The Top 10 Fly Fishing Rivers in Wyoming and Why to Go
Wyoming, with its wide-open spaces and lesser population density, offers some of the most unspoiled and lightly fished streams in the American West. The state’s rivers are steeped in the history of the American frontier, and many are in regions that have changed little since the days of early trappers and explorers.
Here's a table with details about the top fly fishing rivers in Wyoming, their historical context, the approximate number of fishable miles, the types of trout you can expect to find, and the high and low estimates of fish counts per mile. Keep in mind that fish populations are dynamic and can vary from year to year due to environmental conditions, conservation efforts, and fish management practices.
Wyoming stands out as a premier destination for fly fishing enthusiasts due to its world-renowned rivers, abundant fish populations, and breathtaking natural settings. Let's delve into why Wyoming is an ideal place for fly fishing:
- Iconic Rivers and Streams: Wyoming is home to some of the most legendary fly fishing waters in the world, including portions of the Yellowstone River, the Snake River, and the North Platte River. These waters are celebrated for their high-quality fly fishing experiences. Oddly, the iconic rivers overshadow the unspoken creeks..Shhhhh
- Abundant Trout Populations: The state is a haven for trout enthusiasts, with healthy populations of rainbow, brown, cutthroat (including the native Yellowstone cutthroat), and brook trout. The diversity of species offers a thrilling challenge to anglers of all skill levels.
- Wilderness Fishing: For those seeking solitude and a more rugged experience, Wyoming's vast wilderness areas, including the Wind River Range and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, provide remote streams and lakes where anglers can fish in tranquility, often without seeing another soul for days. Wyoming is the real deal. Don’t sleep on the remoteness when fly fishing in Wyoming. It is extremely common to get out in the middle of nowhere so be prepared for the worst-case scenario in one of the country's most beautiful.
Nature Observation Quality:
- Spectacular Wildlife: While fly fishing in Wyoming, anglers might catch sight of bison, elk, moose, pronghorns, wolves, and even grizzly bears in some areas, especially in places like Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.
- Diverse Ecosystems: The state's diverse landscapes range from high deserts to alpine meadows, offering a variety of ecosystems to enjoy. Each of these habitats supports unique plant and animal life, enhancing the fly fishing experience with rich opportunities for nature observation. The wind in Wyoming can be absolutely breathtaking in that it sucks every bit of warmth and energy out of you. Not to fail because if you are an early riser you can experience the calm and have incredible early morning fly fishing opportunities.
- Conservation Areas: Wyoming's commitment to conservation ensures that many areas are preserved in their natural state, providing pristine environments for both fish and anglers. The state's efforts to protect and improve these habitats mean that many of the fishing areas remain some of the best in the world.
- Fisheries Management: The Wyoming Game and Fish Department actively manages the state's aquatic resources, including setting regulations that protect fish populations and habitats to ensure sustainable fishing opportunities for future generations.
- Accessibility: There is ample public access to rivers, lakes, and streams, with the state providing numerous public fishing areas, boat launches, and stream access points. The one drawback is that so much land is owned by private landowners. These massive ranches can take up hundreds of thousands of acres so be aware of your land usage regulations. More than anything this is a misconception. Although there are swaths of land that are private there is more than a lifetime of fly fishing opportunities in Wyoming.
- Fishing Resources and Education: Wyoming offers a wealth of resources for anglers, including fishing reports, educational programs, and even classes on fly fishing techniques and ethics, fostering a well-informed community of conservation-minded anglers.
Statistics on Anglers Visiting Wyoming:
Wyoming might not have the same large population centers as some states, but its fly fishing draws enthusiasts from across the globe. While I don't have the latest statistics post, historically, Wyoming has seen a steady number of visiting anglers. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has consistently sold a significant number of non-resident fishing licenses each year. The draw is often the quality of the fishing experience, which can sometimes mean fewer anglers per mile of stream compared to more populous states.
The revenue generated from fishing license sales, tourism related to fishing, and outdoor recreation contributes significantly to local and state economies, highlighting the importance of angling in Wyoming.
In summary, with its combination of legendary waters, abundant and diverse fish populations, stunning natural beauty, and strong support for sustainable fishing, Wyoming stands out as a top destination for fly fishing. It's a place where both the challenge of the sport and the serenity of nature can be found in abundance.
The data presented in the table are estimates, and actual fish counts can vary. The fishable miles mentioned are not continuous and can be fragmented by impassable sections, private lands, or varying river conditions. Moreover, these estimates do not take into account seasonal migrations, spawning cycles, or specific environmental regulations that may be in place. Anglers should consult local fishing reports and regulations for the latest information and to ensure a sustainable and responsible fishing experience.
Socks - Get good thin wool socks that will keep you warm and comfortable. I recommend Minus33
Bottom Layer - A nice thin layer keeps you warm and your bulk down during the day. Patagonia Capiline layers are ideal.
Top Layer - Thin layers give you a good base to stay cool and add to. Again, Patagonia Capiline layers are ideal.
Puff Jacket - During the morning and evening these are clutch. Then when a cold spell hits you are prepared and comfortable. I love this puff by Patagonia, the Hooded Nanon Puff.
Flies - Have a good assortment of basics and you'll be fine. Here are some recommendations. Fly Crate has a wide assortment of flies to choose from but there are great Flypack assortments that are exceellent for rounding out a box for a trip.
Rod and Reel - Bring your rod and reel or pick up one of these great entry sets. Here is a list of great rod and reel packs and how to select.
Net - Netting by hand is fun and all but if you have one it will take the stress off. Since you are travelling a hand net like Orvis offers may be the ticket. It's short and fits in a bag very easily.
Wading Boots - Don't mess around and pick up some Korkers with additional soles. This way you can wade or toss on a felt and get into a boat without damaging it.
Fishing Pack - a small pack is nice to toss in a few extra layers based on weather. I also like it for a good DSLR camera. This is such a preferential thing and I've yet to find one that is perfect for all occasions.