View Full Version : Slough Creek, MT

02-15-2007, 07:40 AM
After debating about it for over a year and very heavily for the past month, i've decided that i'm going to try to go to montana this year!!!! One of the things that immediately caught my attention were some of the horse/pack trips to slough creek for native cutthroat trout. As much as like to fish the backcountry streams around here, it looks like the deal for me. I was wondering if anyone has any experience or any advice of where to call? I am looking at staying for no longer than a week, probably a little shorter, and don't have a ton of money to put into it. I know i have a Blue Ribbon Flies catalog at home and they offer trips there that don't seem too bad, but i don't really know where to start looking, just thought maybe y'all had some good experiences with someone out there. Thanks alot.


Dancing Bear
02-15-2007, 08:07 AM
Hey Mtnman. Any extended trip with an outfitter will be pricey. An alternative is to do a drop camp. Beartooth Plateau Outfitters and maybe some others will take you and your gear back into the Slough Creek area to a backcountry campsite and drop you off and come back for you in several days. It is cheaper than paying for the full service. It is more like backpacking without carrying a pack. You won't have the cots, big tents and other "luxeries" of a horse camp. We fished the third meadow on Slough a couple of years ago and it is awsome.

02-15-2007, 09:36 AM
Slough Creek is my favorite place on earth to fish, but you don't need to go all the way to the head of the creek to get into good fishing. In point of fact, according to the staff at Matthews' Blue Ribbon Flies (no relation) in West when I was there last summer, the first Meadow and the area near the Slough Creek confluence with the Lamar actually hold more and bigger trout.

I fished Slough Creek two complete days last August, and both were very good. Hoppers and Cicadas drove the fish wild, but I had takes on Madam Xs, Turck's Tarantulas, as well as Zuddler minnow streamers. I think it pays to go large with the fly, stay well back and out of sight of the cutthroat, and cast where they aren't looking and twitch the fly when they turn around. Slough is very slow water in most places and the trout have ample time to explore their surroundings. I got the most explosive takes on a big Rogue Salmonfly, which remembles an orange-and-black striped cicada, which is what I'm sure they took it as.

Here are some examples of what Slough looks like:






I need to reprocess these images, actually - these were done on a laptop in camp in the field and have a bit of a purple tint that wasn't there, but it'll give you an idea anyway.


02-15-2007, 10:01 AM
Zach's right. You really don't have to go into the backcountry on Slough for good fishing. Last summer some friends and I fished there for the first time. We planned to head into one of the upper meadows, but the parking area was packed with cars, and we saw about 10 fishermen headed up the trail. We decided to fish the lower meadow, and found it to be great. There were only a few anglers other than ourselves. It took us awhile to figure the fish out, but once we did, they were willing enough (although I didn't do nearly as well as it sounds like Zach did). Beautiful place. An added benefit of not going into the backcountry is that you could hit other rivers like the Lamar and the Yellowstone on the same trip. I don't know if you've ever fished in YNP, but if not, I highly recommend sampling several of the rivers. We only had a week for our trip as well, but we're planning a longer trip for next year. Take care and enjoy your trip,


02-15-2007, 10:39 AM
Thanks for the help and those are some great pics! What i had planned on doing was fishing slough for a couple days and then hitting firehole for a day or two. Those who have been out there, what do you recommend? Also, what guide service did you go through? Thanks again i really appreciate it.


02-15-2007, 11:32 AM
Those really are some great photos. I had seen them on your site before. I appreciate your photography and the tips you give. I'm trying to improve my own skills in that area.

Our trip last summer was our first one out West, and we didn't use a guide. I think if you're an experienced fly fisherman, you don't need a guide at all. Just read some on the area and pick some spots to fish. We had a couple of total novices in our group (including my wife) that still managed to catch some fish. The only difficulty was figuring out which fly the fish wanted. The fish were much less "skittish" than in the Smokies, or at least seemed so to me. My first cutthroat (a fat 16 incher) was caught in Slough just after three of us had waded through its home! All that's just my opinion. I'm sure you'd catch more fish with a guide, but just letting you know that you'd probably be ok without one. Take care,


David Knapp
02-15-2007, 12:51 PM
mtnman, if you want to fish both the Firehole and Slough Creek, you might want to think about going in September. The Firehole apparently gets to warm in July and August (depending on the weather of course). The Firehole fishes well early in the season but Slough Creek probably wouldn't be fishable that early which leaves you with September. Of course, it is possible that the Firehole would be fine in July or August but not guaranteed. Slough Creek usually doesn't clear from snowmelt until July according to most sources. The snowpack this year is very low however so this might happen a bit earlier.

