CAN YOU OUTLINE WHAT A TYPICAL DAY MIGHT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU IN YELLOWSTONE? HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHERE TO FISH WITH SO MUCH GREAT WATER?
First, coolers are loaded and day packs are stocked with necessary fishing gear and supplies like bear spray, raincoats, lunches, waters and extra cold drinks for the ride home. Well before we’re headed into Yellowstone, I always have at least three plans for the day based on the water conditions, desires of the clients and how much hiking they are interested in experiencing. With 2.2 million acres and 2,500 miles of running water, we have several options. If I have not visited a specific location within a week, I keep an eye on recent backcountry reports for the park, and even give the backcountry office a call to see if anything unusual has been reported at the local campsites. Once at the trailhead, we assess all possible scenarios that could affect the fishing. A recent bear in the area sign has sent us on an alternate plan more than once.
WHAT MAKES THE PARK UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHER FISHERIES IN MONTANA AND WYOMING?
The destinations are limitless. I have an ongoing list of waters I would like to fish for the first time. I hope that I can fish and see it all in my lifetime and I love that I will always have somewhere new to explore.
WHAT DO MOST VISITING ANGLERS OVERLOOK ABOUT THE PARK?
All the different species of fish to chase throughout the season. There are lakes, rivers and streams of every character in the park that hold fish.
WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL FOR VISITING ANGLERS TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE FISHING YELLOWSTONE?
A little homework, or seeking the guide services of a local professional are the best way to be in the right spot at the right time. Even then, the weather and water conditions can change and keep you on your toes.
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST USED FISHING APPLICATIONS?
Prospecting with a dry fly followed by casting to risers with a dry fly.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HATCH? WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL?
Tough choice. Do I like a hatch that kicks my butt, with picky rainbow and brown trout selecting from millions of size 20 baetis? Or do I want to cast large dry flies and watch rainbows, browns or cutthroats engulf them? Fortunately those don’t all happen at once, so I would say the current hatch? With the difference in elevations throughout the Yellowstone ecosystem, there is a hatch to chase from the opener on Memorial Day weekend until the park closes early November.
DON’T VISIT WITHOUT_________________? WHY?
BEAR SPRAY! So you can fish another day. As for fly fishing gear, I would say if you want all your bases covered, at least one fly box containing attractor dry flies, beadhead nymphs and pheasant tail/partridge soft hackles. As I mentioned, the waters of Yellowstone present a tremendous variety of fishing options. Having all those options and a loaded fly box in your pocket can bring success on the most challenging days.
WHAT TECHNIQUES SHOULD EVERY ANGLER MASTER BEFORE THEY VISIT?
Approach. Don’t go splashing into the water without careful observing all the water in front of you. By taking your time, you might notice a fish under that over hanging grass or see, that despite the absence of a hatch, the fish are actually feeding on emerging mayflies, and not the few adults making it to the surface. Also, mastering the drag-free drift. You don’t need to be able to cast the length of a football field, but instead be able to fool the trout with your drift. Know how to mend and reach cast.
LIST ANY UNIQUE TIPS FOR FISHING YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (THAT AREN’T SECRET OF COURSE!)
Change up your dry fly approach to rising fish. A classic upstream approach isn’t going to fool all the fish in the different waters of the park. A downstream cast with a mend to create slack maybe the only way to get your fly to a pod of rising fish in swirling currents. Some rivers are tough to wade and a long reach cast maybe necessary to present your fly over weed beds that you can’t wade to. Practice some casting before you get here for the most confidence in challenging conditions.
BEST TIME TO VISIT?
When you can get here. The number of buses on the road won’t matter when you spend all day on the water. Yellowstone’s fishing season is open Memorial Day weekend until the roads close in early November.
13. WHAT ELSE SHOULD BE ON ANGLERS’ RADARS TO LOOK AT OTHER THAN FISHING?
Tough choice between the geology and the wildlife. The action of surrounding wildlife can alert you to potential danger, beside that it is the most amazing place on earth for fly fishing amongst some iconic animals in their native habitat. Fly fishing in a volcanic caldera next to bubbling mud to rising native cutthroat trout is awesome.
Alice’s Favorite Winston Rods for Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park:
9′ 5 weight Boron III X – All-around performance for casting everything from attractor dries, streamers and nymphs
8′ 4 weight Boron III LS – Small stream fishing for finicky dry fly eaters
11′ 4 weight Boron III TH Microspey – For all “swinging” water in the park with soft hackles in the summer and streamers in the fall