Every Yellowstone angler knows that casting a line inside the park comes with a host of unique restrictions aimed at protecting fragile and pristine rivers and fisheries. Fishing in Yellowstone must yield to a complex web of interdependent species, as well as seasonal spawning cycles, the crush of summer visitors and a host of other factors.
Some modern fishermen may chafe under the regulations, but few new fishing rules in Yellowsotne are likely to make national headlines today. It was a different story a century ago, when the Nov. 24, 1911 edition of the Northern Wyoming Herald carried a story from Washington, D.C. detailing the newly announced prohibition of the beloved practice of boiling just-caught fish from Yellowstone Lake in the Fishing Cone hot spring in the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
There are various historical accounts by early Yellowstone visitors describing the country as a place where “it is possible to catch trout in the Yellowstone Lake and cook them in a boiling spring close behind the angler, without taking them off the hook,” as Henry Winser wrote in 1883 in “The Yellowstone National Park – A Manual for Tourists.”
Though the Interior Department secretary outlawed boiling live fish, anglers could then still boil their prize in the hot springs after ensuring their catch was dead. Today, fishing is no longer allowed around Fishing Cone — or from Fishing Bridge — developments that would surely discourage the “disciple of Walton.”
NO BOILING LIVE FISH IN THE FISHING CONE AT LAKE YELLOWSTONE — SEC. INT. FORBIDS
Washington, Nov. 23.— A ruling of the secretary of the interior will make It impossible hereafter to boast of catching a fish in Yellowstone Lake and cooking it in the boiling spring nearby without leaving the lake shore. At the fishing cone, one of the hot springs along the lake in Yellowstone Park, it has long been the custom of visitors to catch fish and immediately drop it into the hot spring without removing it from the hook. This cone which has a boiling spring in its centre, projects above and is surrounded by the cold waters of the lake.
Fishing is to be allowed as heretofore, and the disciple of Walton may cook his fish where he pleases, but he must first see that the fish is dead. A protest from the American humane association has resulted in the ruling that hereafter, before fish may be dropped into the boiling spring, they must be killed with a club or stuck with a knife. This rule will be in effect next year.
— Northern Wyoming Herald, Cody, Wyo., Nov. 24, 1911