Also, unless you just want to spend a day with a guide, it probably isn't necessary for success out there. If you can catch fish in our small streams here, then you will do fine out there.

I'm hoping to hit YNP this summer as well. Maybe we need to have a board member meeting out there...:rolleyes:

02-15-2007, 02:32 PM
Yes i did some more research todya and found out that firehole gets too warm during the summer, up to 80 degrees! Wow! Anyways, i really want to go out there and get into some native cutthroats. Do you really think that i don't need a guide? I'm not real up on my "matchign the hatch" skills. I would hate to go out there and not catch anything. Thanks again.


02-15-2007, 03:01 PM

I have a theory here. I have had some excellent guides in my early FF career that have taught me great things and helped me catch some nice fish. These days I am all about discovery. It's the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat! I have developed confidence in my abilities and research the area I am going to fish well ahead of time. I think it is a highly personal choice to get a guide. If you want great insights,skill and a higher percentage chance to catch fish in a foreign location,I would most certainly recommend a guide. If you want to master your own developed skills then go solo. Either way, I think you will be richly rewarded!!

02-15-2007, 03:21 PM
I was also in Yellowstone August 11-18 2006. I caught my first cutthroat on the Lamar river. I fished a 2 fly dry fly rig. A Para Hopper size 6&8 and a black and cinn. para ant size 14 behind it. I had my wife and kids with me, so I didn't venture to far upstream.
I wanted to go up the Slough, but spent a lot of time siteseeing and never made it back up there.

I like Arricks fly shop in West Yellowstone. They gave me good info. and are definitely the friendliest shop in town. I booked a float trip thru them for the Madison. I used Pat Bond as my guide. (lostforkoutfitters.com) My son and I caught a lot of fish and really had a good time.
I have also fished there the last week of Oct. and the fishing is great on the Madison. No crowds either but the weather can change quickly with 50's one day and 10" of snow the next. I went with a couple of guys who had fished YNP several times, so we didn't need a guide. Can't wait to go back!

02-15-2007, 03:24 PM
As far as matching the hatch...well, there wasn't much of that on our trip. There were quite a few PMDs (or something like them) on the water and in the grass the day we fished Slough. I tried everything remotely close to them in my boxes. None worked. That first cutt hit a big, ugly beetle. The rest of the trip, we used big attractor terrestrial patterns. That seemed to be the ticket. They wouldn't touch a small #18 beetle I tried a time or two. This was in late July.

Just so you can compare, I've been fly fishing for about 7 years, but I only take a handful of trips for trout each year. I'm just now getting into warm water opportunities here in north Alabama. I have very little experience outside the Smokies, and therefore, have almost no experience "matching the hatch." I'm not a very good caster, although I can "dap" pretty well :) Totally self-taught, never used a guide. I love the sport, but would never be mistaken for a "good" fly fisherman. If I can do it, I'm sure you can. That being said, you would probably gain a lot from using a guide, and I'm sure you'd catch more fish at first. Take care,


Mark the Hammer
02-15-2007, 03:34 PM
We fishing Slough Creek for one day, fished the 1st Meadow and had great results. We just used Stimulator patterns...

Now, getting gear back and forth for an extended trip could be a pain. If you can get some assistance with that, I would recommend it. However, a guide is not that necessary in my opinion. It is a lot of sight fishing (the water is slow and CLEAR) as well as casting to normal lying positions for trout.

02-19-2007, 10:33 PM

Ditto on everything said so far. I was last on Slough in September '04. That was my third time.

