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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Insider's Guide: Yellowstone

From camping with wolves to fly-fishing smarts this insider's guide has you covered.

by: Michael Behar

Fly-Fishing Smarts
Yellowstone boasts hundreds of streams filled with fat arctic grayling, cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish–all native species. Chad Olsen, founder of Greater Yellowstone Flyfishers (, has spent two decades leading guided trips into the park. Use his tips to land a big one.

Pack Light
A featherweight graphite rod that breaks down into four parts works best; pair it with a small reel and floating line. The whole setup weighs less than a pound. And pack sandals or river shoes–you don't need waders in the summer. Tackle should include two leaders, a spool of tippet, bead head nymphs, woolly buggers, and an assortment of dry flies.

Cast Your Line
Slough Creek, in the northeast corner of the park, is one of the best places to hook a trout. Other hotspots include the Yellowstone River, Black and Grand Canyons, Lamar River, Pelican Creek, and the Snake River. Avoid fishing after heavy rains, advises Olsen. Downpours muddy rivers and make it hard for fish to see your fly. (For tips on reading a trout stream, see Find the Trout".)

Fish Fry
Native Yellowstone species are catch-and-release only. But there are enough stocked rainbow, brown, and brook trout to ensure a hearty campfire feast. Just be careful how you cook: Roasting fish over hot coals is sure to attract bears. Poach your catch in boiling water instead–it's simpler and creates less odor. Remember to clean your catch far from camp, preferably where you landed it.

Casting Call
Learn how to prep a rod and reel and get tips for casting at or see our Gear Test: Backpacking-Friendly Fly Rods

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