Yellowstone National Park Fly Fishing

Firehole River

The Firehole has been called the "strangest trout stream on Earth." This spring-fed river flows through the most active geyser basins in Yellowstone Park, so the angler is often fishing against a backdrop of steam rising from a gurgling hot spring. From opening day in the Park (the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend) until about the end of June, the Firehole provides superb dry fly fishing during hatches of Baetis and Pale Morning Dun mayflies and several kinds of caddis. The slow moving (but very tricky) currents in this meadow stream demand careful presentations and realistic imitative flies. These trout see a lot of fishing pressure, and get very selective. Like the spring creeks, small tippet sizes are the rule. Matching the hatch is usually a key to success as well. The warm water springs along the Firehole raise the water temperatures enough that fishing quality falls off in July and August, but as soon as the water cools off again in the fall, trout move back into the Firehole from the cooler tributary streams and the fishing picks up once again. The Baetis hatches in late September through October make for some very pleasant dry fly fishing if you can brave the weather.

George Anderson with nice brown from the Firehole River


This is much higher country than Livingston, and can be much colder. Some of the best hatches come off on those snowy days though, and by this time most of the tourist anglers have departed.  There is always some very good dry fly fishing on the Baetis hatches in late October.  But the practical end of the fishing season often comes with the first big snowstorm that closes all the roads for the season.  Otherwise the fishing season in YNP closes during the first week in November.  


Slough Creek

Slough Creek is one of the most popular fishing areas in Yellowstone Park—and for good reason. The scenery is gorgeous, access is relatively easy, and the cutthroat fishing is some of the best in the world. The lower meadows of Slough Creek below the campground are easily accessible from parking areas between the campground and the Cooke City road.

There are a few big rainbows in this lower water as well as cutthroats. The upper meadows of Slough are accessed from a trailhead near the campground. The first meadow is a 45 minute walk from the trailhead—this hike starts with a fairly steep climb but levels out after the first hill. The first meadow is the most popular because it's close, and while the fishing is excellent, you can expect to see plenty of other anglers here in the middle of summer.

Slough Creek's second meadow is about a 2 hour trek, but worth it. The additional distance cuts down the number of anglers, but it also shortens the fishing day if you do this as a day trip. There are several camp sites in the second and third meadows but these are on a reservation basis only with the Park Service at Mammoth. Many of the cutthroats you'll catch in the second or third meadow will hit 18 and even 20 inches. These are heavy fish, and some of the best fighting cutthroats anywhere! Best of all, they favor rising to dry flies. Heavy hatches of caddis, PMD's, and large Green Drake mayflies make for some spectacular dry fly fishing in July. Later, hoppers and terrestrials are the winning ticket.

Lamar River

The Lamar is another favorite Yellowstone Park destination of our guides. The Lamar Valley is one of the most scenic areas in the Park. The river meanders through a grassy meadow, with gentle riffles, boulders, and undercut banks providing some great cover for trout. Expect to see mostly Yellowstone cutthroat trout, although there are some rainbows in the lower stretch of the river. There are good hatches of Pale Morning Duns, Green and Gray Drakes as well as a variety of caddis in July. The hopper fishing is excellent from late July through late September. In mid-September, the Lamar also produces heavy hatches of Gray and Green Drake mayflies. These are big bugs, size 10 and 12, and tend to bring up all the big fish. If you hit the right day (heavy cloud cover is ideal), you will likely see some of the best dry fly fishing of the whole season.

Fishing the Lamar River  

Hike and Strike

Yellowstone encompasses 3,468.4 square miles (2.2 Million Acres) made up of famous lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges.  However, with over 3,000 square miles there are a lot of places that seem to go unnoticed and untraveled.  With many years of exploring and guiding under our hats we have uncovered some of Yellowstone’s best “Notellems” and “Noneya” Creeks.  If adventure and low fishing pressure is what you are looking for contact us about one of our Hike and Strike trips. We offer day long round trips from one mile to eight miles depending on how adventurous and off-the-beaten-path the anglers would like to get.