Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Jan 27, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 20 can be found here

Those anglers who haunt the northern half of Yellowstone National Park are often unaware of the fine fishing offered by the Snake River. Now that is not to say that the trout in the Snake River are under-fished; many anglers who visit the Jackson Hole Area fish the Snake River both in and out of Yellowstone National Park and the river is easy to access from the South Entrance to the Park.

The Snake River is the longest and the largest tributary of the Columbia River at 1,078 miles, however it begins within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. The Snake River has its birthplace in the West Slope of Two Ocean Plateau and runs for some forty miles through the park. The upper section of the river is small and swift and drops at a steep rate; in places it falls 200 feet in one mile of river thus holding small trout and a long tough hike or horseback ride to reach this section. This section of the river holds little interest for me, however if your desire is for long tough hikes to remote locations by all means follow your dreams. But first check with the Backcountry Office for your camping permit and talk to the rangers. Remember this is Bear Country therefore go prepared!

The river begins to slow and become friendlier to the angler as it draws near to the confluence with the Heart River. Remember the Snake River drains a large area therefore plan your trips to the area accordingly. If you arrive too early in the season the river may be high and murky and you still may encounter snowfields in place. Therefore, I limit my trips to the Snake to late July to early October and try not to attempt trip during an early fall snowstorm. Cutthroat trout and whitefish are the primary species found in this section of the river with an odd brown and brook trout being reported. The fish size ranges from seven to seventeen inches. Traveling to this section still requires a long hike or horseback trip. As with any trip in the park the scenery is spectacular. Years ago I made this trip via the Heart Lake trail and then traveled south to the Snake River. The trip was well worth the effort and memories of that trip are indeed very special to me.

The next section of the river is from the confluence of the Heart River to confluence with the Lewis River. In this section much of the river runs through a meadow except for one canyon which is about two miles in length. Here again a hike is required to reach this water and this section receives little pressure, however the fishing in this section is good and during August and early September the terrestrial action is outstanding.

The next section is from the confluence with the Lewis River to the Park Boundary and receives the most fishing pressure. This section of the river can be reached by an access just inside the south entrance of the park. One September I pulled into the access, which is also a picnic area, to have an early lunch and watched several anglers preparing to hike up the valley of the Snake River. After the anglers had departed I noticed some action straight out from the parking area, and after a quick meal I spent the afternoon fishing within sight of the boundary marker and had the river to myself, every angler I observed was head upstream.

Though the cutthroat trout are the dominant species there are plenty numbers of whitefish some of which a huge, also an occasional brook, lake and brown trout. Furthermore there is a fall spawning run of brown trout which travels up out of Jackson Lake.

The Snake River enjoys a number of good hatches throughout the season and I suggest that you check with the fly shops in Jackson Hole for the latest information on the hatches based on the time period you are planning your trip.

When I visited in September I spent the day fishing ants and hopper imitations and had excellent fishing. However, the Snake is the one river in the park where my experience is limited and I always check with friends from Jackson Hole and do a little bit of collecting and observation when arriving on the river. I often fish the Lewis River below the falls in the morning and the Snake River in the afternoon and have always enjoyed my time on both rivers.

The Snake River in Yellowstone Park is a river that is always on my summer list of places to fish and most years I am able to get down to the south end of the park for a few days each summer. Put the Snake River in the park on your list and you won't be disappointed.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part 22 can be found here


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