adult is responsible for the child's actions.

    Permits may be obtained or purchased at any Backcountry Office, Lewis Lake Ranger Station, Hamilton Store or Visitor Center in the park as well as the local gateway communities of Gardiner, Cooke City, Cody, Jackson Hole or West Yellowstone (check at local Chamber of Commerce Office for locations - usually sporting good stores or fishing shops).

    Park Rangers may check permits, inspect tackle, fish, creels and/or other containers where fish or tackle may be stored.

    General Fishing Season in Yellowstone National Park is open each day from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm, beginning on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through and including the first Sunday in November. There are several Area Specific exceptions to the general opening date as noted below.

    Tackle and Bait Restrictions

    A. Each angler may use only one rod or line that must be attended at all times.

    B. Only artificial lures and flies may be used (One exception: See Area Specific Regulations, 4E). No natural or organic bait such as salmon eggs, worms, insects, or foodstuffs is allowed. Scented attractants are illegal.

    C. Lures may have only one hook with a single, double, or treble configuration. No fish snagging is allowed.

    D. Flies may have only one hook with a single point. Up to two flies may be used on a single leader.

    E. Leaded fishing tackle such as leaded split-shot sinkers, weighted jigs (lead molded to a hook), and soft lead-weighted ribbon for nymph fishing are not allowed.

    Size and Possession Limits

    Size and possession limits vary by species and area. The maximum number of fish an angler can keep is five fish per day; at least three must be brook trout. Exceptions are lake trout from Yellowstone or Heart Lake or brook trout from Pocket Lake. An angler must cease fishing immediately after filling the possession limit except on Yellowstone Lake (see Area Specific Regulations 1E). Possession limits include all fish - fresh, stored or preserved.

    Fish that do not meet the specified size restrictions must be returned carefully and immediately to the waters from which they were taken. Unintentionally killed fish should also be returned to the water so that they can be consumed by wildlife. It is the responsibility of the angler to be able to measure fish lengths and to identify fish by species.

    General Closures

    No fishing from any road bridge or boat dock

    Permits Required for Boats and Float Tubes

    All types of vessels require a boat permit. Obtain permits in person at the following locations: Bridge Bay Marina, Grant Village Backcountry Office, Lake Ranger Station, Lewis Lake Campground and the South Entrance. Float tubes are classified as vessels. They are not allowed on any river or stream in Yellowstone except the Lewis River between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes. Non-motorized permits only may be obtained at Canyon, Mammoth or Old Faithful backcountry offices, or Northeast or West entrances and the Bechler Ranger Station. Fees are charged for all boat permits.


    Area Specific Regulations

    1. Yellowstone Lake and Tributaries

    A. Fishing season in Yellowstone Lake opens 15 June.

    B. Streams flowing into Yellowstone Lake (its tributaries) and areas within 100 yards of streams' outlets open 15 July.

    C. Clear and Cub Creeks open 11 August due to bear activity.

    D. Areas Permanently Closed to Fishing:

    E. All lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake, its tributaries and the Yellowstone River must be killed. If you do not want to keep the fish, puncture the air bladder and drop it into water as deep as possible.

    2. Yellowstone River and Tributaries
    Between Chittenden Bridge (near Canyon) and Yellowstone Lake

    A. Fishing season opens 15 July.

    B. This area is catch and release only.

    C. Areas Permanently Closed to Fishing Include:

    3. Madison, Gibbon River (below Gibbon Falls), and Firehole Rivers

    A. These rivers (not including the tributaries) are restricted to fly fishing only (use only artificial flies regardless of the type of rod or line).

    B. Anglers may keep two brown trout under 13 inches in these rivers and the Firehole's tributaries.

    C. Catch and release only for rainbow trout and native species on these rivers and the Firehole's tributaries.

    D. Closure: The Firehole River from the road bridge .5 mile upstream of Old Faithful to the road bridge at Biscuit Basin (2.5 miles downstream of Old Faithful).

    4. Other Areas

    A. Closure: The Yellowstone River, from Chittenden Bridge downstream through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to a point directly below Silver Cord Cascade.

    B. Agate and Cottonwood Creeks, and portions of the Yellowstone River within 100 yards of these creeks, open to fishing 15 July.

    C. Trout, Shrimp and Buck Lakes, and connecting waters, open to fishing 15 June. The stream that drains into Trout Lake opens to fishing 15 July (depending on spawning activity).

