A Tale: Cooking Fish on the Hook in a Hot Spring

Many Yellowstone Park tourists describe places where an angler can catch a fish and cook it in a nearby hot spring without taking it off the hook, but few report actually doing it. Henry J. Winser described performing the feat in his 1883 guide for tourists.


It has often been said that it possible to catch trout in the Yellowstone Lake and cook them in a boiling spring close behind the angler—without taking them off the hook. The assertion seems incredible and it is generally doubted. This extraordinary feat may certainly be accomplished, not only at the Yellowstone Lake, but also on the Gardiner River below the Mammoth Hot Springs. The writer performed it at the latter place, and in the presence of nine witnesses.

Selecting a likely pool of the ice-cold stream with a boiling spring fifteen feet distant from the bank, he stood upon a projecting rock and made a cast. His flies soon tempted a trout to his doom. The fish was small enough to be lifted out of the water without the aid of a landing net, and it was quite easy to drop him into the bubbling hot spring behind. His life must have been extinguished instantly.

This procedure was repeated several times, and each of the spectators who had purposely assembled to test the truth of the strange assertion, partook of the fish thus caught and boiled. It required from three to five minutes to thoroughly cook the victims of the experiment, and it was the general verdict that they only needed a little salt to make them quite palatable.

This is a “fish story,” without doubt, but a perfectly true one. A feat so extraordinary could nowhere else be practiced.


— For more stories about fishing in Yellowstone Park, click on “fishing” under the “Categories” button on the right.

— Excerpt from Henry J. Winser,  The Yellowstone National Park: A Manual for tourists. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1883. (Pages 39-40).

—Frank J. Haynes Postcard, Yellowstone Slide File.

3 thoughts on “A Tale: Cooking Fish on the Hook in a Hot Spring

  1. Jon told some guests last night about catching fish with his hands as a kid, from the brook that ran by their cabin in Bear Gulch, Montana. One guest got all excited because he’d read in a book about “tickling fish” as a way to catch them and wasn’t sure it was real. Jon, of course, had never heard the term “tickling fish,” so he got all excited. Ahhhh, fishermen!!

  2. Pingback: A Tale: First Report of Cooking Live Fish in a Hot Spring — Hedges, 1870. « M. Mark Miller

  3. Pingback: An Event: Getting Ready to Lauch THE STORIES OF YELLOWSTONE | M. Mark Miller

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