West yellowstone casting pond

by | May 18, 2022

The Town of West Yellowstone is known around the world as a premier fly-fishing destination. Besides being surrounded by world-class waters, Town has rich historical roots in the evolution of fly fishing as a sport and the technology associated with it.  Since the inception of Yellowstone National Park, fly fishing has played a large role in the economy and culture of our community.

From 1980 to 1990, West Yellowstone was the headquarters of the Fly Fishing Federation. In 1982, this organization raised the necessary funds and supplied the volunteers to construct a casting pond on Town property. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Federation hosted an International Conclave in West Yellowstone. Fly anglers from around the globe would travel to our town each summer, and the casting pond was one of the central venues of the conclave. Most of the leading authorities in the sport of fly fishing over the past 50 years have stood and casted at that pond, and countless thousands of others have held a rod and cast a fly line there for the first time.

Bob Jacklin teaching at the West Yellowstone Casting Pond

The Federation has long since moved its headquarters and the conclave out of town, and after forty years of harsh winters and sunny summers, the original casting pond has fallen into a state of disrepair, and the facility has been all but forgotten by most locals and long-time visitors. 

Despite all of this, the casting pond continues to be an important venue for fly fishers in West Yellowstone. Every Sunday throughout the summer, local fly shop owner and world renowned fly fisherman, Bob Jacklin, alongside a host of volunteers, offers free casting lessons at the casting pond to anglers of all ages and ability levels. From time to time, members of our staff have joined Bob to lend a hand. Bob came to town in 1967, and immediately started an education program. It’s hard to estimate how many people he has introduced to fly fishing over the years, and the innumerable contributions that he has made to our sport while teaching and casting on that pond.

During the Winter of 2016/2017 we hatched the idea to rebuild the casting pond.  On a cold snowy January day, while Justin was in Argentina and Jonathan was in Chile, Joe made his way over to Bob Jacklin’s shop for some hot tea and to pitch the idea to Bob.  Since Bob had been the guy behind the original pond and the one who had been doing all the upkeep, it was only prudent to get his blessing to completely tear it down and rebuild.  One can imagine the excitement and the look on Bob’s face!  From there, we went to the Town Council and the Mayor and planted the seed of rebuilding the pond.  The cogs of Government move slowly, but the commitment from Town was there.  We have spent countless hours working with City employees, engineers, contractors, the State Historical Society, The West Yellowstone Foundation as well as the Town Council and two different Mayors of West Yellowstone.  We are so thankful to have a community who saw the vision and gave us their support along the way.

This new casting facility will function as not only a great amenity for town, our visitors, and our businesses, but also serve as a sort of cultural hub where the fly fishing community can gather. 

For quite some time Town has been wanting to rebuild this area and give it a face lift. The other big project that will intersect with the Casting Pond is the Rails to Trails project that connects West Yellowstone to Idaho via the Yellowstone Shortline Trail.

We also envision the new pond and park as a monument to honor our rich fly-fishing heritage in West Yellowstone.  As part of that vision, we unanimously decided to name the new facility after Bob Jacklin, to honor his decades of contributions to fly fishing and our community.

Bob Jacklin

The project is slated to start as soon as the snow melts, hopefully that will be during the month of May 2022!  We will keep folks updated on the project via our social media platforms. 

This is a HUGE project with a large cost associated to it. The town of West Yellowstone owns the property where the original pond sits, so this is community effort through and through. Town has graciously put a pile of money into their budget for the 2022 season to help get this off the ground and we can’t thank them enough. Local businesses are pitching in. Our good friend and fellow fly shop owner, Cam Coffin of Blue Ribbon Flies, connected us with his brother to secure the liner for the pond. 

Big Sky Anglers and the Golden Stone Inn have donated time and money to the cause and now we are asking for your support.

Please visit the fundraising website below for more information on the Bob Jacklin Casting Facility project, and ways that you can give your support to our community, our sport, and this important facility.

Link to website: https://e.givesmart.com/events/prc/

Bob Jacklin casting on the Madison River