Yellowstone Park Offers Scenic Fly Fishing
Backcountry tough to get into, but rewarding for dedicated anglers


LIVINGSTON - With rod tubes strapped to their backs, Charlie Conn and Zach Pierce started hiking shortly after 7 a.m. from a trailhead in Yellowstone National Park.

Conn predicted that if salmon flies were climbing on a suspension bridge he and Pierce were set to cross high above the Yellowstone River - at a point where the foaming water was still totally inaccessible - then fishing would be great.

When they reached the bridge, it indeed had bugs on it. After crossing, they started following a spur trail Conn knew, used mostly by elk.

As the pair neared the water's edge farther on, numerous 3-inch-long salmon flies could be seen clinging to river willow branches.

After stashing their hiking boots behind a boulder and assembling their rods, the two hopscotched their way upstream, dapping large, hand-tied, imitation salmon flies with names like "Terranasty," "Cat Puke" and the "Foaminator" into the eddies behind rocks.

The two anglers took turns fishing cliff walls and pockets, helping each other spot trout and see strikes. It was a scramble, but worth it.

Majestic settings

With rivers becoming more and more crowded each year, backcountry fishing can lead dedicated anglers to trout in majestic settings.

Conn, 35, an outfitter in Livingston, has guided fly-fishing around the world and is co-owner of Sweetwater Fly Shop a few miles south of Livingston.

Conn took the day off to introduce 17-year-old Pierce, who is working at the shop for the summer, to some out-of-the-way fishing.

The Yellowstone River inside the park boundary is difficult to access, not only because it can take miles of hiking just to come within sight of the river, but because anglers must often climb down cliff faces to reach the water.

"It's different than how I've normally fished the Yellowstone - from a boat," Pierce said. "I like climbing on rocks and cliffs and such, scrambling, and there is a lot more sight fishing."

As the water rushed along the many rocky outcroppings where Conn and Pierce fished the river canyon, small pools were created where salmon flies and... Read More

Article from Billings Gazette at BillingsGazette.com ::