Greetings from the Yellowstone adventure! We have a wonderful group of kids on this trip; all have been extremely eager to fish which has helped bring them together quickly over the course of the first three days. The time has progressed rapidly, and with it so have our anglers.
Our first two nights were spent along the banks of one of Montana’s most beautiful trout streams, the Gallatin River. With its headwaters at the northwestern edge of Yellowstone National Park, the Gallatin flows north through the mountains towards Bozeman, picking up snowmelt and tributaries along the way until it matures into a much larger river. While you may not have ever visited the Gallatin, it is likely you have seen it; A River Runs Through It was filmed on the Gallatin River. Needless to say, it is a special river, and the trout are quite comfortable in its frigid waters.
We spent the first evening testing the waters at the campsite, and although no fish were landed, several fish were seen and hopes were high for the first full day of fishing. We had burgers for dinner and after a an hour or more of hanging by the campfire, the group quickly went to sleep in order to rest for the big adventure that lay ahead.
Day two we continued to fish the Gallatin in the morning; the anglers were taught how to tie a dry dropper rig, one of the most effective and reliable ways to fly fish western trout streams in the summer. At around 9:00, the group drove down to a larger, flatter stretch of the Gallatin towards Bozeman. From there each guide took 3-4 kids and spread out on the river. Before we even had lunch, everyone in the group had bites from the wild rainbow and brown trout and more than half of those fish were landed. After a quick break for sandwiches back at the van, the groups were ready to continue fishing. Just as we were about to head back out onto the river a storm rolled in. We made the right decision not to go back out as the marble size hail quickly followed. Luckily we got a phone call from another LFFE guide who has a group on the Madison River. There had been an epic caddis hatch the previous night on the famous Madison River, and the sun was shining on that side of the mountain. We drove over the mountain out to Three Dollar Bridge, an access on a very popular stretch of Madison beneath Quake Lake. We cooked a delicious speghetti and garlic bread dinner on the banks while and waited for the caddis hatch. While the caddis hatch never fully came together, several solid brown trout were caught and few of the 20+” fish the Madison is well known to hold fell for our flies but eluded our nets.
Tonight we are camped along the banks of the mighty Yellowstone River (the longest undammed river in the United States!). The crew fished the Yellowstone on drift boats with guides from our friends at Montana Troutfitters. They floated an idyllic stretch of water near Livingston Montana affectionately known as Paradise Valley. Nestled at the foot of the Absaroka range, its hard to find a more fitting word to describe the valley. Or perhaps its the plentiful large native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish, as well as huge wild brown and rainbow trout that give it its name. Every boat caught double-digit numbers of fish, with the kicker being a 20” hybrid Cutbow that slurped a dry fly right in front of one lucky angler. We celebrated our success with burgers from a spot in Livingston followed by ice cream sandwiches.
We are going to sleep early as half the group is undertaking a somewhat substantial day hike into Slough creek’s famous backcountry in the hopes to tango with some 18+” native Yellowstone cutthroat in the coolest river in the park. the other half of the group will spend the day catching tons of smaller cutthroat in one of several smaller canyon streams in the northeast corner of the park. On our final full day of fishing, the group will hike into the backcountry of pebble creek where we will attempt to catch over 100 cutthroat in a single day as a group. The way these boys have been fishing, it should be no problem.
We have also had some exciting wildlife encounters (all of the friendly variety) including Elk, Pronghorn (the fastest land mammal in North America), Mule deer, Bighorn Sheep, and of course, a couple of bald eagles. With any luck, we will cross Bison off that list tomorrow.
We look forward to finally fishing within Yellowstone National Park and finding some of the native gems this land has to offer.
Until next time!
Will, Tee, Ethan, and the crew