Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Feb 10, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 21 can be found here

Lewis Lake and the Lewis Channel offer the angler the chance at some of the best trophy fishing that can be found within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In this coverage I break down both fish the lake and channel in separate sections.

I will start with Lewis Lake which is named for Meriwether Lewis one of the Co-Captains of the famous Lewis & Clark expedition of 1893 to 1806. The lake covers 2716 acres making the third largest in Yellowstone Park and has a maximum depth of 108 feet meaning that the lake is approximately 2.5 miles wide and 3 miles in length.

Lewis Lake originally contained no fish; however in 1890 3,350 brown trout and 12,000 lake trout from Lake Michigan were stocked in the lake, brook trout stocked in tributary streams found their way to the lake. The Lewis River enters the lake in the Northwest corner also in the north end of the lake some small tributaries enter the lake and there are some submerged hot springs in this area. Note at any point where tributaries enter the lake are good places to find brook trout. The deepest water is along the eastern shoreline the northwest section of the lake is shallower and there are also weed beds along southwestern shoreline.

Ice out generally occurs in Mid-June, but that will depend on the type winter and the current weather cycles. Lewis Lake does have a good modern boat launch at the Southern of the lake where the campground is located and motor craft are allowed on the lake. However before dropping any watercraft including float tubes into the lakes or ponds of Yellowstone Park make sure you get a boat permit and make sure you have all the required safety equipment including PFD's for the float tubes.

Now a word of caution the water temperature in Lewis Lake is always cool and therefore hypothermia is always a concern. Even a moderate wind can create a vicious chop and storms can show up quickly over the mountains making the lake dangerous to floating craft. Thus by being forewarned you can remember to be observant to the conditions of the day. NEVER TAKE SAFETY FOR GRANTED!

The big draw at Lewis Lake are the large brown trout and lake trout that reside in the waters of the lake and the first month from ice-out  and then again in the fall from mid-September to closure of the park is the prime time for these large fish.

However the summer angler can have great days fishing the lake by wading, using a float tube or boat catching brown trout, lake trout and brook trout between 12 to 18 inches. In the summer the main hatches are Callibaetis, midges and caddis, also during August and September terrestrial imitations can be quite effective. Due to the normal weather patterns of the summer the best fishing is during the morning hours before the winds rise for the day and then again in the evening as the winds lay down. I have had some really excellent fishing during the hatches on Lewis Lake.

However many of the anglers that I encounter even in the summer are using Sink Tips, Full Sinking and even Shooting Heads to place large streamers and leeches deeper in the water column hoping for a true trophy. I am not against streamers by any mean and have taken some truly large brown trout and lake trout from the waters of Lewis Lake.

The Lewis River Channel

The channel is roughly four miles in length and is the headwaters of the Lewis River which runs out of Shoshone Lake and the first month after ice out and again in October when the brown trout gather to spawn are the prime times for the trophy brown trout and lake trout found in the waters of the two lakes.

The first mile from the outlet at Shoshone Lake is approximately thirty to forty feet in width with a cobble bottom, steady current and two to three feet in depth. Below the first mile is a three to four hundred yard stretch of wonderful spawning gravel which attracts a lot of attention from the brown trout. Below the gravel section the river is deeper water with a soft bottom with plenty of down timber which harbors plenty of large trout.

You can take your motor boat across Lewis Lake to the channel but there is no motors allowed in the channel, from there it's walking, although some anglers do the channel with canoes as paddle crafts are allowed. You can also check the maps and hike into the Lewis River channel.

The summer brings pale morning dun, Callibaetis, green drake and Baetis hatches along with caddis and midge hatches also some excellent terrestrial fishing and of course streamers and leeches are always worth trying.

However in the fall streamers, sink tips and full sinking lines are the call of the day. However late fall can bring autumn snows and very cold temperatures. Therefore watch the forecast and go prepared.

I have fished the Lewis River Channel during the summer and enjoyed some excellent hatch fishing and I have seen some of the largest mosquitoes anywhere in the park, and there are clouds of them. During the fall it is trophy time!

In the next installment I will discussed the various methods and patterns for streamer in both the Lewis River channel and Lewis Lake.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'  

Sysadmin Note
Part 23 can be found here


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