View Full Version : Yellowstone National Park - report

09-02-2009, 09:34 PM
This would be my first trip to Yellowstone National Park. It was original suppose to be a fishing trip for 4 anglers, but turned into a trip for me and my Dad. Dad had been to Yellowstone before and while he doesn't fly fish, he agreed to join me for that purpose.
We left NE TN at 4:00AM on Monday, August 17th. 18 hours later we crossed into South Dakota. We found a motel and headed out the next morning for Billings, MT. Tuesday evening we found a motel outside of Billings in the town of Laurel, MT. We had hoped to head out early the next morning over Beartooth Pass and into the NE entrance of the park. I was aware of the road work in the park, but had not considered the road work outside the park. We left early, but discovered that the road was closed at night while they were ripping up pavement and would not open until 8:00AM. So we stopped to enjoy the drive up
After they opened the road we enjoyed the drive over Beartooth Pass and into the park
I had originally hoped to camp in Pebble Creek if we could find a spot, we arrived a couple of hours later than we had hoped to but we found a few spots open including one right along the creek, so we set up camp
this would be our base of operation for the next 9 days
and the view from out front door each day
after getting everything set up, we headed into Mammoth for some bear spray and fishing liscence as well as a little sight seeing
Hot Springs in Mammoth
Discovered they also have black bears (there was a cub hiding behind her)
When we got back into camp, we had a little stove trouble so we didn't get to fish on that first day. So we headed to bed with plans of fishing the upper Meadows of Pebble Creek on Thursday morning, August 20th.

09-02-2009, 09:52 PM
The upper meadows of Pebble are about 8 miles above the campground, but rather than hiking in from there we drove back up toward the NE entrance and hiked in from the Warm Creek trailhead. This is only about 2 miles from the upper end of the meadows, but requires about a 1,000 foot climb in a little over a mile. We started early and made it to the meadows
There is no way in words to describe the beauty or the solitude that this area offers, but we discovered that the creek was pretty small and there wasn't a lot of places for the trout to hold
But it was here that I caught my first cutthroat on a "fat albert", however I quickly discovered that they are easier to catch than to hold on to, after letting a couple slip through my hands I finally got a few pictures
I brought a dozen or so fish to hand, but none of any size. Dad hooked a few but couldn't hold on to any of them. It was a great start in a beautiful setting, but we definitely wanted to see a little more water. As we started out, Dad began to realize that the hike in a had taken a lot out of him. At 65 I thought he did very well, but I was going to need to slow my pace anad we were going to need to change our plans. So the next day, Friday, we decided to do a little more sight seeing...
Old Faithful
That evening we headed up for our first look at Trout Lake
I noticed that there were plenty of fish and plenty of caddis on the water, but it seemed that the fish were paying no attention to the caddis. I had no luck that evening, but was making some mental notes as the fish began to get a little more active as it got later and thought that I might have a plan when we returned another day.
After a day of sight seeing, we were planning to get back to the fishing on Saturday, hoping to find some place away from the crowds.

09-02-2009, 10:11 PM
On Saturday, August 22nd, we started early for Hellroaring Creek. After leaving the trailhead we hiked down to the Suspension Bridge over the Yellowstone
We discovered that Hellroaring had a little more water and after landing a fish on the first cast (no picture, this one also squirmed out of my hand) that the fish were a little bigger as well
I wish I had taken a few more underwater shots
Dad brought to hand his first fly-caught trout here and I probably landed about 25 with several more getting lose and plenty getting out of hand
Seriously, I think for every picture of a fish I have in my hand I have two pictures of a fish getting out of my hand. We had intended to fish up to the bridge, but stopped at the patrol cabin and made our way back to the trail and climbed back up toward the suspension bridge
The hike back up was pretty tough for dad. We had hike in during cool temps in the morning but it was in the mid to upper 80's on the way out and a pretty steep climb. We decided to make Sunday another tourist day

09-02-2009, 10:31 PM
Even though we decided not to fish on Sunday, we still took a pretty tough hike to Mount Washburn. It was a little cloudy that day so I want bore you with the pictures, but if you take one hike in the park that doesn't involve fishing you might want to make it Mount Washburn, if you are lucky you will see plenty of these

On Monday we hiked to Grebe Lake. I talked to a guy in the parking lot who had been fishing there for 23 years. This was a great hike and a beautiful place, I would love to spend a few days camped on these shores
I hooked a couple of good fish, but only landed small grayling
and rainbows

