The Yellowstone River
Yellowstone Park Section
Brink of Upper Yellowstone Falls
Brink of Upper Yellowstone Falls

White men first noted the Yellowstone River in 1743 when an explorer named La Verendrye reached the area of the South Dakota's Mandan Villages. Later David Thompson of Canada's Northwest Company is credited with the first writing of the name in English, in 1798. But David Thompson did not explore beyond the Yellowstone River's mouth on the Missouri. Indians before La Verendrye named the Yellowstone River and David Thompson came into the area. It was on the Yellowstone around Billings in 1806 when Lewis and Clark ran into Manual Lisa who was setting up a trading post when Manual Lisa recruited Lewis and Clark expedition member John Colter to go scout out the snake river and Yellowstone country for possible Indian traders for Lisa's trading post.

The Yellowstone River drainage hosts exceptional scenery and some of the most diverse wildlife on earth. You can see elk, bison, grizzlies, moose, majestic mountains, canyons and waterfalls. And is a world-renowned trout-fishing destination.

It begins in the Teton Wilderness in northwest Wyoming's rugged Absoraka Mountains 671 miles upstream from the confluence with the Missouri, from here the Yellowstone winds unencumbered by dams all the way to South Dakota's rolling prairies,

The upper Yellowstone is pretty much as it always has been, and is being managed by Yellowstone Park and Montana Game and Fish for the welfare of the fish and wildlife that live around it. This has preserved one of the best trout rivers, outside of Alaska or Canada. Winding through Yellowstone Park and into Montana to the town of Big Timber, the famous trout water of the Yellowstone flows for nearly 250 miles. This is the topic of this of this page.

The Yellowstone's Headwaters

Yellowstone River Headwaters

The river upstream from Yellowstone Lake presents a true wilderness fishing opportunity. This stretch of the Yellowstone runs through perhaps the most isolated area in the lower 48 states and can only be reached by hiking, horseback or crossing Yellowstone Lake. This is the Thorofare region and is the Yellowstone's 30 miles of headwater; The Yellowstone here is a meandering, braided stream with a clean gravel or sand-silt bottom. It is in a broad mountain valley, one to three miles across, which is often marshy or boggy. Where the headwaters enter the Yellowstone Lake is known as the Yellowstone Delta.

If you want to fish an almost untouched trout stream the headwaters of the Yellowstone is the best place in the lower forty-eight states to do so. Its remoteness has preserved a fly-fishing treasure. In these headwaters, fishing is permitted before July 15 for those who enter the river from outside the park. But the best time to fish is after runoff in august or later. The Yellowstone cutthroat average 16 inches and there are plenty of them. The water itself is a meandering meadow stream, with many riffles, runs and pools. Watch out for the mosquitoes and grizzlies and carry a new can of pepper spray. Pepper spray has a shelf life so don't go up there without a fresh can. This area is as wild now as it was 200 years ago and it remains one of the most difficult spots in the west to reach. If this is ever your destination plan on a minimum of three days three days to visit and fish it

Early July hatches include golden stones, little yellow sallies and caddis. From mid-July through August you'll find green drakes and pale morning duns. When the weather cools in September the blue-wing olive hatches keep you going till the fall snows chase you out of the mountains. Trout spawn in this section from June till the end of July so some egg patterns may be a good choice also.

Fishing Bridge Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

bison, fly-fisherman, yellowstone river
Watch your back-cast as you never know what you may hang your fly on while fishing the Yellowstone

The Upper Yellowstone from Yellowstone Lake to Gardner Montana stretches115 miles, carving it's way through two beautiful canyons, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Black Canyon, These canyons reach as high as 1,200 feet above the river. From Yellowstone Lake at Fishing Bridge the river emerges as one of the largest trout streams in the nation, Just below the lake outlet, the river is very wide at 300 to 400 feet across. This water is mostly broad and flat and broken by riffles, braids and pools. The first mile below the outlet is closed to fishing. From the end of this closed area to the start of the next closed area at Sulfur Caldron, is a stretch about six miles long that is so prolific that hundreds of anglers may be found fishing it's waters and it still remains a legendary fishery. The fishing here is catch-and-release fishing only and is restricted to flies and single-hook lures. Only a small portion of the water can be covered by wading and flotation devices of any kind are not allowed. The most popular water is the nine miles below Fishing Bridge, including Buffalo Ford. Due to the sheer power of the river, crossing the river by wading is dangerous if not impossible in all but a few spots, such as Buffalo Ford, which can only be traversed during low water.

