Yellowstone rod question

nuchamps5

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Hope everyone is staying safe and sane during the pandemic. Hoping for a little advice on rods to take to Yellowstone. Of course, this is all assuming it's safe to go to Yellowstone later this summer!

Anyway, my wife, friends, and I are hopefully traveling to Yellowstone for the first time in late July/early August. I'm the only committed fly fisher of the bunch, so it's not a fishing trip, but I will get to do plenty of fishing. Our plan is to spend some time camping around the park as well as backcountry on the upper Lamar at Cache Creek.

My question is whether I need to bring a 6 wt or if a 5 wt will do most everything I need? For context, I don't have plans on fishing the Yellowstone (at least not seriously or for any length of time) and I'm guessing the Madison and Firehole (and maybe the Gibbon) will be too warm by late July to fish. Most fishing I'll get to do will be on the upper Lamar Valley, Cache Creek, and probably Solfatara Creek/Gibbon above the geyser basin, as well potentially the Gallatin for part of a day. Any other fishing will be small streams along hikes, so I'm not worried about that.

Coming from the midwest but having lived in Calgary, I know our windy days here are nothing compared to out west. I can bring a 6 wt, but since I don't plan to be doing much nymphing or big river fishing, I'm not sure how necessary it is. But the wind, especially on the Gallatin and Lamar, has me concerned, especially since I might be throwing big hoppers and possibly spruce moths. Any thoughts? Thanks!
 

triggw

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Your 5 wt should do fine. But of course you should have a backup rod.

Hard to say what the camping situation will be at that time. For front-country camping, you're a bit late to be getting reservations. But there are cancellations all the time. You just have to stay on it.
 

nuchamps5

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Thanks! Luckily, we've already got our reservations and pulled our backcountry permit, so we're good for that.
 

mandotrout

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There isn't any place in Yellowstone where a 5 weight won't work, even with the wind.

No word yet on when the park will reopen. Xanterra is taking reservations at some sites starting mid-June. I guess they are gambling it will be open by then. Personally, I wish they would just leave it closed. I feel like we (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho) are going to see a tourist related spike in Covid cases later this year.
 

nuchamps5

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There isn't any place in Yellowstone where a 5 weight won't work, even with the wind.

No word yet on when the park will reopen. Xanterra is taking reservations at some sites starting mid-June. I guess they are gambling it will be open by then. Personally, I wish they would just leave it closed. I feel like we (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho) are going to see a tourist related spike in Covid cases later this year.
Totally understand the concern. I should say, our biggest concern isn't our personal safety, but not wanting to bring COVID-19 to the area. Fortunately, one member of our group works for the state on electronic monitoring for infectious diseases out here. She won't let us go unless the models are looking ok, but we know even then it can still be a risk.
 

silver creek

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Hope everyone is staying safe and sane during the pandemic. Hoping for a little advice on rods to take to Yellowstone. Of course, this is all assuming it's safe to go to Yellowstone later this summer!

Anyway, my wife, friends, and I are hopefully traveling to Yellowstone for the first time in late July/early August. I'm the only committed fly fisher of the bunch, so it's not a fishing trip, but I will get to do plenty of fishing. Our plan is to spend some time camping around the park as well as backcountry on the upper Lamar at Cache Creek.

My question is whether I need to bring a 6 wt or if a 5 wt will do most everything I need? For context, I don't have plans on fishing the Yellowstone (at least not seriously or for any length of time) and I'm guessing the Madison and Firehole (and maybe the Gibbon) will be too warm by late July to fish. Most fishing I'll get to do will be on the upper Lamar Valley, Cache Creek, and probably Solfatara Creek/Gibbon above the geyser basin, as well potentially the Gallatin for part of a day. Any other fishing will be small streams along hikes, so I'm not worried about that.

Coming from the midwest but having lived in Calgary, I know our windy days here are nothing compared to out west. I can bring a 6 wt, but since I don't plan to be doing much nymphing or big river fishing, I'm not sure how necessary it is. But the wind, especially on the Gallatin and Lamar, has me concerned, especially since I might be throwing big hoppers and possibly spruce moths. Any thoughts? Thanks!
The Firehole will be too warm to fish.

However, I think you still still be able to the upper Gibbon. The Gibbon and Firehole merge to form the Madison River at Madison Junction. The Gibbon follows HWY 89, the Grand loop road all the way from The Museum of the Park Rangers in Norris Campground all the way to Madison Junction.

I don't know how good the fishing will be in the Yellowstone itself but you can try it out. Ask around to see if the Lake Trout have been controlled enough for the cutts to have returned to the Yellowstone.

