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yellowstone


thistlekicker

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My fiance and I are planning a trip to the Yellowstone area for our honeymoon in late July-early August. We're in the process of studying up on different waters and fly patterns, but some of you guys must have spent time out there and I was hoping to get some general tips on regions to fish.

We'll probably be doing one 3-4 night backpacking trip - we're thinking about either the Thorofare region, the upper Lamar valley, or somewhere in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness (though we don't have much info on the ABW yet). Then we'd drive around for a few days hitting waters accessible from the road. Any thoughts on our 3 potential "hike-in" destinations?

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My fiance and I are planning a trip to the Yellowstone area for our honeymoon


you lucky dog... and here I had to go to Hawaii for my honeymoon grin.gif I think you'll have a great time no matter which trip you decide on; sorry I can't be of more help.

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Hi back, good choice for a honeymoon trip, you must have picked a good spouse. Also you have nailed the ideal time frame.

I lived briefly (4 yrs each) in MT ('70's) and WY ('80's), and have done the family or buddies summer fishing trip almost every year since. Almost all trips around the Yellowstone area.

The big name rivers i.e. Madison, Gallatin, Yellowstone, Snake are always good fishing and will occassionally give up big fish. BUT you will contend with crowded conditions, and the bigger rivers get a lot float boat traffic. (Not my cup of tea). Inside Yellowstone Park is also very busy. I quit doing "the Park" in the early '80's.

Over the years I have gravitated to and focused more on lesser know streams, rivers and drainages that flow into these major systems. The Natl. forests just outside the Yellowstone on all sides, are big, diverse, with lots of fishing. The higher you go in elevation the smaller the trout. However, 8-14 or 16 inch trout are fine with me. Especially when there are lots of them and less people.

So here is my advice:

-Get good US Forest Service maps of the areas surrounding Yellowstone.

-Look at the drainage sizes and pick the bigger ones. It is hard to go wrong "out West".

- Walk a mile or so without drivable roads and you have elimiated 90% of the people traffic.

I have never attempted the Thorofare area. As these are long hikes, with steep access. There are just to many easier places.

East of Yellowstone and Cooke City, on the WY-MT border is the Sunlight Basin area. One of my personal favorites. You have good road access to good fishing. And ready access to the Beartooth Wilderness. The advantage here is you start at trailheads with high elevation. So easy day hikes or short overniters can be had easily. Mountain lakes I have found are really hot or Dead, seldom in between.

South of Jackson WY. Greys River area. I was there only twice, but great fishing for nice cutthroats.

The Shoshone Rives west and SW of Cody, WY can be good, but lots of private property retricts access. The is NO Trepassing allowed in WY without permission.

Recommend Flys: (I like dry flys 'cause I like to make them trouts splash)

Go with a good supply of Grasshoppers and Elk Hair Caddis (various colors) for general prospecting. Other Terrestials are also good as mountain trout usually don't pass up a big bite of food.

Dark colored mayfly patterns (black, brown, dark green), and some light tan or cream. My Second choices.

General nymphs are good. Hare's ears, Prince nymphs, Stonefly patterns, Wooly Buggers, (Contact US Regarding This Word) Creeks. Bead heads or weighted are preferred as the water is usually fast out there.

No need to tiny flys. I seldon use less the 12 or 14. (Can't see them anyway, maybe that's the reason)

Just in case your spouse is not a fly fisher, Ultralight spin gear with 4 or 6 lb. line, Size 0 or 1 silver or gold spinners, can't be beat. Blue Fox, or Mepps. Also a clear casting bubble will allow use of flies with spin gear.

Best wishes and have a good trip.

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engadine, thanks for all the info...

I was sort of thinking along your lines of the park being crowded. That's why we were thinking about walking into the backcountry a ways, but I'm not sure that even then we'd be able to avoid crowds. And it would also be smaller water. So I'll definitely take a look at USFS lands, though it has been easier to get detailed info about waters in the park. In any case, we know that walking a little will often get us to nicer water, and we don't mind hoofin it.

Have you ever tried one of these 4 or 5-piece stowaway rods? I'm just about ready to take a chance on a Cabelas model for $90 but am afraid they're total junk.

thanks again.

(and yes I know I lucked out with a girl who likes to fish smirk.gif )

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I'm also curious about the PMDs out there. All the Yellowstone fishing books say it's an important fly, but I'm not sure of the color. I've seen PMD patterns with abdomen colors ranging from basic white to cream, yellow, gold, pale green, etc. Maybe it's not critical to have the color exact, but do you know if there's a standard PMD color scheme that works best for this area? thanks again...

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Thistlekicker

There are some very good fishing guide books available for WY & MT.

