I am 19 years old and live in North Carolina. Myself and 2-3 of my friends are planning a fly fishing road trip from here (NC) all the way to California. I am heading up the adventure and basically want to know anything and everything you experienced gentlemen and women can tell me. I would consider myself an avid fishermen but not exactly a successful one. I have fished a lot in Asheville, NC but thats about it besides small ponds and lakes near my house. What are the streams and rivers that we just HAVE to hit along the way in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado? Where do you think we would have the most success? What weight rods should be brought? When is the opportune time to make the trip? Literally anything you can offer up!! you can quit reading here if you are going to tell me how stupid I am for doing this and how i should just "stop now" because I can already tell you that Im to young and naive to listen. Also we will not have a raft or kayak, only waders, so keep that in mind.
I'm not going to say stop now, this is a once in a life time adventure, go for it and enjoy every minute of the trip. When to hit to Rockies, July/Aug/Sept you pick a time. So much water so little time. If you guys are into a little hiking I would recommend the North Platte above Saratoga, WY it will provide excellent fishing. If you like tailwaters I would also recommend the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte above Sinclair, WY and the North Platte Grey Reef section below Alcova, WY ( 30 miles south of Casper). Hwy 14 west of Cody, WY follows the North Fork of the Shoshone for 30 miles or better, you will find excellent fishing there, just be cautious of where you step (snakes).
A must stop on you way west is to fish the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Dutch John, UT. This is all BLM land from the dam south so access is no problem. The first 7 miles goes through a 1,000-1,500 ft canyon and is referred to as the aqurium. BLM has constructed a walking path from the dam all the way to the first take out called Little Hole, so it is pretty easy to get away from any crouds if you are willing to walk a little. Lots of public camping in the area. If you are interesting in seeing Yellowstone NP then I would recommend that you pick up a copy of Nate Schweber's book "Fly Fishing Yellowstone NP". If you are up for a spring creek challenge, then stop by the Silver Creek Refuge near Carey, ID. http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives...directions.pdf
If you decide to come through Colorado there's a lot of great water. It can get busy but will be better if you hit it during the week. One route you could take is to head south of Denver and hit three S. Platte tailwaters - Cheesman followed by 11-Mile and just West of it, Spinney. Nice fish and often small flies. They all get traffic but the hike up Cheesman is very scenic especially if you keep going up to the dam. Crowds thin as you go. From there could head on to Buena Vista and north up the Arkansas River and over the divide to I-70 West. Could hit the Fying Pan if you wanted. Lots of other water in Colorado but that's a route you could take across the state with a couple night camping and some of the big spots.
In Colorado, there are three areas I would recommend for the almost novice fly fisherman. Salida, Estes Park, and Walden up by the northern border.
For Salida, there is lots or public water on the Arkansas above and below town, plus you can go up to Buena Vista and then over Cottonwood pass to fish the Taylor River above and below Taylor Park reservoir. Don't go to southern Colorado or New Mexico. Those areas are in the second year of extreme drought.
Estes Park gives you access to the Big Thompson, plus dozens of alpine lakes and creeks in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Walden has good fishing in the North Platte River and numerous tributaries.
In Wyoming, I recommend Pinedale and Jackson. From Pinedale drive North on Hwy 352 about 30 miles along the Green River. When the pavement ends, you have 20 miles of public access along a good dirt road.
In Jackson you can have fine wade fishing on the Gros Ventre river (pronounced "Gro Vant"), the Hoback, Pacific Creek, plus many other tributaries to the Snake River. Forget the main stem of the Snake. It's best fished from a drift boat. Flat Creek in the Elk Refuge has lots of fish but they all have PhDs. Jack Dennis Flies in town will give you a map of the area with all the good wading streams highlighted.
In Montana, it's West Yellowstone and Missoula. From West Yellowstone, you can drop down to the Henry's Fork in Idaho and dozens of it's tributaries. The Box Canyon section of the Henry's Fork directly below Island Park Reservoir, and between upper and lower Mesa Falls is prime wading water for fish that will take any reasonably well presented nymph. Back in Montana, the Madison between Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake is good. Below Quake lake all the way to Ennis Lake, the Madison is called The Fifty Mile Riffle. Access is easy, and the river, while fairly fast is easily waded as it is almost uniformly knee to thigh deep. Excellent fishing everywhere. The Gallatin River has good fishing and excellent access from the park all the way down to Gallatin Gateway
Inside Yellowstone Park, the Gallatin River, Gardiner River, Lamar River, Soda Butte Creek and Slough Creek, are excellent streams. Forget the Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon in July and August. Although these streams look mouth watering good, hot water from many geothermal features heats up these streams in the summer and totally shut them down.
In Missoula, the first choice for the wade fisherman is Rock Creek. Lots of public access with good fishing. You could spend two weeks here alone. Other waters would be the Bitterroot River, Clark Fork River, and Blackfoot River. While these are best fished from a boat, they all have decent access for the wader.
Now every town I mentioned has at least one fly shop. What you want to do is go inside and ask the following questions:
What water is fishing well right now?
What water would you recommend for a noobie?
What flies should we use?
Do you have any tips on techniques we should use?
Every shop in the towns I mentioned will give you good info and help. Buy a few flies and maybe a tee shirt from them.
Location: White City (tad north of Medford) Oar-E-Gone
Re: Road Trip
Good info here on SW Montana: "In Missoula, the first choice for the wade fisherman is Rock Creek. Lots of public access with good fishing. You could spend two weeks here alone. Other waters would be the Bitterroot River, Clarks Fork and Blackfoot Rivers. While these are best fished from a boat, they all have decent access for the wader."
Vis a vis fishing in Montana their Fishing Reg book is like nothing I've ever seen on providing 'Who/What/Where/When solid information. You can get it on-line or the State may be willing to mail you one. One way or the other you'll want same.
One last thing: Your gas tank ...... don't let it get much below half full. It's a very long way between gas stations! I almost found that the hard way. Jeep tank holds 15 gallons and guy put in 14.9.5. Or another way of putting that is I had roughly a quart left in the tank.
Well, one last thing. How long will it take to drive from Point A to Point B? Regardless of the posted (Interstate )speed limit, by time you factor in normal stops for fuel, food, etc., you'll only average 50 MPH. Or to put that another way a 800 mile trip will take close to 16 hours.