Fly Fishing in Grand Teton National Park

If you’re a passionate fly fisherman, visiting the trout rivers and streams in and around Grand Teton is an absolute must.

Snake River and Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National park offer some of the finest cutthroat trout fishing in the world, and many anglers are also drawn to the region by Yellowstone National Park, which lies just to the north of here.

All of the lakes, rivers, and streams in this area boast a thriving population of cutthroat trout, which grow to gigantic sizes of up to three pounds and 20 inches in length.

In addition to their size, you’ll find that cutthroat fight harder than any other species of trout, and that’s saying something. I recently spent a couple of days fly fishing at Snake River with my buddy Eric Bartlett from Sport Fishing Buddy. Eric told me he is no stranger to fly fishing, but he mostly does saltwater fly fishing in Florida coastal waters. After catching his first cutthroat in Snake River, he turned to me breathlessly and said, “You know what: pound for pound these are the hardest fighting fish I’ve ever caught. They just don’t give up.”

So if you hook one of these gorgeous trout with the iridescent patch of reddish-orange on their gill cover, you’re in for a treat. And make no mistake, they do fight all the way to the net, and often manage to jump off your hook right at the end.

The best places to fish in Grand Teton

While there are many good fly fishing streams in Wyoming, the Snake River in Grand Teton is undoubtedly one of the best trout fisheries. In addition to other subspecies of cutthroat, it is also home to the Snake River finespotted cutthroat, which is only found here. The river and its tributaries also hold healthy populations of brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout, but cutthroat trout are undoubtedly the biggest draw for fly anglers.

The best cutthroat fishing is found from Jackson Lake to Palisade Reservoir, and you can use wading, boating, or floating to catch them. You’ll find that some locations can only be accessed by one of these means, so it’s best if you have several options.

You should keep in mind that the whole region is very popular among anglers in the summer, so you might find some spots to be crowded. A good strategy to avoid the crowds is to hike up some of the tributary streams, where you’ll find fewer anglers.

Jackson Lake is great for boat fishing, but you can also catch plenty of fish from the shore. The most important thing is to find shallow bays that hold the highest concentrations of trout, often located close to drop-off zones.

For more information on where to fish in Grand Teton, check out this guide from DIY Fly Fishing.

When is the best time to fish in Grand Teton National Park?

While you can catch trout all year round, it’s undoubtedly much harder in winter, since most access roads are blocked by snow. And since summer is the most popular season, you may also want to skip the peak months to avoid the congestion on the river.

So, that leaves May and June in the early season, and September and October in the late season, which both offer superb trout fishing. My favorite is the early fall, since the cooling down of the water stimulates trout to feed more actively after the summer heat. Just keep in mind that Jackson Lake is closed to fishing in October.

Tips for fishing in Grand Teton National Park

If you’re wondering what trout baits work best in Grand Teton, fly fishing is definitely the number one choice for catching cutthroat trout.

The best all-around flies to start with are nymphs. In addition to nymphs (which sink below the surface), you can also use dry flies, such as caddis, stonefly, and mayfly imitations. For more details on the best trout baits to use, check out this guide.

Look for places where cutthroat lie in ambush, which can often be found underneath logs, at the edge of eddies, boulders, or transition zones between fast-moving water and slow zones. Right next to small waterfalls is also a good place to look for them.

When the trout are finicky biters, which can happen sometimes during peak season (due to all the fishing pressure at this time), be patient and wait for one of their intense feeding periods. When the trout get into a feeding frenzy, they snap up almost anything that you throw at them, and you’ll find yourself catching one fish after another. During the summer, this often happens around sunset.

While weather and time of day don’t seem to play a major role for cutthroat, you’ll find that heavy rain makes fishing more or less impossible due to the muddy waters. But, the rest of the time cutthroat trout tend to be very aggressive feeders, which makes them so much fun to catch.

Planning your fishing trip to Grand Teton

If you want to fly in, you can either fly to Jackson Hole or Yellowstone, which is just a few hours’ drive to the north.

And if you do find yourself in the area, perhaps visiting nearby Yellowstone, you really should plan a few days extra for fly fishing in Grand Teton National Park.

The best places to find a hotel, lodge, or motel are Jackson Hole or nearby Dubois. If you prefer camping, there are many campgrounds, as well as RV parks for RV campers.

And needless to say, both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park offer stunning nature trails in addition to amazing trout fishing.

Finally, make sure you check all the local rules and regulations on trout fishing. For more information on fishing regulations, check out this guide for Grand Teton published by the National Park Service.

Robert Ceran grew up fishing for bluegill as a young boy and later graduated to the pursuit of bigger game. While he loves fishing for bass, he has recently become addicted to fly fishing for trout and steelhead in remote rivers and streams.


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