Summer Fun at Yellowstone National Park

Maybe it was due to the large number of geysers spread throughout the park or the abundant wildlife, but since it was created in 1872, Yellowstone National Park has attracted anglers from all over the world. And with good reason; there are over hundreds of miles of some of the best wild trout rivers in the country. Add to it some 200+ creeks and 45 lakes and you’ve got a fishing Valhalla, a place where anglers of all abilities will be able to find a cooperative fish for sure. There is a reason Yogi and Boo Boo loved it out here.

At Yellowstone National Park you’ll find trout, trout, and more trout. Anglers commonly find brookies, browns, rainbows, and cutthroats, but they’ll also find the hybrid cutt-bows, too (a blend of cutthroat and rainbow). To the dismay of some fishermen, Lake trout are plentiful. Many associate the cutthroat’s decline as a result of the predatory and aggressive Lake trout. Variety being the spice of life there are also white fish and arctic grayling in some areas.

Many of the rivers have earned a spot on any anglers’ bucket list. The Gallatin, Madison, Firehole, and Upper Yellowstone Rivers have been written about for decades. There are many other rivers that hold lots of fish such as the Gibbon, the Bechler, the Gardner, and the Lamar River, too. And if lake fishing is of a greater appeal than moving water, hit Yellowstone, Heart, or Shoshone Lake. Dropper rigs are great combinations when fishing moving water. Try a Stimulator or a high-floating hopper pattern and trail a Brassie or a Copper John off the back. Matching the hatch is important when fishing the lakes, and if you don’t know the exact bug that’s coming off work look at a natural and then imitate it according to its size, color, and silhouette.

After spending time on the well-known waters there are plenty of options to explore more remote sections. There are 3,468 square miles in the park which means that even during heavy fishing times you’ll be able to find plenty of room to yourself. I think I’d have a tough time fishing all of that water in a lifetime.

Yellowstone National Park is open from the Saturday around Memorial Day through the first Sunday in November. A state fishing license isn’t necessary, but a park fishing permit is a requirement if you’re group is 16 years of age or older. They cost $18 for three-days, $25 for a week, or $40 for the season. There are special regulations to follow and that detailed information is available through the National Park Service.

There are a few different lodging options at Yellowstone, with camping being a popular one. The group Xanterra Parks and Resorts manages hotel/lodge/cabin rentals. The family vacation this year might include more than simply eyeballing a geyser. If you go to Yellowstone you’ll be likely to tug on a few fish.

Photo credit: National Park Service

Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at