time, all I knew was I really didn't want to leave, but both Angie and I knew we still had a good ways to go to reach the
truck. I left catching one big cutthroat trout after another. The stream was the upper part of the Black Canyon of the
Except for the very lowest end, it was the easiest point of the Black Canyon to reach. With the extra weight of a
professional TV camera and video gear, that's about all we could manage to do on a one day hike-in fishing trip. The
best way to fish it, is to stay at one of the back country campsites and fish for two or three days. That was the first time
we fished it and we fished it about the easiest way you can fish it. We fished it right smack in the middle of the busiest
part of the tourist and angler's fishing season. It was the first week in July, yet we did not see one other person on the
river the entire day. I should also mention, the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River is only one section of many other
canyons as large or larger than it. It represents only a small section of the park.
About every week and sometimes, several times a week, I have people send us email from our Yellowstone website,
asking for information about a trip they are planing. Much of the time they will write something like, they want to catch
plenty of trout, but they want to have some solitude and get away from the crowds. My inclination is to crank out a reply
and say, "look stupid, all you have to do is get away from the road a little ways in any one of a thousand places". Of
course, I don't. I just try to point out some of the hundreds of places they can do that with little effort.
Yellowstone National Park is so big, most anglers that have never been there, just can't envision its size. I have had
people staying in West Yellowstone, mention they want to fish the Lamar River one day, and the Fall River the next
day. I want to respond by saying, "you can probably do that, but unless you want to be driving across the park at night
dodging buffalo and bears and fishing for only a short time, I suggest you make some other arrangements for your
base location". Yellowstone National Park consist of just under 3,500 square miles of wilderness. That's 2,219,789
acres. As a crow flies, it is 63 miles long by 54 miles wide. You cannot drive straight across it in any direction. It can
range from 75 to 100 miles across it by road, depending on where you start and end up. There are 466 miles of roads,
950 miles of backcountry trails, 97 trailheads, and 287 backcountry campsites in the park. There are over a hundred
lakes and a two-thousand six hundred (2,600) miles of streams in the park. There are over a thousand streams.
Driving at night is very dangerous. You might come around a corner and not see a buffalo standing in the middle of the
road that is larger than your car. Yellowstone National Park has the largest concentration of free roaming wildlife in all
of the lower 48 states. The maximum speed limit anywhere in the park is only 45 mph, and it is a less in many places. In
other words, you need to select your base location, based on the streams you intend to fish. Twelve major rivers
originate in Yellowstone National Park. These are big rivers, such as the Snake, Madison, and Yellowstone.
The day trip that I wrote about above that we took to the Black Canyon is nothing compared to what an angler can do
on the Black Canyon or one of many others. You can stay gone for days, hiking several miles a day, and you might not
see another human. In many cases, the odds of you seeing a bear are a lot higher than seeing another human. I will
venture to say that half the linear distance of the streams in the park that hold trout never see a fly the entire season.
Three-fourths of the linear distance most likely, never receives over a few cast from anglers. Ninety percent of the
fishing done in the park, is done within a mile or less of the angler's vehicle.
I can't possibly describe the fly fishing opportunities in Yellowstone National Park in an article. A good writer couldn't do
a good, complete job of it in a thousand page book. I am just going to cover some of the major points about it. The park
has four basic species of trout - cutthroat, rainbow, brown and brook. In addition, there are grayling, lake trout and
The entire fishing season in Yellowstone National Park is relatively short. From the first day of opening season, the
Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, until the end of the season, the first Sunday in November, is only about 164 days
or just over 5 months depending on the calendar that year. The spring season, is less than a month long. Some years
it can feel more like winter than spring. The summer season represents the majority of the fishing season. The fall
season, like the spring calendar season, is short. It last for just over a month.
Yellowstone National Park
stopped at the top of a ridge to wipe the sweat from my face and looked back over the stream I just fished. About
500 vertical feet and approximately a half mile below where I stood was the river I just fished, still flowing through
the canyon as it had been doing for years. How many years? I don't know. That's beyond my pay scale. At the
Great Fly Fishing Destinations
Lamar River, Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
Angie and I have fished every day of the season and over the
twelve years we have fished it (a total of over 300 days), fished
most of the days the season is open several times. We have
fished all the major streams and many of over a thousand small
streams in the park. It took us several trips during a period of
seven years to produce the four hour long instruction DVD "Fly
Fishing Yellowstone National Park". Some of those trips were over
a month long.
We have acquired samples of the aquatic insects from many of its
streams to identify, photograph and developed hatch charts for all
its major streams. Some of our Perfect Fly patterns were
developed from aquatic insects from Yellowstone. Each season we
set lots of anglers up with the flies and other items of gear and
equipment they need to fish the park. Some of them contact us
through the Perfect Fly Website and many through
The local fly shops in the little towns near the park usually push
customers into hiring their guides to fish streams outside of the
park. The reason is simple. They cannot use a drift boat inside the
park and they make a lot more money guiding from boats than
wading. There isn't that much guiding that takes place inside the
park, and quite frankly, unless one has never fly fished for trout
before, a guide isn't necessary. The park has a large variety of
different types of water from small streams to large ones. Most of
the streams are easy to fish and in reality, not very different from
eastern and mid-western freestone trout streams of the same size.
I feel like everyone that fly fishes should have an opportunity to visit and fish some of the streams of Yellowstone National
Park. I will assure you one thing. Those that do, will never forget it. It is truly a unique and wonderful experience.
July, 2015 Issue
Copyright 2015 James Marsh