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Yellowstone Fishes: Ecology, History, and Angling in the Park

This book, written by John Varley (fisheries ecologist and former Yellowstone Chief of Research and Director of the Yellowstone Center for Resources) and Paul Schullery, remains the most comprehensive and authoritative book ever published on Yellowstone's fishes and their world. Originally published in 1983 as Freshwater Wilderness, this 1998 edition was completely revised and updated with much additional material on the effects of the fires of 1988 on the park's aquatic ecosystems, and on the catastrophic clandestine introduction of lake trout into Yellowstone Lake. There is also a greatly expanded chapter on fishing advice. The book is now out of print, and the authors are working on a third revised edition.

". . . The best reference to date for anglers plying the waters of this popular and much-visited park."—Sports Afield

Excerpt from Yellowstone Fishes, Chapter Three, "Yellowstone Lake:"

Before we occupy ourselves with a more accurate description of Yellowstone Lake, we want to consider what the lake is in personal experience. The wonder of this place shouldn't be concealed in mere statistical recitation, and it can't be satisfactorily explained simply in terms of gross numbers of acres, fish, or shoreline miles. This lake, this most commanding feature of Yellowstone National Park, is a priceless treasure for more important reasons than size, location, or inhabitants. Yellowstone Lake's true worth in the park, at least for human visitors, is as a challenge to our understanding and as a stimulant to our imaginations.

It is unfortunate that many people find rivers more appealing than lakes. "Rivers are active and moving; lakes just lie there," they say, forgetting all the times they've witnessed the double magic of a sunset reflected in some still water, and apparently not realizing that most lakes are just wide spots in rivers anyway. Yellowstone Lake never just lies there. John Muir caught several of its moods in just one day: "In calm weather it is a magnificent mirror for the woods and mountains and sky, now pattered with hail and rain, now roughened with sudden storms that send waves to fringe the shore and wash its border of gravel and sand."

And we doubt that even in a lifetime anyone could ever catch all of its moods.

You can get a feel for its size—a good way to begin getting acquainted—by seeing it from one of the surrounding peaks. You can meet it on more intimate terms by following its shoreline, wading its tributaries, or fishing in its shallows. You can actually enter it, by boat or wetsuit. The more you know of it, the more you will realize that this lake is a very busy place.

Those who have been fortunate enough to live near a large lake know how important a part of daily life it becomes; it pervades your consciousness, as so much depends on "what the lake is doing." In inclement weather, Yellowstone Lake is no longer the sleeping giant. It is a forbidding and hostile place, and your mood can be seriously affected if half of your horizon is covered with whitecaps.

But even at its most violent (and it can get deadly violent) it is a good place to know. The wild winds and gusts of spray are exhilarating. Here are nature's most fluid forces—wind and water—churning and mixing, pounding themselves against the unmoving land around them. To see the lake when it is stirred to its most frenetic actions, and to comprehend the magnitude of the forces involved, is a breathtaking experience.

And to see it in winter, a vast unbroken expanse of ice and wind and silence, a beckoning pathway to the most remote corners of the park, is good for the soul.