Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Sep 23, 2013

Sysadmin Note
Part 12 can be found here

Trout Lake lies in the Northeast Corner of Yellowstone National Park. To reach the trailhead for the lake the angler must pass by the Gardner River, and pass by Blacktail Ponds cross the Yellowstone and Lamar Rivers, drive by the turn off to the legendary Slough Creek and drive along both the Larmar River and Soda Butte Creek. Not many anglers can pass up such storied waters for a hike into a lake without giving in to the impulse and stopping to fish one of these fabled waters.

The trailhead to Trout Lake is across from the base of the Soda Butte Canyon, so if you have arrived at the Pebble Creek Campground you have gone too far. The hike to the lake is short about half mile however is a rather steep hike up through the pine forest. The lake sets in a depression at 6962 feet and is back dropped by the towering heights of Mount Hornaday which rises to 10,003 feet without a doubt Trout Lake is one of the most scenic places in the Park. As a historical note, Mount Hornaday was named in 1938 for William Temple Hornaday a world renowned naturalist who championed the cause of saving the American Bison from extinction.

The angler can fish the shores of Trout Lake but many carry in their float tubes and I have seen some carry in canoes, though that is something that I would not care to do. The lake is twelve acres in size and has a small creek running into it. Opening day is for the lake is June 15th however the area right around the inlet doesn't open until July 15th to protect the spawning cutthroat trout.

Wildlife is open found around the lake with bison being the most common however I have also encountered moose, mule deer and elk around the lake. When I first began to fish Trout Lake in 1977 you would occasionally see a black bear but for years grizzly bears were never a problem in the last few years plenty of grizzly bears have been seen in the area. That is true of many places in the Park therefore I always have bear pepper spray and a whistle. Some use bear bells but I don't. Today the angler may find more people at the lake to watch the river otters who have taken up residents there in the past few years.

Trout Lake is very rich with excellent populations of leeches, scuds, midges, caddis and mayflies. Some of the caddis hatches are outstanding as is the Callibaetis and midge hatches; furthermore from late July to early September the terrestrial fishing on the lake can be outstanding. Due to the richness of the lake the cutthroat trout will run between fourteen and twenty inches the rainbow and rainbow-cutthroat hybrids called cuttbow's will range between sixteen and thirty inches and for years is was the large trout that drew anglers to the lake.

According to the fishing regulations for Yellowstone National Park you may begin your fishing day at 5:00 a.m. and your fishing day must end at 10:00 p.m. However I would suggest that you do your fishing during the daylight hours. Pushing the limit and walking out of Trout Lake in the dark may not be a wise move, since bumping into a grizzly bear in the dark or even in the iffy light of dusk may ruin your whole day. Use common sense and be safe. Fly fishing is supposed to be fun not a contact sport with wildlife!

As I said, Trout Lake is an extremely rich therefore the trout are seldom easy the angler must be prepared with several fly lines; I would have a floating line, Sink Tip type III or IV and a Uniform Sink Full Sinking Fly Line Type III or IV. I prefer a six weight rod system for still water fishing.

On Trout Lake I always have my midge selection of worms, pupa's, emergers and adults. I also go prepared with scud, leech, damsel and dragonfly imitations, and if the fishing is slow I often go to a type III Uniform Sink Full Sinking Line and fish a dragonfly nymph and a scud slow and deep.

The lake has good Callibaetis hatches but the evenings of mid-July to late August offers some good caddis hatches and the fishing during the evening can be exciting. For the hatches at the time of your visit check with a local fly shop and with the fishing outfitters who are permitted to operate in the Park.

A trip to Trout Lake is well worth the effort and a place that I visit several times a year.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part 14 can be found here


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