Our National Parks Are Gifts for All Anglers

What a tremendous gift our forefathers gave when they set aside America’s National Parks. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel throughout the country and fish in a number of exciting locales, but there’s just something special about being in places like Grand Teton, Yellowstone, The Everglades or Rocky Mountain National Park.

They each have a distinct feel, a certain crisp smell in the air, and the sounds of pure nature. I have often thought that you could blindfold me and “beam” me into the backcountry mangroves of the Everglades, or the second meadow on Slough Creek (Yellowstone), and within seconds, I’d know exactly where I was.

The appeal of the Parks—specifically fishing in the parks—isn’t necessarily about solitude. As anyone who has visited Yellowstone in August can attest, our Parks can be busy places. (It’s an odd feeling to sit in a traffic jam caused by bison.) Still, with a little planning and a willingness to hike off the beaten path, one can find himself or herself totally isolated, fishing a pristine brook or lake all by themselves.

No, for me what sinks in most when I’m in a National Park is the sheer volume of unspoiled natural grandeur. Giant, sweeping valleys… massive mountain ranges… dense subtropical swamps… all completely unscarred by the likes of billboards, telephone lines, and condominiums perched in places that offer the best views.

And the best thing of all is knowing that the Parks will stay that way forever. We all own them. I take great solace in knowing that my great grandchildren will be able to visit the Tetons and see them exactly as they appear here.

And the Parks are also home to some of America’s most fragile populations of native fish. Greenback cutthroat trout aren’t usually that big, and they usually aren’t that difficult to fool. But catching them (in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado) is one of the greatest thrills to be had anywhere in the world.

So if you haven’t done so yet, be sure to put a visit to one or more of America’s National Parks on your fishing “to-do” list. Fall is one of the best seasons to make that happen.

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Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream, and he co-wrote The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing with the late Charlie Meyers.