YNP Visit

darkshadow

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What was to be a fishing expedition turned into a sight seeing extravaganza, with only a few inopportune hours here and there dedicated to getting some of YNP's resident fish to cooperate.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the entire trip was supposed to have started last Wednesday, but we could not get on the road from Los Angeles until after 1 pm on Sunday.





We made a bee line towards Pocatello, and slept a few hours until we could make the final push into the western entrance of the park on Monday morning.

That's when the fishing itinerary went out the window.

We spent some time in West Yellowstone picking up provisions, and because this was the first time visiting the park, the drive from the Western entrance to the Northeast entrance was filled with so many epic photo opportunities at every corner which translated to about 4 hours to get to our cabin in Silver Gate.







And of course, it had just stopped pouring that morning, which made all the waters in that area look like matcha green tea, except for the Lamar, that looked like your traditional glass of Nesquik. Regardless, my saner half had just finished unpacking when I dragged her out of the cabin, waders in tow, so I could get some time on the water.

We hit up Soda Butte, since that was the closest choice, and had better clarity than the Lamar and Slough (which I heard was fishing tough as it is.)

I rigged her up with a fluorescent orange beaded caddis under a strike indicator, and before I begin rigging my own 4 weight and explaining the purpose of the indicator again, she already has a 9 inch fish on. An hour and a half later, the score is still 1-0, and I retreated back to the cabin with my rod between my legs.



Tuesday morning was supposed to have been spent viewing the upper and lower falls in the Canyon Village, but it was ridiculous to think you could spend a few hours walking the trails adjacent to the canyon. The views from Uncle Tom's trail almost made me forget I that I had packed a few 4 and 5 weight rods in my truck.





It was about 1 pm before we started to make our way towards the NE entrance, whose rivers were blown out from yesterday's rain. I made the last minute decision to fish the Yellowstone were the NE road bridge crosses it. It looked fantastic, and there were hoppers making a jump for it with every step I took down to the river.



And I didn't get one rise or interest in the 2 hours that I was there. Regardless, I made it a point to drive towards the cabin, fish Soda Butte hard even though it was still off color, and my psychosis was rewarded with 4 healthy cutthroats, quite larger than what I was expecting. I was ecstatic.



Wednesday morning's drive through the Lamar Valley still showed the water off color, which was disappointing. I had chosen to stay in the NE for this primary reason, and now most of these waters were cut off. During the drive to the NE from the W entrance, I saw so many waters that are what my fly fishing dreams consisted of, and here I am driving alongside chocolate milk. I called Park's Fly Shop when I finally got service at Tower, and they recommended not even attempting to fish it. Since we were at Tower, and we were in the mood to get away from the barrage of tourists, we took a small hike down to the Yellowstone, and then up Tower Creek where we got some quiet time underneath the falls.



On the way up, I met a nice gentlemen in waders from Astoria, Oregon, who gave me some intel that made my ears perk up.

"Yeah, I was down there chucking some big hoppers, and they'd keep coming up but wouldn't eat them. Still managed a pair."

I probably ran the last 100 yards back up the parking lot and was in my waders before my saner half could even ask what I was doing. It was a good thing she was totally down to make the hike back down to the Yellowstone, because the next 4 hours, I was taken out of my shell and exposed to a type of bite that I would never see consistently in SoCal.

I'm not privy to chucking what looks like a summer camp arts and crafts project into the water, and having some suicidal trout annihilate it without thinking twice. After the 10th fish, my hands had finally stopped shaking to get a decent cast off, although getting the hunk of foam into the water was all that was really needed. I lost a few 'bigger' specimens, but landing 14 to 16 inch fish consistently was a real treat. I didn't even feel the brutally hot hike back up to the parking lot. I slept like a hibernating bear that night. The GF apparently didn't because, apparently, she said I was still setting hooks in my sleep and elbowing her side. Apparently.











Thursday was spent making the drive to Mammoth to see the terraces, and much like any sight seeing adventure in the park, it takes a bit of time to see everything. We made a side trip to Gardiner, which cut into more time on the water, but at this point, I just wanted to soak up all that the park (and its surroundings) had to offer.





I did get a hot tip from Park's and they led me to the Lamar, which apparently had been clearing up and producing some nice fish. But, once we left Gardiner and finally made it to the Valley, the river looked like an Orvis catalog with the number of anglers and cars in pull outs in larger numbers than before. After finding a space to pull out, we hiked across the meadow and struggled on finding what the fish wanted to eat, and even when we did, we didn't realize these fish were an astute bunch. From fake takes, to outright refusals, the next 3 hours were a lesson in futility. I did hook a good half dozen fish for a few seconds, which I guess is better than not getting any looks.



Friday was dedicated to flogging the waters, as Saturday would be spent visiting the Old Faithful area as we worked our way back home.

We did get to sleep in a bit, and noticed that the weather had turned from blue bird skies of the past 2 days, to cloudy, misty and windy. My plan was to hit the Yellowstone again around noon to maybe scrape up a few more suicidal grasshopper eaters, and while I did hook up a few fish, all of them came on the dropper, and none came up for the hoppers. After half a dozen fish to the net in the 3 or 4 hours that we were there, we made the trip back up to the parking lot, where I became a tourist's obsession as he took dozens of pictures of me in my waders, me taking off waders, me putting waders away, my retying. I even opened up my terrestrials box and from his reaction, I totally made his day. And, I think i'll be on someone's blog here soon and I managed to wish him good bye with the few words I knew in Chinese.

