About this blog

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.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rocky Mountain Getaway

Field season at work has come to a close, so I finally have some time to catch up on a few posts from my summer adventures. The first of which was a trip to Montana and Wyoming during late July with my wife Alexis. This trip originally was supposed to be a work trip to the Trout Congress conference in Bozeman, MT. However, after booking everything for the trip the conference was canceled, so it became a bit of a vacation (with some fishing). As we were no longer completely tied to Bozeman, we decided to head up to Glacier National Park to start things off. This trip was not as focused on fishing as it was hiking, camping and enjoying the scenery, but I certainly did get some fishing in along the way.

The scenery from Going to the Sun Road

This wasn't my first time to Glacier National Park, however this time we had much more time to explore and do a few more extensive hikes. Initially we were going to check out the trails around Logan Pass at the top of Going to the Sun Road. However, wildfires on the eastside of the park near the pass had caused the road to be closed. We did a few other small walks along the westside of the parks before heading over the eastside the long way to camp at Two Medicine Lakes. 

I had never been to this part of the park before and it was absolutely amazing, with open meadows and dramatic views of the mountains. Our major hike while in this part of the park was up to an alpine lake that was supposed to have a good population of Cutthroat.

Horses grazing the prairies just outside the park

The trail followed along a beautiful creek on its way up to the lake and mountain goats could be seen on the peaks as we neared the lake.

The creek on the way to the lake

We arrived at the lake right around lunch time and decided to have lunch before I would try to get a few casts in. In theory this would also allow me some time to observe the lake for risers and likely spots to intercept a Cutthroat. Unfortunately, things did not play out that way, as by the time that we had finished lunch, a thunderstorm had rolled in and we had to hunker down and wait for it to pass. 

The lake before the thunderstorm rolled in

The weather did not seem to want to allow for fishing even after the wait, so we made the call to head back to the trailhead and get back to camp. The next day we headed toward Bozeman. 

We were in Bozeman for a few days, which we filled with trips to the nearby hot springs, Lewis and Clark Caverns and just checking out the town. While in the area we also decided to do a hike in the Gallatin Range to a lake with Golden Trout, hoping that this time the weather would be a bit more conducive. Unfortunately, a cold front had moved in overnight and by the time we were nearing the lake, we were hiking through fresh snow. I did give things for Golden Trout a good shot, and got a few strikes and a couple hook ups stripping nymphs and streamers, but didn't manage to land any and the cold snowy conditions made to hard to stick things out for too long.

Fishing for Golden Trout amid some July snow

The next day Alexis and I headed in to Yellowstone to see some sights and do a bit more fishing in the afternoon. I found a nice stretch on a stream that I had fished in the park before and pretty quickly saw some fish rising to terrestrials along the bank. A few casts later and I was hooked into a nice Yellowstone Cutthroat which put up a good fight before coming to the net.

The river

Hooked into a nice Cutthroat in Yellowstone

A nice Yellowstone Cutthroat

After fishing in the park for a bit, we decided to try to get a couple of hours in on the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, to catch the evening hatch before heading back to Bozeman. This stretch of the Yellowstone is absolutely beautiful and the river is a classic western freestone as it meanders through the valley. It took us some time, but we found a great steam where a couple of side channels came together and we finally found some rising fish.

The Yellowstone River

Alexis on the river

A Yellowstone Brown Trout

We started getting into some smaller Brown Trout, but for whatever reason were having an exceptionally difficult time hooking into some of the risers. However, when I did finally get a bit luckier on my timing the reason become more apparent as we had found ourselves a school of surface feeding Mountain Whitefish.

A Whitefish in the net

Dry fly caught Mountain Whitefish

A couple of fawns along the bank of the river.

After a few hours on the river, we headed back to Bozeman as the next day we would be heading down to Jackson, WY for the final leg of the trip and an overnight backpacking trip into a lake in the Tetons.

This part of the trip was the highlight for both of us, the trail was relatively flat, there were amazing views along the way and when we got to the lake, we realized we would have the spot completely to ourselves. 

The Tetons

The lake

The lake had a healthy population of smallish Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat and as evening approached a Callibaetis hatch started and fish began to rise across the lake.

A Callibaetis mayfly

A beautiful Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat

Another Cutthroat post-release

Fishing on the lake was great, but as the evening wore on we decided to stop early and just enjoy beauty of the location. At this point wildlife was coming out of the wood work, with several beavers cursing the lake, deer browsing the meadows and marmots in the rockpiles chirping away. 

A beaver on the lake

The lake at sunset

That evening was the perfect way to wind down the trip, with that lake standing out as one of my favorite locations that I have been to on my travels across the west.