This past week I was invited to tag along on a quick trip over to the Yellowstone area with my sister and brother-in-law and as my schedule allowed for this to happen a few days later I was on the road. I got off work at five on Monday and next day about the same time after some red eye driving, we were in Jackson Wyoming and on the doorstep of some of the greatest trout streams in North America. Like my last trip to the Rockies, this officially wasn't a fishing trip, but once again what self respecting fly fisherman can go to the Yellowstone area and not at least wet a line.
I originally planned to sneak off and fish some of the waters around Jackson on the first day, but our arrival was greeted by a massive thunderstorm so I decided to hold off for the next day. On Wednesday the second day of the trip, we had a full day to spend in the park, but most of it was to be spent seeing the sights and doing touristy stuff. Of course anyone doing this has to stop at Old Faithful, however our timing was off so with an hour or so to blow we decide to grab some lunch first. I always find that cafeteria at Old Faithful has great food, especially the baked beans which are well worth the stop and putting up with the crowds alone. After an enjoyable lunch the geyser was ready to blow and while this was probably my tenth time seeing Old Faithful go off, it still remains an amazing thing to behold.
From Old Faithful we worked our way north into Yellowstone cutthroat country where I was hoping to get a chance to pursue some of these beautiful native trout.
However the cutthroat weren't the only reason that we were working our way to this part of the park either. Wildlife viewing was a little slim in the rest of the park this time and in my experience the Lamar Valley has more animals than any other part of the park, so for my brother-in-law who hadn't been to the park since he was a kid this was the perfect place to go. There were some skeptics in the car about this though and so I wagered a pizza for dinner that we would see at least two herds of bison in the valley. Of course this was a bet that took me less then five minutes to win...
When we finally got to the stream that I was hoping to fish, I was amazed to see that my favorite spot was free and better yet there were no cars pulled off to fish for at least a mile above or below it! I rigged up my 4wt with hopper dropper set up and headed down to the water. Unfortunately for me my favorite spot had also changed around a bit since last time I had been there so it took me a while to find some fishy water.
While searching for the perfect pool I managed to rise a couple of fish to the hopper and had some take downs on the dropper, but didn't feel that it was quite getting their attention enough. This meant a change was in order so I re-rigged with an ever dependable royal pmx, my favorite dry and a size 18 lightning bug as a dropper. Shortly after I finally located that perfect spot on a side channel with a great deep cut bank on one side and figured that it was as good of a spot as any for a cutthroat to hang out in. Sure enough two casts in my dry went down and a good sized cutthroat had grabbed my dropper. The fish had some size to him, but Yellowstone cutthroat aren't known for being the world's best fighting trout and after a bit of thrashing and running I was able to bring the beautiful 16" native cutthroat to hand.
After a quick photo the fish darted back into his home pool and I head back up the top of the pool again. Two casts later another fish gulped my dry fly and within a a couple minutes I had another beautiful Yellowstone cutthroat to hand.
With that fish, the light started falling and it was time to make our way out of the park, fighting our way through the bison jams along the way.
The next day my fishing time was even more limited so I head to an old standby spot down in the Tetons to try for some Snake River finespotted cutthroat. Along the way the views were outstanding and we even found a few more bison as well.
The stream was as low as I have ever seen it, but the fishing was fast paced as ever. The only problem was the size of the fish was much smaller than what I am typically used to at this spot. I have never been one to get to worried about catching small fish though and these cutthroat were all beautiful and better yet native.
That being said, bigger fish definitely are nice, so I continued to cover the wate through a pocket water stretch hoping for something a little larger. I did get a couple of lookers and one larger fish to flash at my nymph, but before long my time was up. Even so I got some beautiful trout in some of the most beautiful country in North America so it was great outing by my standards.
That stream was my last chance to fish on the trip, but that was fine by me as it isn't everyday I get to hangout in the Rockies. I am now back home again with my sights set on coho and coastal cutthroat in the saltwater.
We’re So Bummed!!
1 week ago