You know how sometimes you have to help your kid move?
Well, Junior got a summer job at a fly shop on the edge of Yellowstone NP and dad got recruited to help her move up there. So, of course, we had to go up a week early.
Any sympathy for helping her move? Hey, it was a two day drive with three people in a Ford Focus…
No? Nothing? Yep, I didn’t think so…
We had a good time, caught some fish, and I learned a lot about the park. Since I haven’t posted anything about fishing in a while, here’s a quick summary.
She’ll spend the summer working at Park’s Fly Shop in Gardiner, MT. The shop located at the north entrance of YNP. Here’s a shot of the town, the Yellowstone river is in the lower left and the fly shop is the square tan building in the lower right. The park boundary starts where the buildings stop. Not a bad place to spend the summer.
We were there the second week of June and some of the rivers were already warming up. We fished the Firehole for a little bit. It is an incredibly beautiful river, but it has so much hot water pouring into it from the thermal features of the park that it warms up too much for trout to survive very early in the year. We did not stay long and nobody form Park’s Fly Shop will be going back to it this summer. I’ve been to the park before and thought it was perfect water and always saw people fishing, but I never realized they were pretty much wasting their time fishing it in the summer.
The fishable water changes throughout the season. The warmer waters such as the Firehole and the Gibbons fish best early in the season and during the winter. Then as they heat up, the other rivers such as the Gardiner, Yellowstone, and Lewis start clearing up as the runoff slows down, so you shift to them, especially during a massive sized Stonefly hatch which happened the week after I left. And then other waters in the park begin opening up to fishing that were closed to allow the bears some alone time.
We spent most of our time up river of this waterfall on the Gibbons river:
I’m not sure if I’ve trout fished anywhere that wasn’t a tailwater before. Fishing the rivers in YNP was pretty amazing and a lot of fun to fish. They’re definitely different than fishing a tailwater, but I’m not sure that I can explain how they are different.
Here’s a shot of the Gibbons river. It is a wonderful place to fish.
We spent one day with Richard Parks the owner of the fly shop. The man is a walking encyclopedia of information on park history, all of the rivers, creeks, lakes, and any other water in the area, access points in the park, and what flies to use where and when. I learned a lot that day and used that information throughout the week. Speaking of access points, all of them are not marked and some the signs that imply no access, actually lead to public access waters.
I spend more time standing in a bass boat with a fly rod than I do standing in trout water with a fly rod, so I’m always learning something new. Richard uses almost a speed fishing technique, make short casts to a high probability spot and make a short drift with the fly line off the water. Then take a step and cast to the next spot. This technique was very effective. I should note that you can get a pretty long drift using this technique by moving your rod along with this fly.
Here’s Richard and you can see the drift technique in this shot. Notice how little fly line is out of the rod tip. They may be short casts, but accuracy was critical for best effect.
One thing that was different from tailwater rivers, was the size of the bugs. Here’s one that landed on my wife’s hat and it is a small one for the area.
The flies were pretty much all a dry with a nymph dropper. The primary dry was a Royal Trude and once again they were larger than I’m used to using for trout fishing. This is not a fly that I normally carry and I came up short one day, so I tied on a Chernobyl Ant that was about the same size. The strikes on that fly were aggressive, the fish would slam it. But, I didn’t hook any of them, which tells me that I didn’t get the hook gap right when I tied that one. It was a “one off” smaller sized Chernobyl that I tied a long time ago.
For equipment, I used an 8’6” TFO Pro 5 wt all week. I took that rod with me because I could leave it up there and not have to worry about trying to fly home with a fly rod. That is a fun rod to fish with. The Pro tends to be overlooked because of its lower price, but performance-wise it is a fun rod.
I also spent the week fishing with one of TFO’s Fly Lines. I’m impressed, I liked the line, it performed very well all week.
Here are the dries: :
The primary nymph was a sz 16 Prince. This is another fly that I don’t usually carry with me, but a sz 18 Brassie did very well too.
OK, I know that I can’t post a fishing report without a picture of a fish, but that’s a problem. I honestly don’t know how some of you folks can fish and take pictures at the same time. For me, when the fish are biting, I tend to forget about the camera…
We were catching Browns that week. They weren’t real big, but they were stupid and willing to bite a fly. So, they were pretty close to being the perfect fish.
However, I did try to take a picture of at least one of them. If you could look really close down past the bottom of the picture, you would see a really pretty Brown trout making its escape…
I’ve been to Yellowstone NP several times over the years, but this was my first time to ever get a chance to fish it. There are just too many other really cool and fascinating things to see in that park.
So, here’s the shot of Old Faithful to end with:
Did I mention that I’ve got to help move her home in August???