To conserve, protect and restore Big Horn Basin coldwater
fisheries and their watersheds.
(...and have fun doing it!)
The 206 members of the East Yellowstone Chapter, Trout Unlimited
are actively working to enhance our Wyoming fishing resource in a
We partner with government agencies, agricultural members,
and local businesses in many community projects.
Yellowstone Cutthroats return to upper Yellowstone River
Reports have been circulating that the Yellowstone cutthroat trout are returning to their upper Yellowstone River spawning streams
above Yellowstone Lake. To see for ourselves, my daughter Diana Miller and I decided to pack into the Thorofare region of the Bridger
Teton National Forest during the week of June 23-30. This would be a return of sorts for us as well since Diana and I hadn't been into
the Thorofare together for over 20 years. The trip took us over 26 miles of wilderness horse packing trails and past the legendary
"Parting of the Waters" where Pacific Creek flows west and Atlantic Creek flows east. Both streams originate from the same stream
(Two Ocean Creek) and split to flow to two oceans on Two Ocean Pass.
The trip was fantastic but the real reward was seeing, and catching, incredible numbers of Yellowstone cutthroats. Between the two of
us, we probably landed well over 50 fish, obtained fin clips from 36 for genetic testing, and saw literally thousands. Everywhere we
went we saw, and caught, cutthroats. They were in Atlantic Creek, the mainstem Yellowstone River, and the Thorofare River. And they
were spawning. Our trip was timed to catch the end of the spawn and we were successful.
The biggest fish caught was 24-25 inches and very healthy and fat weighing over 5 pounds. The average fish was 20-23 inches and
the smallest was about 14 inches. There weren't a lot of smaller fish, but a few.
The other interesting part of the trip was the number of bald eagles (and pelicans) who were obviously also keyed in on the cutthroats.
We didn't see any bears but I have to believe that they are also aware that the cutthroats have returned to their natal streams. Anglers
are also aware of the return as we saw several groups (both outfitted and on their own) experiencing this incredible fishery.
The return of the cutthroats to the upper Yellowstone River drainage is unbelievably rewarding to experience. Everyone who has
worked so hard on this issue should share in the rewards. Trout Unlimited and all the partners (National Park Service, US Geological
Survey, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Park Conservation Association, and Yellowstone Forever) should be proud of their
role. We know the battle isn't over; the lake trout are still suppressing the cutthroat population in the Lake. However, cutthroat numbers
are much better than they were just a few years ago.
Yellowstone Lake Special Project Manager, Wyoming TU