A few points:
1) Outfitting is so darn expensive. We outfitted for a trip in the Gallatin Range last year, and gosh.... probably won't be doing that again for a while. We used llamas instead of horses, as riding a horse seems to me to be like driving a car - you don't get to stop every few feet and look at a flower or a Mormon cricket or a rock. Plus I like hiking.
2) Bears are a big deal in the upper meadows of Slough. In '04 a ranger jumped all over me for leaving a daypack on the ground about 20 feet from me (he said it should be no more than 2 feet from me). He then explained that the prior evening a bear had torn up the camp near us (we were near that first nice campsite in Second Meadow; I'm sure most of you here know which one I'm talking about). Also, in '02 I encountered a black bear myself about a half mile from the parking lot. There is a pic of him in the links below.
3) Many fly shops seem snotty to me (not LRO though, of course!). Last year I was raft-guided on the Yellowstone by a guy name Something Borg out of Matson Roger's fly shop, "Angler's West Flyfishing Outfitters" in Emigrant, MT. Everything about them is superb, and I would highly recommend them. Very friendly. http://www.montanaflyfishers.com/
4) While the trout in Slough are big and easy to catch, I'll disagree a little bit with another poster. You may not believe how crazy some of the big western flies are if you have only ever fished in the east. Be sure to stop by a flyshop to get a few of the big, audacious flies they might be hitting on Slough. On our hike in in '04, we encountered some anglers that reported success on size 20 somethings and size 18 somethingelses. The wind was already picking up, so I thought there was no way that I would even try a small fly. First cast with a 2" long black and red Chernobyl Ant got a rise, and 4th cast I hooked and landed my first one. Stayed with huge flies all day, and did quite well.
5) Firehole gets too hot in the summer; Slough won't fish until summer! Early September is a great time to go, but don't be too discouraged if you get snowed on.
6) Slough gets very crowded, especially in the upper meadows. I'd say to fish the first nice looking and unclaimed spot you encounter.

Here are some links to my last 3 Yellowstone trips (some non-flyfishing stuff in there):
- July '02 http://crunks.com/vacations/Yellowstone,%20July-02/index.shtml
- Sept '04 http://crunks.com/vacations/Yellowstone,%20Sep-04/index.shtml
- Aug '06 http://crunks.com/index.php?page=yellowstone-mid-august

Good luck!

03-02-2007, 06:47 AM
In 1998 or 99 I went with a group to MT. We did a one day horse back trip to the third meadow of Slough. We used Bearpaw Outfitters out of Livingston. The guy who ran it was Tim Bowers I think. It was around $200.00 a person if I remember. You can't go wrong in the park. Have a great trip. Try all of the streams that go into the Lamar River. I think Bearpaw does offer trips that are more than one day. They also do elk hunts north of the park.

03-11-2007, 04:55 PM
Is the campground located at Slough Creek decent? My son and I are going in late July and are definitely doing the camper route. I would like hit this area for a couple of days for sure and want to limit the drive time. I only get 100 miles a day, and will definitely need some miles to get back to Bozeman. Looks like Tower campground is the closest large facility. Is the one at Slough Creek decent size?


03-13-2007, 07:41 AM
I have been in YNP the last two summers towards the end of July first of August and other then the Firehole the fishing was awesome. Slough Creek, Soda Butte, Lamar, Madison, etc.. What I didn't do the first summer was to stop into Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. Those fellows know their fishing and every inch of the park. Stop in even if you don't use a guide from them you will come out of there after spending an hour or two with so many tips on fishing YNP, you will catch fish. I used the Grizzly Lodge in Silver Gate as a base camp (it's old and worn but very clean) besides it surrounded on three side by Soda Butte Creek. Oh, before you go get a couple of Fishing Yellowstone (small yellow book) put out by the owner of BRF's. Everything you need to know about each fishing hole in YNP.

03-27-2007, 02:06 PM
My Brother in Law and I are going to be out there the 23rd through the 30th of June. Anyone else heading out that week?
We are planning on starting at the Henry's Fork, then Southfork, on to Ennis, then to Yellowstone. It will take too long to get here and the time spent will pass too fast!