Yellowstone Park fishing regs double down on non-native fish

Limit on rainbow and brook trout abolished (with exceptions)-

With the exception of some popular roadside rivers such as the Madison, Firehole, and lower Gibbon River, limits on the number of non-native trout are abolished in new Yellowstone Park fishing regulations. In addition, any lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake are required to be killed.

In its effort to restore the native fish to the Park, any cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish or Arctic grayling are catch and release only.

Only barbless artificial lures are allowed in the Park and any sinkers used cannot be made of lead.

Here is a link to Yellowstone Park fishing regulations. A Park fishing license is required and the fishing regulations of Montana, Wyoming or Idaho do not apply to the Park.






  1. rork Avatar

    How smart is this nonnative trout tolerance area?
    It’s actually protecting brown trout in some areas. No reason given, but I presume it is “cause anglers want that” without any reference to harm.
    I’d accept that perhaps only if it is thought native fish no longer have a chance there, which I don’t think is true.

    PS: Smash those barbs down always. They look like they might help, but don’t actually help much with loosing fish, and may decrease hookups. It sure helps with release. Anglers need educating about this and other things, like keeping the fight as short as possible, aiding fish recovery, and just not fishing on days when recovery is difficult.

  2. alf Avatar

    It’s a good start, but it’d be much better, in my opinion, and more consistent with the apparent fishery management philosophy of YNP, if all limits were taken off ALL non-native fish in the park.

    In my opinion, all units of the National Park System should adopt that same management practice; and in my “best of all worlds” the states of Idaho and Montana should too, to attempt to rid, or at least reduce, populations of brookies, brown trout, and other non-native cold water species, with the possible exceptions of isolated mountain (or other ?) lakes or streams with no surface connections to other water bodies .

  3. John W Avatar
    John W

    This is definitely a step in the right direction. The Yellowstone Cutthroat has been affected by the introduction of exotic fish species; especially rainbow trout and mackinaw, but the park was also a stronghold for brood stock when reintroducing mackinaw into the great lakes. The Loch Leven Brown Trout was introduced to Yellowstone during the 1880s, but what effects have Salmo trutta had on native cutthroat populations? Nil, most likely. Rainbow trout were introduced to the Bechler River which is a Fall River tributary, and that to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. If there were no dams on the Snake River and steelhead and salmon populations were still strong perhaps they would still travel to Yellowstone’s western boundary to spawn.

    Yellowstone Park has been a science experiment since inception. Now, it is good to see healthy native fish populations as a priority in Yellowstone fisheries management.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      John W,

      Liked your comment, but one misstatement.

      Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, near the city of Twin Falls, Idaho, always prevented any salmon or steelhead from spawning further upstream than southern Idaho.

      1. John W Avatar
        John W

        Thanks Ralph,

        I did realize a bit later about that natural barrier in Twin Falls, I was dreaming big–steelhead and salmon in Yellowstone, really would be the best place on earth!

        But, my questions are at what stage of geological history where they able to migrate from seawater to freshwater, and then become freshwater residents in their current range we know in the Western United States? As I understand cutthroat came from the ocean then became freshwater residents, or was there a geological event that kept them in freshwater? Or did both happen? I’m sure we can only speculate on some aspects.

        1. cobackcountry Avatar

          A whole lot of progress has been made by studying and developing natural barriers.

          I think these are important steps. However, I’d say since people put the NNS in the area, we ought to supplement the natives. It might be just a need for a short term boost.

          Anglers like the fight a Brown puts up. But if the could catch and release abundant numbers of Cutties I think they’d be equally as pleased.

          I read that they will let you use lead in Yellowstone Lake if you are hunting Lakers.


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Ralph Maughan