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HC's View on YNP Fisheries | August 2nd, 2023

"I’ve made no bones about not being a big fan of Todd Koel who is the leader of Yellowstone Native Fish Conservation Program. I understand the concept of improving Cutthroat fisheries in Yellowstone National Park but some regulation changes have decimated a number of its Blue Ribbon waters containing Rainbow and Brown trout. On some of these waters there has never been historic proof that Cutthroat existed, but per chance they may have, these Blue Ribbon Rainbow and Brown trout fisheries have been compromised. Now on the other hand, where other streams that have no historic proof of Cutthroat, they have been stocked with Cutthroat and that is OK by the Park. Seems redundant? On some other streams fish BARRIERS have been installed to keep non-native species out. You can call them what you like, they’re dams and I guess it’s OK to build dams in a National Park?

I’ve been told by Mr. Koel they just want to restore the Park the way it was historically. My question then is how far back do we want to go 10,000 years, 20,000 years when there weren’t any fish there at all? Or are they playing God and restoring the Park with their vision? Whether Mr. Koel likes it or not, man is part of nature. Many things man has done wrong but some things right and Mother Nature doesn’t really care, she just moves on. As I said I’m all for improving the Cutthroat fishery in Yellowstone, but let’s use some logic. Another regulation I disagree with is moving the Yellowstone River fishing opener below Yellowstone Lake to July 1st; traditionally it has always been July 15th. In the over 40 years that I have fished that section of river, many of those years some Cutthroat were still spawning on the traditional July 15th opener. Well, they are certainly still spawning July 1st and I have seen many people fishing to those spawning fish. Supposedly there is documentation that July 1st opener will not be detrimental to the fishery, but common sense tells you that people fishing over spawning fish and wading through redds (spawning areas) can’t be good. Enough of me preaching on the pulpit; one positive side of the July 1st opener, is we get to fish hatches that many years are over by July 15th. These are mainly Green Drakes and Salmonflies, and we definitely got to fish them this year. The Green Drakes are pretty much done but there are some Salmonflies still kicking around. Look for PMD’s starting to hatch between 10 and 12o’clock. Their Spinners can be on the water mornings and evenings. Good Yellow Sallies hatch have been happening mid-day through the afternoons. Same goes for the remaining Salmonflies. Flavs (Small Western Green Drakes) have started and can get mixed in with the evening Caddis, sometimes making the evening fishing confusing and frustrating. Nymphing with stonefly imitations are always effective on this portion of the Yellowstone because it take 3-5 years for these insects to develop and hatch, so they are always available. Brooks Stone, Kaufmann’s Stone, and plain old Rubber Legs in various sizes will be effective. You might give Miller’s Victim jig nymph in 14’s and 16’s a go. Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow and Lil’ Kim streamers are pretty good everywhere and no exception on the Yellowstone. Hatches have been strong throughout the Yellowstone area this year and the fishing has been good to excellent. We recently have been getting intermittent rain storms cooling many of our rivers and streams so we should expect good fishing to continue.

Until next time, good fishing. Howard Cole


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