Monday, May 14, 2012

Preserving Fishing in "The Park"

I have only lived in Wyoming for eight wonderful years. However, I grew up visiting Yellowstone National Park as a child, teenager, adult, husband, and this summer, as a father. As a child, my parents brought me out here in a 1984 Subaru Legacy. The car was tight on space, even for me, and I barely remember any of it. I remember bits and pieces of the scenery, and a tiny bear that my parents bought my sister and I during the trip. That bear barely made it back to Ohio, since I carried him everywhere on that trip by his "leash". On this trip, I barely knew what fishing was. This was around the time that I threw all of my Dad's bobbers into a lake to fish like him once! My main memories of this time period are all the bears going through the trash cans, and lots of tree cover.
My Sister and I holding our bears overlooking Yellowstone Falls in August 1984.
In 1996, my parents, and my girlfriend (who later became my wife!) made the trip back out to Yellowstone. We saw the sights, did a few hikes, but again, no fishing, as my Dad and I would be the only ones, and neither of us had ever really considered fly fishing. Our main goal on this trip was to locate the elusive porcupine, my favorite animal. We failed, only finding a couple that had been hit by cars *sigh*. This was my first trip back after the great fires of 1988. The place looked completely different to me. The ground was still raw from the fire in most places, with mainly grasses and a few flowers growing.

Eight years later though, my now fiance graduated from college with a Masters' degree in Meteorology and accepted a job here in Riverton, Wyoming. At the time, I lived in Maryland, outside of Washington DC. I promptly spammed my resume through the small community until I found somebody willing to hire me. Then I moved here over Labor Day weekend in 2004. Since that time, we have found ourselves back to Yellowstone a half dozen times, each time to view the scenery and wildlife. Each time, the park has looked more and more how I remember it as a 5 year old kid in amazement. The pine's are now taller than me, the fire torn landscape is largely disappearing with new thick forest growth.

In 2008, I decided I wanted to try fly fishing. I bought the gear, and managed to catch my first fish on the fly in a stocked lake inside the Wind River mountains.

My first fish on the fly rod
The following year in 2009, we made a week long trip to Yellowstone, staying in West Yellowstone. My wife promised me that we would spend at least part of the time fishing. I was excited. After talking to a few people in the fly shops, we settled on fishing the Soda Butte. It was crowded, every bend was packed with people, and I only had 1 cutt even come up to my fly before refusing it. Later on we tried a section of the Madison. I managed to do an OK job of casting, as I remember several people pulling off and taking pictures of me knee deep in a riffle casting my fly, but still not catching anything.

My wife and I standing outside the North Entrance in 2008

Then one evening, the hatch was on, and we could see rises forming all along the Madison. My wife suggest that we give it a shot. Pine moths were all over the water, and the trout were happily eating away. I had a humpy in my fly box, it looked closest to them, so I tied it on and used it. A little while later I had my first Yellowstone wild trout on the end of my line. A whopper young of the year fish about 4 inches long. Even though, it was so small, I was all smiles. The barbless hook let the fish go before my wife could get the camera ready. Even with that, it was one of my first trout on the fly rod.

Since that summer my fly fishing abilities have increased marginally. I only have wind knots once an hour instead of every other cast. However, I haven't made it back to the park. This summer, we'll be taking our daughter into the park. She won't remember any of it, as she'll only be 18 months old when we head in. However, my hope and dream is for her to be able to enjoy the park as I have been able to over my lifetime so far.

I have seen the park recover from those fires of 1988. As such, I believe that nature, with our help can win the battle against Lake Trout. I don't know how they arrived, though, my guess is likely due to somebody transporting live bait or releasing their catch from one of the lakes that already had lake trout into Yellowstone Lake, not knowing how much damage they were going to cause. I joined Trout Unlimited in 2011, partially after reading about their efforts to reduce the lake trout population found in Yellowstone Lake. I hope my readers out there, also consider joining this healthy cause.

Fairy Falls in 2009

Additionally, I hope that when my daughter is old enough, that I will be able to take her to Yellowstone and experience a chance to fish for wild Cutthroat trout. That is why I want to help preserve the native cutthroats found in this wonderful park.

Tight Lines all,

“This is my submission for the Trout Unlimited, Simms, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Outdoor Blogger Network – Blogger Tour 2012 contest.” However, I truly believe in everything I say here. I hope you all make it a priority to keep your local treasures, as well as those not so close to you in shape so that the next generation may enjoy them as well.


  1. I envy you your history with the park, warmly described in this post. Good luck!

  2. Your wife is short. Cool article though.

  3. Haha yes she is. 4'10" to be exact.