A couple of miles below the outlet the road winds along close to this awesome stretch of fishing providing good access. The river here is a large, deep, and smooth looking river but this is deceiving, this is a very powerful river so use all due caution.

At Le Hardy Rapids the character of the river changes to a fast-water stretch about halfway between the lake outlet and Sulfur Caldron. At times, for study and management purposes, this area is closed to fishing.

Yellowstone River Fly-fisherman Yellowstone National Park
A fly-fisherman throws a Nice loop

Buffalo Ford is the well-known spot where anglers compete for water by the tens of dozens. On some days, as many as 150 fishermen will visit this quarter-mile-long stretch and, incredibly, all will catch a few trout from two to three pounds.

The river below Sulfur Caldron down to Alum Creek is closed to fishing and is a nature study area that is loaded with wildlife. This is a great place to visit even if you can't fish it because the wildlife you may see here including bison, moose, mule deer, antelope, coyotes, muskrat, marmots, wolves, and grizzly bear.

From Alum Creek to Chittenden Bridge the river bottom is a featureless affair of various silts, muds and clays over lava bedrock. The current is swift and becomes too deep to wade. Due to the character of the river bottom and the lack of gravel, hatches are poor here; fish are fewer, however it does hold a few surprises.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Lower Yellowstone Falls on the Yellowstone River
Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River from the air.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is jaw dropping beautiful. This canyon contains two magnificent waterfalls, the Upper Yellowstone Falls which is 110 foot tall and Lower Yellowstone Falls which is a drop of 310 feet to where the river courses below the 1200 foot yellow cliffs of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. There are several safe locations from which the falls and canyon may be viewed. Some are a long walk down stairways and they provide many photogenic vantage points if you are up for a hike.

There are trout in this stretch, but they are neither larger nor more plentiful than elsewhere although is seems like there should be. The Grand Canyon can only be reached by a steep 1,500-foot vertical climb into and out of the canyon. The river in the canyons is deep, turbulent, and runs over boulders that create powerful eddies and lots of pocket water. Wade fishing in the canyons is extremely dangerous, so you are better off fishing from bank. The river comes out of the Grand Canyon close to Tower Falls. There is a mile or two of good, fast, pocket water above and below the Cooke City Road Bridge that is great to fish.

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone

There are big fish at the end of the Rainbow at the bottom of the Hell Roaring trail in the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone

Just down river from the Cooke City Road Bridge is the start of Black Canyon which stretches for about twenty miles to Gardiner Montana. From the head of the canyon to Gardiner, the river can't be seen from the road, and is a one to four miles hike from the Mammoth-Tower Junction Road depending on where you hike in from.

For those willing to make this relatively easy hike, they will be rewarded with solitude and good fishing. It is fished only by the hardcore. Yet it is not that difficult of access and is excellent fishing for large, abundant, and wild, cutthroat trout of one and two pounds,

Black Canyon provides fast water, runs, rapids and cascades. There are some very large pools, but they are pools with a powerful current. The pool bottoms are smooth bedrock and the rest of the river bottom is large freestone. Waders cannot generally be used, so wear your hiking boots to ease your hike.

The Upper Yellowstone opens for fishing on Memorial Day weekend on Grand Canyon and Black Canyon, but not until July 15 at Yellowstone Delta (just above the lake) and from Fishing Bridge to the Grand Canyon. All areas close on the first Sunday of November. The canyons typically do not provide much action until early July, with the Delta picking up shortly thereafter. The window of opportunity is brief, as trout begin returning to Yellowstone Lake in August.

