Cliff Lake, West Yellowstone Montana

Cliff Lake MontanaCliff Lake is an extraordinary place. The hidden jewel, once traversed by Lewis and Clark on their historic journey west, offers pristine habitat just thirty miles from Yellowstone National Park. Cliff Lake is located in the Beaverhead National Forest and is part of the Hidden Lake Chain of lakes. Getting to Cliff lake can be very difficult coming from West Yellowstone, not because the roads, but because of the Madison River which runs along the highway on the way to Cliff Lake. Seeing the Madison River can be quite tempting for any fly-fisherman which possibly explains why the Montana State record brown trout at 29 pounds was caught in Wade Lake which is right next to Cliff Lake and Cliff produced the state record rainbow trout weighing 20 pounds, which stood from 1952 until the record was broken in 1988.

canoes Cliff Lake, MontanaBoth Wade Lake and Cliff Lake settings are spectacular. With aspens, firs and pines trees next to the lakes. In autumn the foliage changes to vivid reds, orange and yellows. Both Wade Lake and Cliff Lake are restricted by "no wake" speed limits. Trout can be seen cruising in the still water, feasting on various insects. Fishing the lakes requires nothing special. Typically you'll see fly-fishing, spin casting and trolling. Fishing from boats, canoes and float tubes are the most successful methods on the lakes. Wade Lake has earned a reputation for large Rainbows and German Brown trout.

Trout are particularly abundant in the Antelope and West Arm of Cliff Lake, where the carnivorous fish cruise the low water, feasting voraciously on hovering insects. Average trout size is between 16 and 18-inches. The key is to work the edge of the shorelines and weed banks where the trout are lurking, ready to ambush their prey.

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