Yellowstone Expedition Update 2

Hello from Pebble Creek campground in the heart of Yellowstone National Park! We have just wrapped up our first backcountry trip in the fabled Slough Creek, home to one of the last remaining populations of native trout in the United States and some of the most beautiful sights in the park. 

We began the trip at Canyon campground right outside Yellowstone after gathering the group from the airport. After getting everyone oriented, we began our fishing adventures in the waters of the Lamar River, with several fish brought to the net despite low water and relatively warm conditions. We took our first day to freshen up our casting and line control and learn new casts and how to read water. Our little refresher set us up well for our next day of fishing on Soda Butte Creek, where we weaved in and out between herds of American Bison as we sought the best holes to fish. Again, everyone caught fish, including a few supersized Yellowstone Cutthroats from a smaller creek. That night we packed up camp and moved to Crazy Creek campground right outside the park’s eastern entrance, which, although buggy, offered some truly breathtaking views. We sorted out food and gear at camp and got ready for our first backcountry trip into Slough Creek. 

Because the park limits group sizes on their backcountry sites to 8, we split our four nights of campsites into two groups of 6, each spending two nights. The first group hiked three miles into our first campsite early in the morning and immediately took advantage of the area’s world-class fishing. Each kid caught several fish, with some catching double digits, and everyone had fish over 18 inches on the line. Next, we returned to camp and had backcountry quesadillas, which the kids enjoyed happily after a long day. The next day the group packed up camp and hiked another six miles to our next campsite in the famous "3rd meadow", which offers crowd-less sight fishing to big Cutthroat that rarely see flies, an extraordinary opportunity. While the clear and low waters made fishing a challenge, all kids caught fish, including several large fish that were brightly colored and absolutely lived up to their fierce reputation. Finally, tuckered out, the boys returned to camp, ate dinner, and got some rest before their long hike out! 


The next day we traded groups, with our first group hiking out and our second hiking in. Our second group, fresh off a nine-mile trek, showed no signs of fatigue and immediately started fishing. They all caught fish and remarked how they enjoyed getting closer to the other kids in their group and the cooperative effort of seeing fish from the bank, discussing fly selection, making the cast, and seeing the fish rise from the depths to take their fly. The following day the second group hiked further up Slough and had another successful day, including fishing for bigger Cutthroat using mouse patterned flies with success! Today, we wrapped up our backcountry with 6 hours of fishing lower on Slough Creek, with kids catching fish by the numbers in the high 20s and mid-30s. 

Tomorrow we will take a day to fish and also do much-needed laundry and showers. After that, we look forward to fishing the upper Yellowstone River starting on 7/15, which by no coincidence happens to be the opening day on the Upper Yellowstone. This section of the Yellowstone offers sight fishing for post-spawn Yellowstone cutthroats that make the journey from Yellowstone Lake. They also happen to be some of the biggest fish in the park. We have a really great group of kids here that all get along really well. They are all remarkably enthusiastic, helpful, and positive, and I don’t think we could have asked for a better group! We will update you again before our next backcountry! 


Hope all is well and tight lines, 


Eli, Ed, Jack, and the Boyz 

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