Pine island, Florida resident AJ Duda tries his luck at catching goldfish in Grand Teton National Park in January 2023. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK—It wasn’t AJ Duda’s first brush with angling for goldfish and other former aquarium dwellers within view of the Teton Range. 

The Pine Island, Florida teen, visiting Jackson Hole with family, had scouted this unlikely microfishing honey hole during a prior vacation. This time he came prepared. Armed with a spinning rod rig, line tipped with flies and small jigs, Duda worked the geothermally heated water coursing out of Kelly Warm Springs as it left the small pond.

A goldfish schools up with dozens of other less colorful creek mates in an outflow from Kelly Warm Springs in Grand Teton National Park. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

His quest to hook unwanted exotic aquatic species was successful. Minnow-sized fish relentlessly attacked whatever bait he threw their way. 

Duda had his hopes set on hooking one of the brightest orange goldfish that stuck out in the fish swarm. Those fish were descendants of domestics let loose to live out their days in Grand Teton National Park. The goldfish, along with other invasive species — cichlids, bullfrogs, swordtails, guppies  — survived, and thrived, in this heated microenvironment. 

Florida teen AJ Duda caught this minnow, which he described as fallfish, while angling for goldfish in Grand Teton National Park’s Kelly Warm Springs. The minnow had likeness to a Utah chub, a native species. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Using a piscicide, Teton Park fisheries biologists who prioritize native species have poisoned the 80-degree pond before. The tactic evidently didn’t do the trick. Goldfish and a host of other aquatic invasive species are readily visible to anyone who takes a stroll alongside the roadside attraction in the park’s southeast corner. 

Their persistence was no bother to Duda, who’d caught one duller-hued goldfish already and was eager to hook a bright one. They weren’t exactly elusive, but he couldn’t get his flies or jigs to the orange beacons in the water before other species like chubs would intercept them. While his family watched from the warmth of an SUV parked nearby, Duda fished on. 

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

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  1. This Duda dude may be accomplishing what the Park Service could not do with thousands of taxpayer dollars. Maybe we could hire him to take on those Lake Trout in Yellowstone Lake. Thanks for the story Mike.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe Grand Teton National Park spent thousands of dollars and thousands of employee hours attempting to eradicate those evil goldfish in Kelly Warm Springs and presented a park service employee with a national recognition award for same. Government at it’s best.

    1. It’s not the government unless you include, by the people for the people , tim people are still supplying the warm springs with goldfish and other aquatics every month , they move out of there apartments or homes and those county fair fish thrive in the mineral rich warm waters. It’s actually a great place to fill your own tank with free fish …..