Had a couple weeks to myself after leaving Eastern Wyoming and decided to spend the time visting some places in the West I had never seen. Initially, it was to be a quick jaunt but after collaborating with more and more friends and family, the planned road trip grew in size and eventually resulted in a 4,000 mile loop. Jackson to Yellowstone, through Montana and Idaho to Seattle to SanFran to SoCal to Nevada and back to Jackson. The first leg of the trip in Yellowstone and Montana was a Trout Bum Diaries-esque fish fest as I wasn’t able to get away from work over the summer and although I saw plenty of good fish guiding, very few of these fish were subdued by my own rod.
First spot up was the Lewis River near the Southern edge of Yellowstone about 3 hours North of Jackson. After camping at the trailhead and getting an early start, I was optimistic that the 3 mile hike in to the mouth of the upper river channel would be a quick one and I’d have plenty of time to fish and walk out at the end of the day. After getting there around 10, I was shocked to find this stretch of river to be 100 yards across, super deep, practically still, and the amount of riverside vegetation made casting near impossible. Too late to turn back and try another spot that day so I decided to walk upstream and look for better water. After 3.5 miles better water was found. For the entire stretch of the river traveled, it transitioned from wide, deep, slow, and impenetrable down below to 4 inch deep rapids over featureless bedrock above. However, just before the river’s source was a solitary hole which held at least 9 visible spawning browns (first few video shots). A couple casts into the pool with a medium sized mahogany dun brought up a nice little fatty in full spawning colors. Unfortunately, the commotion spooked everything else in the hole and the next hour was spent chucking everything I had at fish that had completely stopped feeding. 6.5 mile hike out after an hour or two of fishing, 13 miles total on the day, 1 take, 1 fish, 0 bear sightings, absolutely worth the hike.
The next day was spent on a small tributary in the Northeastern corner of the park that was accessible by a much shorter hike. During the first few hours I stalked some of the spookiest fish I have ever encountered in crystal clear water. The only thing that worked for me this day was a downstream cast with as much line as my 3-weight could possibly haul followed by a shit ton more drift with a large circus peanut. I went through almost everything in my boxes that day and thought it really weird that these cutties had all the time in the world to examine an incoming meal and the fly that produced best looks like a candy wrapper with black and white checkered rubber band legs.
The next few days were spent in Montana on the Beaverhead, Big Hole, and Blackfoot Rivers. I heard really good things about the Beaverhead, a nationally renowned tailwater stream, but due to cooler temperatures, didn’t see much of anything. The Big Hole and Blackfoot were fun with tons of small rainbows jam packed everywhere.
A beer to anyone who can identify the insect in the third to last photo...it’s almost 3 inches long, has what appears to be a stinger and looks like a cross between a cricket and a giant rainforest beetle. Trout food no doubt.