View Full Version : Planning Yellowstone

02-19-2009, 11:47 AM
I am planning a trip to Yellowstone NP this year. Looking for any suggestions and/or information that anyone might want to share. I have already searched and looked at all the older posts on this forum, but would welcome any new or repeated information. Nothing is set for certain and there are a couple of things that could completely bring a stop to the plans, but I need to get started. I am looking for suggestions on books and maps (I will be ordering some of this from the park in the next few days). I will most likely be camping at one of the smaller camp sites, I am leaning toward Pebble, but what are your suggestions? Also have not been able to find anything that states how long you can stay at these sites. The dates are not set, but right now the week that looks most likely is August 23-30 in the park with travel dates before and after. I have also considered waiting till after Labor Day, hoping for smaller crowds. But I would be concerned about the weather then, I hope that my Dad is going with me and the warmer weather would definitely be more to his liking. Of course I also realize that the streams can get warm in August, so I am waiting to see what there snowpack and runoff dates are going to look like. I am not necessarily interested in the larger streams or monster trout. I would like to get away from the masses, I considered doing a backcountry camping trip, but did not want to confine myself to on watershed (i.e. Lamar River near Cache Creek). I know that I want to catch some cut-throats, because that is something that I cannot do here. I think that I would rather base out of a campgound like Pebble and spend time exploring different watersheds from there. Also, I know nothing about the lakes, I know that trout lake will be close to Pebble but what other lakes would you consider. Do the lakes fish well that time of year, or am I better off to stay on the streams? I do hope to sit down and talk with a couple of guys who have been out there and pick their brains, but I am open to anyone who cares to share their thoughts on late summer in Yellowstone!


02-19-2009, 12:25 PM
I was in yellowstone last year towards the end of July, and I fished a lot of the more well known streams. By far the most beautiful river i fished was slough creek. You can't go wrong here. There are monster cutthroats, and if you want to get away from the crowds you can hike up as far as you desire. If you are going to be in the Lamar area I would for sure hit up slough.

02-19-2009, 12:57 PM
Shoot me an email: randallsale@att.net.

Randall Sale
the Kytroutbum

02-19-2009, 11:23 PM
I was in Yellowstone last year for the last week of June and first week of July. We fished the Firehole and Madison Rivers in the park, and the Madison River and Henry's Fork of the Snake River outside the park. The reason we fished these rivers is because the rest of them were blown out from the snow melt. Since you are going later in the year, you won't have to worry about high water. In fact, the Firehole will most likely be too warm for trout during your visit. I would suggest fishing the Lamar River, Yellowstone River, and Slough Creek for cutthroats. Make a trip over to "Fishing Bridge" at the outlet of Yellowstone Lake, where the Yellowstone River is formed. You can't fish here, but you can stand above the lake and look at some huge, beautiful wild cutthroats. You might also want to take a day trip out of the east entrance of the park into Jackson Hole. You'll get to see the Grand Tetons, and the Snake River. There are plenty of places to fish around Jackson Hole, where you'll have a chance to net the famous "fine spotted cutthroats" that are found in the Snake River drainages.

Some other advice:
There are numerous fly shops in Jackson Hole, West Yellowstone, and every other little town out there. Visit these shops and ask for advice on various streams. Craig Matthews at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone will be able to point you in the right direction. I would also suggest getting a guide for the first day or two of your trip. This will help you learn how to fish these waters more easily. Then you can spend the rest of the trip exploring on your own, and using the techniques that you learned from your guide. Just be sure to choose a guide from a reputable fly shop.

Good luck, you're going to have the time of your life!


PS. My brother and I put together a short video from our trip to Yellowstone. You can check it out at www.vimeo.com/appalachianoutdoors
This footage was taken during an evening on the Firehole River. The view of the big valley is the Lamar Valley, where the Lamar River flows.

David Knapp
02-20-2009, 12:13 AM
Pebble Creek is a nice campground and so is Slough Creek...can't go wrong with either of those if you're wanting something on the smaller side...

02-20-2009, 09:36 AM
I appreciate all the input so far, would love to hear from others. If you don't want to share in a public forum but would be willing to share with an individual you can e-mail me fbcpastormike@embarqmail.com
I have thought about waters outside of the park especially those to the south around Jackson Hole, but right now I am planning for the park.
I do plan to get a copy of Craig Matthews book as well as park maps.
Thanks again for any information.

