Yellowstone Adventure I - Update 2

Hello Families, 

Greetings from Yellowstone Adventure 1! The trip has been rolling along and lots of fish have been caught! The boys are in high spirits after their showers and a gas station run. We’re looking forward to a day in town. A lot has happened since the first update. We’ve moved into the park and will stay in the park until the end of the trip. We’ve completed our first backcountry which was a huge success! After some much-deserved pizza and a visit to the fly shop, we’ll be ready to hit the water hard! 

The first night of the trip was spent at base camp getting everyone comfortable with each other and the expectations for the trip. We upheld a long-standing Lillard tradition and spent the evening stuffing our faces with cheeseburgers and playing an intense game of  ultimate Frisbee. No, in fact, those things do not go together. We went to bed early and dreamt of the amazing water that was yet to come.The boys woke up to the smell of sizzling bacon and cheesy eggs. There were also English muffins, but the boys seemed to be more interested in the bacon. We packed up camp and headed into Yellowstone National Park. The Madison Campground would be our home for the night. We set up camp and headed to the Firehole River to try our hand at some large brown and rainbow trout. That night was spent eating bowl after bowl of stir fry whilst preparing for the backcountry trip that was quickly approaching.


The next morning was early. Earlier than I would have liked, but the boys decided 5am was a good time to start the day. We ate breakfast and drove to the trailhead of Grebe Lake.  Half the group started their journey while the other half drove to the Ice Lake Trailhead. Each group would camp at their respective lakes and then would switch. Ice Lake is full of large grayling and Grebe Lake is full of large west-slope Cutthroat. The boys would each get a turn at catching a fish of a lifetime.  

The group that headed to Grebe had a day full of 17–20 inch cutthroat. Grebe Lake is like a fake, fairytale-like land. The trout jump completely out of the water and eat bright, blue  damsel flies. This phenomenon occurs every 1-2 seconds all day long. It looks like one of those water fountains at Disney World. If you ever get the chance to see it for yourself, I highly recommend it. The evening bite proved to be legendary. As the moon chased the sun out of the meadow, the mice started to emerge, and the big trout began to eat. The boys threw flies that looked more like a small dog rather than a mouse, but the cutties didn’t seem to care. Each well-presented mouse fly was met with an explosion of water and a fiery red belly. The cutties weren’t just trying to eat the flies, they were trying to destroy them. Flies were sent sky-high, and the boys’ cheers followed suit. Meanwhile, the group at Ice Lake was experiencing something slightly different, but still just as magical.  

The boys over at Ice Lake were casting to some of the prettiest fish on Earth. The Arctic grayling is an amazing fish. They’re dark purple scales and bright blue spots complement each other perfectly and are awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, the grayling do not have a mouth big enough to eat a mouse, but that doesn’t mean they lack in tenacity. The boys casted large royal chubbies far out to where the lake bed drops away into the abyss and leaves the rest to your imagination. Hands trembled in anticipation as the grayling locked in on the chubbies. The unmistakable eat that is attributed to a grayling is never forgotten. Many large grayling were met with big smiles and laughs. The next day both groups hiked out. We got to the van and headed to town to do laundry and take showers.  

This evening will be spent at the Bridge Bay Campground looking for large cutties along the banks of the mighty Yellowstone River. We’re looking forward to what is to come and will share it all in the next update. 


Until Next time, 

Hunt, Kitchell, Sean, and the mighty gents of the Yellowstone Adventure


Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

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Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204