Stoneflies, yellow stoneflies, green drakes, caddis, blue-winged olives and pale morning duns, and Caddis often produce blanket hatches during the summer. While some of the hatches carry over into September and into October, fishing in fall is much slower, because most of the trout above the falls return to the lake after the spawn. In the canyons, the optimal time to fly fish is late June through early July. There are several caddis species that generally are found along the current edges and in the quieter waters.

Yellowstone River North of the Park

Montana River Fishing Outfitters
Madison River Outfitters
Madison River Outfitters • (West Yellowstone) Native cutthroats rising for hoppers along a grassy cut bank on the Yellowstone… Big brown trout slashing at emerging caddis in a broad riffle on Montana’s Madison… Wild rainbows sipping tiny blue winged olives in a setting of incomparable beauty on the Firehole… This is just a sample of the action that takes place somewhere in our ‘backyard’ each day of the season! Madison River Outfitters, featuring an impressive selection of quality fly fishing tackle, custom flies, rugged outdoor clothing and hiking and backpacking equipment, is one of the finest fly shops in the Rocky Mountain West. We offer guide service in Montana and Yellowstone National Park and our friendly guides are committed to providing you with a great fly fishing experience on the world class fisheries surrounding West Yellowstone.
East Slope Outdoors • (Big Sky) East Slope Outdoors provides three types of guided trips, all based out of Big Sky, Montana, your Blue Ribbon River fly fishing headquarters. Whether you want to introduce yourself to the sport, hone your skills with fly fishing professional, or simply enjoy a great day on the river, you're sure to appreciate the company of our friendly expert guides.
East Slope Outdoors fishing trips
Anglers West, Paradise Valley Montana
Angler's West Flyfishing Outfitters • (Paradise Valley Montana) Big Sky Flies and Guides Outfitting Co. has merged with Angler's West Flyfishing Outfitters! We continue to offer the same fantastic guide service you've come to know and trust, and the finest selection of flyfishing equipment and quality outdoor apparrel at our Emigrant flyshop location. We are the premier Paradise Valley flyfishing outfitter. Come visit us and do so often!
The River’s Edge • (Bozeman Montana) Bozeman Montana’s premier fly fishing outfitter and fly shop. With the Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers a short drive away and a store that carries only the finest in fly fishing products including Simms, Winston, Sage, Ross and Galvan, we’re confident we will provide the very best Montana trout fishing experience. Come see for yourself...
rivers edge fishing trips
Greater Yellowstone Region Fishing Outfitters
Fly-fisherman Fall Creek Falls, Swan Valley Idaho

Teton Valley Lodge • (Teton Valley ID)  Matt and Brian Berry's families have ownership of the lodge. Once you visit Teton Valley Lodge you are part of our family. That is not a statement, this is how we really feel. You are the most important part of what Teton Valley Lodge is all about. We want you to love fly fishing as much as we do and as much as all those that came before us. Idaho fly fishing guiding is what we do. It's really what we've always done.  The heart of Teton Valley Lodge has always been its guides. We learned how to guide from a very young age from our father. Many of our guides have been fishing for decades and some have been guiding for decades. Our goal is simple, catch as many fish as possible. We have the guides to make that goal a reality. Our home is on the Teton River but we also guide on the South Fork of the Snake River and and on the Henrys Fork.

Reel Deal Anglers • (Jackson Hole Wyoming) Reel Deal Anglers is Jackson Hole’s Premier fishing guide service, don’t wait in a fly-fishing shop (we provide all the flies), we pick you up and take you right to the river. We guide on the Snake River, Green River, Henry’s Fork River, South Fork River, Madison River, New Fork River, Salt River, Gros Ventre River and the Teton River as well as numerous backcountry streams, popular spring creeks, and exclusive private water opportunities, so we can put you on the hottest water available at any given time. Our guides are superb and are experts onthe water they specialize in. With Reel Deal Anglers, you’ll float and wade fish on beautiful rivers, encounter surprised wildlife, catch native trout while entertaining chance encounters with elk, moose, bison osprey and bald eagles fishing the same waters as you.

