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A Guide to Fishing in Yellowstone National Park

A Guide to Fishing in Yellowstone National Park

Written by: , May 02nd, 2024
Categories: Plan

Fishing In Yellowstone

Fishing in Yellowstone National Park is a cherished tradition and a significant recreational activity for visitors. With over 2,000 miles of streams, rivers, and lakes, the park offers abundant opportunities for anglers of all skill levels.

The park is home to native fish such as Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Arctic grayling, and mountain whitefish, which thrive in its cold, clear waters. These native species contribute to the park’s unique ecosystem and are highly sought after by anglers. In addition to native fish, Yellowstone’s waters also support introduced nonnative species such as rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and lake trout. While these species provide additional fishing opportunities, they also pose challenges to the preservation of native fish populations due to competition for resources and habitat.

three cutthroat trout under the water

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout / NPS

Fishing in Yellowstone is regulated by the National Park Service to ensure the sustainability of fish populations and to protect the park’s natural resources. Anglers must obtain a valid fishing permit and adhere to specific regulations, including catch limits, gear restrictions, and seasonal closures in certain areas to protect spawning fish.

Always check the NPS fishing website for the most up-to-date information and download the current fishing regulation guide.

Popular fishing spots include the Yellowstone River, Madison River, Lamar River, and Yellowstone Lake. Whether casting from the shore, wading in the shallows, or floating on a boat, anglers can enjoy the serene beauty of Yellowstone while pursuing their passion for fishing.

Large Brown Trout caught fly fishing

Madison River Brown Trout

Fishing Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park, as well as the largest lake above 7,000 feet in North America. The lake is home to native Cutthroat Trout and non-native Lake Trout. On Yellowstone Lake, Lake Trout are an unwanted species and park regulations require anglers to keep or kill all of the Lake Trout they catch. Non-native fish, like the Lake Trout, are in direct competition with native Cutthroat and have a negative impact on the native population. Good news for anglers fishing in Yellowstone Lake, as the bounty of Lake Trout is limitless! With our guided fishing charters, your guide will even clean your catch for you.

With its prime fishing conditions and beautiful scenery, Yellowstone Lake makes a fishing playground for all ages. Boating season on the lake begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and extends through October 31.

Back of a boat with a person watching fishing rods

Guided Boat Fishing Yellowstone Lake

Guided Fishing Tours on Yellowstone Lake are available from our Bridge Bay Marina located only a few miles south of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Lake Lodge. Guided Fishing Tours can be reserved for a minimum of two hours and our knowledgeable guides will seek out the best spots to catch the fish you’ve been dreaming about.

Boat rentals for fishing and sightseeing are available by the hour from Bay Bridge Marina if you’re more of a DIY adventurer and have your own gear. These 18ft. aluminum boats have a 40 hp outboard motor and are available on a walk up only basis.

You can bring your own boat (including float tubes) for fishing in Yellowstone, but make sure you obtain a permit from the National Park Service as well as an aquatic invasive species inspection before put your boat into the water. We have dock slip rentals at Bridge Bay Marina for overnight multi-day trips.

If you’re a more experienced angler and prefer to venture out on a backcountry exploration, we offer a shuttle service that will carry you and your gear to designated sites on the farther reaches of Yellowstone Lake. You can even take along your canoe or kayak to explore more of the lakeshore!

Fly Fishing Yellowstone’s Rivers & Streams

Yellowstone has a long tradition of fly fishing. For years, anglers from all over the world have flocked to the park’s bountiful waters and nowhere else will an angler find so many public lakes, rivers and steams with such a wide variety of game fish in an area the size of Yellowstone.

Fly fisherman on the Yellowstone River with early morning fog

Fly Fishing the Yellowstone River

Fly fishing in Yellowstone is a great place for experienced anglers and beginners alike. With a wide variety of conditions, waterways, and an abundance of fish that can be counted on to bite for the flies, Yellowstone is the ideal destination for anyone who has a passion or interest in fly fishing.

Year round opportunities exist for fly fishing rivers and streams in Yellowstone.  The months of July and August can be a great time to head out on Yellowstone’s lakes and backcountry streams where rivers have run clear of chilly snowmelt. While other locations, like the Firehole River, become too hot to fish. Insect hatches are at their peak by late summer, making it a great time for dry-fly anglers. And don’t forget September and October which can be epic months in Yellowstone with some of the best terrestrial and streamer fishing for lake run brown trout during the fall spawn.

No matter when you head out on a Yellowstone fly fishing excursion, be sure to bring along bear spray, rain gear, sunglasses, sunblock, insect repellent, and a hat.

Learn more about fly fishing in Yellowstone with these helpful Yellowstone Fly Fishing Tips from nationally recognized fly fishing guide, Craig Mathews.

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