Hello from the Bozeman Hot Springs! Tonight we wrap up our wonderful trip with some great BBQ, showers, and some time in the natural hot spring pools here in Bozeman. The past few days have offered a great conclusion to what has been a truly unforgettable trip, as we left Yellowstone about 36 hours ago and have enjoyed fishing around Ennis, MT on some of its world-famous rivers, including the Madison and the Ruby. While the boys are completing their float today with Montana Troutfitters, us guides are taking some time to reflect on our trip.
The past few days have seen our group entering the world-famous Slough Creek to spend two nights in the backcountry, with the goals of seeing some wildlife and beautiful scenery and catching some of the native Yellowstone cutthroat that call it’s small waters home. Slough Creek and the entire Lamar Valley have been closed due to road damage from the flooding. We couldn’t have been luckier with our timing, as they opened the Slough Creek backcountry to commercial outfitters with existing permits the day before our reservation. After being let in by rangers through the closed gate to the Lamar Valley, we entered as one of the first groups to be back in the northwestern sector of the park all year. As my personal favorite part of Yellowstone, and one of the most unreal wildlife viewing places in the lower 48, it was a real treat to drive through with no one else around for miles taking our time to stop and look at the bison, antelope, coyotes, foxes, otters, bears and wolves that call the valley home. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience they may not fully appreciate unless they make another visit to the Lamar Valley on an average summer day. But we couldn’t forget about the fish of course!
Slough Creek is a famously tough dry fly fishery, but challenging weather conditions made that even more difficult. Despite wind and rain, this backcountry saw the biggest trout ever caught on a Lillard Fly Fishing Yellowstone trip, measuring at a sturdy 26”. In 10 years of guiding in Slough Creek, it was unlike any fish we have ever seen. It looked more like the upper Yellowstone fish that come out of the lake to spawn, but this fish was 8 miles deep in the backcountry in a small freestone creek. We are all still in a state of shock from witnessing it. Every kid got a piece of the fishing at Slough Creek, and had a blast spending a few more days in the backcountry.
As we wrap up, we couldn’t be more proud of how far these boys have come since our first night at Varney Bridge. They have developed into confident, independent anglers, young anglers ready to succeed in any fishery they face. Their development as outdoorsmen and increasing comfort hiking and setting up camp has been rapid, and their understanding of places like Yellowstone and the importance of their conservation has deepened significantly. We’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with this group, and we hope to see how much farther they can go in the future!
All the best and tight lines til we meet again,
Eli, Drew, Max, and the crew