Angling is terrific in geyser land
August 10, 2006
Many local fly fishermen take trips to other regions of the country during the summer months.
One of the exceptional destinations is the Yellowstone National Park region. I have not been back there since 1992, which was a trip that I would rather not remember. My family and I had an awful vehicle accident just south of the park.
There are a number of terrific waters to fish in the general area, including the Snake, Firehole, Madison, Gibbon, Lamar and Yellowstone rivers and Slough Creek, just to mention a few of the more famous waters. There are also a number of notable lakes to fish such as Yellowstone Lake.
This year anglers should be aware that the National Park Service has issued new regulations for fishing within Yellowstone National Park. In an attempt to reduce competition, predation and hybridization stress on native species, the Park Service raised harvest limits on rainbow and brown trout where they coexist with native cutthroat trout. It has been found that cutthroat trout do not compete well with other species and this move is an attempt to give the cutthroats a better chance for survival.
The park has been divided into two regulatory regions: The first is the Native Trout Conservation Area, and the second is the Wild Trout Enhancement Area.
Barbless hooks will now be required within the park. The Park Service hopes that this will reduce the handling time and injury of fish and improve the overall condition and appearance of fish, especially in heavily fished waters.
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In addition, harvest of lake trout will continue to be required from Yellowstone Lake in an effort to reduce their predation on Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.
The Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) provided comments to the Park Service last year about the regulation changes. Given the risk to native fishes, the FFF recommended a conservative approach, beginning with catch-and-release regulations throughout the park and making exceptions as conditions and data support.
The FFF also encouraged the adoption of a barbless hook rule and recommended an increased emphasis on collection and analysis of fish population studies, angler survey and creel census.
One of the major concerns for all parties was that many anglers cannot correctly identify each species of trout, which could lead to the accidental harvest of cutthroat trout. As a result, anglers heading to Yellowstone National Park should learn to identify each kind of trout in the park. It is imperative to prevent the potential for accidental harvest.
The 2006 season in Yellowstone Park began May 27 (the last Saturday in May) and runs through the first Sunday in November. Be sure to consult the regulations prior to your trip so you will not have any surprises. You can find them online at the Yellowstone National Park site at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planvisit/todo/fishing/genregs.htm.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.