Yellowstone River

Wyoming’s Yellowstone River, a world class trout stream.

The Yellowstone River begins in the Absaroka Mountains just outside of Yellowstone Park. From it’s beginning at about 12,000 feet, the river flows North and eventually dumps into Yellowstone Lake. It then heads North, flowing through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and exits the Park at the town of Gardiner, Montana.

In the park, the Yellowstone River is restricted to sightseeing and fishing. The river holds good numbers of Yellowstone Cutthroat. Anglers wanting excellent fly fishing in beautiful surroundings should take a close look at the Yellowstone River.

The upper Yellowstone flows for approximately thirty miles before entering the Southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake. The 25 mile section above Yellowstone Lake runs through a wide valley and holds large numbers of cutthroat that can grow to 20 inches.

This section of the river doesn’t get much pressure and offers excellent fishing. This section produces lots of hatches and the trout are hungry and aggressive.

Because the Yellowstone is a true freestone river, it gets full and muddy in the run off. The best time to fly fish this part of the river is mid July through the fall. The very upper reaches of the river are remote and will require a horse and or a good pair of hiking boots to reach.

Below the lake, the Yellowstone River flows through a beautiful canyon before reaching Gardiner which lies just on the outskirts of the park. The upper seven miles of this section are the most popular and can get pretty crowded.

If the crowds don’t bother you,this section of river offers great fishing especially in the early part of the season. The season opens on July 15th.

There are some areas in the section between the lake and the falls that are closed to fly fishing because of spawning beds. The river then flows over two sets of falls. One over a hundred feet and the other drops over three hundred feet.

Below the falls the river flows though the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Access in the canyon is not easy. You need to be ready to hike down 1500 feet from the rim to the river. Then you need to keep in mind that after a day of fly fishing you still have to climb back out of the canyon. This is not easy fly fishing but if you crave wild trout and solitude, you’ll find both here.

The Yellowstone River and it’s native cutthroat trout deserve the honor of being called one of Wyoming fly fishing’s blue ribbon waters.