The most popular site is Nez Perce Ford which was called Buffalo Ford and that term may still be sued by many fly fishers. It is located between Lehardy Rapids and the thermal features at the Sulphur Caldron. Take the spur road through the trees to the parking lot at Nez Perce Ford. Further upstream is LeHardy Rapids and from LeHardy Rapids to Nez Perce, there are parking spots along the river to stop and fish.

Google Maps

If the trail on the other side of the river is open, you can walk downstream from the Fishing Bridge area for a day trip. Ask the park rangers if the trail is open since it may be closed if bears are in the area.

You can also fish Yellowstone lake from shore except near the mouth of the Yellowstone river. There will be a sign showing the off limit area.

You can drive along Gull Point Drive, park and fish the lake. The parking spot at the Bridge Bay gives you some backcast space that doesn't to go back over the road and it a spot to try.
 

fq13

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The Lamar valley is paradise. I have been there five times. I fished the Madison out of West, the Yellowstone out of Livingston (some of the best food in the US at very reasonable prices) and the Gallitan out of Bozeman. But, it always comes back to the Lamar valley. The Lamar, Soda Butte creek, Pebble Creek and Slough Creek. It is perfect zen.
I would recommend Pebble Creek camp ground, it's a tent and very small RV only. no reservations, but it is quiet. It's right on soda butte and a half mile walk will get you there. If you are fit, walk 7 miles up the trail past the second or third meadow and pebble creek will get you all the 10" -12" cuts you want on dries. A three or four weight is ideal. Then there is Trout Lake, the Lamar and Slough Creek within easy driving distance.

Geysers? What are those?:D Rent your own car and bring a small tent and meet up on occasion. Your friends will entertain themselves and your wife will forgive you! :p

I have spent probably two months of my life in that valley fishing a fast # 4 and didn't want for more rod. But bring your five and leave the six at home. Maybe pack an ultralight if you want to hit the high meadows. For advice call George Anderson's Yellowstone Angler in Livingston. They will do you right.
But honestly? The standard western pacakage, Elk hair caddis, parachute adams, hoppers, terrestrials, bead head Prince nymphs, wooly buggers, pheasant tails and yellow humpys will get you fish between hatches. Just go #16 to #12 with a 4x leader. I like a dropper rig with a #12 Adams or hopper and a #16 nymph below blind fishing the Lamar and other rivers. It works great. But obviously, Anderson's will put you onto to what is hitting then. Do buy some of their red indicator nymphing leaders, as these are worth every penny.
Good luck and have fun.
But don't go this year if the bug is still out there. You don't want to bring the cooties with you. there is always next year.
 

mandotrout

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The Firehole will be too warm to fish.

However, I think you still still be able to the upper Gibbon. The Gibbon and Firehole merge to form the Madison River at Madison Junction. The Gibbon follows HWY 89, the Grand loop road all the way from The Museum of the Park Rangers in Norris Campground all the way to Madison Junction.

I don't know how good the fishing will be in the Yellowstone itself but you can try it out. Ask around to see if the Lake Trout have been controlled enough for the cutts to have returned to the Yellowstone.

The most popular site is Nez Perce Ford which was called Buffalo Ford and that term may still be sued by many fly fishers. It is located between Lehardy Rapids and the thermal features at the Sulphur Caldron. Take the spur road through the trees to the parking lot at Nez Perce Ford. Further upstream is LeHardy Rapids and from LeHardy Rapids to Nez Perce, there are parking spots along the river to stop and fish.

Google Maps

If the trail on the other side of the river is open, you can walk downstream from the Fishing Bridge area for a day trip. Ask the park rangers if the trail is open since it may be closed if bears are in the area.

You can also fish Yellowstone lake from shore except near the mouth of the Yellowstone river. There will be a sign showing the off limit area.

You can drive along Gull Point Drive, park and fish the lake. The parking spot at the Bridge Bay gives you some backcast space that doesn't to go back over the road and it a spot to try.
Silver - Don't know if you've been in the park recently, but they actually re-routed the road along the Gibbon. There is now almost two miles of it, through the "canyon" stretch, where you will have to walk in to fish it. It's the pocket water stretch just upstream of Gibbon Falls where the road used to be right against the river in places.