    D. Bechler River: catch and release only for rainbow trout and native species.

    E. Gardner River, Obsidian, Indian and Panther Creeks, and Joffe Lake: Children 11 years of age or younger may fish with worms as bait.

    F. Sylvan and Eleanor Lakes open to fishing 15 July. Boats and float tubes are prohibited.

    G. The Lewis River below Lewis Falls: catch and release only for brown trout and native species.

    H. Heart Lake opens to fishing 01 July due to bear activity. No size or possession limit on lake trout caught in Heart Lake.

    I. Richard's Pond, Fawn Lake, and Blacktail Pond: daily limit is five brook trout under 13 inches.

    J. Pocket Lake: all brook trout must be kept and not released.

    K. All waters in the park not mentioned on this page are regulated by the General Fishing Regulations and the Species Regulations.


    Regulations by Drainage Zones

    Click here for a park map of the Regulations by Drainage Zones. Fish Map is 260 k and Fish Chart is 225 k.


    Species Regulations and Descriptions

    Native Fish

    Fish Species that are Native to Yellowstone
    Common Name Scientific Name Family
    Arctic grayling Thymallus arcticus Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)
    Cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)
    Mountain Whitefish Prosopium williamsoni Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)
    Longnose dace Rhinichthys cataractae Minnows
    Redside shiner Richardsonius balteatus Minnows
    Redside shiner / Speckled dace hybrid
    Minnows
    Speckled dace Rhinichthys osculus Minnows
    Utah chub Gila atraria Minnows
    Mottled sculpin Cottus bairdi Sculpins
    Longnose sucker Catostomus catostomus Suckers
    Mountain sucker Catostomus platyrhynchus Suckers
    Utah sucker Catostomous ardens Suckers

    Non-Native Fish

    Non-Native Fish

    Fish Species that are Non-Native to Yellowstone
    Common Name Scientific Name Family
    Brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)
    Brown trout Salmo trutta Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)
    Lake trout Salvelinus namaycush Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)
    Rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss Trout and Salmon (Salmonidae)

    SPECIES REGULATIONS

    BROOK TROUT
    Parkwide: Five fish any size, except for:
    1. Richard's Pond, Fawn Lake and Blacktail Ponds - where the limit is five Brook Trout under 13 inches.
    2. Pocket Lake - All brook trout caught must be kept and not released. There is no daily limit.

    BROWN TROUT
    Parkwide: Two fish any size, except for:
    1. Madison River, Firehole River and its tributaries, and the Gibbon River below Gibbon Falls: Two fish under 13 inches.
    2. Lewis River proper below Lewis Falls: Catch and Release Only.

    CUTTHROAT
    Parkwide: CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY.
    Three Subspecies: Yellowstone, West Slope, and Snake
    All fish with red slash are considered cutthroat

    GRAYLING
    Parkwide: CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY.

    LAKE TROUT
    Parkwide: Two fish, any size, except for:
    1. Yellowstone Lake, its tributaries, and the Yellowstone River: All lake trout caught must be killed. If you do not want to keep the fish, puncture the air bladder and drop it into water as deep as possible.
    2. Heart Lake: no size or possession limit.

    MOUNTAIN WHITEFISH
    Parkwide: CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY.

    RAINBOW TROUT
    Parkwide: Two fish, any size, except for:
    1. Madison River, Firehole River and its tributaries and Gibbon River below Gibbons Falls: Catch and Release Only.
    2. Bechler River: Catch and Release Only.


    
    Hatch Charts for Yellowstone Waters
    

    Yellowstone Hatch Charts
  • Firehole River
  • Gardner River
  • Gibbon River
  • Lamar River
  • Madison River
  • Pebble Creek
  • Slough Creek
  • Soda Butte Creek
  • Yellowstone River
  • 
    
    Firehole River Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Yellow Sally -- (Isoperia & Suwallia pallidula) Jun
    MAYFLIES Blue Wing Olive -- (Baetis, many species) Jun, Sep, Oct

    Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) 01 Jun - 10 Jul
    CADDIS Many species 05 Jun - 15 Jul / 10 Sep - 20 Oct
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets 20 Jul - 15 Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©


    
    
    Gardner River Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperia pacifica) Late Jun - Early Jul

