Fishing and Boating

Fishing is one of the great appeals of Yellowstone National Park. Though fishing in summer 2007 was curtailed by warm weather leading to a ban on fishing in certain parts of the park, fishing is still allowed in the rest of the area. Here’s a look at the fishing regulations for Yellowstone.

1.    Fishing Hours and Dates
·     Season begins during Memorial Day weekend on Saturday and ends on the first Sunday of November. Exceptions listed in the Possession Limits section.
·    Open every day from 5 AM to 10 PM.
·    Fishing with synthetic light is not allowed.
·    Some areas may become temporarily closed due to wildlife and may require going off the trail. Some areas also offer party size recommendations.
·    Streams may be closed off due to water level and temperature.

2.    Fishing Permits
·    All anglers must have fishing permits where it is required.
·    Permit fees are required for fishermen and women who are 16 or older. Anyone younger has two options: 1) Anyone 15 or younger may share a permit with a responsible adult who will watch them or 2) They may obtain a free one signed by a responsible adult where they don’t need supervision.
·    The adult is responsible for the child and takes the fall if the boy or girl doesn’t follow the rules.
·    Park Rangers can check permits and inspect anything that a fisherman uses like tackle, creels, or the fish themselves.

3.    Permits for Boats and Float Tubes
·    Permit is required, and fees are included.
·    Float tubes are prohibited on ever river and stream except Lewis River between Shoshone Lake and Lewis Lake.
·    Permits must be obtained in person in the following locations: South Entrance, Grant Village Backcountry Office, Bridge Bay Ranger Station, and Lewis Lake Campground.
·    Non-motorized permits may only be obtained at: Mammoth, Canyon, the Bechler Ranger Station, the Old Faithful backcountry offices, the West Yellowstone Visitor Center, and the Northeast Entrance.

4.    Tackle and Bait
·    One rod per person and the line must be attended.
·    No natural or organic bait (the only exception being at the Gardner River drainage, where children 11 or younger may use worms).
·    Barbless hooks are required, even if it requires pinching down the barbs with pliers.
·    Lures must have only one hook with one, two, or three points.
·    Fish snagging is prohibited.
·    Files must have one hook.
·    Two files may be used on a leader.
·    Leaded tackle is prohibited in all forms.

5.    Bridges and Docks
·    No fishing allowed on docks or bridges.

6.    Size and Possession
·    Varies by species and management.
·    Only five fish are allowed daily for each fisherman.
·    When the possession limit is maxed out, the angler must stop immediately.
·    The following exceptions are made for lake trout: 1) they must be killed and 2) no limit on lake trout caught on Heart Lake.
·    Possession regulations go for all the fish, whether they are alive, dead, or preserved.
·    If the fish is too big or too small to fit the size regulations, it must be returned to the water.
·    Dead fish, if undesired, must be returned to the water so they can be eaten.
·    Anglers must measure and identify fish.

7.    Fish Species
·    Fishermen must keep the skin on the fish in order to identify it.
·    Only one fish that is more than 20’’ long may be kept in the Lewis River System.
·    No desecrating of fish when caught, excluding the gills and guts.
·    If the angler removes the gills and guts, they must be returned to the place where they were caught and away from backcountry camps.

Exceptions to General Regulations

1.    Madison and Gallatin River Drainage
·    Firehole River from the road bridge half a mile upstream of Old Faithful and 200 yards away from either side is closed. Also closed in the area is the Madison River 750 feet upstream from Seven Mile Bridge.
·    Madison River, Firehole River, and Gibbon River below Gibbon Falls are restricted to fly-fishing. Only artificial flies are allowed.

2.    Snake River Drainage
·    Heart Lake opens July 1st.
·    Lake trout are fair game on Heart Lake.
·    One fish >20’’ may be kept above Lewis River Falls.

3.    Lower Yellowstone River Drainage
·    Fishing opens to July 15th at the Agate/Cottonwood creeks, and parts of Yellowstone River.
·    Children 11 or younger may use worms at the following: Gardiner River, Joffe Lake, and the Obsidian/Indian/Panther creeks.
·    To encourage cutthroat trout population, fish at Slough Creek in the upper meadows to reduce the rainbow trout population.
·    Fishing at Buck, Trout, and Shrimp lakes and any of the connecting waters opens June 15th. The Trout Lake Inlet Area opens July 15th.
·    The following is closed: The Yellowstone River from Chittenden Bridge through Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon to below Silver Cord Cascade.

4.    Middle Yellowstone River Drainage
·    Open July 15th.
·    The following are closed:
-Fishing Bridge, one mile towards Canyon, and a quarter mile towards Yellowstone Lake.
-The Yellowstone 100 yards up and down of LeHardys Rapids.
-The west channel of Yellowstone River near the Nez Perce Ford road.
-Yellowstone River through Hayden Valley and the juncture of Alum Creek towards Yellowstone Lake to Sulphur Canyon. Includes the tributaries.

5.    Yellowstone Lake and Upper Yellowstone River Drainage

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