Fishing | Travel | TROUT Magazine

The new natives

West slope cutthroat trout from Grayling Creek, Yellowstone National Park.

Just a quick update from Yellowstone, with more to come (I promise).

I had the good fortune to take a quick drive a couple of weeks ago along the Grayling Creek corridor in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park, and I figured I’d stop and check in on the effort to restore west slope cutthroat trout to the drainage.

Restoring native trout to watersheds that have been overtaken by non-native fish is always a challenge, but the National Park Service is streadfastly following through with its Native Fish Conservation Plan. Part of that plan involves restoring to Arctic grayling and west slope cutthroat trout to a handful of streams in the headwaters of the Missouri River system where they are native (but have long been on the ropes or extirpated altogether). Grayling Creek is one of those streams.

I pulled off the highway along the stream and hiked upstream a short distance—I didn’t have much time, so I couldn’t walk too far. It took some doing, but I did finally connect with a foot-long west slope cutthroat trout in some really pretty water. Over the next hour or so, I caught a dozen or so fish from various age classes—a really good sign.

Grayling? None on this quick visit, but I recall, after a visit with the park’s fisheries folks a while back, that the grayling were reintroduced higher up in the watershed. Next time, I’ll hike a bit farther.

There are other locations in the park that offer fishing for both west slope cutthroat trout and grayling, but the Grayling Creek location is likely the easiest to access. I suspect, over time, the “new” natives to Grayling Creek will continue to increase in both size and population, and that the stream will become one of the most dependable places in the park to catch these restored fish.

Like I said … more to come.