Welcome to Parks' Fly Shop's detailed fishing trips reports page. Here you'll find detailed accounts by our guides and shop staff covering their recent fishing trips in Montana and Yellowstone Park, including specifics on flies, the quality of the fishing, and photos. These reports will cover the specific waters we've been fishing. If you'd like a general overview of current fishing conditions, check out our General Fishing Report.
If you'd like to submit a report to appear here, please contact PFS Head Guide Walter Wiese. You can also post comments on reports that have already been posted, including any questions you might have. Your comment will be held for approval to combat the ever-present threat of spam.
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Read on for the trip reports. If you'd like to comment on an entry or to read previous comments, click the entry title to be taken to a new page.
Here’s a graphic showing predicted flows for the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs.
That graph on the right side of the screen is crucial. That’s flow in thousands of cubic feet per second (cfs). 8000-9000cfs is the level at which the river typically becomes marginally fishable, with the Salmonfly hatch hot on the heels of this flow. According to this prediction, we’ll be looking at this flow in about ten days. Get your 6-7 weight rods and 1X-2X leaders ready.
We still have guides available most days from July 2-10 (not so much thereafter). You might want to think about booking your Salmonfly trip for July 5-10 now…
It’s a heck of a drive to get there with the road construction between Mammoth and Norris, but this season the Firehole has been SO worth it. We’ve had a couple years in a row of big flushing flows in May, and this might explain the hyper-abundance of several different types of insects we’ve been seeing all season on the Firehole. Most years, there’s a brief flurry of BWO and a smattering of tan and olive caddis, with the White Miller (Nectopsyche) the star of the show. For the past ten days or so, we’ve had a mix of White Millers, tan caddis, olive caddis, PMD, and even little olive stoneflies. This smorgasbord has the fish eating well. On Wednesday, I took a longtime client (good fisherman, if a little wedded to the dry fly) and his beginner granddaughter. Grandpa did well on Blonde Palmered CDC and Elk Caddis, while granddaughter caught good numbers of fish on Glasshead PT Soft Hackles swung in the riffles. Pictured are grandpa and granddaughter and granddaughter with her second fish (grandpa was busy fishing dries upstream for #1).
While the hatches have been good all day on the Firehole, expect them to shift to the morning to early afternoon with the warming weather, with cloudy skies typically best.
As many of our customers know, 2017 was an off year for me since I had open heart surgery on July 7th. When all was said and done it added up to two bypasses, a valve replacement ( I am now part cow ), a valve repair, a stent and installation of a pacemaker. I was in the hospital for eight days, pretty much completely out of play for a month, and on very limited duty for the remainder of the season.
Thanks to my great crew who all stepped up to fill the gaps we weathered the season and managed to meet all or our commitments. I spent a good deal of the fall and winter in rehab and am now in better shape than any time in the last three or four years.
With parts of three days in the field I am happy to report that I am now officially back in the saddle. Kody Marr, our new staff member this year, and I took a few pokes at the Firehole and spent a bit more time on the Gibbon May 30th during an orientation tour. We had our best results on the Gibbon. I got 3 browns including one about 13 inches in the hour or so we spent and then got out just ahead of a rain squall. Trevor Robbins, new last year and a huge help, and I were out with a beginner family June 13th on a half day guide trip. This was Trevor’s first ever guide trip and my first since the fall of 2016. A good time was had by all except the several brook trout landed by the clients.
On the next day Kody and I went to check out one of our favorite little creeks for beginner trips in the park. Access to the creek is complicated by the major road construction project between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris so mission #1 was to figure out a practical way to get kids to the water. Despite it really being still too high and too cold we ended up with about a dozen brookies ranging from just under 4 inches to about 9 inches which is about the usual range for this stream. Conditions on our northern park streams are improving as the spring runoff ends and will be getting better with each passing day.
Spring Runoff… Words no angler wants to hear, but like most things in fishing you just got to work through it. A few of the guides and shop guys got out on the water and explored the Northwestern quadrant of the park with some surprising success on smaller creeks and streams. The Gardiner River was one of those sweet spots over the past few days! Although the water more closely resembles a churning cauldron of chocolate milk than a mountain stream, the fishing was GOOD with Brook and Brown trout eager to eat Stonefly nymphs of various life stages. The water is moving quick and the runs were deep leaving little choice in tactic, high sticking your larger nymphs and weighting your smaller nymphs under an indicator.
In addition to the Northwestern quadrant, we also headed over to the Madison Drainage to find better water, lower flows, and all in all better conditions for hungry trout. The water is not quite ideal as there is still a tannin hew (which almost looks like Richard’s tea), but fish were rising to drys and crushing nymphs with authority. The water was more crowded during this venture as you can expect this time of year, but fending off the crowds proved worth while giving us a taste of what’s to come over summer. This will be the best time to enjoy this drainage as water levels are dropping quickly providing clearer and slower water, soon enough this water will be nearly unfishable once the waters warm. Don’t hesitate or you may need to wait till fall for this fishery to become more active again!
For the most up to date river conditions and river know how drop us a line at (406) 848-7314. Tight lines and hang in there, clear water is around the corner!
I’m going to keep this update brief since I posted the likely fishing dates and something of an outlook for each body of water a week ago on our general fishing report.
We had an exceptionally snowy winter, with snowpack topping out at 175% of normal for the date in mid-late April. Since then, it has generally been warm and wet. Runoff started ten days early on the Yellowstone, with the river going out of shape around April 26, and snowpack as a percentage of average for the date has nosedived, to 125-odd percent of normal.
What does this mean? We are going to have somewhat high streamflows and somewhat late starts to the season on many popular fisheries this season, but the dates they drop out of the spring melt will only be perhaps a week after the “normal” date. Note that since 2001 we have had six years with above normal snowpack and streamflow and late ends to the melt, about three years with “normal” snow, streamflow, and fishable dates, and every other year has had some combination of low snowpack, streamflow, and early fishing dates. So the perception many people have of “normal” has been skewed.
The Yellowstone River (except the stretch below Yellowstone Lake that opens July 15) will drop out of runoff around July 5-10 and have a probably-excellent Salmonfly hatch beginning at the same time between Gardiner and Livingston and marching upstream into the park in the middle ten days of July. Flows should be good and cold all summer after that.
The Lamar Drainage (Slough, Soda Butte, and Lamar) will drop into shape between July 5 and July 15 depending on the section in question, with the best fishing early in the rough water and on lower Slough Creek and the meadow sections of Soda Butte getting good around mid-month. These too should be nice and cold through the summer, though there will be significant changes to Soda Butte and probably the Lamar due to the high water, with many old channels gone and the new ones not yet established enough to fish “right.”
The Lower Gardner is already fishable on a day-to-day basis, with fishability/clarity depending on a couple cold nights, but it will get much better after June 15 and especially June 25. The upper Gardner and tributaries will be too high and cold even if clear enough until at least June 20, with most getting fishable around July 10.
Meadow-Type Small Streams in Yellowstone that drain the park’s central plateau will be marginally fishable by June 15 and good by July 1. Rough and tumble small streams both inside and outside the park will generally be too high until at least July 15.
The Madison Drainage in YNP (Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon) have all dropped into fishable shape, though the Gibbon’s meadows are still too high. All of these waters have fished surprisingly well for the first week of the park season. The Firehole will get questionable after lunch due to warm water temps by June 20 and will be too warm below Old Faithful to be worth fishing at all by July 4. The Gibbon and Madison will fish fine all day through June and should fish SOME until mid-July.
This is probably the last update of this kind this year. Instead check out the general fishing report from here forward.