Yellowstone Expedition Upper Yellowstone Update

Greetings from Mammoth. The Yellowstone Expedition has spent the last few days fishing the front country of Yellowstone after exiting the Snake River Backcountry. The fishing has been fantastic, and we are looking forward to heading into the Slough Creek backcountry. 

After exiting the backcountry we headed to Bridge Bay campground which provided us prime access to the Upper Yellowstone River. Fishing the Upper Yellowstone is all about huge fish, not su much numbers.Everyone had opportunities at very large fish, including a few that we had on the line, but we couldn’t quite get any to the net. 

After fishing the Yellowstone River we got up early the next morning to secure a campsite near Mammoth hot springs, just outside of Gardiner Montana. With camp set up we went down to the Gardner River, which is within easy walking distance of our site. Right away we started to catch fish, including one of the biggest brown trout we have seen all summer. After lunch we headed into town to do laundry and take showers. While waiting on laundry we were able to walk around Gardiner Montana. Before heading back to camp we picked up some delicious pizza, and ate quickly so we could get on the river for the evening hatch. The evening fishing proved to be even better than the morning, especially with dry flies. By the end of the day everyone had caught fish including a lot of very nice fish. We hiked back to camp in the dark with headlamps excited for the next day of fishing.

Our second morning at Mammoth slept in a bit. Once everyone was up, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage. With our bellies full, we headed down to fish the Gardner River. The morning fishing was very successful with fish being caught on nymphs and some very nice fish on hoppers. Once the heat of the day had set in, we took a break for a while and headed back into Gardiner to stock back up on food. After dinner we hiked back down to the river, excited for another epic evening of fishing. The second night proved to be just as good if not better than our first night fishing the Gardiner. Again we caught fish until it was too dark to see our flies.

Today half the group got up early to make the quick drive over to Blacktail ponds. The ponds are home to some of the largest brook trout in the Park; however, today they proved to be elusive. After a couple hours on Blacktail ponds, we stopped to fish Lava creek on the way back to camp. This proved to be a great backup plan. Over the next couple hours we caught countless brook trout on dry flies. Everyone was well into double digits by the time we left for lunch! We met the rest of the group back at camp for lunch. The rest of the group had spent the morning fishing the Gardner and did well once again.

After lunch we started to prep for the backcountry. Tomorrow we head into the backcountry of Slough Creek for three nights. Slough Creek is world famous for large Yellowstone Cutthroat trout on dry flies. This is one of our favorite parts of the trip and the whole group is very excited.

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

Contact Us

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Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204