Recent rains impacted fishing on Park streams. The Lamar River discolored quite a bit, and Slough Creek had some discolor. Conditions are returning to normal, so go back to trico patterns in the morning, terrestrial patterns during daytime, then caddis life cycle patterns in the evening. We are getting near the time of year when browns and rainbows begin migrations into the Madison River. So get those streamer patterns into fishing shape!
Here’s a blanket statement for all Park streams with a higher gradient (ie: Gallatin River, Snake River, lower Lewis River, upper Gibbon River, Cave Falls area on Fall River): expect action with caddis life cycle patterns in the evening, spinners in the AM and again in the evening, and terrestrial patterns during daytime. Any day now, as we cool off, tricos will become important enough for fish to take notice on many streams and even still waters. Be assured that as a result there will be many places in the Park that will offer great AM fishing.
Best tactic for almost all meadow streams here is presenting terrestrial patterns. The exceptions are the meadow reaches of the Madison River drainage where water temperatures are high enough to stress fish when being caught. But for Fall River Basin streams (Bechler and Fall Rivers, Boundary and Mountain Ash Creeks), Slough, Obsidian, and Soda Butte Creeks, and Lamar River, hopper, ant, and beetle patterns will bring your best chances for action. As I have mentioned in past reports, the humpy is a superb deerfly and horsefly pattern. Do not be on the stream without it! Best still water action in the Park is, as usual this time of year, at Beula Lake where gulpers are active. You can fish them from shore or from the float tube you backpack in. Small leech patterns will always get you chances for action there. If you do not want to do the two and a half mile walk to Beula, the two mile walk over flat ground to Riddle Lake gets you into the same action, albeit by smaller cutts. Fish the northwest corner of the lake from shore .
Terrestrial patterns are about the most important dry flies to have in the box these days for success on Park streams. This includes hoppers (of course), ants, craneflies, and beetles. So many flyfishers forget patterns for a terrestrial not in the above list of suggestions. That would be patterns to simulate deer flies and horseflies. If you enjoy fishing meadow streams such as Slough, Boundary, Duck, and Soda Butte Creeks or Bechler, Fall, Madison, or Gibbon Rivers, you know how annoying these pests can be. They seem most numerous on the brightly sunlit areas of these and other like waters, and their bite hurts like “——!” I have been accused of “chumming” when I swat one, then flick the crushed result into the water to wait for a downstream take. When I hear that rise take place, I put an imitation on and go for it. A big, juicy looking humpy is my favorite for this purpose, but choose your favorite, and with a downstream drift, you are sure to have action.
Essentially every stream, except for the Firehole River (getting too warm, so give the fish a break), is worth a visit now. Fall River Basin streams continue to get cooling water coming from snow melting on the Madison and Pitchstone Plateaus. But mosquitos remain in huge numbers throughout the Basin. Evening PMD spinner falls and brown drakes make for excellent late in the day fishing on all these. During afternoon hours some emerging green drakes, down from their peak,remain here. On any of the Park meadow streams do not overlook presenting dry damsel patterns. On such as Slough,Boundary and Mountain Ash Creeks, Fall, Gibbon, Bechler, Yellowstone, Lewis, and Snake Rivers, these patterns can be very effective, but seem to be overlooked. Now that the meadow reaches on all these are drying out, terrestrial patterns should be in your fly box. And do not forget that ancient favorite, the humpy. It remains an excellent horsefly and deer fly pattern.
It is amazing how much snow is left in the Park’s high country! Extensive areas on the Madison and Pitchstone Plateaus have snow cover remaining. Rangers who have traveled to these places say drifts up to three feet in depth remain.This bodes well for all drainages ( Bechler, Fall, Firehole, Lewis Rivers) from these places. Cool water from snow melt will keep dependent streams in the best fly-fishing shape well into this summer. This is now the case with Fall River Basin streams which are all running high for this time of year, but are clear and cool indicating a gradual run-off. The large PMDs that emerge this time of year are ongoing on all these streams with trout responding to them during PM hours. Look for a good afternoon green drake event followed by a great evening brown drake event on all these streams in the upcoming days.
Runoff still remains high on Fall River Basin streams. Same with Lamar River drainage. The Firehole River has come into its own and with the current cool weather will stay that way until the Park weather warms up. Don’t overlook Duck Creek if you are looking for a dry fly challenge, and remember there is a good brown drake hatch coming in near future evenings. Lewis Lake offers good fishing with streamers, but if you use a boat, watch for the wind. The Lewis River in the meadow below the lake features an afternoon green drake hatch that has been a bit sparse in recent years but brings up resident brown trout.
The Ashton-Flagg Road is open at least to Grassy Lake Reservoir. That means all access points along the road to Fall River in the Park are open. Fall River remains somewhat high with run-off but can be fished. That’s the same with all Fall River Basin streams in the Park. Streamer and woolly bugger patterns will be the best bet.The Beula Lake trail head can also be reached. If you travel to Beula, best fishing results from a float tube. Try medium sized wooly bugger (#8-10) types, damselfly nymph patterns, bead head nymphs, and midge pupa under an indicator.
The Firehole River is living up to its reputation as an early season destination with fish responding to PMDs, BWOS, and caddis. Some giant stoneflies are emerging in the lower Firehole River canyon with wind blown individuals flying above and below. If you visit the Madison Junction area waters in the next few days, consider having some adult stonefly patterns on board. Duck Creek is in prime fishing shape. Runoff is out of it, but leech and woolly bugger patterns work best because post spawning ‘bows and ever hungry brookies look for this source of easy protein so recently abundant. Ice is off Lewis, Shoshone, and Yellowstone Lakes.
A Park policy which is causing some inconvenience is the necessary and suitable inspection of all boats for invasive species. Fishing regulations state that float tubes are excluded from this inspection, but it might be best to ask at any entrance or facility what the Park considers to be a float tube. These inspections are performed only at Grant Village and Bridge Bay Marina, and therein lies the inconvenience for boaters coming in the west, north, and northeast entrances. So for the remainder of this year, at least, put some extra time on the front of your boating-fishing trip into the Park and make sure that the Park agrees with you concept of what a float tube is.