East Slope Outdoors • (Big Sky Montana) East Slope Outdoors provides three types of guided trips, all based out of Big Sky, Montana, your Blue Ribbon River fly fishing headquarters. Whether you want to introduce yourself to the sport, hone your skills with fly fishing professional, or simply enjoy a great day on the river, you're sure to appreciate the company of our friendly expert guides.

Jackson Hole Outdoors • (Jackson Hole Wyoming) Don Wackerman offers anglers the fishing adventure of a lifetime with half-day and full-day float trips on one of North America's top trout streams, the legendary Snake River in the shadow of the breathtaking Grand Teton mountain range.

Henrys Fork Anglers • (Island Park Idaho) Henry's Fork Anglers is located on the banks of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Last Chance, Idaho. The Henry's Fork is one of the most famous and diverse fly fishing rivers in the world, with plenty to offer the advanced fly fisher as well as the beginner. Its prolific aquatic insect hatches draw fly fishers from around the globe to test their skills against highly selective rainbow trout.

Angler's West Flyfishing Outfitters • (Paradise Valley Montana) Big Sky Flies and Guides Outfitting Co. has merged with Angler's West Flyfishing Outfitters! We continue to offer the same fantastic guide service you've come to know and trust, and the finest selection of flyfishing equipment and quality outdoor apparrel at our Emigrant flyshop location. We are the premier Paradise Valley flyfishing outfitter. Come visit us and do so often!

Actress Heather Thomas fly-fising on the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The River’s Edge • ( Bozeman Montana) Bozeman Montana’s premier fly fishing outfitter and fly shop. With the Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers a short drive away and a store that carries only the finest in fly fishing products including Simms, Winston, Sage, Ross and Galvan, we’re confident we will provide the very best Montana trout fishing experience. Come see for yourself...

Madison River Outfitters • (West Yellowstone MT) Native cutthroats rising for hoppers along a grassy cut bank on the Yellowstone… Big brown trout slashing at emerging caddis in a broad riffle on Montana’s Madison… Wild rainbows sipping tiny blue winged olives in a setting of incomparable beauty on the Firehole… This is just a sample of the action that takes place somewhere in our ‘backyard’ each day of the season! Madison River Outfitters, featuring an impressive selection of quality fly fishing tackle, custom flies, rugged outdoor clothing and hiking and backpacking equipment, is one of the finest fly shops in the Rocky Mountain West. We offer guide service in Montana and Yellowstone National Park and our friendly guides are committed to providing you with a great fly fishing experience on the world class fisheries surrounding West Yellowstone.

Tim Wade's North Fork Anglers • (Cody Wyoming) Tim Wade's North Fork Anglers is the premier Greater Yellowstone Fly Fishing Headquarters! Seen on ESPN, TNN Outdoor and other outdoors fly fishing programs, this fly shop is always a must stop destination for all anglers wanting the latest information on hatches, conditions, and the right equipment before they head out to explore the waters of the region. Tim Wade, owner and outfitter, has been guiding and instructing anglers in the Cody Wyoming / Yellowstone region for more than 20 years. During those years he has taught or written about fly fishing, fly tying, fly casting and entomology, sharing his knowledge of water and fish behavior with thousands of during that time. He still lovesto see one of his guests on a guided trip get hooked up with a wily brown, or untangle knots when needed, because it is all part of the job as guide or outfitter. "This is a job that is a privilege for me," Tim says. "My office is not bad either.

Two Rivers Emporium • (Pinedale Wyoming) Two Rivers Emporium offers some of the finest rainbow and brown trout fishing in the state of Wyoming. Our guides are extremely efficient and up to date on hatches and which flies and lures are working. We are here to help you in any way to make your fishing vacation more memorable. If there is any thing we can do, please contact us at our E-Mail address, or call our toll free number.

Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Fly Fishing • (Thermopolis, Wyoming) Experience an exclusive fly fishing adventure in the Wind River Canyon, or on the Upper Big Wind River near Crowheart, Wyoming. There are no crowds as Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Fly Fishing is the only licensed outfitter on the entire river! The Wind River Canyon is trophy style water with many of the catches well over 20 inches. The predominate species in Wind River Canyon are Brown and Rainbow with Cutthroat also being present. Guided fishing trips are also available on the Big Horn River north of the Wind River Canyon, which flows into Thermopolis, Wyoming.

A Few Thoughts On Fishing

Fly-fishing Tower Creek below Tower Falls in Yellowstone

"But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul, and memories. And the sounds of the Big Black Foot River, and a four count rhythm, and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."

Sound-bite from a River Runs Through it.

The Yellowstone Teton Region fly-fishing is blessed with a plethora of blue ribbon trout waters that host prolific hatches of Mayflies, Caddis Flies and Stone Flies. Dozens of rivers and hundreds of lakes and streams, all world-class fisheries that attract anglers from around the world. The Henry’s Fork, the Snake, the Madison, and the Yellowstone Rivers have been elevated to legendary status by the movies made about them and the books and articles that have been written about them.

If you believe what you read, fly-fishing requires the touch of a surgeon and the spirit of a Zen master. Well, it might help but it certainly isn’t required around here. Forget about what you’ve heard about fly-fishing in the past, if you really want to fly-fish all you need are the right tools, proper technique, and a positive attitude. With these essential elements, you can begin to enjoy the sport of fly-fishing in no time.

Some time spent with a guide can enhance your skills exponentially in a very short time, as they are all trained to be teachers. A day discovering the best techniques for fly-fishing with a guide on one of our regional rivers or legendary spring creeks gives you the foundation for many years of productive fly-fishing enjoyment of the future. Many regional guides have spent a lifetime fly-fishing the rivers and streams of Yellowstone Teton Region. Their instruction of the best flies, how to read the water, presentation, and all aspects of fishing the Yellowstone region can greatly enhance your fly-fishing experience.

For those of you who already know how to fly-fish, or do not want to hire a fly-fishing guide, all you need is a map, the proper seasonal fly selection, and some current fly-fishing advice, all which can be found for the price of a handful of flies at a local fly shop.

Most rental shops of the Yellowstone Teton region have drift boats rafts and float tubes for rent for those of you that wish to escape the confines of the bank of your river, lake, or stream, because as we all know, the big one is in the eddy on the far side of the river.

Cody and Scott Hunter fly-fishing the Gardiner River in Yellowstone National Park

Spin-cast fishing is popular around the area also and is a very productive way to wet a line. Although spin fishing doesn’t require the finesse and learning curve of fly-fishing, a guided trip with a guide that knows spin-fishing can really improve our catch rate. Remember to keep in mind to de-barb your hooks to improve your catches chance of survival upon release. We also encourage lure fisherman to cut their treble hooks down to a single hook.

The Snake River Drainage is home to a unique subspecies of cutthroat trout known as the Fine-spotted Snake River Cutthroat Trout. This outstanding game fish is indigenous to the Snake River drainage and relies totally on natural reproduction. Having a wild trout fishery with indigenous trout is not something we take for granted and we highly encourage catch and release fishing to protect this valuable resource.

The Yellowstone Cutthroat, as the name implies, are native to the Yellowstone River drainage of southwest and south-central Montana and northwest Wyoming. In general, The relation of Yellowstone cutthroat trout to Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout is problematic. Early genetic analyses could not distinguish these subspecies, but recent attempts have been more successful.

Whether you are fishing for one of the Fine-spotted Snake River Cutthroat our Yellowstone Cutthroat you will find their most endearing qualities is their fondness for feeding on top sipping mayflies flies or attacking stoneflies, drakes, and hoppers. Large dry flies like size eight Turck Tarantulas, Royal Wulffs, Club Sandwiches, and hoppers are all popular and good choices. Size six and even four stone fly patterns sometimes are also effective.

Rainbow and Brown Trout can be found throughout the area as well a few sub-species of cutthroat trout, and some of our lakes are home to Kokanee Salmon.

