Yellowstone National Park

Fishing in Yellowstone

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Yellowstone National Park is managed as a natural area to protect plants, wildlife, geology, and scenery. Angling has been a major visitor activity for over a century. Present regulations reflect the park's primary purposes of resource protection and visitor use. The objectives of the fishing program are to:

  1. Manage aquatic resources as an important part of the ecosystem.
  2. Preserve and restore native fishes and their habitats.
  3. Provide recreational fishing opportunities for the enjoyment of park visitors, consistent with the first two objectives.

In Yellowstone, bald eagles, ospreys, pelicans, otters, grizzly bears, and other wildlife take precedence over humans in utilizing fish as food. None of the fish in Yellowstone are stocked, and populations depend on sufficient number of spawning adults to maintian natural reproduction and genetic diversity. In Yellowstone National Park, we place less emphasis upon providing fishing for human consumption and put more emphasis upon the quality for recreational fishing. Anglers, in return, have the opportunity to fish for wild trout in a natural setting.

Because of the increasing number of anglers in the park, more restrictive regulations have been adopted in Yellowstone. These restrictions include: season opening/closing dates, restrictive use of bait, catch-and-release only areas, and number/size limits according to species. A few places are closed to the public to protect threatened and endangered species, sensitive nesting birds, and to provide scenic viewing areas for visitors seeking undisturbed wildlife.


Permits and Fees

A permit is required to fish in Yellowstone. Anglers 16 years of age and older are required to purchase either a $10 ten-day or $20 season permit. Anglers 12 to 15 years of age are required to obtain a non-fee permit. Children 11 years of age or younger may fish without a permit when supervised by an adult. The adult is responsible for the child's actions. Fishing permits are available at all ranger stations, visitor centers, and Hamilton General Stores. No state fishing license is required in Yellowstone National Park.


Non-toxic Fishing

Yellowstone National Park has implemented a non-toxic fishing program. Nationwide, over three million waterfowl die from lead poisoning through ingestion. Because lead from fishing tackle concentrates in aquatic environments, tackle such as leaded split shot sinkers, weighted jigs, and soft weighted ribbon for fly fishing are prohibited. Only non-toxic alternatives to lead are allowed.

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