    Salmon Fly -- (Pteronarcys californica) Late Jun - Early Jul

    Yellow Sally -- (Isoperia & Suwallia pallidula) Jul
    CADDIS Many species Jul - Aug
    MAYFLIES Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) Mid Jul - Mid Aug
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets 20 Jul - 15 Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©


    
    
    Gibbon River Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    MAYFLIES Blue Dun -- (Psudocloen) Jun

    Brown Drake -- (Ephemera simulans) Mid Jun - Mid Jul

    Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) Jul - Mid Aug
    CADDIS Many species Jun - Aug
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets Mid Jun - Mid Sep
    STONEFLIES Yellow Sally -- (Isoperia & Suwallia pallidula) Mid Jul - Mid Aug
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©


    
    
    Lamar River Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperia pacifica) Mid Jun - Jul

    Salmon Fly -- (Pteronarcys californica) Mid Jun - Jul
    CADDIS Many species Jul - Aug
    MAYFLIES Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) Jul - Early Aug

    Gray Drake -- (Siphlonurus occidentalis) Mid Jul - Aug

    Callibaetis -- (Callibaetis americanus) Aug - Mid Sep

    Blue Dun -- (Psudocloen) Late Aug - Oct
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets Jul - Mid Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©


    
    
    Madison River Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    MAYFLIES Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) 10 Jun - 15 Jul

    Western Green Drake -- (Ephemerella grandis) 15 Jun - 10 Jul

    Small Western Green Drake -- (Ephemerella flavilinea) 15 Jul - 10 Aug

    Trico -- (Tricorythodes minutus) 01 Aug - 30 Sep

    Blue Wing Olive -- (Baetis, many species) 01 Sep - 15 Oct
    CADDIS Many species 25 Jun - 20 Aug
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperla pacifica) Jul

    Yellow Sally -- (Isoperia & Suwallia pallidula) 15 Jul - 15 Aug
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets 20 Jul - 15 Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©


    
    
    Pebble Creek Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperia pacifica) Mid Jun - Jul

    Salmon Fly -- (Pteronarcys californica) Mid Jun - Jul
    CADDIS Many species Jul - Aug
    MAYFLIES Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) Jul - Early Aug

    Gray Drake -- (Siphlonurus occidentalis) Mid Jul - Aug

    Callibaetis -- (Callibaetis americanus) Aug - Mid Sep

    Blue Dun -- (Psudocloen) Late Aug - Oct
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets Jul - Mid Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©


    
    
    Slough Creek Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperla pacifica) Mid Jun - Jul

    Salmon Fly -- (Pteronarcys californica) Mid Jun - Jul

    Yellow Sally -- (Isoperia & Suwallia pallidula) Early Jul - Late Aug

    Little Olive Stonefly -- (Alloperia) Mid Jul - Mid Aug
    CADDIS Many species Jul - Aug
    MAYFLIES Pale Morning Dun -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) Jul - Early Aug

    Gray Drake -- (Siphlonurus occidentalis) Mid Jul - Aug

    Callibaetis -- (Callibaetis americanus) Aug - Mid Sep

    Blue Dun -- (Psudocloen) Late Aug - Oct
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets Jul - Mid Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©

    Suggested Flies
    Jul 1st Week Jul 2nd Week Jul 3rd Week Jul 4th Week
    barrs pmd emerger #14
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #10
    Elk Hair Caddis, tan #14
    pheasant tail #14
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs pmd emerger #14
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #12
    Elk Hair Caddis, tan #14
    pheasant tail #14
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs pmd emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #14
    Elk Hair Caddis, tan #14
    Hopper, Letort #12
    pheasant tail #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #14
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    Stimulator, yellow #14
    Aug 1st Week Aug 2nd Week Aug 3rd Week Aug 4th Week
    barrs pmd emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Chernobyl ant #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    pheasant tail #18
    Ant, black #18
    barrs pmd emerger #18
    Chernobyl ant #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    pheasant tail #18
    Beetle, black #18
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Beetle, black #18
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Sep 1st Week Sep 2nd Week Sep 3rd Week Sep 4th Week
    Beetle, black #18
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Beetle, black #18
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Oct 1st Week Oct 2nd Week Oct 3rd Week Oct 4th Week
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    brassie #20
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    brassie #20
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    brassie #20
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    brassie #20
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    Nov 1st Week - barrs bwo emerger #18/brassie #20/midge, cream #20/pheasant tail, flashback #18/Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    Information in this table was provided by Richard Parks of Parks' Fly Shop © in Gardiner, Montana 59030