Your best bets are the online Book stores i.e. Barnes and Noble.com or Amazon.com Here are the ones I have and like:

WY

Fothergill & Sterling: The Wyoming Angling Guide

Graham: Fishing Wyoming (A Falcon Guide)

This one may be hard to find as it is Old and probably out of print. But it is the absolute best.

Tim Kelly's Fishing Guide: Official Colorado and Wyoming Guidebooks. C. 1983

AVOID: Baughman: The Most Complete Guide to Wyoming Fishing. This one is not worth the $$

MT

Fothergill & Sterling: The Montana Angling Guide

Sample: The Anglers Guide to Montana

Konizeski: The Montanan's Fishing Guide, Vol II-East of the Continental Divide

They each have their +'s and -'s, but all have pretty good access descriptions and directions on how to find places.

RE: Pack Rods

I have never been overly impressed with pack rods as more joints dampen action. However, I have some friends who have the more expensive ones like Orvis and Sage etc. and like them alot.

Personally I have Good 2 pc. rods that have served just fine.

I have not done a lot of back packing but have done some with Fly Rod (and sometimes spinning rods crazy.gif). Usually I carry them in my hand, in a cheap plastic case with rod sock. Small help here as walking stick??? Occassionally I have tied them to packs but find that more trouble then is is worth. If you have good fly rods, use what you have. Save the money for the trip, and buying stuff from the fly shops "Out West". They are a good part of the adventure, as we have very little like them here in the Midwest.

RE: PMD's

I am a bit of a duffer when it comes to Fly Fishing, and have not really gotten to much into matching the hatch. Especially out west where I learned to FF and do most of it still. The trout out west really only have July-sept. of good weather for growing and eating, so they are "usually" not all that selective. Having said that (insert foot in mouth)it does happen. Trout rising all around and I ain't got what they will bite on. But that happens seldom, but usually on the Yellowstone River in the Park. Mostly I would stick with the darker colored mayfly imitations. But I emphasize my previous post: Grasshoppers and Elk Hair Caddis are my everyday go to flys.

Probably more info then you wanted or needed. But I do get excited about fishing out west. I am sure you will love it.

Dan N

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Sounds like you'll have a great adventure. The park's backcountry shouldn't be that crowded, and the LaMar Valley and Slough Creek areas would be excellant choices. Slough would probably be a lot of fun at that time of the year, especially the second and third meadows. Craig Mathews has a good book out on Yellowstone Park. As to the PMD's, you'll most likely be a little on the late side, depending on how hot it is. Alot of the waters in the park, especially aways in, are inhabited by Yellowstone Cutthroat. They can be challenging, however, most the time they will readily move to attractors on the surface and a variety of nymphs subsurface. There are some great fly shops in Livingston, North of the Park, that if you were to call would be glad to help you. Try Dan Bailey's or George Anderson's Yellowstone Angler in Livingston or Richard at Park's Fly Shop in Gardiner. I used to work in the now closed Montana's Master Angler Fly Shop owned by Tom Travis. Tom is a wealth of information and is still guiding, as well as being one of the finest fly tiers I've ever known. I'm sure he could also help you, as he co- authored a couple of books on fishing the Yellowstone River and also YNP. I would think he is listed in the phone book.

As to the pack rods, the high end 3,4, and 5 piece rods are all fairly good sticks. The cheap pack rods I would leave at home and bring your best 5 or 6 wt 8 1/2 or 9 foot rods.

The gentleman who suggested leaving in the case and using as a walking stick is right on as long as the case is stout enough to protect the rod.

Oh, and don't forget the bear spray, because all of the areas you have talked about and Slough Creek are definitely in Grizzly Country. But with that said, I'd prefer coming across a griz while fishing than a moose...especialy a cow with a calf. But then again all this is the beauty and excitement of living and fishing in this part of the country. Enjoy your visit!

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Awesome topic, worked for the park service awhile and learned to fly-fish out there.

The park won't be that crowded if you hike a little more than a mile. Even without hiking that far there are some great spots. 3rd meadow on Slough is insane. We're talking 8-10 miles if I remember right, but Mormon beetles should be flying by now. Think huge piece of black yarn the size of a gum-ball and you've got the right fly.

The lamar isn't great until you get aways back. My best day fly-fishing came 18 miles back up the lamar towards the Pelican River and Lake yellowstone. Many bears in this area. You'll need to get a backcountry permit in Mammoth, which involves taking a class on the bears.

PMD's are a great early morning hatch, mostly cream to cream with just a tiny bit of light blue tied in. Hopper imitations are great. If you end up fishing the Yellowstone, a dynamite pattern is a stimulator, with a bit of orange in it. The bigger cutts will key in on these massive stoneflys, though I think the biggest hatches will be waning or done by the time you get there.

