Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Snake River - Yellowstone National Park
The Snake River starts from several small streams inside the Southeast section of the park just
below the Continental Divide. Plateau, Fox, Sickle and Crooked Creeks are some of the small
streams that form the river. As mentioned in the introduction, this is in the most remote area of
the park. The Snake River flows for about fifteen miles before the first major tributary, Heart
River, joins it. This Heart River confluence with the Snake River is at least fifteen miles from a
road. I would think anyone fishing this section of the Snake River is probably more interested in
hiking and camping than they are fishing.
Just below the Heart River confluence, the Snake River flows through a large open meadow. It
then drops down into a canyon for a couple of miles. Most of the last nine miles of the stream
that's inside the park flows through meadows. The meadows hold larger trout than the
headwaters. The trout are mostly cutthroats with a good mixture of Rocky Mountain Whitefish.
The trout in the meadows probably average around ten to fifteen inches but there are much
larger ones, of course. Brown trout are found in the lower end of the stream inside the park.
They can reach a large size. The river exits Yellowstone Park and flows into Jackson Lake in
Grand Teton National Park.
One way to access the lower section of the Snake River is from the South Entrance to the
park. You can hike up the Lewis River just under a mile and ford it to reach the Snake River or
you can take the South Boundary Trailhead at the South Entrance and then ford the Snake
and then fish upstream. The South Boundary Trail follows along near the Snake River for a few
Heart River is a four-mile long tributary stream that flows from Heart Lake into the Snake River.
It too has its canyon and meadow sections. Its trout are mostly cutthroats. Outlet Creek is a
small tributary of the Heart River that flows from Outlet Lake. It has a small tributary - Surprise
Wolverine Creek is a very small tributary of the Snake River. All but just over a half mile of the
stream lies outside the park boundaries. The fish are small cutthroats. There are several other
small streams in this area. Crawfish Creek, Moose Creek, Outlet Creek, Pocket Lake, Polecat
Creek, and Shoshone Creek all have populations of trout.
The lower section of the Snake River has some nice brown trout but they are difficult to catch.
In the Fall, the spawning browns move up the river from Jackson Lake and there can be some
very large ones in the river. The water can be fairly smooth and you almost have to fish during
low light situations to keep from spooking the browns. The small headwater cutthroats provide
plenty of fast action and are rather easy to catch most of the time. The larger cutthroats found
in the meadow sections of the Snake River and its tributaries, provide the best fishing but as
we said, it requires a long hike to reach the better areas.
Snake River, YNP
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