Fly-fisherman fishing the dead calm water of Green River Lake in the Wind River Mountains. Squaretop mountain is casting a reflection

Many of our lakes are gifted with giant Lake Trout, but you usually need to be an expert or lucky to get one in the 20 to 50 pound category. Most are taken by trolling with spoons or minnow-like plugs attached to wire-line rigs or downriggers. They can also be taken by bottom fishing with whole or cut fish. In summer they often move to depths of 50 to 100 feet, but in spring and fall you can find them at depths of 20 feet or less. When ice fishing you can catch Lake Trout in hardly any water at all.

Many of our lakes are put and take fisheries and are planted by the Idaho, Montana or Wyoming Game and Fish, but most of our rivers and streams are wild trout fisheries and do not receive planted fish.

Our wild trout fisheries, due to the law of survival of the fittest, produce a hardier, smarter game fish, and is a resource worthy of protection. Catch and release although not mandatory on many waters is often the practice. Many of the fish of the region are caught and released 40 times per year and if everyone kept their fish there wouldn’t be any here except inferior hatchery fish.

I used to keep my big ones because they were such trophies, and I used to keep some to eat until I realized that I can buy a trout for two dollars in the store and that fish in the river provides has a much greater value than two dollars as a recreational resource.

Events
Chuck Yeager & Guide Mike Lawson - One Fly Fishing Contest
Chuck Yeager & Guide Mike Lawson - One Fly Fishing Contest

Jackson Hole One Fly Fishing Contest • Each year in September, flyfisherman from around the world gather in Jackson Hole Wyoming to participate in one of fly fishing's most unique events. It is a weekend filled with fun, challenges, adventures and of course, the famous Snake River Cutthroat trout.

Give the Cutt-slam a try. • If you want to see some breathtaking country, do a little camping and accomplish something that only around 300 people have done, you might want to give Wyoming’s Cutt-Slam program a try.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of the program that recognizes anglers for catching Wyoming’s four subspecies of cutthroats in their native range. Back in the mid-90s, Wyoming fisheries coordinator, the late Ron Remmick, had an idea to try to bring more public awareness to Wyoming’s cutthroat trout and the management efforts benefitting these fish.  The Cutt-Slam was hatched and a program was developed to recognize anglers for making the effort to catch the Snake River, Bonneville, Colorado River and Yellowstone cutthroat subspecies. 

Stories
 
Daryl L. Hunter trying his luck on the Wind River south of Dubois Wyoming. The Wind River carves a beautiful path through the badlans of Dubois.

Fly-Fish-Hooky On The Henry’s Fork • By Reyn Bowman
Growing up, my Dad wasn’t into fishing so in the years before heavy chores began I hid my old hand-me-down fly-fishing rod near the low-lying Ora Bridge between our ranch and where I went to school in the town of Ashton, Idaho. .....................The tiny bridge crosses the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in the shallow tailwaters, just below the century-old Ashton Power Dam and Reservoir as that North Fork winds its way from the mountains down to a rendezvous on plain 50 miles south and a bit west with the South Fork flowing out of Wyoming.............................I’ve learned as an adult that the the Henry’s Fork including the half mile of riffles and runs just above the Ora Bridge down through the deeper, spring-fed portion a couple of miles downriver to the Vernon Bridge (and even a bit further to the Chester Bridge) reportedly yields some of the best for trout fly-fishing in the world. There is even a lodge now a short distance from there.......................To me it was just convenient...................rest of story

Jackson Hole's Flat Creek • By Scott Sanchez
All of us have waters that have made a special connection to us. Wyoming's Flat Creek is one of mine. Part of the attraction is nostalgic, since this is where I learned the intricacies of spring creek fishing. This stream was my schoolroom for spotting subtle rises, sneaking up on the fish, picking a good imitation, and then presenting a drag-free drift. Flat Creek is also special because its scenic location a few miles north of Jackson, Wyoming, on the National Elk Refuge.........more

Fly-fishers go crazy saving flies • By D Dave Strege
One fly-fisher stripped his clothes off and swam naked into the river to retrieve his fly that got snagged. Another stood on the shoulders of the guide and used pruning shears to cut down the branch where his fly was lodged. A lucky one hooked a big fish that snapped his line, losing fish and fly, only to wait five minutes before the fly somehow dislodged from the trout's mouth and popped to the surface. He netted it — the fly, that is. What would lead a fly-fisher to go to such extremes to save a fly caught in a tree limb or a log in the riverh.................More

Jack Lee of Swan Valley floats and fishes his way through section two of the South Fork of the Snake River.