02-20-2009, 02:57 PM
My son and I were there last summer (1st week of July). As for where to fish, it kind of depends on what you want to do.

We went to ever fly shop in West Yellowstone and I though Blue Ribbon was the "LRO" of the area. One shop (won't mention name here) was very condescending and rude to my son as he was looking at some rod and asking questions. Daniel may only be 13 years old, but he knows more about fishing and fly fishing than probably 90% of the people who walk through the front door of that shop. The guys at Blue Ribbon were like the guys at LRO in that they knew what they were talking about, were friendly, and treated my son with the same respect as they treated me and any other fisherman walking into the shop. In fact, over the 10 days we were fishing in Yellowstond (and our daily and sometimes twice daily visit to the shop) one of the women struk up a friendship with my son and gave him a hat on our last day there. So, I would recommend visiting there first to get the lay of the land, what's going on with the fish, and pick up some flies and supplies. Their fly selection is very good.

Daniel and I had a lot of fun fishing the small streams. We did fish the big name rivers and caught fish in all of them (Madison, Gibbon, Firehole). The runofff was still a problem over around Slough so we didnt' fish that area.

However, the most fun we had was fishing the small streams. Blacktail Deer Creek, Nez Perce Creek, Indian Creek and a couple others that I have no idea the name, were where we had the most fun. These small streams were less intimidating to us and reminded us of our favorite Smokey Mountain streams in size and reading the water.

We caught a bunch of brookies up Blacktail Deer Creek. Indian Creek was fun and my favorite stream was Nez Perce Creek.

Be careful on the Firehole. My boy went nearly waist deep in silt and mud when climbing out of firehole. As I was pulling him out, I noticed the mud was a few degrees warmer than the water rushing buy us. It was not hot but there was definately a hot spring somewhere that was keeping all that silt warmer than the stream's water. Just a watch out from a guy who has been there and done that.

Nez Perce Creek is a beautiful stream. We caught a bunch of rainbows and 5 or 6 browns in the stream. Nothing big, the biggest rainbow was about 14" and most were in the 10" - 12" range. The browns were about 12-12" long. But it is just a really neat stream. There are hot springs right next to the stream, there is a trail that runs parallel to the stream for a couple miles. Watch out for Bison, they frequent the area and for the most part will just ignore you but don't walk up on one. You think a Bear in the Smokeys will get your heart beating, just wait until you're 20 yards from a bull bison. Just dont aggrevate them and they will leave you alone. Also, most of the streams do lie in Grizzly country so you have to keep an eye out. We only saw a couple bears while we were there and they were pretty far off in the distance (mile plus on one and at least 1/2 mile away on the other).

my email is jeffnles1 at insightbb dot com. If you want to shoot an email to discuss in more detail, I'd be happy to offer whatever I can as to comments from our trip.


old tom
02-20-2009, 03:51 PM
Definitely consider looking at the after Labor Day option. We read a lot about the crowds during peak summer months - traffic, campgrounds filling by noon, etc. - and elected to fly out ON Labor Day. Had great weather and no crowds. Had the wife with me, so I did very little fishing.

fly fisherman DK
02-21-2009, 01:03 AM
Check out this website.http://www.flyfishingyellowstonenationalpark.com/

I have this website bookmarked and it is packed with information on fly fishing Yellowstone NP.:rolleyes: Hope this can help you.

fly fisherman DK

02-27-2009, 10:53 AM
I appreciate all the input and would welcome thoughts from anyone else.
Thanks to those who have e-mailed me and I am still looking forward to talking with some of you.


02-27-2009, 10:38 PM
I have been out to Montana and Yellowstone the past two summers, once in June and the other in August. I highly suggest slough creek. Its a beautiful area and the fishing is consistently good. I would also suggest going and fishing the madison at least once. August is a great time to catch some trout rising at dust around the sides of the stream for hoppers. I really don't think you can pick a bad place to fish in that part of the country; its gonna be a great trip no mater what you do. Blue Ribbon Flies is definitely my favorite fly shop in West Yellowstone, but if you make it over towards the Henry's Fork (45min away), check out the Trouthunter. Great people over there that always put you on fish, guide or no guide.

cockeye valdez
03-03-2009, 05:07 PM
I fished it the week of September 29, the weather was great, cool nights and warm days, stayed in cooke city and fished the lamar, soda butte, slough, caught fish on a zebra, p.m.d. and elk hair cadis, royal w. Pebble was closed due to bear activity. We stayed in Cooke City for three days. There are no fly shops in cooke so better check with the fly shops on the way and pick up supplies.

stayed in W. Yellowstone for the next three days and fished the Madison. Blue Ribbon fly shops can put you on the right bugs and location. We did best just outside of town near a campground that was closed.