That evening we headed back up to Trout Lake (a little closer to dark)
after watching a fish swim in circles with its head on the bottom and its tail up I began to remember the words of the man at the Grebe Lake trailhead when I told him I had only been to Trout Lake he responded with this "big fish, won't eat". I finally pulled myself off of this particular fish and after landing a small one, I finally got this one

With that mission accomplished we headed for camp and decided to fish near the road on Tuesday on Soda Butte. The stream was still a little cloudy from the Sunday evening rain so I decided to throw a streamer. I hooked several good fish only to have them get off, which I thought was really strange with a streamer, but I finally did land a few
This stream is right next to the road and gets really crowded really fast. Within 30 minutes of being on stream I had someone above me and below me and felt really boxed in. I passed this area at least twice every day for 9 days and can't recall seeing one bent rod except a lady who was fishing right underneath the bridge below the Lamar River trailhead, congrats to her. Feeling like the water should be clear I was looking forward to and try to keep Dad rested for Wednesday.

09-02-2009, 10:53 PM
On Wednesday, August 25th, we started early for the 2nd meadow of Slough Creek. I confess that I was a little nervous about fishing here, the words from the local fly shop was that by this time in the season it was a great place to watch big trout come look at your fly and then refuse it.
On the hike in we passed the horse-drawn wagon from Silver Tip Ranch on the way out for supplies

I had intended to fish the upper portions of the second meadow, but after passing-up the first meadow and realizing that there was no one in front of us I just had to stop in the lower portions of the second meadow. Upon arriving on the creek, we discovered that this truly was going to be about sight fishing. After watching several fish come and look at my hopper only to refuse it I sat down on the bank and watched the fish. I convinced myself to forget that I was out west and do what I would do if I were back home. So, I tied on nothing but a small nymph and 1st cast netted
and then
the next 4 hours saw a lot of
So what if my hat's on crooked and I've got a goofy grin, I'm having a lot of fun. Most of the fish were in the 14-17" range and this was all about sight-fishing. I only fished about 500 yards of this stream. I ended the day fishing a very small emerger with 6 cast into a single run that hooked-up with 5 fish and landed 3 of them all similiar to this one

After a great day of fishing we headed out a little early realizing that we had a 4 mile hike back to the trailhead. We had only seen two other anglers come into the second meadow but noticed at least a dozen in the first meadow on our way out. The next morning we were considering relocating near the south side of the park because we were going to go out that way on Friday, but after packing up the campsite we headed on out on Thursday through the Grand Teton National Park

It took us 3 days to get home and in the end we had traveled 5400 miles with a little over 1200 of those inside the park. What a trip!

09-02-2009, 11:11 PM
This was my first trip to Yellowstone National Park and I am not pretended to know anything about fishing there, but I would like to make a few observations for anyone who might be considering doing it for the first time. I know I had a lot of questions before I went
-The park is huge (accept the fact that you will never see it all)
-I thought I couldn't afford this trip, the truth is it cost us about $800 each which isn't bad for a 2 week vacation (our biggest expense was fuel, about $450, and if you drive you will need 2 weeks)
-The streams near the road are crowded (at least in the NE corner)
-The campgrounds fill-up fast, every day there were people looking for camping spots and not finding any
-I would buy the bear spray, while I never saw a grizzly I saw enough sign to make me glad I had it
-I never used my waders and chose to wet-wade instead, some streams you will never even put your feet in the water
-However, I did have trouble with the heels of my feet getting dry and cracking (maybe from being wet so much) as well as nose bleeds from the dry air
-While we were blessed with great weather, be prepared for anything, our temps ranged from 37 to 87 but it can get cooler and hotter and quickly
-I was excited about fishing with western flies (to the point that I was running very low on all of my normal flies, because I was saving my money to buy plenty of big hoppers), well the truth is most of those hoppers are still in the box and I ran out of the flies I normally fish here at home. There may be days that those big flies pay off, but I am convince that on Slough Creek anyway, if I had continued to throw big flies I would have spent the day watching fish refuse my fly.
-Also, I notice that the fish didn't "slam" the fly quiet the way I expected, they were just as deliberate as most tailwater trout and if your drift wasn't drag free many times they refused it (maybe it was time of year)

Again, not claiming to know anything just hoping to answer some of the questions I had before I went in case some one is considering a first time trip. Hope you all get to go.

