Hello from Bridge Bay campground in the heart of Yellowstone National Park! This morning we exited our three-day backcountry trip into a unique part of Yellowstone. Our hike brought us to two different drainages. One full of native Yellowstone Cutthroat and the other full of native Westslope Cutthroat and Arctic Grayling. We made the 4-mile hike out this morning, hopped back in the van, and drove to West Yellowstone just outside the park to grab some well-deserved showers, laundry, and pizza. We loaded up on groceries, visited another fly shop, and headed back into the park where we are now, taking our time to visit Old Faithful and see some wildlife along the way.
The backcountry was many of the boy's first time backpacking and was an absolute blast. Even for the experienced backpackers in the group, hiking into a place as special as Yellowstone and catching dozens of massive fish along the way is a memory none of us will soon forget. We started off hiking 2 miles to the smaller of two lakes. Home to Yellowstone Cutthroat. After setting up camp and getting our bear hang up in the trees, we set off fishing, with every kid catching at least a few fish before the day's end, with over 75 landed as a group. Every fish was over 12” with the majority being between 16” and 19”. We headed back to camp to prepare a classic Lillard meal — Buffalo Chicken Mac n’ Cheese — followed by some time sitting around the campfire for an hour or so telling stories before bed.
The following day we woke up, ate a quick breakfast, and fished a little before loading up our packs and heading to our next campsite one drainage over along a slightly larger lake. The lake proved to be some of the best fishing any of the boys had ever encountered, with many of them catching massive native cutthroat trout on every other cast. The fish were big, plentiful, and beautiful, rising to sip our dry flies just a few feet off the bank. Every time we would see a little ripple we would put our fly down right on top of it and in a matter of seconds, there would be a fish on the end of the line. We settled down for dinner around the fire that night with smiles from ear to ear.
Over the next few days, we are excited to experience some of the best front country fisheries the park offers. Between the Upper Yellowstone’s huge cutthroat, dozens of fish on dry flies in the small streams around camp, and the Yellowstone Lake itself. The group has formed a tight bond, and they’ve been a pleasure to lead. They welcome new challenges with open arms, are helpful, and are more than willing to learn new fly fishing, backpacking, and hiking techniques. We can already see that they are feeling more comfortable with casting, fly selecting, and reading water, and we look forward to how much more they can grow in the next 9 days!
Always a pleasure,
Eli, Drew, Max, and the crew