Over the years, there have been many memorable events shared between the YFFVP coordinator and the volunteers. The paragraphs below highlight some of these experiences.
“Today, August 11, 2005, we hiked 3 miles up the Lamar River Trail to collect genetic samples from the cutthroat trout in Cache Creek. It started bright and sunny but as the afternoon progressed many thunderstorms passed around us. We fished a half mile of the stream and took fin clips and scale samples from 20 fish. There wasn’t any hatch but fish rose to our hopper and caddis patterns. With more storms threatening, we headed back down the trail to the parking lot. It was obvious that it had rained hard along the Soda Butte Creek because the trail and the creek were muddy.
As we loaded our gear into our van, two park ranger cars blocked us in and the rangers demanded to see our licenses and fish. They had a report of six people catching fish and keeping them in yellow buckets up on Cache Creek. After some explanation of the program, one of the rangers remembered fishing with Tim Bywater the previous year. One of our volunteers was quite a large lad with a voracious appetite and had brought half of a pork roast in his pack for lunch. We teased him that one of the rangers was eyeing him up to decide how to take him down if he was to run. We all chuckled.
The Lamar valley is becoming one of our favorite places in the park. The broad vistas of the valley are quite spectacular! We saw bison, pronghorns, and a coyote as well as a kestrel hunting in the meadows. It was great day!”
“High Lake was the first body of water recently reclaimed for Westslope cutthroat trout. Now, two years later (August 2009), Colleen Detjens and I were going to High Lake for two days of fishing. This was our first horse-packing trip in the park and we all were excited. Our volunteers were so eager that they willingly rented their own horses and brought their own supplies and equipment. We were to weigh and measure every fish we caught. We were also to record whether the adipose fin had been clipped. That would indicate that they had been stocked as fingerlings. If the adipose fin was intact, they had hatched from egg boxes put in the spring feeding the lake or from natural reproduction.
It was a ten mile ride up to the lake on top of the mountain very close to the northwest border of the park. We set up camp and then started fishing. We caught many fish in the 11 to 11 ¾ inch range with their adipose fin clipped; so many so that a competition was occurring to see who would catch the first 12 inch fish. However, several smaller fish were caught with their fins intact. The lake and its fish seemed to be doing well; we caught 67 fish over the course of two days.
The days were pleasant, but the nights were very cold. Hot chocolate was welcome in the morning. And no one caught that 12 inch fish.”
“Our destination in July 2011, was Pelican Creek. We hiked 1.5 miles up the trail to the creek with 2 volunteers. The creek had been closed for seven years because of the discovery of whirling disease and had just been reopened. We were to sample the Yellowstone cutthroat trout population to see how their recovery was progressing. During the course of the sunny day, we saw a few elk, a grizzly bear, a small herd of bison, a Trumpeter swan, and a Swainson’s hawk. Fishing was slow, but we caught two 19” cutthroat trout obviously up from the lake to spawn. On our way out, one of our volunteers turned to us, and even though he didn’t catch any fish, he said, ‘Thank you. You took me to a beautiful place I would never have seen on my own.’
Several days later we went back up Pelican Creek with writer Nate Schweber and caught several 5-6 inch healthy-looking Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Schweber dedicated the final chapter of his book, Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park, to the recovery of Pelican Creek.”
If you would like to share your own experiences with the Yellowstone Fly Fishing Volunteer Program, please email them to: email@example.com
Make sure to include your name, where you’re from, and the year in which you participated in the program. Thanks so much for being a vital part of protecting Yellowstone’s amazing and unique native fisheries!