    
    
    Soda Butte Creek Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperla pacifica) Mid Jun - Jul

    Salmon Fly -- (Pteronarcys californica) Mid Jun - Jul

    Yellow Sally -- (Isoperia & Suwallia pallidula) Early Jul - Late Aug

    Little Olive Stonefly -- (Alloperia) Mid Jul - Mid Aug
    CADDIS Many species Jul - Aug
    MAYFLIES Pale Morning Dun -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) Jul - Early Aug

    Gray Drake -- (Siphlonurus occidentalis) Mid Jul - Aug

    Callibaetis -- (Callibaetis americanus) Aug - Mid Sep

    Blue Dun -- (Psudocloen) Late Aug - Oct
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets Jul - Mid Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©

    Suggested Flies
    Jul 1st Week Jul 2nd Week Jul 3rd Week Jul 4th Week
    barrs pmd emerger #14
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #10
    Elk Hair Caddis, tan #14
    pheasant tail #14
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs pmd emerger #14
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #12
    Elk Hair Caddis, tan #14
    pheasant tail #14
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #14
    Blue Dun #12
    Elk Hair Caddis, tan #14
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    barrs pmd emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Chernobyl ant #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    pheasant tail #18;
    Aug 1st Week Aug 2nd Week Aug 3rd Week Aug 4th Week
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    Stimulator, yellow #12
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    Stimulator, yellow #14
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    Stimulator, yellow #12
    Ant, black #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    Sep 1st Week Sep 2nd Week Sep 3rd Week Sep 4th Week
    Ant, black #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    Ant, black #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    Hopper, Letort, green #12
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Oct 1st Week Oct 2nd Week Oct 3rd Week Oct 4th Week
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    Beadhead Prince Nymph #16
    Blue Dun #12
    Hare's ear, olive #12
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    brassie #20
    BWO, nymph #18
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    brassie #20
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    barrs bwo emerger #18
    brassie #20
    midge, cream #20
    pheasant tail, flashback #18
    Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    Nov 1st Week - brassie #20/BWO, nymph #18/midge, cream #20/pheasant tail, flashback #18/Woolly Bugger, Black #10
    Information in this table was provided by Richard Parks of Parks' Fly Shop © in Gardiner, Montana 59030


    
    
    Yellowstone River Hatch Chart
    Family Fly Season
    STONEFLIES Golden Stone -- (Hesperoperla pacifica) 20 Jun - 20 Jul

    Salmon Fly -- (Pteronarcys californica) Jul
    MAYFLIES Gray Drake -- (Siphlonurus occidentalis) 15 Jul - 15 Sep

    Pale Morning Duns -- (Ephemerella inermis & infrequens) 15 Jul - 10 Sep

    Small Western Green Drake -- (Ephemerella flavilinea) 20 Jul - 10 Aug

    Blue Wing Olive -- (Baetis, many species) 01 Aug - 30 Oct
    CADDIS Many species 15 Jul - 30 Aug
    TERRESTRIALS Hoppers, ants, beetles, crickets 20 Jul - 15 Sep
    Information in this table was provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop ©

    Suggested Flies

    Sparkle Duns, Hemmingway caddis and BH Soft Hackles

    Information provided by Bud Lilly's Trout Shop.


    Releasing Fish To Live Another Day

    Catch and Release Methods

    If handled properly, fish have an excellent chance of survival after they are released.


    
    

    United States Geological Survey
    Real Time River and Stream Flow Information

    USGS Links to Yellowstone National Park Rivers and Streams
    Yellowstone River 1 Yellowstone River 2 Gardner River Firehole River
    Lamar River Madison River Soda Butte Creek 1 Soda Butte Creek 2
    
    
    
    

    Yellowstone National Park Fishing Report

    When Santa isn't delivering presents, he is fishing the Yellowstone

    For Local Fishing, River and other reports, please check Bud Lilly's Trout Shop Page.


    
    
    Yellowstone Family Fishing Information
    By John W. Uhler

    Family fishing in Yellowstone can be a great experience. The fact that you are in Yellowstone together spending time relaxing, fishing and sharing the memories is enriching. Yellowstone offers some of the best trout fishing in the United States. There are many blue ribbon trout streams and lakes in the park.

