YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: Trout Glory
Where else but in our nation’s first national park can a fisherman awaken to the whistle of an elk bugle, part a herd of bison on his walk to the riverbank, or witness the overflow from a geyser cook his trout before he gets the chance to take it off the hook? More to the point, where else can he buy this glory for a $20 season fishing permit ($10 for 10 days) and a campsite stub?
There is no bad time to fish the park, but there are two best times, from the opener on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend until late June, and again from September 15 to the closing on the first Sunday in November. The first season will put you into rising trout (you’ll need your 5X and a selection of caddis, mayflies, and emergers in sizes 14 to 20); the latter will tempt you with larger, lake-run browns and rainbows that move into the Madison and Lewis Rivers and hit streamers under riffles. In between, you have to fight crowds and rising water temperatures, which can put trout off their feed. The exception is the cold-flowing Yellowstone River, which doesn’t open until July 15.
Don’t ignore the smaller lakes or creeks. They often provide the best fishing, along with the solitude and splendor that you came for. For up-to-date fishing info, contact Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop (800-854-9559; www.budlillys.com) or Blue Ribbon Flies (406-646-7642; www.blueribbonflies.com).