Are we still running guided fly fishing trips despite the high water? ABSOLUTELY! True, we have to drive a bit farther than we do later in the summer, but this is actually prime time for the water that is clear and fishable. Here are the top three options this time of year, in order.
1. Private Lake Foot/Float Trips
June often offers the best fishing of the season on area private lakes. Beginners can do well using slow presentations fishing deep with strike indicators, while experts can often enjoy sight-fishing using small nymphs and even dry flies. The private lakes offer the largest trout on average of any of our trips, with most fish running 14 to 18 inches and a real possibility of fish to 24 inches.
The private lakes must be reserved in advance and require additional “trespass” fees payable to the landowner, but no fishing licenses are required and we charge slightly less for these trips than for others, so the overall cost is comparable.
We guide on two private ranch properties. The Story Ranch Lakes are located about 30 miles from Gardiner. You should expect to meet your guide near the turnoff to the property. Burns Lake is much farther away, more like 90 miles from Gardiner, but it offers better dry fly fishing and slightly larger fish overall. To fish Burns, you’ll meet your guide in Livingston and drive on from there.
2. Lower Madison River Float Trips
The Yellowstone’s a chocolate stew and not good or safe to float-fish right now (stick to whitewater rafting near Gardiner), but the lower Madison is excellent in June, since it’s protected from the worst effects of runoff by a series of upriver dams. It stays clear and low enough to fish all through runoff and is our closest float river during June. It typically produces decent numbers of smaller trout on dry flies in June, with a few big ones on top. Dry fly fishing is best on cloudy days. If there’s no insect activity, you should expect to fish a mix of nymphs and streamers, targeting fewer but larger trout. There are rainbows, browns, and westslope cutthroats here, and some of the browns get big.
Advanced anglers will do better than beginners here, but by sticking to subsurface techniques most beginners will stick a few fish, too.
Our Madison River guides all live in Livingston, so to fish this water you should expect to drive to Livingston (50 minutes) and then continue on with the guide to the Madison about another hour away. It’s a long drive, but no longer than the drive to the Firehole, considering all the construction.
3. Walk-Wade Trips in Yellowstone Park
June is prime time on the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers in Yellowstone Park, with good hatches on the Firehole and attractor dry-dropper fishing on the Gibbon. We’ll often combine these waters in a day of fishing. Both beginners and experienced anglers do well on these streams, though there aren’t many big fish.
About June 10, Cascade Lake becomes accessible and is a great choice for anglers who want to take an easy (though muddy) 2.5-mile hike for good chances at lots of small, pretty cutthroat trout and the rare Arctic grayling. Cascade’s a good choice in the morning and early afternoon, and we usually combine it with the Gibbon or another stream that must not be named online after lunch. Cascade’s a good choice for anglers of any skill level.
Other lakes are also good in June. Trout Lake is a big fish bet suited only for advanced anglers who want to take a crack at BIG cutthroat trout, but a couple small lakes near Mammoth are great for small, aggressive brook trout. These are our only June fisheries suitable for anglers without much time, and are good for beginners.
By late June, more walk-wade options start falling into play: the Gardner River, various small streams, possibly the Yellowstone River… Late June is a long way off, so it’s best to wait on talking about these.
Clients staying in Gardiner should expect to leave from Parks’ Fly Shop for Yellowstone Park fishing trips, while if clients are staying in the park, our guide will meet you near our fishing destination or near your lodgings, if you’re staying on the way to the fishing.
Interested? Give us a call or stop in!