Backcountry Fishing

I’m not an angler, but I hike with other people who are and the excitement level rises every time we reach a backcountry lake and the fish are rising. Lake or stream, in the forest or in the alpine, fly fishing or spin-casting, young or old – angling in the backcountry is a drawing card.

Fish or no fish, alpine lakes are always spectacular. (Photo: Megan Kopp)

How far will anglers go for the perfect cast?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this one, but I do know that I’ve seen anglers hike eight miles – including climbing a rock headwall with attached chains – into one of my favorite backcountry lakes. In addition to all the regular gear you’d carry for a day hike, they were packing float tubes and all the necessary fishing gear!

Did You Know?

  • Yellowstone National Park has estimated 2,650 miles of streams and 150 lakes that dot the park’s 2.2 million acres. Volunteer fly fishers, using catch-and-release techniques, help gather biological information on fish populations throughout the park.
  • Anglers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are once again fishing for brook trout in area streams thanks to a successful restoration program.


  • Have a valid fishing license (and carry it with you).
  • Know the regulations (limits, closed areas…).
  • Learn to correctly identify local species (is that a rainbow or cutthroat or bull trout?).
  • Pack your multi-tool (the pliers are useful for removing hooks in catch-and-release).
  • Watch for wildlife encounters when cleaning or carrying any fish you keep.

© 2011

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