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This blog is all about fly fishing for native trout. On it I cover trip reports, fishing tactics, conservation, the latest news about native trout species and much more. This site provides a companion to my web page Nativetroutflyfishing.com.


Saturday, July 2, 2005

Yellowstone 2005

Day 1: Thursday June 23rd 2005: I planned this trip to try to catch three new species/ subspecies of salmonids; Arctic Grayling, Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat, and Lake Trout. I was also hoping to catch some repeat species, including Brown Trout, Yellowstone Cutthroat, and Brook Trout. My dad and I left home bright and early, bound for Yellowstone National Park and only made a brief stop in Missoula to refuel and grab some lunch.
The Upper Clark Fork valley in Montana

The weather was great all through Washington, Idaho and western Montana, until we turned off at the Madison River. After 11 hours of driving, there was an ugly looking thunderstorm hanging out over the Yellowstone area, completely putting the possibility of getting an hour of fishing in on the Madison River out of the question. We pulled into the Norris campground at 6:00 PM, in between rain showers and tried and failed to get our tent set up before the next front of rain came through. By the time the tent was set up, we were soaked and it was an easy decision to just call it a night.

A bull elk across the creek from our campsite.

Day 2: Friday June 24th 2005: We got up early the next morning after a cold Yellowstone night, that had the added bonus of sporadic thunderstorms. The goal for the day was to catch some Arctic Grayling and to do so, we decided to hike into one of the grayling lakes in the upper Gibbon River watershed. The trail to the lake passed through a patch of forest that had been charred in the fires of 1988, and provided little shade or scenic value until the lake.

The typical view on the trail into the lake

The Arctic Grayling lake

When we got to the lake, there were already several other fisherman there, but it appeared that the osprey were having much more luck than they were. We hiked a short distance along the south shore and found a nice point where some Callibaetis mayflies were coming off. I choose to use a double fly setup with a Callibaetis nymph trailed by a Tellico nymph and caught Rainbow Trout on the first cast. However, I had come here for Grayling and was a little worried that Rainbow Trout population would outweigh that of the Grayling. This was definitely not the case, and the first Rainbow Trout would also be the only one that we would see. Almost every cast after the Rainbow was rewarded with a Grayling, which averaged about 8 - 10" with a few larger and smaller ones thrown in. Although the Grayling were exceedingly beautiful, the best part of their fight was the hit after a couple hours of fishing we decided it was time to head back out.

An Arctic Grayling

After hiking out of the lake we went back to camp and got some lunch, then I headed off on my own to try out one the streams flowing through the meadow at Norris. I found plenty of small Brook Trout and lost a couple of decent Brown Trout on hopper patterns and returned to camp at about dinner time after a successful day of trout hunting.

Brook and Brown Trout water in the Norris area of the park

A beautiful, but nonnative Brook Trout

Day 3: Saturday June 25th 2005: The plan for the day was to hit Yellowstone Lake for some Yellowstone Cutthroat and possibly Lake Trout, which were illegally introduced to the lake in the 1980's and are said to congregate in the shallows around the West Thumb part of the lake during June. However, driving past some prime stretches on the Firehole River without fishing was just a bit more than I could handle, so we stopped for about an hour during which, we only picked up one Rainbow Trout.

Fly only water on the Firehole River

Yellowstone Lake

After the Firehole River we continued on to the lake, which provided me with a fishless and strikeless couple of hours, meaning that I would have to try again for a Lake Trout some other time. On the way back to Norris, we stopped at the Gibbon River below the falls where all I got was a few small Rainbow Trout, before returning to camp and calling it a day.

The Gbbon River

Day 4: Sunday June 26th 2005: When we got up in the morning, we decided to leave Yellowstone behind and try our luck fishing down south in the Tetons. However, we got a little side tracked on the way out of the park, as a herd of bison decided to walk down the middle of the road along the Firehole River, forcing our hand on fishing the river again. The stretch that we pulled off at was full of picky rising Browns and Rainbows, which did not want to treat us very well. I did manage to rise a few trout on caddis and baetis patterns, but couldn't actually bring anything to hand.