The Yellowstone River downstream of the lake is still a shadow of its former self, but if you want to spend a whole day looking for a couple fish, they are much larger than they used to be in that stretch. It is still closed to fishing until July 15.

nuchamps5 - The best fishing in the park is probably Slough Creek if you are willing to hike. But, it does get busy and there are a lot more bears than there used to be. The black canyon on the Yellowstone can also be fantastic, but again, hiking and grizzly bears. Regardless of where you go, carry the spray. Somebody recommended Yellowstone Angler, and I'm sure they are fine, but for my money Walter at Park's Fly Shop in Gardiner is the Yellowstone guy. Especially that NE corner. Check out the Park's Fly Shop web page.
 

fq13

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Sing brother! Sing! No joke, between bears and buffalo? You will be walking willow paths and cotton woods taking a short cut between oxbows on the rivers. This is where the critters sleep, and they made the game trails you are using. What you want to do is pretend you are still hunting deer with a bow, and do the the opposite. Keep the wind at your back and make as much noise as possible. Also, stop, pause, listen and smell. You can smell a buffalo or a bear, don 't sneak up on them. I sang every Celtic folk tune, Willy Nelson and Hank Williams song I could remember loudly and off key ( it also scared off other fisherman, who wants to be next to the guy singing the Pouges greatest hits:p)?

Just remember the two scariest things in the park are a carcass and a baby anything. If you encounter either one step away briskly as something will be guarding it! Plus one on the bear spray, just learn how to use it first, ie., Buy two, one to test, one to carry.
 

fq13

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One other piece of advice on your back country permit. Don't cook where you sleep. Make your meal, if it's white fish and rainbows or pasta, about 1/4 mile down wind. We all know the drill about hanging food. But you don't want your campsite smelling like bacon. Set up camp early, cook and eat 400 yards down wind, and then chill at camp. Hang your dishes at the cook site. You are not top of the food chain at jellystone, and it is not a a zoo. . A clean camp is a safe camp. Just my $.02.
 

silver creek

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If you like to fish small streams, there are a couple near the Indian Creek Campground which is near the Garner entrance to the park before you enter Mammoth Hot Springs.

Google Maps

There are two parking sites depending on what you want to fish. The first is Obsidian Creek at the Indian Creek Campground. Go over the bridge and there is an parking area just across the bridge, next to the Obsidian Creek. Photos of Obsidian Creek and the parking area are in the link below.

Google Maps

Obsidian Creek has willing brook trout that will come to a dry fly. Tt is an excellent stream to teach youngsters how to fly fish. I think you can keep 5 brook trout for a meal BUT confirm that is still the case.

Indian Creek Campground Information, Map, Pictures and Videos ~ Yellowstone National Park

The next area is at Sheepeater's Cliff. You can park there and fish the Gardner River. You can fish in this area or take the hiking path downstream and fish the more isolated area of the Gardner. You can see the hiking path in the Google map below. Note that at the upper right corner of the map is a cascade of the Gardiner River indicating that this is a steep section of the river.

Google Maps

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park * DIY Fly Fishing
 

nuchamps5

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Thanks all, this is really great! Fortunately, my wife and I are familiar with bear spray from our time in Calgary, but bison will be a new thing for us. I sort of planned on treating them like bears, keep my distance, keep talking, and keep my eyes and ears open.

Great tips on places to go. We tried to pull a permit for Slough Creek, but knew it was a long shot. Did get a couple nights at Cache Creek, and I'm hoping to fish Soda Butte and maybe Slough depending on how our hiking days pan out. Indian Creek Campground is our backup plan if getting to Norris at 4 am doesn't work to get us a spot, so good to know I'll be able to teach the friends how to catch brookies if we end up there. :)

Again, thanks for everything! Now we just gotta hope the social distancing and public health measures work to keep the virus down. Otherwise we'll just have to push it until next year.
 

fq13

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A word on fear in Yellowstone. I will tell this story on myself as everyone should have this experience, although in the telling my pants remained dry.:)
I was camped at pebble creek with my buddy from grad school. There wasn't much wood around the camp ground, but if you hiked across a tall grass meadow and up a ridge (about a quarter mile) there was plenty. We got in late, like midnight late after hiking up to the thirdr meadow on pebble creek, so I volunteered to fetch the wood. It was a moonless night and the stars were so bright you could see the milky way. The stars were like salt on a black blanket.(I told you the Lamar valley was paradise). Anyway,I turned off my headlight walking through the meadow by star light, buzzed by the coytes, the stars, and a couple of beers back at camp. Then, sweet lord, walking through that grass? Doing what I told you not too, ie. being quiet?

I walked into a herd of elk bedded down in the grass. They took off and ran like a busted covey of quail! Seriously, alone, in the dark and six hundred pound animals not twenty feet away running like hell. It sounded like an avalanche. Now my friend, a known liar and a horse thief, might say I screamed like a little girl. I maintain it was a manly war cry.;) I dam near had a heart attack because the amount of adrenaline that shoots through you when you go from "pretty stars" to Holy **** I'm going to die, in one second flat? Man, that was worth the cost of driving from Austin to Montana right there!:D Scared the hell out of me, but when the panting was done, I loved the night more because how many people get to experience that? Enjoy Yellowstone, it is a special place.
 

nuchamps5

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Note to self: Practice my manly war cry in case of emergency.

