I am going to take several blog posts to answer this question. Let's begin.
For more than a quarter of a century, in the spirit of Lewis and Clark, I have been exploring the waters of Yellowstone National Park, fly rod (and pen) in hand, trying not only to reel in the essence of this magical place, to understand what it is that draws me back year after year, season after season, but also to unlock a small fragment of its innumerable secrets. As I say on the landing page of this very website, Yellowstone truly is a land which inspires anglers the world over to dream of baptism in its sacred waters. It's a special place.
I write here from the perspective of a do-it-yourself fly fisherman who prefers the thrill of personal discovery. I am someone who’d rather find and catch a fish using his own sweat and wits rather than having someone whom I'd only met an hour before drive me to a famous spot in a famous river, tie on a unknown fly, and tell me exactly how and where to cast. Having said that, Yellowstone National Park offers the fly fisherman an enormous variety and number of places to fish. It is big, it's complex, and -- more than anything else -- it's often maddeningly reticent to reveal its piscatory secrets to the casual do-it-yourselfer. Having a little help in the form of a good fishing guide is not a bad idea. It's just not how I went about this thing.
At the end of the day, this blog series is meant to be a practical guide to your own discovery. I am going to tell you the basics about how to plan and execute your trip: when to go, how to get there, where to stay, what to eat. I will give you an overview of what I call the “core” rivers and lakes in the Park, including some flies and techniques that have worked for me over the years.
What I'm doing here is, by its very nature, personal. While there is not a lot of leeway for material disagreement on what ought and ought not to be included in a list of core Yellowstone rivers and lakes (other than the odd river or creek here or small body of water there), there does exist a broader spectrum regarding how and when (and whether) you fish them. While I will try to be as authoritative as I am able, one cannot get around the fact that what I am relaying here is often little more than what has worked for me.
I am confident that this series will enrich the experience of every park angler, whether total newbie or seasoned veteran. It is up to you to create your own knowledge and experience that aligns with your expectations about what fly fishing Yellowstone National Park should be.