Refuge waters support a wild population of Snake River cutthroat trout. These fish are a unique variety of cutthroat species and are the only trout native to the area. The Refuge promotes quality angling for wild native fish. Brook, brown, and rainbow trout are also present. The harvest of non-native trout is strongly encouraged in order to reduce their impact on the native cutthroat trout population.
Fishing is permitted on the National Elk Refuge in compliance with laws and regulations of the State of Wyoming and subject to the regulations of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Carefully regulated fishing is allowed within the Refuge to the extent thta it does not conflict with Refuge objectives.
No special Refuge permit is required for anglers. However, Refuge special use permits are required for outfitters and guides. A State of Wyoming fishing license and conservation stamp are required for resident and non-resident annual license holders, but holders of daily fishing licenses do not need conservation stamps. Fishing licenses can be obtained at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson or at local tackle shops.
Open Waters & Access
The Gros Ventre River along the north boundary of the Refuge is open to fishing from April 1 through October 31. The only legal Refuge access for fishing on the Gros Ventre River is from parking areas along the Gros Ventre Road within Grand Teton National Park.
Upper Flat Creek is open to fishing upstream from the McBride Bridge and northeast toward the Bridger-Teton National Forest from May 1 through October 31. Parking is allowed along Flat Creek Road northeast of the bridge. Off-road vehicle use is prohibited.
Lower Flat Creek is open to fishing from August 1 through October 31 between a posted boundary at the "Old Crawford Bridge" site upstream to the McBride Bridge on the Flat Creek Road.
Nowlin Creek from its confluence with Flat Creek to the Closed Area boundary sign 1/4 mile upstream is open to fishing from August 1 through October 31.
Lower Flat Creek and Nowlin Creek have two public access points. The highway acces is located along the Refuge fence, 2.7 miles north of Jackson at a parking area on Highway 89. The hatchery access is located at the entrance to the Jackson National Fish Hatchery, 3.2 miles north of Jackson.
The Sleeping Indian Pond, located at the Jackson National Fish Hatchery, is open to fishing. However, special regulations apply. Fishing hours at the pond are from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm only, and the creel limit is restricted to one fish per day per licensed angler. Because of the easy access, this location is also designated as an area for anglers with disabilities.
Access to Refuge waters is limited to daylight hours only. All persons using Refuge fishing areas must possess a valid State of Wyoming fishing licencse. Access is for the purpose of fishing only. All other Refuge waters are closed to fishing.
Angling on Lower Flat Creek and Nowlin Creek is limited to the use of artificial flies only. The use or possession of fish, fish parts, or fish eggs for bait is prohibited in all Refuge waters. Other types of live bait (worms, grasshoppers, etc.) are permitted on Upper Flat Creek, the Gros Ventre River, and Sleeping Indian Pond.
Refer to Wyoming Fish Regulations, pages 1-21, for additional creel limit, license, and other regulations.
Pets, boats or other floating devices, overnight camping, and fires are prohibited on the Refuge.
Anglers should take the most direct route from the parking and access points to the section of stream where they will be fishing. All fishing activity should be confined to the immediate vicinity of the open stream. Any other public uses such as picniking and hiking are not allowed.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
Wyoming Game & Fish Department and the National Elk Refuge are promoting best practices to prevent the spread of unwanted AIS. Anglers are asked to drain, clean and dry all fishing gear before reuse in a new body of water.
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