.......................  ......Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park


Fly Fishing Yellowstone - Sculpin
Order: Cottidae, Genus: Cottus
Because some of us focus so much on insects, we sometimes forget about
some of the common things trout eat. Sculpins are one of those foods. Sculpins
are not minnows but a group of fish. They are a major food source for the trout
in Yellowstone National Park. They are strictly bottom dwellers that hide in the

Sculpin are found in riffles as well as the slower moving water of pools. They
provide a substantial meal for the trout and the larger ones are especially fond
of them. When trout get big they cease feeding on aquatic insects to a certain
extent and rely more on crustaceans, baitfish and sculpins.

Sculpins are camouflaged to the point they are very difficult to see, especially if
you or the trout are looking for them when they are lying still on the bottom.
They survive their predators the most of which are trout with their camouflaged
colors. They just blend in with the rocks. In fact, their color changes to match
their environment. We have caught them in our nets when we could not see
them in the water at all.  

Sculpins move around on the bottom using erratic motions. They dart from one
rock to another. Their quickness helps them survive the predators the majority
of which are the trout. Colors vary greatly but most of them have mixtures of tan,
brown, and green or olive. They can range from as small as a quarter of an inch
long up to three or four inches long.

Various fly patterns have been developed for the sculpin several of which are
good ones. We think the best one is our own "Perfect Fly" pattern. The way in
which the fly is fished is critical. They shouldn't be swung dead drift through the
current. They should move in quick, darting motions right on the bottom.

The biggest mistake made is fishing the fly too fast. If you are fishing runs and
riffles, it is difficult not to fish the fly too fast. I think one of the best method is the
"high stickin" method. If you keep line contact with the fly, you can keep it on the
bottom much better than you can if you cast the fly and allow it to dead drift with
the current.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh