Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Yellowstone River - Yellowstone National
Upper River Above Yellowstone Lake:
We will break the fishing down into the various sections of this very diverse river starting with
its headwaters. The river actually begins in the Absaroka Mountain Range outside the park.
There's about twenty-five miles of the river in the park before it reaches Yellowstone Lake.
Several tributary streams add to its flow along the way.
The trout in the headwaters are mostly small, averaging between five and ten inches. The very
uppermost section is very steep but about twenty miles above Yellowstone Lake it flows
through a large valley and has only a gradual decline all the way to the lake. It's mostly a
winding stream that meanders back and forth though meadows with lots of willow trees along
the banks. There are plenty of deadfalls in the Throughfare area and the stream can even
move around from year to year from the effects of the runoff. The lower portion above the lake
holds some large trout, up to twenty inches and better. It's usually about the middle to the end
of July before runoff subsides enough to fish this portion of the stream. You should also be
aware of the mosquitoes in the low, marsh land type terrain of the Throughfare section.
There are several tributaries including Thoroughfare Creek, its largest tributary. It flows
through open meadows and willow scrub brush country. The trout are small cutthroat usually
less than eight inches long. During the spawn, larger cutthroat move up into the stream. It is
over sixteen miles to the creek from the nearest road. It is very remote area.
Atlantic Creek is another tributary where cutthroats as large as sixteen to eighteen inches
enter the stream from Yellowstone Lake during the spawn. Columbine Creek is another small
tributary of Yellowstone Lake along with Beaverdam Creek, Chipmunk Creek, Grouse, Thumb
and Amica Creeks, all of which are small but may have some trout move in during the spawn.
I doubt any of them would be worth the trip considering the many other locations available.
The best advantage of fishing this area is the fact you are very unlikely to see many anglers, if
any. Probably more grizzly bears are present than humans in the very remote area. You can
be over twenty-five miles from the nearest road. Fishing this area of the park is more of a
hiking and camping adventure than a fly fishing trip. The best way to fish it is to take a
multi-day trip using one of the licensed horseback outfitters.
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Yellowstone River, YNP