Lake Fishing in Yellowstone

Lewis Lake

The gin clear waters of Lewis Lake provide some excellent fly fishing for both brown trout and Mackinaw during much of the summer.  The lake opens for fishing on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend but is not always free of ice. Usually the ice comes off this lake either just before Memorial Day weekend or shortly thereafter. Right after the ice comes off the lake fishing with a Kiwi or Wooly Bugger is generally productive.


Fly fishermen will be best suited with a 9 foot 6 weight rod for dealing with the often windy conditions of Lewis Lake. Full sinking lines will prove most effective because flies are often worked below the surface by either trolling or casting a wet fly along drop-offs or submerged bars. Clear intermediate lines or sink tips will also work if you don’t have a full sinker. Floating lines can also work if combined with a long leader and some unleaded shot to help the fly sink. At several places in the lake there are underwater cliffs; if you cast your fly on the deep side of the cliff, let it sink, then work it up into the shallows you're likely to get a good strike.   Olive Wooly Buggers, Black Wooly Buggers, Krystal Buggers and Kiwis will all be effective.


Lewis is not just a wet fly affair. Toward the middle of the season, if the conditions are right, there is a good Callibaetis hatch and fly fishermen can cast large mayfly patterns to cruising trout much like stalking a cruising bonefish. This has to be experienced to be believed

Many anglers enjoy fishing Lewis with lures and they are certainly very productive. The best overall producer is a ¼ oz. gold Thomas Cyclone (gold is better than silver or copper). Also have some ¼ - 3/8 oz. Krocodiles (chartreuse with fire wings are best). Sinking Rapalas can also work well, but be sure to remove all but one gang of treble hooks because it is illegal to have more than one set of treble hooks inside the Park.

For those of you who can't come early in the summer, the fall fishing can be great. Usually the lake starts to turn on in early October. At that time of the year the browns congregate around the inlet and outlet in preparation for spawning. Fishing with a float tube is one of the better ways to fish Lewis at that time. Be sure to stop by the South Entrance ranger station and get a required tube/boat permit. I suggest a good pair of fins such as the Caddis Fins, because the wind can whip up and you may need them to keep your position. Also, be sure to have some warm long underwear beneath your waders, because the water can be a bit cold. Although you are legally allowed to keep fish at this time of the year, I suggest putting them back. Remember, in the fall these fish are getting ready to spawn and propagate the species. If you wish to continue to have good fishing in this lake, put them back so they can accomplish this.

The secrets of Lewis Lake are not easily unlocked and it certainly helps to go with an experienced guide. Jack Dennis Fishing Trips (Grand Teton Fly Fishing) offers Lewis Lake float trips starting at "ice out" and continue to offer these trips into the early summer. With the help of an experienced guide you can enjoy catching nice sized Mackinaw and browns with regularity.  We are happy to take either fly or spin fishermen and we can supply you with equipment if you don’t have your own.



Located in beautiful Yellowstone National Park, this huge body of water has some of the best lake Cutthroat fishing that can be found. These fish usually run over 15 inches with many in the 18 inch range caught. With the newer regulations, Yellowstone Lake now opens same time as general fishing season. Both lures and fly fishing are permitted, but be sure there is no lead in either. A Yellowstone fishing license is required and a boat permit is needed if you are going to take a boat or float tube out on to the lake. Please note that this lake is very cold and can become very rough in a hurry so caution to boaters is advised. Nearly every year a boater is killed because of getting swamped in extremely cold water.
Fly fishermen should be prepared with both floating and sinking lines. Since this area is generally windy, a nine foot graphite rod for a six weight is recommended. You don't need a large variety of flies for Yellowstone Lake. Both Black and Olive Woolly Buggers seem to work very well; leech patterns will also fit the bill. It is also suggested to have some Kiwis and midges.
Lure fishing on Yellowstone can be extremely productive. Without a doubt, the best lure is the gold Jake's Spin-A-Lure (this lure was actually invented for this lake.) Other lures that work well are 1/4 oz. gold Thomas Cyclones and black Roostertails.


Although fly fishing from the shore can be good at times, better fishing can be found from a boat. Bridge Bay Marina on the north side of the lake is a full-service marina which also has boat rentals. Jack Dennis Fishing Trips (Grand Teton Fly Fishing) offers guided float fishing trips on Yellowstone Lake starting on June 15th. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and quite an experience to be on. The fishing is best for the first few weeks after the lake opens because the ice just came off. Generally we meet these trips in Jackson early in the morning, however, we can meet in the park if you're staying there.