Branching Out in Greater Yellowstone

Written by: Rowan Nyman

The Madison River, The Henry’s Fork, The Firehole River: blue ribbon trout waters of legendary stature that are on every fly fisher’s “bucket list.”  For years, local guides have been taking folks to these incredible rivers to partake of the gifts these waters offer up every season.  However, there are numerous other options available to anglers who travel to Yellowstone Country.  So let’s talk about a couple of these.

First and foremost are float trips on the upper Yellowstone just outside the North entrance to Yellowstone Park. This incredibly beautiful stretch of the “Stone” is loaded with 8- to 15-inch cutthroats and rainbows that are very eager to eat dry flies. August is the month, and hoppers are the key.  Think foam and rubber, flies that wiggle and entice. 

A new insect, the spruce moth, has emerged onto the greater Yellowstone fishing scene, and it has opened many new fishing experiences.  One of these opportunities is Quake Lake (shown in the photo above). Quake’s hefty rainbows and browns take advantage of these fallen terrestrial insects by cruising the haunted tree-filled flats, targeting in on the trapped moths on the water’s glassy surface like a missile–sight-fishing at its best and most exciting.

Looking for a little solitude, beautiful scenery, willing trout, and just plain fly-fishing fun?  Look no further than the Taylor’s Fork of the Gallatin, a small stream that can provide exciting pocket-water action for the dry fly enthusiast. Grab a pair of steady wading boots, a Royal Wulff Cripple and a sense of adventure, and a day on the Taylor’s Fork is ready to thrill. An angler here can expect rainbows, cutthroats, and hybrids ranging from 4 to 16 inches.   

I love the greater Yellowstone ecosystem and I can’t think of a better way to explore all it has to offer than with a fly rod in hand.  Every year rivers in this region offer up surprises that create the memories that last a lifetime. 

Rowan Nyman is a fly-fishing guide at
Firehole Ranch
in West Yellowstone, Montana.

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