The east side of the park I found easier to fish, began with droppers (Z-midge) then to dries, stay low in the water and you will be able to catch em well. My best results came from being very low in the water and casting upstream, first they took the p.m.d. when they stopped I'd switch over to the royal w. then to cadis. it was great. small bugs but not as small as the so.ho. or the emergers/dries you will use the west side in the madison.

we flew into Boseman, rented a car, entered the east side of the park (cooke city) then traveled west (west yellowstone) and then flew out of Boseman. We took seven days and I would not recommend less. Great trip and hope to do it again.

Carolina Boy
03-03-2009, 05:31 PM
If you do decide to head south near Jackson, I would recommend fishing Flat creek, only open 3 months a year with huge cutts in there, I stuck one last visit that had big shoulders! Plus it is a neat stalk @ cast fishery where you creep around in the tall grass, If you do head there you also got the Gros Ventre, Hoback, Green, And a bunch of Snake Tribs. If you want more info shoot me an email! Good Luck!


03-03-2009, 09:00 PM
A quick question for the folks that have been there:

We are contemplating a trip the last week of July/first week of August to Yellowstone, but I'm worried about how crowded it maybe in the main areas of the park during that time.

Any thoughts? Its really the only timeframe that will work with all of the particpants, so it maybe then, or never...either way I'd like to be prepared...

It will be a two week trip that is sightseeing the first week and fishing in the backcountry the second. I'm assuming that we can get away from the crowds if we do backcountry/small stream fishing (my preference), but I'm worried that we will be in constant gridlock during the first week of sightseeing...

03-03-2009, 09:45 PM
Pete, as expected, the crowds exist until schools and Summer vacations end. One of the areas not fished but I would like to return is the Rosebud Creek forks in the Abaroska-Beartooth Wilderness. According to the locals, it gets little pressure and there is supposed to be some great hiking as well.

03-03-2009, 11:35 PM
Pete, as expected, the crowds exist until schools and Summer vacations end.

Is it Cades-Cove-and-Gatlinburg-in-July type crowded (people everywhere and you wish you never went to the Park [ie. overcrowded]),


Middle-Prong-in-the-Spring type crowded (a considerable amount of people but not enough to stop you from enjoying the surroundings - you might not have your favorite spot to yourself but there are plenty of others to choose from [ie. slightlycrowded])

It may sound if I'm obsessing a bit on this, but its rare that I get a shot at having the whole family do anything together anymore (two teenagers 19 and 17, and my wife) and I want to maximize the odds that this will be a great time...

03-04-2009, 08:23 AM
Pete, there will be crowds but not like Gatlinburg. You can at least move around. Plus, the beauty of the park makes the crowd almost non-existent.

03-04-2009, 10:01 AM
Pete, this will be my first trip to Yellowstone and I share your concerns about it being crowded. Yellowstone gets about 1/2 the visitors as the Smokey's each year and it is more than 4 times as big, however most of Yellowstone's visitors all come during a 2 1/2 - 3 month time frame from mid-June to early-September. With that said the folks I have talked with have said to expect a lot of tourist in the obvious places, but a couple of miles into the back-country gets you away from the crowds. You will not be alone, but you will certainly be able to find a place to fish. I don't know where you are planning to stay, but we are planning to stay in one of seven campgrounds in the park that operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.
I have been told that those campgrounds stay full all summer, especially the smaller ones (Pebble, Slough & Tower Fall). The other 4 are larger Indian Creek, Mammoth, Noris and in the South they say that Lewis Lake is usually the last one to fill-up. There are other campgrounds in the park that are operated on a reservation system. You have probably already been looking online but if not the NPS web-site offers lots of good info
especially about the campgrounds. I also sent them an e-mail for couple of questions that I couldn't find the answers to on the site. They answered them the same day, though they do say that it could take up to 7 days to get back with everyone. In the end I think it is safe to say that the popular spots will have lots of people and the further you venture out the fewer folks you will see. If you go, let me know how it was. I am still debating going before labor day and fighting the crowds with more comfortable weather. Or going after labor day and possibly fighting the weather with fewer people.
I also recommend contacting Blue Ribbon Flies, I called to ask them about fishing in late August compared to middle September and they were very helpful. Again, let us know how it goes. Don't forget to talk to the folks at LRO, I know some of them have been out there.


