Today the waters of the Yellowstone River that flow beneath Fishing Bridge are closed to angling to protect the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. If you've had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park you know that vast portions of the pristine Yellowstone River along with nearly every other water in the Park are open to receive a fly (in season of course).
I like to walk across Fishing Bridge and take in the scenery, but my eyes always stray to the river itself. I'm searching for the native trout holding in the beautiful waters below. On the first day of our visit the waters were a bit off color, likely from the recent and repeated rainfall we'd been having over the last week. The second day brought sight of a pod of Yellowstone cutthroat trout holding together in the waters below us; each one was a bruiser in its own right. I counted a total of six fish in the pod and saw no others during my brief scan of the waters as I stalked across Fishing Bridge.
The illegal introduction of nonnative lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have decimated the native cutthroat trout population. I chalk up seeing only a half dozen fish this visit as a result of lake trout depredation that continues to plague the resident cutthroat trout. The Park Service continues actively working to suppress the lake trout in Yellowstone Lake which may improve native cutthroat trout numbers. The view from Fishing Bridge will surely be improved as native trout rebound and once again fill their ecological role in the Yellowstone River that runs beneath the bridge.