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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

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By Earl
Date: July 25-26
Location: Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Put In: Sedge Bay
Take Out: Same
Distance: 13 miles
Attending: Solo

I had planned ahead and made reservations for 3 campsites around the lake about 2 weeks prior. It is fairly easy to get these reservations and these remote sites tend not to get booked up to much. This was on my return trip from the North Fork of the Flathead river up in northern Montana. I got in the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park by 7am but it took 2 hours to drive to the ranger station at Bridge Bay. I had to have a boat inspection to ensure no invasive species. I did not have to take to kayak off the truck and they just asked how long it had been since it had been in the water. They gave me my checkout inspection sticker to place on the boat and I was on my way to my launch site at Sedge Bay.

I was quickly loaded and paddling across the lake. It was a nice warm day so I took a swim before I started paddling with some onlookers in disbelief. The water in the lake is very clear and probably in the 50s. Once out a bit I set out a trolling line hoping to pick up a trout or two for dinner and enjoy the paddle along the lake shore. Sure enough after about 15 minutes I landed my personal best rainbow trout, ~28” and fat, enough to make a meal. After that I took my time and did a lot of casting along the shore but nothing further.

As I paddled toward my campsite you could see that this end of the lake was nearly without trees. The area has not recovered from the 1988 fire. There are still dead trees standing for as far as you can see around the lake with much of the shore just bald open, kind of ugly. There is very little new growth as the fire was so hot it burned seeds, now only small grass and brush. I arrived at my designated campsite to find it was sitting in small stand of trees left untouched by the fire. I got my lunch out and then a thunderstorm raked across the lake straight at me with some 25-30 mph winds for about an hour.

At this camp there was a stand for hanging food about 100yds from my camp and a fire ring and a foot trail between the two. I made a nice fire and guess what was for dinner. Just a bit before dark a small buck came walking down the trail through camp not really bothered by my presence at all. With my food safely hung up for the night my hammock and tarp up, fully belly I called it a night about an hour after dark. At 2am I was woken by the sound of something walking along the shore in the small gravel. I got out of my hammock and put my head lamp on it, a small doe and she look petrified, knowing she was making a lot of noise walking along that gravel. I heard some noise back toward where my food was hanging and decided it was completely safe and absolutely nothing good would come out of me going down to check on it. I did some business then crawled back in my hammock. I was not lying down more than 5s when I could hear something running up the trail right at me from where my food was hanging. I sat up and in the moonlight I saw the buck go by then the doe with their hoofs pounding the trail. They were followed by something large, dark, and completely silent, not one sound from running or breathing, totally silent and about 30” tall and long. They all passed within 2-3 feet of my hammock and I just watched and then thought, well guess I am not on the menu. I surmise that there was a pack of wolves stalking the doe and buck and the doe was being pushed toward me along the edge of the shore as the brush was very thick and she could not escape but only along the shoreline. Meanwhile another wolf was pushing from the other end where my food and the buck was. I never heard any noise of a kill but not sure I would have. In the morning I could clearly see how this small stretch of shoreline is perfect for an ambush.

I got up to a magnificent sunrise, revived the fire and cooked a really nice breakfast and enjoyed the morning. Once packed up and paddling toward my next camp I could see that then next two nights would be camping in bald open territory with zero trees, again kind of ugly. I really had a higher expectations of this lake and it reminded me of some Ozark mountain lake except no trees. I decided to cut my trip short and paddle to my truck then start making my way back to Plano. I will return to Yellowstone NP for hiking the backcountry but not paddling it. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

My Launch

Looking across the lake


The approaching thunderstorm

Cooking trout by the fire

My camp

Crisp clear morning

Example of all the dead trees

Link to this trip report on my webpage:
https://sites.google.com/site/earlatnip ... head-river

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... 69195&z=11

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