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.
No special refuge permit is required for anglers. A State of Wyoming fishing license is required for using refuge fishing areas, and a conservation stamp is required for resident and non-resident annual license holders; holders of daily fishing licenses do not need conservation stamps. Fishing licenses can be obtained at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center or at local tackle shops. Refuge special use permits are required for outfitters and guides.
Access to refuge waters is for the purpose of fishing only and is limited to daylight hours. Anglers should take the most direct route from the parking and access point to the section of stream where they will be fishing. All angler activity must be confined to the immediate vicinity of the open stream. Any other public use such as picnicking and hiking is not allowed.
Upper Flat Creek is open to fishing upstream from the McBride Bridge and northeast toward the Bridger-Teton National Forest from May 1 through November 30. Parking is allowed in turnouts along the 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 upsteam is open to fishing from August 1 through October 31.
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.
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.
Pets, boats, or other floating device, overnight camping, and fires are prohibited on the refuge.
Refer to Wyoming Fishing Regulations for additional creel limit, license, and other regulations.
The Wyoming Game & Fish Department and the National Elk Refuge promote best practices to prevent the spread of unwanted Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Anglers are asked to drain, clean, and dry all fishing gear before reuse in a new body of water.
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Elk aren't the only species of wildlife you may see on the National Elk Refuge.