Sunday, January 26, 2014

Trout Creek, Yellowstone National Park, USA:

Trout Creek, Yellowstone National Park

Angling in Yellowstone National Park is a major reason many visitors come to the park each year and since it was created in 1872, the park has drawn anglers from around the world to fish its waters. In 2006, over 50,000 park fishing permits were issued to visitors.The park contains hundreds of miles of accessible, high-quality trout rivers containing wild trout populations—over 200 creeks, streams and rivers are fishable. There are 45 fishable lakes and several large lakes are easily accessible to visitors.Additionally, the park's remote sections provide anglers ample opportunity to visit rivers, streams, creeks and lakes that receive little angling pressure. With the exception of one specially designated drainage, all the park's waters are restricted to artificial lures and fly fishing. The Madison, Firehole and a section of the Gibbon rivers are restricted to fly fishing only.Anglers visiting the park to fish will encounter cutthroat, rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout, mountain whitefish and arctic grayling. The park's fishing season runs from the Saturday in May associated with Memorial Day to the first Sunday in November each year. The National Park Service regulates angling in the park and classifies different fish available to the angler as either Native or Non-Native species. Any native species—cutthroat trout, grayling and whitefish—caught must be immediately released unharmed. Non-natives—rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout have different bag limits depending on the waters fished. Some non-natives are also subject to catch and release regulations and all lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake or river must be killed. All hooks used in the park must be barbless or have their barbs pinched down. Many specific waters or sections of waters are closed either permanently for either safety reasons, wildlife management or to protect thermal features. The National Park Service may also enact emergency closures and restrictions because of low water, high temperatures or fires.Anglers should always be familiar with the most current regulations, restrictions and closures. A Yellowstone National Park fishing permit is required to fish in the park. State licenses are not required.Angling supplies are available in the park's concession stores and in the towns associated with major entrances to the park—West Yellowstone, Montana; Gardiner, Montana; Jackson, Wyoming; Cody, Wyoming and Cooke City.The original expeditions that explored the regions that ultimately became Yellowstone National Park in 1872 caught fish in many of its waters to supply themselves with fresh provisions. It wasn't long after the creation of the park, that park officials understood the importance of angling to visitors and the importance of creating a ready resource to supply hotels and camps within the park with fresh fish. This resulted in the first government stocking of native and non-native species in 1889 and continued with a variety of successful and unsuccessful stocking efforts until 1955 when all stocking programs in the park were discontinued. Today's park trout are completely wild populations. Many of the park's waters held no fish prior to government stocking operations which introduced mainly non-native species to the rivers and lakes and redistributed native species.In fact, with the exception of the upper Yellowstone river drainage, all the lakes and streams above major waterfalls were devoid of game fish prior to government stocking operations.In the early days of government stocking operations, all types of attempts were made to introduce desirable species for the angler. In the case of Yellowstone, both landlocked Atlantic salmon and largemouth bass were introduced but never established themselves in the park..Yellow perch were inadvertently introduced, established themselves in a few lakes, and were later poisoned out. By the early 20th century, a number of hatcheries were established in the park by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. These hatcheries not only produced stocks for the park, but also took advantage of the great spawning stock of Cutthroat trout to supply eggs to hatcheries around the U.S. Between 1901 and 1953, 818 million trout eggs were exported from the park to hatcheries throughout the U.S.The hatcheries and stocking operations had both positive and negative impacts on the quality of angling in Yellowstone National Park in the first half of the 20th century. Many native populations were displaced by non-natives, but there was quality brown and rainbow trout fishing in the Firehole, Madison and Gibbon river drainages. Stocking and hatchery operations had had an overall negative impact on the Yellowstone cutthroat and Westslope cutthroat populations and in 1953 the National Park Service began closing the hatcheries and stopping stocking operations. The last fish stocked for the benefit of anglers was in 1955 after some 310 million fish had been released in park waters since 1889.The regulation of anglers in the park also evolved significantly since the park's creation. Original angling was a subsistence affair to fill a camp's larder and feed visitors to the park. Although fishing methods were limited to hook and line early in the park's history, there were no limits. In the 1920s, a daily limit of 20 fish was set. This was reduced to 10, then five and then three in 1954. Limits have fluctuated based on waters and species ever since then. Until 1969, bait could be used in most waters. In 1950, the Madison and Firehole rivers were designated as "Fly Fishing Only". The lower Gibbon river was given that designation in 1968. In 1970, regulation turned to minimum size limits for cutthroat trout and there began an era where the emphasis of regulation became the protection of native species. Angling permits were free in the park until 1994, when a $10 fee was charged for a seven-day 2013, the National Park Service began allowing unlimited taking of non-native species in some waters and required mandatory killing of Rainbow and Brook trout caught in the Lamar River drainage to protect native Cutthroat trout.



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