Fishing the Firehole River, Wyoming
Fly fishing is one of the more serene hobbies you’ll find. Couple the relaxation of fly fishing in the setting of one of America’s most popular national parks and you have a recipe for a fantastic day on the water. The Firehole River in Wyoming is one of the most popular fly-fishing destinations in the west and makes a great trip even for beginners or experts.
Let’s learn all you need to know about fly fishing the Firehole River including where to fish, what fish to look for, what equipment you need, and local resources to get the most out of fishing the Firehole. This strange river makes for a strangely fun fly fishing trip.
Fishing the Firehole River
Firehole has a legendary past and is often referred to as the ‘strangest trout stream on Earth’ due to its flow through active geological sites and higher than average water temperatures for trout. There aren’t many other places on earth where you can wrangle in a beautiful trout while steam erupts in the background.
Where is the Firehole River?
The Firehole River is found in northwestern Wyoming. The Firehole is one of two tributaries of the Madison River, the other being the Gibbon River. The Firehole runs 30 miles from its headwaters at Madison River in a northerly direction before it rejoins the Gibbon River at Madison Junction.
Many of the fishable portions of the Firehole run through Yellowstone National Park including multiple geyser basins. You can fish most of the Firehole’s run except for the Upper Geyser Basin which is closed to protect the local ecosystem.
What Fish are in the Firehole River?
There are a few different varieties of trout in the Firehole River including brook trout, browns, and rainbows. Most of the trout found in the Firehole average between 10 and 16 inches.
Fly Fishing Regulations on the Firehole
Because the Firehole runs through Yellowstone National Park, you must pay special attention to rules and regulations. The following regulations always apply to the Firehole River:
- Fly fishing only
- Rainbow and brown trout are catch and release only
- Stay on designated paths
- Cannot fish the Upper Geyser Basin
- Daily limit of 5 brook trout
- Applicable licensing (check with the park ranger about any licensing requirements.)
Best Bets on Equipment
The Firehole is one of the strangest fishing waters on earth due to the influx of hot water from nearby geological sites. In its short stretch the Firehole can warm 30 degrees from its headwaters to where it joins the Gibbon. This warm water is what keeps the local insect population buzzing and what helps control your equipment selection. Match the hatch for your best results.
The fishable portion of the Firehole is not aggressive and provides for excellent shore fishing. You can get away with hip waders on the Firehole though chest waders are never a bad option for late spring or early fall. The fish are large but not gigantic, so opt for an 8-9 ft, 5 wt. line that can fish the nymphs, caddis, and dry flies that are normally successful on this river.
Talk to local fly guides and other local resources to help match the catch and select your most optimal fishing equipment. We’ve included two great local Firehole resources below to help you nail the best fish.
Best Time of Year to Go
The Firehole is too cold to comfortably fish during winter and makes a rough trip in early spring and late fall. Factor in the Firehole’s warmer waters and you have a strange fishing season. Unlike most rivers in the area the Firehole shuts down in the height of summer – the waters are simply too warm for trout.
The best seasons at the Firehole are late spring to early summer before the water gets too warm, and late summer to early fall when the waters cool enough for trout to come back.
Local Resources for the Firehole River
Blue Ribbon Flies: West Yellowstone, MT
Because it runs through Yellowstone, they’re no fly shops found on the river, but Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone is about as close as you can get. Blue Ribbons Flies isn’t just close, but a great overall resource for fishing the Firehole River.
Before you begin your trip stop into Blue Ribbon Flies for all your angling equipment including reels, rods, flies, and any other equipment you might need for your trip. Blue Ribbon Flies also offers guide trips to the Firehole, live fishing reports, and other resources so you can be certain your Firehole trip is a success.
Arrick’s Fly Shop: West Yellowstone, MT
Arrick’s provides further resources and equipment for your day on the Firehole. Arrick’s offers a full-service fly shop to match you with the perfect equipment but also offers guided trips with local Firehole experts. If you don’t use a guide from Arrick’s, you should still check their local fishing reports to find out what’s hitting and where.
Land the Big Boys at Firehole River
Grazing wildlife, serene waters, and natural beauty mixed in with sputtering springs and erupting geysers truly make the Firehole one of the most unique places to fish in the country. Check your calendar, visit local fly shops, and get outfitted with the right equipment for the best possible fishing expedition on Wyoming’s Firehole River.