    At Bridge Bay Marina on Yellowstone Lake, you can rent a canoe, rowboat or motorboat to go fishing or touring Yellowstone Lake and area. You can also arrange to go on a fishing boat excursion on Yellowstone Lake at the Bridge Bay Marina.

    There are several areas in the park that children are allowed to use worms for bait. Children 11 years of age or younger, may fish with worms on Gardner River, Obsidian, Indian and Panther Creeks, and Joffe Lake.

    
    
    
    
    Yellowstone Fly Fishing Information
    By John W. Uhler

    Fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park is fly fishing at its best. There are some of the best blue ribbon trout streams and lakes in the United States in the park. The Madison, the Gibbon, the Firehole, the Lamar and Yellowstone Rivers are rivers that fishermen and fisherwomen dream about and that dreams are made of... There is also Slough Creek and Yellowstone Lake and many other streams and waters that are fantastic to fish in Yellowstone.

    Fishing season opens on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Early spring fishing is great until the spring runoff starts in haste around the first or second week of June. Once the runoff slows, there is great fishing from the beginning of July. Then the season is good through summer. Fall fishing is fantastic, crowds are gone and the lazy days of fall make for great fishing in the park. The season normally ends on the first Sunday in November.

    See the Fishing Report Section

    
    
    
    
    Yellowstone Spin Fishing Information
    By John W. Uhler

    Spin fishing is great in the early morning, towards evening to sunset and when the fish are hitting. There are basically three rivers that are designated for Fly Fishing Only. They are:

    1. Madison River
    2. Gibbon River - downstream from Gibbon Falls
    3. Firehole River

    This area is from the West Entrance to the Madison Junction (Madison River), north to Gibbon Falls (Lower Gibbon River - below the falls); and south from Madison Junction to below the Old Faithful area (Firehole River).

    You can fish these three rivers with a spinning rod, a fly and float. You DO NOT have to use fly fishing gear.

    All the rest of the park waters are open to spin fishing.


    Yellowstone's Fishery

    Early Management

    When Yellowstone became a national park, almost 40 percent of Yellowstone's waters were barren of fish -- including Shoshone Lake, Lewis Lake, and Firehole River above Firehole Falls. Early park managers transplanted fish into new locations, produced more fish in hatcheries, and introduced non-native species. By the mid 20th century, more than 310 million fish had be stocked in Yellowstone. Stocking no longer occurs. About 40 lakes have fish; the remainder were either not planted or have reverted to their original fishless condition.

    Status of Native Fish

    The ranges and densities of the park's 12 native fish species have been substantially altered during the past century due to exploitation, introduction or exotic species, and natural factors. Non-native species in the park include brook trout, brown trout, lake chub, lake trout and rainbow trout.

    Despite changes in species composition and distribution, large scale habitat degradation -- such as water diversions or water pollution -- has not occurred in the park.

    Management Today

    Fishing has been a major visitor activity in Yellowstone National Park for more than 100 years. Because of this history, fishing continues to be allowed and can compliment the park's primary purpose to preserve natural environments and native species.

    Yellowstone's native fish are carefully managed. For about 30 years until 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided assistance in the park with aquatic research and monitoring programs. Current park fisheries managers still follow the save objectives: to manage aquatic resources as an important part of the park ecosystem, preserve and restore native fishes and their habitats, and provide anglers with the opportunity to fish for wild fish in a natural setting.

    Fish as Food

    Fish and other aquatic inhabitants provide important food for grizzly and black bears, bald eagles, river otters, mink, osprey, pelicans, loons, grebes, mergansers, diving ducks, terns, gulls, kingfishers and herons.

    Riparian Problems

    Small scale habitat degradation does occur due to fishing riparian (streamside) areas. Heavy trail use in these areas cause erosion and loss of habitat essential to many of Yellowstone's wildlife. Anglers can help by using established trails and avoiding sensitive wetland vegetation such as bogs and seeps. Anglers must stay on trails in thermal areas and must not cross these areas or approach thermal features.