I won't admit to a war cry, but I can't tell you the number of times I've reached for my bear spray while fishing in Alberta only to find it's just someone's cow wandering through the brush! :)
 

quattro

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some of my fondest memories of my youth are in the Yellowstone backcountry camped along cache creek. My family fished it 4 years in a row. Spectacular cutthroats and huge numbers of fish each day. The further you get from the paved row the fishing just gets better and better and better.
A 4 weight would be my preferred weapon of choice.
 

pickadrake

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Most of my YNP fishing has been with a 4wt unless its really windy, then I grab the 5wt. The 4wt should cover you most of the time. Enjoy the trip! It's a special place.
 

Longs for Cutts

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nuchamps5 - The best fishing in the park is probably Slough Creek if you are willing to hike. But, it does get busy and there are a lot more bears than there used to be. The black canyon on the Yellowstone can also be fantastic, but again, hiking and grizzly bears. Regardless of where you go, carry the spray. Somebody recommended Yellowstone Angler, and I'm sure they are fine, but for my money Walter at Park's Fly Shop in Gardiner is the Yellowstone guy. Especially that NE corner. Check out the Park's Fly Shop web page.
Thanks for that, although I'm mostly working for myself these days. I do the website and guide some trips for Parks, but I don't work in the shop and now live in Livingston, and spend most of my time on the Yellowstone, Boulder, and Stillwater rather than in the park. My personal business is at ycflyfishing.com.

To the OP:

I do suggest bringing a 6wt with both floating lines and either a short, fast sink tip or fast polyleaders. You won't need it in the Lamar System unless you want it for streamers, but I generally have clients fish 6wts on the Gardner as well as the Yellowstone, and both the Yellowstone and Gardner should be on your radar if it rains. All of the Lamar System except Slough Creek blows when it rains and also gets much more traffic that especially the hike-in portions of the Yellowstone. The creek you mentioned up the Lamar is great if you're the first party there but terrible if you're the third, and the cat is emphatically out of the bag on it nowadays. A large Bozeman-based outfitter is pounding on the lower Gardner now so you can't count on that as a backup plan if the Lamar is muddy, anymore.

Except MAYBE in late September, I always use 6wts on the Yellowstone, both for big wind-resistant dry/dropper combos and for double streamer setups (#4-6 heavy bugger or sculpin with a #10-12 unweighted neutral color whatever on a dropper). As far as numbers go, a significant majority of the fish I see in the Yellowstone in the lower Grand and upper Black Canyons come on streamers all season long. Larger cutthroats love streamers regardless of the water you're fishing. This last sentence is a hint for your camping trip, and a suggestion why you should have the 6 up the Lamar...
 

nuchamps5

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Thanks for that, although I'm mostly working for myself these days. I do the website and guide some trips for Parks, but I don't work in the shop and now live in Livingston, and spend most of my time on the Yellowstone, Boulder, and Stillwater rather than in the park. My personal business is at ycflyfishing.com.

To the OP:

I do suggest bringing a 6wt with both floating lines and either a short, fast sink tip or fast polyleaders. You won't need it in the Lamar System unless you want it for streamers, but I generally have clients fish 6wts on the Gardner as well as the Yellowstone, and both the Yellowstone and Gardner should be on your radar if it rains. All of the Lamar System except Slough Creek blows when it rains and also gets much more traffic that especially the hike-in portions of the Yellowstone. The creek you mentioned up the Lamar is great if you're the first party there but terrible if you're the third, and the cat is emphatically out of the bag on it nowadays. A large Bozeman-based outfitter is pounding on the lower Gardner now so you can't count on that as a backup plan if the Lamar is muddy, anymore.

Except MAYBE in late September, I always use 6wts on the Yellowstone, both for big wind-resistant dry/dropper combos and for double streamer setups (#4-6 heavy bugger or sculpin with a #10-12 unweighted neutral color whatever on a dropper). As far as numbers go, a significant majority of the fish I see in the Yellowstone in the lower Grand and upper Black Canyons come on streamers all season long. Larger cutthroats love streamers regardless of the water you're fishing. This last sentence is a hint for your camping trip, and a suggestion why you should have the 6 up the Lamar...
Thank you SO much for this! At this point, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that we're even able to travel in a way that's safe for the Yellowstone community. Any fish I catch will be a bonus, I think. And thanks for the tip on the 6 wt, even on the Lamar. ;)

I'm hopeful that we can pick a few fish out of the creek. I'm thinking we won't have a hard time being the first party there on the mornings we camp there, although I guess we'll see how dedicated others are!
 
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