The bison herd once they finally left the road

Once we were clear of the Bison jam, we headed on for the Tetons and Jackson Hole area. Upon arriving though we were met by thunderstorms and rivers that were flowing far too high due to late spring run-off making the possibility of getting a Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat look rather bleak. We decided to stay in Jackson for the night so that I could gather some information at the local fly shops on were to look for some Fine Spotted Cutthroat as the original stream that I choose was blown out. The guys that we talked to at the Orvis shop suggested a stream that was fed by a lake in Grand Teton National Park should be flowing clear this time of the year. With my spot picked out, we went back to the hotel to get a good nights rest to be ready for a fresh start in the morning.

A thunderstorm over Jackson Lake

Day 5: Monday June 27th 2005: We got up in the morning and decide to grab a bite to eat a Bubba's BBQ, which had some awesome food. Our next stop was to set up camp in Grand Teton National Park at Signal Mountain Campground. Once camp all set up we headed out for the fishing spot that the folks at the fly shop had suggested the night before. When we got there the stream was indeed flowing at fishable levels and the water was crystal clear. It didn't take long before I caught my first few Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat.

A Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat

The Black Bear

We worked our way downstream, and saw a blond black bear along the way, then found a nice run which seemed oddly vacant of fish when compared to upstream. However, a few minutes later my dad's fly line went tight and with a large trout running downstream. The fight only lasted about 30 seconds before the estimated 4lb Cutthroat threw the fly and swam back to the depths. After thoroughly checking to make sure that there wasn't another fish hanging out in the area, we headed downstream and found a nice pool full of rising Cutthroat below a small set of falls. We spent the next couple hours hear catching Cutthroat after Cutthroat on small flying ant patterns and various attractors.

My dad with a nice Fine Spotted Cutthroat

Fishing a productive run

Day 6: Tuesday June 28th 2005: After getting up in the morning it was time to start heading towards home again we decided to head over to the Sun Valley area to see what it is like and more importantly how the fishing was. We arrived in Sun Valley in the middle of the day and went to the local fly shop to see how fishing in the area was. It sounded like the Wood River was out of the question due to high flows, but Silver Creek had been fishing reasonably well lately so we decided to go there.

Silver Creek, Idaho

I started fishing for some picky lipped trout with no success, there were no hatches coming off, and due to that the fish really didn't seem to interested in what anyone was offering them. I stayed for a couple hours during which I only saw one fish landed, and didn't have any hits, so it was back on the road again. We decided that we would try to make the Blue Mountains in Oregon by nightfall and camp there in hopes that the flows in that area would better. We ended up setting up camp on Phillips Lake, Oregon and called it a night.

Day 7: Wednesday June 29th 2005: After all of the driving that we had been doing, we figured that we would just take it easy in this area for the day. Once we got our Oregon fishing licenses we went to the Powder River, and spent a few hours catching put-and-take Rainbows on attractor patterns. Then we went back to camp and took it easy for the rest of the day.

The River
A Rainbow Trout

Day 8: Wednesday June 30th 2005: From what research I had done on the area, there was a nice stream to the south of where we were camping that held pure Columbia Basin Redbands, so I figure it would be fun to check it out. We arrived at the stream, which was flowing at a perfectly fishable level about mid-morning and started fishing in a nice meadow section. The fishing on this stream was amazing, almost every cast in a likely looking spot resulted in a beautiful Redband. The average fish weren't huge, but there were some fish up to 15" around that made things a little more interesting.

Hooked into a Redband

A Columbia Basin Redband Trout

Day 9: Thursday June 31st 2005: At this point, it was time to head home, and we spent the day driving across Oregon and Washington. Even though I didn't get all of the fish that I went after, this was a fairly successful trip. I managed to catch three fish native to the western US; Arctic Grayling, Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat and Columbia Basin Redband, along with a number of Brookies and Rainbows.