Originally Posted by stuck_in_indy
Hi everyone. I'm planning a trip from Sept. 8th-14th and staying in Gardiner, MT. I was thinking of focusing mainly on the waters in the NE portion of the Park (Lamar, Slough, Soda Butte, etc.) but am concerned now as I've heard water levels are already low. I am taking a few guys that are total newbies -- so probably not the best conditions for them especially. I guess I'm looking for any advice out there on some streams that would be good to hit during this week where there is a decent shot at success, particularly for someone just getting acquainted with fly fishing. For instance, would the upper Gardner or Pebble Creek be good? Thanks for any insight. Cheers
That is God's country. I made a pilgrimage there for years and rarely left the Lamar valley. I'd recommend Pebble Creek campground. It's quiet, pretty, plenty of fire wood if you're willing to walk up the hill across the meadow (you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it). I will say, don't make that trip half in the bag after dark. I was watching the stars and had my headlight off, a couple of scout belts in hand to bundle up wood, and I walked into a herd of elk bedded down. Lord, they busted like a covey of quail, and while I will acknowledge that something like a high pitched shriek might have been uttered, I maintain that it was a manly one and not at all girly.
Seriously though three great places to fish (slough creek not included as it needs no intro). Pebble creek. If you hike up to (I think the third meadow (4 or 5 steepish miles, though with a great views) you will catch all the small cuts you could want. They will hit anything topwater in a pristine setting. I caught a 14 incher there and it was like a whale.
The Lamar itself. Between pebble creek and a research center on the north side, or a bit past it, are some great ox bows off the road. Here I used a droper rig with either an elk hair caddis or adams and a small shiny nymph of your choice. Tons of fish, and very respectable. 12-16 inch cuts were not uncommon, though most were on the smaller end of that.
Soda Butte is nice too, and both it and the Lamar are great for hoppers (I like the parachute ones) in August, September you're on your own.
Then there is trout lake, actually a few lakes a hike up from the parking area. This is great. I've sat on the bank and watched baby otters fight over a two foot Cutt. I've also seen a guy catch a no BS 34 inch rainbow (they encourage you to kill these, but no one does). I've had good success on over cast days with a basic olive wooly bugger. Its a nice hike, a pretty spot and lots of wildlife.
As to Slough Creek, its great. Just ignore the spot in the lower meadow and hike up to the 1st or second meadow. The key is to get there early and bring deet (the black flies can be a pain in July and August, but I have no clue in September, as I had to be back to my teaching job by then). I do know that if you're on the trail to the first meadow by seven am you'll have plenty of room. Its gin clear water and amazing. One year the Cutts forgot they were supposed to be sophisticated and were tearing up any ant or beetle you put close the grass. I was wading wet on an 80 degree day and thinking it could get no better. Wrong! I look upstream and here comes this Miller Hi Boy floating downstream. I deployed my net and snagged it. A perfect summer day, plenty of fish, a beautiful meadow and free beer. Who says there is no God?
If you go, run by Livingston. Hit The Depot for breakfast, classic country on the radio and they make their own corn beef for hash and smoke their own trout for eggs benedict all for about 8 bucks, and the Montana Chop House, again, its like free food, a dry aged ribeye is about twenty bucks and the best burger you've had for ten. Plus there's Russell Chatham's studio, one of the best fly fishing authors and painters ever and Bub Lilly's and Anderson's Yellowstone Angler. Above all, above absolutely all.......DO NOT neglect Wilkonsons ice cream. Their huckleberry, particularly in a shake and their peanut butter is not to be topped. They sell it in the Park, so its available, but it will ruin you for all other ice cream.
Have fun, and watch out for the wildlife!
And no, I'm not at all jealous.
PS oh yeah, newbies. Low water should help. The big hazard with the Lamar is that it silts if there is much rain. Low water should solve that. Try the bends and ox bows with the usual suspects (elk hair caddis, Adams, bead head prince, pheasant tail, stone fly nymphs, hoppers etc.). Its not demanding fishing in terms of requiring a lot of technical casting. Same with Soda Butte. If they can make good short casts there is a lot of good pocket water towards Gardener. And again, Pebble Creek, if they don't mind the hike, it is like a beginners playground. Beautiful wild cutts, just small ones. Personally I would very strongly advise calling Anderson's Yellowstone Angler in Livigston (they fish all the park) and they'll give you the score on what's happening. If its too low you could always blow through to West and hit the Madison out beyond the lake, in which case I'd call Madison River Outfitters. Sorry for getting dreamy eyed thinking of Yellowstone, but lord I love the Lamar Valley.