I Am Thankful

Don Oliver | Special to the Drum

It’s November, and it seems anyone writing a column does a “Being Thankful” column. Well, I’m no different.

Last September, while standing in the middle of an area comprised of 2,221,776 acres or 3,472 square miles, after having fly fished the Fire Hole River, the Maddison River, and Soda Butte Creek, it dawned on me how thankful I was for the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.

Now this is where those who know my political views are going to think I have been frequenting the newest retail stores of Colorado. I am eternally grateful to President Ulysses S. Grant and the Congress of 1872.

That is who passed the legislation establishing Yellowstone National Park as the first National Park. Imagine politicians actually doing something good; I don’t think it has happened since.

I was there in September, fly-fishing with a group of friends from Texas. I have fished the Park on several occasions, but it was special fishing with friends new to the Park. While fly-fishing with them, I came up with a great way for someone who has never fished the Park to have a great experience. It is not necessary to stay in the Park, but it is helpful to plan on spending five or six days in the area.

On day one take a small bus tour of Yellowstone. Be sure and take a good map. As you see and cross over the rivers and streams mark on your map areas that look fishy. Many of the tour drivers are avid fly fishers so ask your driver about the areas you saw. On day two, hire a guide that specializes in fly-fishing the park. At the end of the day, after he has seen your fly-fishing skills, show him your map and ask for his suggestions on places to fish. I have always found guides happy to share locations with me.

For days three through five, fish with a buddy or by yourself. You’ll enjoy it either way. Along with all your fly-fishing gear be sure and add a camera. One day I had an elk lie down on the bank and watch me fly fish for over an hour. I’ve also had bison walk next to my truck as I got my gear on. These are pictures you don’t want to miss because no one will believe you without proof. You’ll also want some grip and grin photos of native fish. There is no stocking in Yellowstone.

If lake fishing is what you really want to do there are lakes in Yellowstone; the largest being Yellowstone Lake. It has 131.74 square miles of surface area and 141 miles of shoreline; it’s also is home to some very large trout.

I think the best time to go to Yellowstone is after Labor Day. A large percentage of the crowds have left the area. However, if you go during the summer, don’t despair. With over two million acres you will be able to find a place to cast your fly.

President Grant and the Congress of 1872 truly created a national treasure by creating Yellowstone National Park. Their actions also put into place the beginnings of the entire national park system. President Grant and your Congress, thank you.

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