Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Nov 04, 2013

Sysadmin Note
Part 15 can be found here

"It would be a poor and sorry game if we could lay out rules for every inch of every stream, and we should be thankful that, beyond a certain point, each of us has to work out his own solution."
E.B. Rice, Where to use the Dry Fly, 1911 October Field & Stream Magazine, Treasury of Trout Fishing, Edited by Leonard M. Wright Jr., 1986

The lower Yellowstone River in Yellowstone Park is that section that runs from Knowles Fall to the park boundary at Gardiner, Montana. This is the section that I choose when I want to fish the Yellowstone and have the majority of water to myself. It is fully loaded with brown trout, rainbow trout, cut-bow's, cutthroat trout and whitefish. Above Knowles Fall there are no brown trout or whitefish. This section is also fully loaded with insects and the hatches are good in this section.

In a normal year you should be able to fish this section around July 10th to the 15th however in 2011 we were not able to get on this section until early August and the best fishing didn't happen until September. However in 2012 we able to fish this section of the river in early July during the Salmon Fly Hatch. You have to check the local information if you are planning to fish this section. Planning ahead will allow you to arrive with a more complete idea of the water conditions and the hatches during the time period of your visit.

The easiest way to access this section of the Yellowstone is to park at Queen of the Water Access which is located in Gardiner, Montana and then walk upstream Remember, once you enter the Park you will need a Yellowstone Park Fishing Permit. At Queen of the Water's you will be on the right hand or west bank of the river. If you prefer the east bank you may access the river at another location and that would make it a longer hike and seeing as I am into fishing and not into hiking I have no idea where you might gain access to the east bank, except to go in at the US 89 Bridge over the Yellowstone River in the town of Gardiner Montana. Furthermore being a southpaw, or lefty if you will, I prefer the west bank. Remember this is a big brawling river and you will only be wading the edges, so be careful of your wading and remember fly fishing is suppose to be fun and the fish are the ones that are supposed to be wet not the fly fisher.

From Queen of the Waters to Knowles Falls is about four and quarter miles and many times I never see the Falls. As I fish my way upstream I find plenty of fish long before I reach the Falls and then I turn around and fish my way back down or I hike down to certain locations and fish those areas. 

Knowles Falls is fifteen feet high and is very pretty but then I am a sucker for waterfalls. Further upstream you have the majestic falls of the Yellowstone with the Upper Falls being 109 feet in height and the Lower Falls which is 309 feet. Knowles Falls is named for John Knowles who, in 1898, built a cabin in the Crevice Creek area which is near the Falls; the purpose of the cabin was to provide a home since he was mining for gold.

Some years when the snowpack is below normal or the late winter and early spring are warmer than normal this section of the river can be very fishable during the Salmon Fly hatch. It will still be high but the trout are going to be on the banks feeding on the migrating nymphs and later, on the adults that are coming off the streamside vegetation. If you have a chance to fish this section during the Salmon Fly hatch you will swear that you have arrived in fly fishing heaven. 

Most of the time I don't get a chance to fish this section until August or September and my favorite fishing involves using terrestrials. In the west when we talk about this time period the angler's thoughts turn to hoppers; however in this section of the river I prefer Chernobyl Ants and Crickets. Now if you visit this section of the Yellowstone River don't over look the may fly or caddis hatches that you may encounter. During this time of year I love to fish attractor type dry flies like Royal Wulffs, H & L Variants, Humpies and for downwing attractors I use Royal Trudes and Coachman Trudes.

For me this section of the Yellowstone River is a fun day where the fishing is always excellent and on some days the catching is pretty good and that is a bonus. As in all rivers, nymphs and their imitations are very effective on the lower section of the Yellowstone however when I go there to fish I use dry flies and try to pick the right days but regardless I never have had a bad day on this section of the mighty Yellowstone.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part 17 can be found here


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