Following our stay in the backcountry of Grizzly Lake, our group journeyed out of the park for a night at Lillard headquarters, where we recounted the tales of our tangles with Straight Creek’s Brook Trout over games of Can Jam and ping pong. We hiked up the surrounding hills to watch the sunset, and sleep came soon after. The following day we arrived at our new home, the Pebble Creek Campground. Located in the beautiful Lamar Valley, this campground served as an ideal home base to explore the waters of the Soda Butte and Lamar Rivers, and Pebble Creek itself.
All of the rivers in the Lamar drainage are home to native Yellowstone Cutthroat. The park fisheries biologists have done an excellent job of removing non-native Rainbow Trout from the system, which interbreed and dilute the genetics of the native cutthroat. This has created a unique fishery in which native trout can grow to very impressive sizes.
We spent three days exploring these waters. Our fishing skills have improved significantly since the start of the trip, which enabled us to land many trophy cutthroat up to twenty-one inches. From the plunge pools of Pebble Creek’s slot canyon, to the gentle gravel shelves and cut banks of Soda Butte, we had a great time pursuing these incredibly beautiful fish.
Finally, the time came for our second backcountry jaunt to the second meadow of Slough Creek. Flowing through vibrant meadows over-bounding with life, the Slough Creek Valley is arguably the most scenic area of the park, especially for an angler. The river itself is also home to pure-strain Yellowstone Cutthroat, which can grow to legendary sizes in these fertile waters. Water conditions were low this year, which made for some technical fishing conditions. Our group persevered through this uncontrollable challenge and landed many trophy cutthroat as a result of their efforts.
As we depart from the Slough Creek trailhead, we are looking ahead toward our upcoming float on the Yellowstone River through its Paradise Valley stretch. Everyone is eager to try their hand at the large brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout that call this river home!
Shane, Ethan, Rusty, and Henry