What an epic end to an unprecedented summer. The Yellowstone Adventure, our final teen trip of the summer, hiked out of the Slough Creek Backcountry this morning. In fitting 2020 fashion, the group completed our last backcountry trip of the summer in an extraordinary fashion.
For those of you who don’t know, Slough Creek is about as iconic of a backcountry fishery as you can get. The series of meadows within Yellowstone National Park, commonly known as the first second and third meadows are a mecca for anglers from all over the World. The winding river holds large cutthroat in every bend as it slowly meanders from left to right. With the big fish comes a high demand for the 6 backcountry campsites that are scattered throughout the second and third meadows. I won’t bore you with the details of the backcountry permitting process, but the important part is that our Yellowstone Adventures typically only spend one night in the second meadow then hike back out. Knowing that we had an extraordinarily awesome group we pitched the idea of a longer three-night trip into the second and third meadows. Obviously there is a catch or we would do this every time. The difficult part was that we would need to make the hike all the way to the park boundary on the second day (11 miles from the trailhead), set up camp in the National Forest, then hike back into the park on the third night. 22 miles over 4 days of hiking, plus all the miles spent fishing. This group didn’t even hesitate.
It was pretty obvious we had made the right decision on day one. We made it to our first, right on the banks of slough creek in the second meadow by 10:00 am. The roughly 5-mile hike was hardly a challenge for the group. The camp was set up and they were on the water by 11 am. It wasn’t long before the first slough creek Yellowstone Cutthroat was in the net. The second mead fished well. On day one everyone in our group hooked big fish, but only 4 of the 7 anglers were on the board.
The next morning we got up early again to make the hike to the upper boundary of the third meadow. Camping sites in the national Forest Service area are not established. So we found the park boundary and set up camp as close as we could. From that site we worked our way back south into Yellowstone National Park. Within about 30 minutes everyone who had not caught a big fish the day before had landed a beautiful slough creek specimen. The fishing continued like that the rest of the day, and again the following day when we camped on the lower end of the third meadow. The fishing was not easy, but well presented flies got eats from big cutthroat, and multiple nice fish were landed by everyone in the group.
After 3 full days of hiking and fishing, the group made the final 8-mile trek back to the trailhead this morning. From there they headed into town for some ultimate frisbee and some much needed showers before returning to camp for some well earned pizza.
It is hard to believe the Yellowstone Adventure only has two full days remaining. We will return to the Lamar Valley tomorrow to chase some more big cutthroat one last time. The following day we will cap of an already awesome trip with a full day float fishing trip on the Yellowstone River with guides from Montana Troutfitters.
Thank you again to everyone who helped make this summer possible, despite the looming pandemic. It not been easy at any point, but groups like this make us realize how worth it it has been.
Will, Eleanor, Barrett and Crew