Henry's Heaven  • By Jack Ballard
Lake or river -- take your pick. The world-renowned Henry's Fork country of eastern Idaho boasts some of the finest trout fishing in the nation. Who's Henry? That's the question that kept buzzing through my head the first time I motored through a mesmerizing mountain valley just southwest of Yellowstone National Park. The name seems to be ubiquitous in eastern Idaho, with landmarks such as Henry's Lake and the Henry's Fork of the Snake River...............................more

Fishing Henry's Fork of Island Park • By Ben Arellano
Fly Fishing the rivers and lakes around Island Park is an experience that an angler seldom forgets. The spring fed tributaries, creates an ideal situation for enjoyable and unparalleled fly fishing. Not only will you experience the exceptional fly fishing of this area, but you are surrounded with the beauty of the Targhee National Forest, the wildlife and history of people and the life they lived. ...........................more

Fishing The Famous South Fork of the Snake RiverBy Ben Arellano
It is between the Henry's Fork confluence and Palisades Dam that the South Fork is known as one of the finest dry fly rivers in North America. All of the Fish in the South Fork are wild and fish between eight and sixteen inches must be released because they are the prime breeders. The South Fork typically becomes fishable for the fly fisher sometime between the first week of July and the middle of July, depending on the spring run off. This year (2001)  the run off was for a very short period, thus fly fishing was productive in the middle of June. 

Al the former CEO of Woolrich and his wife Dotty trying their luck on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone National Park and surrounding waters offer world-class fly-fishing- a fly-fisher's nirvana • By Dave Strege
WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONT. – A bartender in town gave a hint as to the essence of West Yellowstone on the fishing landscape." There's as many fly shops here as bars, and we're a hard-drinking town," quipped Thor from behind the bar at The Gusher. West Yellowstone is a town of fewer than 1,000 residents yet features six fly-fishing shops, evidence supporting the claim this is the mecca of fly-fishing. Each year, more than 50,000 anglers drop a line in 220 lakes and 1,000 streams that make up 2,650 miles of running water - and that's just in Yellowstone National Park.........more

Follow the bugs to a good day of fishing for trout • by Chester Allen
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — The noon sun blasted down and through the gin-clear water of the small meadow stream.Long strands of water weeds twisted like big, green snakes in the gentle current, and you could see every pebble and rock on the bottom. Not one trout was in sight. But they were there —..........................more

Fishing Yellowstone • By Daniel D. Lamoreux
With a bit of research and boot leather, you can escape the crowds that invade Yellowstone National Park each summer and catch trout that rarely ever see humans.....................................Roughly 3 million people visit Yellowstone National Park each year. While that number may seem staggering, the reality is that its piscatorial treasures are often underestimated and usually overlooked...................................Fewer than three of every 100 people who enter the park buy a fishing permit, and not all of those bother to go fishing. And more than 97 percent of the caught fish are released to fight another day......................................more

Fly fishing Backcountry Yellowstone • By Mark D. Williams
Don't let Yellowstone National Park's 3 million visitors spoil your idea of high-elevation trout fishing. There's a virtual fishing paradise just a short hike away from all those crowds..............................You would think that with over 2.2 million acres and 1,000 miles of rivers, there wouldn't be any crowded water. But most anglers fish near access points, road crossings, parking lots, campgrounds, bridges, anywhere a river parallels road.........................more

Fisheries Conservation Organizations
 
Sadee Wheeldon showing off a ten pound cutthroat trout

Jackson Hole One Fly Capital Foundation • The Jackson Hole One Fly Capital Foundation (One Fly) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established a new partnership in 2003 to leverage both organizations’ funding and interest in cold water fisheries conservation, particularly in the tributaries and mainstem Snake and Yellowstone Basins. The One Fly and NFWF have a long history in fisheries conservation throughout the greater Snake River and Yellowstone region.

