Yellowstone Bound

Part Two

Summer Season
June 20 to August 1
By Bob Jacklin

Buffalo Ford

Summer Season! June 20 to August 1
By Bob Jacklin

The upper Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon Rivers in the Park, are good choices during late June and the first part of July. Small mayflies and caddis will hatch almost every morning and evening. Hatches are short, but frequent. Look for surface activity and match the hatch, or use small nymphs and fish the riffles. Since the fires of 1988, the Firehole River has been fishing extremely well in the spring and fall.

One of my favorite evening fisheries for this time of year is the Madison river in Yellowstone Park. This fourteen miles of river from Madison Junction to the West entrance is one of the largest limestone streams in the world. Great evening hatches of caddis and Rusty Spinners bring the big fish to the surface. Fishing the Upper Madison is both challenging and rewarding.

Fishing Companions at Buffalo Ford
The upper Gibbon River, also in the Park, is another great evening fishery. Just the opposite of the Madison, the Gibbon is a cold meadow stream. After a warm day in late June or early July, the coolness of the evening triggers the mating dance of the mayflies. The Western Brown Drake emerges along the slick glides and silty bottom of this classic meadow stream. At the same time, the Henry's Fork offers some great Brown Drake evening fishing on the Harriman State Park section. About June 20th of each year, the ever popular Green Drake Hatch occures on Henry's Fork. My new Natural Drakes, Green drake, size 12, and the Brown Drake, size 10, were among the top flies last season for these two great hatches.

July has been noted as the "Month the Madison Goes Wild." Usually, around the last week of June and over the Fourth of July weekend, the renowned "Salmon Fly Hatch" will start on the lower Madison River, from Earthquake Lake downstream to Ennis Lake, a distance of approximately 40 miles. Each day, the giant Stone Fly hatch will progress upstream from Ennis over a two-week period, the average duration for the hatch. Trout will feed on either the nymph or the adult stage of this large aquatic insect. As on Henry's Fork, our large Salmon Fly Nymph and Mark's Box Canyon Rubber Legs, sizes 4 or 6 weighted, will produce when all others fail. The Jacklin's Salmon Fly and Golden Stone, sizes 4 and 6, work best when adult Salmon Flies are present.

The most practical way to cover the river is to float. Our guides float the river every day. In most cases, the boat is used primarily for transportation, which allows the angler to cover thoroughly the choicest water. Fishing from drift boats is also rewarding. The guide maneuvers the boat into position allowing the angler to place his fly in those hard-to-reach areas where the trout are holding.

Mid-July offers an abundance of fishable water. The high water of early spring has spent itself to an even flow in most of our streams. Alpine Lakes are open and in prime shape for the back-country fisherman. All of the smaller rivers and streams have warmed and cleared, and will have good hatches of insects. The lower Madison River offers some great dry fly fishing and using the Elk Hair Caddis, sizes 14 and 16, can bring lots of action. Another great fly on the lower river is the Adams Parachute, sizes 14 and 16. Evening fishing can be the most fun of all with lots of emerging caddis. Use our Olive Caddis Emerger, size 14, and hang on for some fast action. As the summer's long and warm days give up the last of the great hatches on the Madison, our focus turns back to Yellowstone Park for a chance to fish some of the great hatches all over again on the Yellowstone River.

Black Spotted Cutthroat Trout
July 15th is the normal opening of the Yellowstone River within Yellowstone Park. From its outlet at Yellowstone Lake to the Upper Falls, the river is a large body of water with an even flow. Here the river parallels the road for approximately twelve miles. This unique fishery is in reality a wild native hatchery of Yellowstone Black Spotted Cutthroat Trout averaging in size from 14" to 18". Set aside as a no-kill area, this portion of the upper Yellowstone River has a gravel bottom in some areas with muddy clay in others. Insect hatches are quite predictable, and the brilliant Cutthroats are not usually selective. Some of the most productive flies are the Adams, Goofus Bug, Elk Hair Caddis, and the Gray Wulff, sizes 12, 14, and 16. Small nymphs like the Prince Nymph, the Green Rock Worm, and Soft Hackles are all good choices. Just after the opening on July 15, expect to see salmon flies, caddis, small stone flies, and all sorts of mayfly activity. The fishing is crowded and somewhat of a circus, but, if you like large trout rising to dry flies and lots of insects hatching, the Upper Yellowstone River is a must. I have often said "If the Lord gave me one day left in which to fish, I would fish the Upper Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. It has got to be the closest thing to heaven there is for a fly fisherman."

After the Salmon Fly hatch is history on the Madison River, the fishing isn't over there. Caddis, mayflies, and small stone flies hatch at various times. Our guides continue to float the Madison River throughout the season. The Royal Wulff, Golden Stone, and Elk Hair Caddis are standard arms, with the Stone Fly and Prince Nymph serving as heavy artillery. Action is usually steady on this Montana Blue ribbon stream. Wild brown and rainbow trout, the Rocky Mountain white fish, and the occasional Montana grayling share this fast-moving, powerful river.~ Bob Jacklin

More On Yellowstone Park

Reservation Links for Yellowstone Country!
Spring Season: Late May to June 20th
Summer Season! June 20 to August 1
Late Summer: August 1 to August 31
Early Fall: September 1 to September 20th
Late Fall: September 20th to October 31st
Slough Creek Pack Trip

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