Fly Fishing in
by Doc Knoll
To the many devoted people who entertain
themselves with the possibility of visiting prime fly fishing destinations in the
continental US Yellowstone Park is the hands down, first row, first pew, undisputed leader
of all US locations. I feel very fortunate to live, instruct and fish in such a close
proximity to this National treasure. In fact, during the fishing season, which annually
starts on June 1st and continues until November 1st visiting anglers
visit my shop before venturing out to fish various waterways in the Park. Once there the
angler can collect photos of prize fish, scenery and wildlife which will adorn walls and
desktops for a lifetime. So as I sit here at my desk, I wonder where the best point is to
start such a monumental task as describing the benefits of visiting our nations
first National Park. A brief physical description may be in order.
Located in the northwest corner of
Wyoming and bordering the states of Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is easily
served by three major airports; Billing and Bozeman, Montana as well as Jackson, Wyoming.
Car rentals are plentiful and contrary to some beliefs, most of the roads are paved,
patrolled and well traveled. Therefore, the Park retains an easy access for the first time
visitor. Here, in the natural wilds of the Park, the visitor can quickly see wide
panoramic vistas which western artists are quick to put to canvas. Many animal
naturalists, seen carrying their large telescopic lenses, come to the Park to view and
photograph the abundant wildlife which usually includes buffalo, elk, coyote, bear and the
newly reintroduced wolves. Birdwatchers and wildflower lovers spend countless days
visiting the wide variety of habitats which create diversity to their particular pursuits.
And, here is where fly fishers, from all over the USA, dream of coming on those snowy,
suburban winter days or when life in the downtown office becomes just a bit too much.
Yellowstone, is the beating heart of fly fishing in America. Regardless what your passion
may be Yellowstone National Park is truly a vacation spot well suited for everyone.
The first question asked by many anglers,
who are coming to Yellowstone for the first time is simply, where would be the best
place to fish in the Park? Geographically the northern and western sections of the
Park generally have the best access to creeks and rivers. And, unsurprisingly the waters
that pour out of the Park from these locations provide the angler with miles upon miles of
more water to wade and float. So lets take a look at what these waters have to offer the
For the beginning fly fisher waterways
such as Lava, Indian and Tower Creeks as well as the Gardner, Gibbon and the upper
Firehole Rivers provide the novice angler with numerous opportunities to practice the
skill of casting, drifting a fly naturally before a fish and ultimately hooking a trout.
In these waterways the fish are numerous and it is quite easy, even for a beginner, to
catch 25 to 50 six to ten inch brightly colored fish in an outing. All of these fish,
after a long winter under the ice and snow, are very cooperative when a fly is presented.
A good point to mention is that along these waterways access into these streams is easy
even for the most hesitant beginner. The grassy banks rarely provide a convenient tree to
hang a fly on. Overall the initial experience of fishing on these picturesque trout
streams will be an opportunity of a lifetime and for the more accomplished angler, who is
indoctrinating a novice into this hobby, the results are outstanding. Here, an angler may
create a fishing partner that will quickly follow to other suggested points on the
compass. Its a win-win situation for everyone.
Moving into intermediate fly fishing
waters names such as the Madison, Yellowstone and the Lamar Rivers hold numerous
opportunities for unfurling long reaching casts as well as the chance to present numerous
and different fly patterns. However, since these are Western rivers the flies the angler
will use will be bigger then other trout waters. This in itself is fun when the angler can
easily see a freely floating fly course through probable feeding zones of trout. Exciting
hits will follow a well presented fly and the fish, besides being native and larger in
size, will provide the fly fishers with hours of entertainment all while fishing very
close to where you first started.
Then there are the waters which present
different scenarios on a daily basis. These creeks such as Slough, Soda Butte, the lower
Firehole river will test even the most accomplished angler especially as the season moves
along into late summer. Here the fish have been caught and released one or more times and,
as late summer anglers begin to trade locations by fishing a morning here and the
afternoon there, the fish become very wise to what the angler may present or even become
fully aware as to the different techniques which may be utilized by the better fly fishers
who wade these honored waters every summer day.
As far as the gear which may be needed on
a visit to the Park, this varies as to personal needs or preference. Many anglers use a
feather light 76 5 weight graphite rod which handles nearly every daily
situation which is encountered while fishing in the Park. However for the beginning
students are normally outfitted with a 9 foot 5 weight rod. This added length of rod helps
the novice reach more distant areas. Felt soled waders will be an essential item as the
angler crosses creeks on moss covered freestones which line these waterways as will
several handy tools, which are conveniently hung from a fishing vest. Polarized sunglasses
will make seeing through any glare on the water easier especially if they are worn under a
wide or long brimmed hat. All of these small items can make an extreme difference in
comfort as well as ultimate success.
The Park is encircled by fly fishing
support personnel which can lead you in the right direction and satisfy your specific
needs whether it be lessons, guiding or equipment and supplies. Accommodations come in a
wide variety of pricing as well as luxury so be certain to ask whatever convenience it is
you may be seeking on your western get away.
At Lake, the oldest Park lodging
facility, a vacation spent nightly in a stately room overlooking Yellowstone Lake and
accompanied by elegant dining can be found to be a delightful cap to a day spent outdoors.
Or fifty miles away the newly constructed Snow Lodge at Old Faithful creates an
opportunity for experiencing the marvels associated with geysers and all they can display.
The Old Faithful Inn is an experience and an institution unto itself. Its visitors all
stare at the grandeur of the vaulted, log created majesty of the lobby. The Mammoth Hot
Springs Hotel offers the Park visitor sumptuous dining and for the more adventuresome
Roosevelt and Canyon Lodges each have their own character and charm although the cabins
are a bit more rustic. In the Park you will want to contact Xanterra Resorts at (303) 297
-2757 or by going to http://www.xanterra.com for accommodations held within the Park itself.
For others, seeking more of a true
western experience, can hire an Park licensed outfitter who can saddle the angler to a
gentle mountain trail horse and deliver the string of riders and pack horses deep into the
interior reaches of the Park. There, out of sight from man made objects and surrounded by
the solitude of the pristine mountains and their streams the outfitted angler can catch
fish in crystal clear water until the arms ache and at night everyone will watch the
bright stars rotate through the sky as meteorites streak across the heavens.
Adjacent communities such as Cody and
Jackson, Wyoming may be a bit too far for a commute into the Park on a daily basis but
West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana offer the Parks visitors the opportunity to
step out of the Park and quickly be back in the civilization that can offer four star
dining and shop till you drop experiences. Art galleries, white water rafting and day
trips on horseback can easily fill the time spent in Yellowstone Country. Just
north of the North entrance to the Park lies the nearby Paradise Valley. It is rural in
its nature but does host many B&Bs and cabins which will all be, in Montana
terms, near activities and facilities which the angler can make use of. I am proud to call
this valley and all of its splendor my home. The local web site http://www.ynp-lodging.com which acts as our local areas business
guide is great for all accommodations within the Paradise Valley.
Doc Knoll 2004 ©
Doc Knoll owns and operates a fly shop
and fishing school in Pray, Montana. Many of his fishing products; rods, reels, flies and
other great products can be found in fishing shops throughout the Yellowstone area. To
reach him for information or to schedule classes contact (406) 333 4848 or go directly to
his website at http://www.knolls.us