On the way back to the cabin, the saner half suggested a stretch of Soda Butte almost near the park exit, and wouldn't you know, there were plenty of Cutts rising to mayflies, that I apparently matched somewhat correctly considering that 3 or 4 fish came from the half dozen stretches I quickly hit. But, the fun was yet to come....

We got to the cabin a bit early, and the girl wanted to prepare dinner. I was still in my smelly waders, so I did the natural thing and grabbed a light 4 weight, my Montana license, and ventured to the stretch of Soda Butte that extended past our cabin. I was feeling a bit disheartened, considering the struggles of the week's past, but 5 minutes into my walk upstream, that quickly changed.

I spent 2 hours fishing about a 500 yard stretch, and caught about 60 fish during that time, and missed just as many. I had met a guy earlier in the week who was the handyman for the cabins, and he had mentioned not to waste my time in this stretch, unless I "wanted to catch a bunch of 5 inch fish."

The fish averaged 10 to 14 inches, and were completely annihilating any small mayfly pattern that hit the water. They didn't even care about less than perfect presentations. Of course, I had left the GoPro and camera in the car, or else that would've been some pretty fast paced videos.

I walked into the cabin with a steak and potato dinner waiting for me, and she asked me how fishing was, and I just smiled and said, "It was ok, " knowing full well that those last 2 hours had been probably the most exciting fishing I had encountered during my week long stay. To think this stretch of water was under my nose all this time, and here I am discovering on the last day of my trip. Go figure.

Saturday was spent visiting Old Faithful and the steady rain prevented any type of angling to be done, although I did notice tiny mayflies coming off during our picture taking sessions around Biscuit Basin and plenty of fly fisherman taking advantage. But, that was the theme throughout the entire trip. So many water, so little time.



I'm already planning a return visit. Next year's trip can't come soon enough and with knowledge of the area, I hope to be able to isolate waters more efficiently, instead of flying by the seat of my pants.





p.s.

A shout out to those individuals who assisted in making this trip come together, especially the ones with the local intel that communicated via PMs. You guys and gals rock.
 

mcnerney

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Great trip report and awesome photos, glad everything worked out like it did. The park is so big and the traffic can be hectic so making time crossing from one side to the other is almost impossible. As you found out, the rain will quickly change the fishing conditions of some of the rivers in the NE section.
 

ted4887

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Grade A pictures! There are very few things that I enjoy on this site more than trip reports from Yellowstone. Yours did not disappoint.
 

chechem

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I spent 2 hours fishing about a 500 yard stretch, and caught about 60 fish during that time, and missed just as many. ...
Yeah, you're hooked on YNP now. You'll find a bunch of us other guys/gals there when you return. Love that place.

Beautiful pics. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
 

smoothie

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I fish the NE corner of YNP every year. It's very common for the rain storms to ruin the fishing on the Lamar. You do need to plan a return trip to fish that amazing river.

Glad that you were able to fish the Yellowstone by Tower Falls. There are so many yellowstone cutties in that stretch. We fish that area every year for at least half a day.

I never would have thought that Soda Butte near Silver Creek would produce so well for you. Maybe it was the fishing gods smiling down upon you for all the crazy adventures you'd been experiencing all week :)

Thanks for sharing. Awesome photos!
 
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darkshadow

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I never would have tought that Soda Butte near Silver Creek would produce so well for you. Maybe it was the fishing gods smiling down upon you for all the crazy adventures you'd been experiencing all week :)

Thanks for sharing. Awesome photos!
smoothie,

It was absolutely surreal. Even though I had gotten into plenty of fish the days before, that day was absolutely brutal. I had planned to re-fish the Tower area simply because of the action it had produced days before, only to find that the cloud cover, wind and lower temps had pretty much removed all hoppers from the area. Even though I scratched a few, it was tough fishing.

We retreated to the cabin early that day, and thank goodness we did. The little lady told me she was gonna prepare dinner, and asked me if I wanted to peruse SB, and I actually was feeling so defeated that all I wanted to do was put my stuff away for the night.

Little did i know that venturing out produced some epic fishing, and in areas that I was more accustomed to fishing. I told my buddies back home that the area fished like our local creeks do, only on super steroids.

I'm sure the evening hatch had a lot to do with it, but apparently my timing was right. Those cutts approach dries like no other fish I have caught before, and are sure to increase people's blood pressure when they fish for them.

That experience out of the park makes me really re-think my approach for my future visit (which can't come soon enough.)

I think visiting waters outside the park may lead to less fickle fish, and some pretty amazing action to boot.

Is it September 2015 yet?!
 

h2ofishfloatski

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I would say that you had a very successful trip by all accounts! Your photos are beautiful and make me wish I wasn't headed to work tomorrow. Hope you both will make it back next year as planned.
 
L

Liphookedau

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Thanks for some Beaut Pics as well you caught some really nice Fish.
Brian
 

darkshadow

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What camera did you use to take these pictures?
My outfit consists of 2 cameras, one mirrorless, the other a DSLR

1. Nikon 1 J4 w/ 3 Nikkor 1 lenses, VR 10-30 mm, VR 30-110mm, 10-100mm f/4.0-5.6 VR
2. Canon EOS 70D EF-S w/ 18-135mm IS Lens Kit

HDR processing of the bracketed images is key for the old school "Velvia" saturation look.
 
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