I should add a word of thanks to LRO for providing this forum as a place for us to exchange information and I apologize if my post was to lengthy. Also thanks to the folks from this board who helped answer my questions before this trip.


09-03-2009, 07:07 AM

Great post. I hoped to make it out there this year but will have to wait till next spring. Yellowstone is an incredible place.

09-03-2009, 08:37 AM
Thanks for the great pictures. Brought back some great memories of my first trip to the Yellowstone. Hope you and your Dad get to make many more trips there. Next time you go checkout the Firehole and some of the streams in the West Yellowstone area./ amazing place. Thanks again.

Younger Tom
09-03-2009, 09:55 AM
What sort of rods (size & pieces) did you take out there and how did it do? Would you make any changes?

09-03-2009, 10:20 AM
Great post. Between you and David Knapp, I'm longing for another trip out there. August 2006 seems like a long time ago now! Don't you love those cool 30 degree temps. in the mornings and sunny warm but not hot afternoons?

Tennessee Jed
09-03-2009, 12:42 PM

Thank you for such a thorough, and entertaining report. I had the privilege of visiting Yellowstone in the summer of 07, and your photos bring back fond memories and gave me a chance to live vicariously through your trip.

Scott H.
09-03-2009, 01:37 PM
Wow! Thanks for a great report, and pictures.

Those pictures made my week. I was in Montana last October. Those are memories you don't ever lose.

Seems like yesterday, and I wish I was going there tomorrow.

Hal M
09-03-2009, 04:42 PM
I've been fortunate to make a few trips to Yellowstone. My favorite places to fish is Lamar River(if clear, Blacktail Deer Crek, Gibbons, and the Gallatin. Looks like you had a fantastic trip. Makes me want tobe there right now. Fewer people afer Labor Day and elk will be bugling. Hopper pattern with PMD trailer would be working. Thanks for the post and great pictures.

Hal M

09-03-2009, 05:52 PM
Thanks for all the comments guys. I really owe to people who have made similiar reports in the past, because that was what encouraged me to make this trip happen. Without reports from this board I might have never made this trip, now I just hope to do it again someday.

Younger Tom, in regard to your question about tackle - I fished with the same rod I fish here an 8 1/2' winston biix 5wt. I did take a back-up rod just in case I were to break something. I fished 9' 4x leaders with 5x tippet except on Slough where I fished 6x tippet on the same 9' leader.
The only other time I did anything different was the 1 day that I threw streamers on Soda Butte and there I used the same leader I would here for throwing streamers a 9' 2x leader. I was very satisfied with that choice and would not have wanted anything else. The possible exception might have been on the lakes where a 9' rod would have been nice to help keep the line up and off the grass behind me. I really wasn't making any long cast and the fish were not as line or leader shy as they are on my home waters (SoHo). To give an example that first fish I caught on Slough was holding about 10' off the bank directly beside of me, if I just lifted my rod on the SoHo he would have been gone, but there I tied on a small nymph and made the cast without him spooking. The fly landed about 2-3' above him and I watched it drift and him eat. So in the end I pretty much used the same gear I use here except shorter leaders and I was very satisfied.


09-03-2009, 06:46 PM

I'm glad to see you did that trip after all. Man you beat me to the grayling. LOL> Glad you had fun with your dad.

09-03-2009, 08:11 PM
Nice! My work sent me out to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming & Utah last winter. Too bad everything was covered in snow!

09-03-2009, 09:42 PM
MtnMike, You captured beautifully the magic that is Yellowstone. Certainly brought back some wonderful memories. Monk

09-05-2009, 12:21 AM
Awsome post and pics! Definitly have to make a trip out ther some day.

09-05-2009, 09:35 AM
Glad you got to go. Your pictures bring back great memories of the trip my son and I made there in the summer of 2008. Yellowstone is indeed a very special place. Nez Perce creek, Blacktail Deer Creek, Friehole, Madison, Gibbon, wow, I want to go back NOW.

Too much work, too litle fishing.

Thanks for the report and the pictures. It made me feel like I was back there again.


Tiger fly
09-07-2009, 09:52 PM
Great pictures! I can't wait to head out there. 33 more hours!!

09-08-2009, 09:46 PM
right before I got to the forum I was booking some nights at lodges in YNP for early June 2010.

Thanks for the pics