    The Voluntary Angler Report
    Your Chance to Contribute

    Since 1973, anglers have been providing valuable fishery information to Yellowstone National Park managers by filling out the Voluntary Angler Report card, which is issued with each fishing permit. Managers use this information to estimate angling pressure, landing and creel rates, sizes of fish landed, and angler satisfaction. For some park waters, these reports are the only data available. Help manage your park's fisheries by completing and returning your Voluntary Angler Report card, whether or not you actually fished or caught fish. To obtain a summary of the data, indicate so in the comment section and include your email or postal address.


    
    Frequently Asked Questions
    

    Q: How many anglers come to Yellowstone each year?

    A: About 75,000 of the park's three million visitors fish while they are in Yellowstone.

    Q: Why can't we fish from Fishing Bridge?

    A: Fishing Bridge, situated over a cutthroat trout spawning area, was once a popular place to fish. Declining numbers of cutthroat trout caused park officials to close the bridge to fishing to protect the spawning fish. Now the bridge is a popular place to observe fish.

    Q: Why is fishing lead-free in Yellowstone?

    A: Lead is a severe environmental contaminant and a toxic substance that has no known beneficial biological function. Wildlife, such as loons, waterfowl, cranes and shorebirds are vulnerable to lead poisoning. Of particular concern in Yellowstone are the alarmingly low populations of trumpeter swans and loons. To minimize the effects of lead on these species, Yellowstone National Park bans most lead tackle. Terminals tackle must be lead free; sinkers used to fish for deep dwelling lake trout are permissible because they are too large to be ingested.

    Q: How do anglers help Yellowstone?

    A: Fishing is a major industry in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and park anglers spend more then $ 4 million annually. Angler groups have supported management actions, such as closing the Fishing Bridge to fishing, and have helped fund research on aquatic systems. In addition, anglers help by:


    For More Information

    If you would like to learn more about the history of fishing, angling techniques, or Yellowstone's aquatic resources, these and other items are sold in the Visitor Centers and bookstores:

    Bud Lilly's Guide to Fly Fishing the New West. 2000. Bud Lilly and Paul Schullery. Frank Amato Publications: Portland, OR.

    Fishing Yellowstone National Park. 1998. Richard Parks. Falcon/Helena, MT

    Yellowstone Fishes. 1998. John Varley and Paul Schullery. Stackpole: Harrisburg, PA

    The Yellowstone Fly Fishing Guide. 1970. Craig Mathews and Clayton Molinero. Lyons: NY

    Fishing Information

    Lake Trout in Yellowstone Lake and Heart Lake

    Non-native Lake trout have been discovered in Yellowstone Lake. Lake trout pose a great threat to the future of the lake's native cutthroat trout. ALL lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake, its tributaries, and the Yellowstone River must be killed. If you do not want to keep the fish, puncture the air bladder and drop it into water as deep as possible. Heart Lake: no size or possession limit.

    
    
    Bears, Backcountry and Anglers

    Yellowstone is bear country and there is no guarantee of your safety. Bears often utilize trails, streams and lakeshores. Entry into some areas may be restricted; check with a ranger for specific bear management information. Traveling alone in bear country is not recommended. Make enough noise to make your presence known to bears. If you should encounter a bear, give it plenty of room, detour if possible, or wait for the bear to move on. If a bear should charge or attack and the situation allows, climb a tree. If you are caught by a bear, try playing dead. Do not run; this may excite the bear. Carefully read all bear country guidelines and regulations and be prepared for any situation.

    Garbage Disposal and Fish Cleaning

    Please pick up all trash, including items such as monofilament fishing line and six pack holders, which may cause injury to wildlife, and properly dispose in trash receptacles. When fish cleaning and disposal facilities are not provided, dispose of fish entrails by puncturing the air bladder and dropping into deep water.

    Boat - Float Tubes

    A Boat Permit is Required for all types of vessels. Float Tubes are Classified as Vessels. Float Tubes are NOT ALLOWED on any River or Stream in Yellowstone, EXCEPT the Lewis River between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes. A Boat Permit for Float Tubes must be obtained in person at any of the following locations: Bridge Bay Marina, Grant Village Backcountry Office, Lake Ranger Station, Lewis Lake Campground and the South Entrance. Non-motorized permits only may be obtained at: Bechler Ranger Station, Canyon Backcountry Office, Mammoth Backcountry Office, Old Faithful Backcountry Office and the Northeast or West Entrances. Fees are charged for all boat permits. Please see the Boating Page for more information.

    
    
    Information provided by the NPS and other sources


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