Carolina Boy
03-04-2009, 11:44 AM
It ain't nothing like Cades cove in the summer, or Cattaloochee with the elk in mating season. It is big enough where people spread out a good bit. There is fishing near roads and far away. You guys are gonna love it!!

03-04-2009, 12:58 PM
Thanks for all the input.

Here's what started the whole thinking about Yellowstone: Right now (and I have no idea how long its going to be offered) there is a bit of a price war on the Nashville to Boseman route. Northwest, United and Frontier all offer a rt rate of $205 per person. It looks like its a tuesday-to-tuesday type thing in July, August and September (I tried other weekday combinations and its more expensive).

Thats pretty hard to pass up...

cockeye valdez
03-04-2009, 03:44 PM
check out the web cam at Cooke City Montana Sinclair, they have gotten a bunch of snow and the melting will effect water levels. last year May-June was tuff. Check it out before you book your tickets.:cool:

03-04-2009, 05:19 PM
MtnMike and PeteCz,
Here's my 2 cents (or maybe more, I tend to ramble on...:biggrin:) on Yellowstone, for what it's worth. I've been in the Park and fished for a couple weeks straight twice, most recently several years ago with my wife, and both times in the first couple weeks of August. Great fishing, spectacular scenery.
In terms of crowds, yes, summer is the most heavily-visited season, but keep in mind that Yellowstone is a big place, and the majority of it hardly gets touched, even at this time of year, the "majority" being places that require even a short hike (which should get rid of at least 90% of the crowds), and less popular corners of the Park (especially the southern part, excluding Yellowstone Lake). Camping almost anywhere in the backcountry there should ensure minimal numbers of people.
PeteCz, in terms of sightseeing, you can expect alot of people (meaning a Disneyland-like atmosphere) in a few of the most well-known spots, most notably Old Faithful, and to a lesser extent, the viewpoints for Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River, although this shouldn't necessarily mean you shouldn't see these sights--just be forewarned. Also, traffic can practically come to a halt in certain areas when wildlife is sighted, especially herds of bison, bears, etc., although in my experience, people were usually reasonable and pulled off the side of the road to allow vehicles to continue. For both traffic and crowds, I would recommend visiting the most popular sights early in the morning, around dawn or shortly after, this helps reduce the number of people considerably, and/or go visit less-visited areas.
As for fishing, the one heads-up I would give is that the watersheds in the Park are seasonal, and particularly the Madison (inside the Park) and Firehole do not usually fish as well in late July/August, due to geothermal activity making the water a bit warm for the trouts' comfort. However, this is a great time to fish the Lamar River drainage, including Slough, Soda Butte and Pebble creeks in the NE corner, and most of the fish you'll find here are native Yellowstone cutts.
Slough Creek is hard to beat IMO, as others on this thread have mentioned as well--it is worth hiking into the second or third meadows to fish and camp (several backcountry sites are stretched along Slough, although they can be popular, so you might want to consider reserving one well in advance), a mostly level trail, wonderful scenery, and while at times more than a few anglers day hike into the first or second meadows, the country is large enough where you can easily have a stretch of stream to yourself for the entire day. Cutthroat averaging 15 or 16", a couple around 20" when I fished there, Slough Creek, from my perspective, is a place every flyfisher should experience (although the fish aren't dumb, you still have to approach them carefully). I really enjoyed Soda Butte Creek as well, easy road access, and consequently more folks (but still fewer than, say, accessible stretches along Little River), but numerous cutthroat and a few bows (just a tad smaller than Slough creek), and again, a little walking can do wonders.
Also, keep this in mind in late July/August--fish with smaller flies on 6X, and you will probably hook into more and better cutts. I think people sometimes have an image of casting to 16-18" trout with hoppers and other big attractors, and these can work, but for the larger, pickier fish, especially in summer, parachute patterns and beetles in size 20 can be dynamite (simply because most folks don't want to use dries this size).
Other points mentioned in previous posts on this thread--many small streams in the Park provide fantastic fishing for less-educated trout, and no crowds (Nez Perce creek, etc.), and Blue Ribbon Flies can steer you in the right direction. In the several visits I've made to Blue Ribbon Flies, I've always found the folks friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful; a good place to start.
Hope you both have great trips to Yellowstone, send a report and pics when you get back!