Be careful in investing too many days fishing the backcountry. You'll have a good time, but depending on how much a variation in fishing experiences you want, you could spend quite a bit of time hiking, and very little fishing. I'd think of taking shorter day-long forays into different areas. A cool day trip is a hike in and out of 3 small lakes in the center of the park that have grayling in them.....yes, grayling.

The beartooths are phenomenal, some small lakes with Golden trout up there I believe.

Anywhere you go out there, I'm pretty sure you'll be satisfied. There's plenty of room, and fish to be had by all!!!

Feel free to email me and I can give you more detailed information.

Joel

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Braley and jnelson...thanks for all your tips. I got a question about Slough - what do those upper meadows look like? Is it slow-moving flat water or riffle-pool? Everyone seems to say the cuts aren't too fussy but I'm still apprehensive about water where you have to be real good with your presentation, since we're both hackers with a fly rod. Chucking big attractor patterns into fast moving water we can handle, but matching hatches and finessing educated trout is sometimes beyond our abilities. I have the Matthews book that someone referred to but he doesn't go into detail about the upper meadows on Slough.

About the backcountry hiking, I think we're just young and dumb enough to enjoy even a trip into the Thorofare region. We'll see how ambitious we feel, though. I'm aware of those grayling lakes (one of them is Wolf, right?) and we were planning to hit them, too. We'll definitely have pepper spray handy wherever we go.

thanks again!

JS

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Just a couple quick notes from what I've experienced out there. First, in the park, if you can hit it right(you should be in the ball park late July to early Aug.) the callibaetis(sp) hatch can be great on Yellowstone Lake right from shore. Its typically a mid-morning to noon type hatch. If the fish are in for the callis, you can get them on small scuds before the hatch starts.

Lake Hebgen on the Madison just outside the park from West Yellowstone can be boom or bust for some big trout, if you are in the area I would suggest stopping at a fly shop in West Yellowstone(Blue Ribbon) for up to date info and flies.

Other than that, my favorite place is Brooks Lake, which is east and a bit south of Jackson, almost to Dubois. Nice campground, plenty of fish in the lake for both fly and spinner fishers, plus the opportunity for several hikes anywhere between 45 min to 3 hours to smaller mountain lakes where the cutts are hungry and dumb.

More info if interested. I'd say I hope you'll have a great time, but thats a guarantee. Later.

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I spent a week out there in early August last summer and fished primarily Soda Butte and Slough. I had 60 to 100 fish days (no lie). Actually did my worst on 3rd meadow of slough, due to nasty wind. Small beadheads, with trailers in the 18-20 size constituting fish from vitually every hole. These rivers are usually where I spend the majority of my time, and when catching large volumes of fish without traveling far from the campground is availible, why change it?

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  • 11 months later...

since it's the coldest day of the year (so far), I thought I'd throw up some pics from this trip. Thanks to everyone for their advice it was a great trip!

we first drove up the Beartooth Highway

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we hiked into the Martin Lakes basin

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the mosquitoes were fierce and the trout were cookie-cutter 8 inchers. so it was a quick trip out and back.

we hit "The Park". First stop the Lamar - those dots are a herd of bison we decided to detour en route to the river. give the big boys some room.

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she landed a nice 16" cutbow here right at dusk but dropped it back in the river while I was trying to get a pic. dough!

we had a backpacking trip planned in the Tetons, so we drove south through the Park and stopped to see the usual sights of interest. Here's a big rock:

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we did a 3 night backpack trip in the Tetons

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then we hit the Snake

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these are Snake River cutts - you can tell by the smaller spots that run all the way to the head. Yellowstone cutts have slightly larger spots that are concentrated farther back on the body.

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we fished Blacktail Ponds on Opening Day and I hooked a big (20+) cutt while crouched behind a beaver dam, but it came unbuttoned after a brief fight.

we drove back up into the park and fished the Gibbon, Lamar, and Soda Butte for 3 or 4 more days.

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It rained several days while we were in the NE corner of the park and the Lamar got silty and tough to fish. But we had a great time fishing the meadows of Soda Butte and the Gibbon for cutts and rainbows. We caught tons of fish, but I think the biggest we landed was 14" or so - nothing huge. The two largest fish we saw were her first cutbow on the Lamar and then the one I lost in Blacktail Ponds. A rubber-legged PMX in size 12 was almost always good, sometimes we had to go to a PMD or Adams in size 16 but the only times we nymphed were when we were fishing the off-colored Lamar. So fly selection wasn't a big deal. We brought hopper patterns but due to the rain, the naturals weren't really up and about. Evenings were definitely the best time to fish, right before dusk.

We didn't hike into the Slough meadows due to a sprained ankle caused by stepping in a chuckhole while hiking across the sagebrush to the Lamar. So Slough is a must-do for our next trip out there. Like I said it was a great trip and we will be back!

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