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 US Fish & Wildlife Service. 

Required Licenses
Fishing is allowed on the National Elk Refuge in accordance with State law, with some Refuge-specific regulations, as described below. A State of Wyoming fishing license is required when fishing Refuge waters. A conservation stamp is also required for resident and non-resident annual license holders; holders of daily fishing licenses do not need a conservation stamp.

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. 

Refuge Regulations

  • Refer to Wyoming Fishing Regulations for size and limit restrictions.
  • Refuge access is limited to daylight hours only.
  • Access to Refuge waters is only permitted for the purpose of fishing.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. Access to Refuge waters for any other public use, such as photography, picnicking, and hiking is not allowed.
  • Vehicles must be parked in established lots or turnouts.
  • Off-road vehicle use is prohibited.
  • The use or possession of fish, fish eggs (real or artificial), or fish parts for bait is prohibited.
  • Worms and bait other than bait fish are permitted on the Gros Ventre River, Upper Flat Creek, and Sleeping Indian Pond.
  • Pets, boats, or other floating devices, overnight camping, and fires are prohibited.
  • Refuge special use permits are required for all commercial activities, including commercially guided fishing.

A copy of the Refuge's fishing brochure (Adobe PDF), which includes a map, is available by clicking here.

Open Waters
Gros Ventre River is open April 1 - November 30. Access is through Grand Teton National Park along the Gros Ventre Road. The Gros Ventre River from the east Refuge boundary downstream to the U.S. Highway 89 bridge is closed to fishing from December 1 through March 31 to protect wintering wildlife. 

Upper Flat Creek is open upstream from the McBride Bridge to the Bridger-Teton National Forest boundary from May 1 through November 30.

Lower Flat Creek and Nowlin Creek are open to fishing from August 1 through October 31 between posted boundaries. These boundaries are from athe posted soutern boundary upstream to the McBride Bridge on the Flat Creek Road and up Nowlin Creek from its confluence with Flat Creek to the Closed Area boundary sign. The area is restricted to artificial flies only.

Sleeping Indian Pond is located at the Jackson National Fish Hatchery. Fishing hours at the pond are from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The creel limit is restricted to one fish per day per licensed angler. This locations is also designated as an area for anglers with disabilities.

All other Refuge waters are closed to fishing.

Snake River Cutthroat Trout
Refuge waters provide critical habitat for the only native fish to the region: the Snake River cutthroat trout.

Invasive Species
Waters on the National Elk Refuge can also hold brook, brown, and rainbow trout. The Wyoming Game & Fish Department strongly encourages harvesting these non-native species in order to reduce their impact on the native cutthroat trout population.

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 re-use in a new body of water.