Trout Unlimited • Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Trout Unlimited accomplishes this mission on local, state and national levels with an extensive and dedicated volunteer network. TU’s national office, based just outside of Washington, D.C., and its regional offices employ professionals who testify before Congress, publish a quarterly magazine, intervene in federal legal proceedings, and work with the organization’s 125,000 volunteers in 500 chapters nationwide to keep them active and involved in conservation issues.

Federation of Fly Fishers •The Federation of Fly Fishers, an international service organization dedicated to the betterment of the sport of fly fishing through Conservation and Education. The FFF and its Councils are the only organized advocate for fly fishers on the national and regional level. By joining you will have the opportunity to contribute, with your membership and your voice, to fishery conservation and restoration for all fish in all waters.

The Blue Water Task Force • The Blue Water Task Force is a lcally-led nonprofit (501c3) watershed group, headquarteredalong the famous Gallatin River in Big Sky, Montana. The Task Force is governed by aboard of community members representing a wide variety of stakeholders, including homeowners, recreational business owners, developers, and local water resource managers.

Yellowstone River Hatch Chart

Insects

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Yellowstone River Fly Patterns

Mayflies
                         
Blue Winged Olive (BWO)     •  •
          •
  • Dry Flies: BWO's, Parachute BWO's, Parachute Adams,
Nymphs & Emergers:
Pheasant Tails, Hares Ears, BWO Emergers. Beadhead Nymphs
Pale Morning Dun             •   •
  •       Dry Flies: PMD's, Parachute PMD's, Light Cahill. Pink Cahil, Pink Sparkle Dun, Parachute Adams,  Adams,
Nymphs & Emergers: Pheasant Tails, Hares Ears, PMD Emergers, Qwiggly Cripple. Beadhead Nymphs
Green Drakes          
            Dry Flies: Paradrakes
Nymphs & Emergers:  Prince Nymphs, Beadhead Nymphs  
Caddis
                         
Caddis             •
  •   •       Dry Flies: Elk Hair Caddis, X Caddis, Stimulators,
Nymphs & Emergers
: Peeking Caddis, Buckskin Caddis, Beadhead Nymphs
                           
Yellow Sallies             •    •   •       Dry Flies: Yellow Stimulators, Henry's Fork Yellow Sallies, Yellow Elk Hair Caddis.  Nymphs & Emergers: Prince Nymphs, Beadhead Nymphs
Golden Stoneflies             •
          Dry Flies: Yellow Stimulators, Irresistible Stimulators. Chernobyl Ants, Royal Coachmans, Madam X's, 
Nymphs & Emergers
Prince Nymphs, Stonefly Nymphs, Halfback Nymphs,
Salmonflies             •   •           Dry Flies: Sofa Pillows, Orange Stimulators. 
Nymphs & Emergers: Black Rubberlegs, Stonefly Rubberlegs, Bitch Creek Nymph.
Terrestrials
                         
Ants           •  •  •   •  •   •     Black Fur Ant, CDC Ant, Foam Ant, Flying Ant
Grasshoppers               •   •   •   •     Dave's Hopper, ParaHopper, Foam Hopper, Madam X's, 
Beetles & Crickets             •   •   •   •   •     Deer Hair Beetle, Foam Beetle, Dave's Cricket, Henry's Fork Cricket
Others
                         
Midges     •   •   •   •   •
  •   •   •   •   • Dry Flies: Griffith's Gnat, Double Midge, Fuzzballs. 
Nymphs & Emergers: Brassie, Midge Emerger,  Disco Midge, Serendipity, Tungsten Beadhead Larva

Insects

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Yellowstone River Fly Patterns

 

Page 2 • Gardiner to Billings

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