Yellowstone Adventure I Update II

Greetings from the Yellowstone Adventure! We are off to a fantastic start on our trip! It has been impressive how quickly the group has bonded and also progressed as anglers.

Our first night was spent along the banks of the mighty Yellowstone River (the longest undammed river in the United States) where the group got to know each other and fish a fabulous caddis hatch in the evening. The fast action right from the start gave us lots of hope for the next few days to come.

On Day two the group split into two groups of six and checked out various parts of the Gardner River. It is a beautiful high desert canyon that includes the extremely popular “Boiling River” stretch, a hot spring that mixes with the cold river water and is a really nice swimming area. Unfortunately for most visitors to Yellowstone, the Boiling River is closed, but luckily for us, the rest of the river is not, and the fishing was solid! One group went into the lower Gardner just above the hot springs to look for some challenging bigger trout. Several nice cutbows and a few native whitefish were landed. The other half of the group went further up the river past Mammoth Hot Springs to fish for brook trout at the confluence of the Gardner and the smaller Obsidian Creek. Their offerings were met by plentiful hungry brook trout, and each angler caught multiple trout! That night was spent prepping for our backcountry trips (which we just returned from)

As always, we split our group into two for the backcountry. Chris and Ethan hiked their group almost 10 miles up a tributary of the Lamar River called Cache Creek. While the hike was by no means easy, the entire group managed it with little complaints and we made it to our campsite with enough time to fish before and after dinner. We may have made it even sooner if it weren’t for the multiple traffic jams on the trail caused by migrating herds of the numerous Bison that call the Lamar Valley home. Cache really lived up to its name; dozens of native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout were hiding in any pool of water deeper than about a foot. Needless to say, many fish were caught on the first evening and the following morning of the backcountry. By midday on the second day, the group had all caught fish, packed up camp, and began their hike back towards the trailhead to a campsite near the confluence of the Lamar and Cache. The group fished their way down Cache towards the confluence pool searching for larger fish in the larger water, and although no true behemoths were found, everyone in the group caught some solid fish to 15” that evening. After backcountry burritos for dinner, the crew rested up for a final morning of fishing and the hike out of the backcountry. Most anglers went down to the confluence again, but a couple anglers found success in a massive pool upstream of the campsite on Cache. As expected the hike out was their fastest one yet, and they were lucky to encounter both wolves and a young grizzly from the safety of the van on their way back to the campsite on the Yellowstone.

Ed and Eleanor’s group hiked uphill from the Lamar Valley to a beautiful campsite alongside Pebble Creek. Once we got to the campsite, we had an early dinner of buffalo chicken mac ’n cheese then set out to fish the evening hatch. We walked past several grizzly bear and elk tracks alongside the creek, so we practiced our bear calls and cheered loudly with every caught cutthroat. We slept in the next day and hiked upstream three miles to try out some new holes and take in the views from a large meadow. Everyone caught dozens of Yellowstone cutthroat. In just a day, Ed and Eleanor noticed visible improvement in technique from everyone. The group hiked the three miles back to our campsite, and we enjoyed our burritos and celebrated our successful day. We packed up our campsite quickly the next morning and set off for the trailhead. For some of the boys, this was the first time they had ever backpacked with a loaded pack, but by the end of the three days, the boys were hiking like they had been doing it for years. After a quick lunch at the trailhead, we took a short drive to Soda Butte, a calcium carbonate geyser, and fished Soda Butte Creek nearby. Even though the water was more technical than Pebble Creek, everyone was able to put their new skills to the test. Two of the boys even pulled out 16” and 20” cutthroat! With huge smiles, we headed back to the van and drove back to our campsite for showers and laundry. 

Tomorrow, we are headed to fish a few front country spots in the Lamar Valley before preparing for the next backcountry, where each group will get to spend a night at the second meadow of Slough Creek; this creek is one of the most famous and beautiful backcountry streams in the United States, perhaps the world. It is home to some trophy Yellowstone Cutthroats. With any luck everyone will catch their biggest Yellowstone Cutthroat yet.  

Until next time, 

Ed, Eleanor, Chris, Ethan, and our Crew

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