Finally made a trip to West Yellowstone in mid-September. That’s something I always wanted to do. I picked up JeremyG, a fellow fly fisherman, in the Twin Cities and jumped on Hwy 94 for the long boring drive West. Since I drove over from SE Wisconsin Jeremy did all the rest of the driving that day while I filled his head with stories of screaming Hardy reels and feisty, hot trout.
After laying over in Billings the first night I told Jeremy I would drive so he could see the amazing scenery. You could see the evidence of the snow they had in the mountains 3 days before we arrived and the air temps were still very cool.
The 4 hour drive from Billings, MT to Bozeman to West Yellowstone goes fast with gorgeous mountains, pine forests and rivers. I always love the drive down from Bozeman along side the Gallatin River.
We rolled in West Yellowstone midday and had time to blow so we stopped in to Jacklin’s Fly Shop and got our YNP fishing licenses and I introduced Jeremy to Bob Jacklin. Bear spray on sale for $30.
Even though our stuff was still packed I decided we should go into the YNP and check out the Madison, Firehole and Gibbon. Not much was happening in the warm air and bright sunlight in the afternoon. We quickly went from sweatshirts to t-shirts and lots of liquids for the dry air. You could tell the number of tourists in the park was much lower than during the summer months.
The Firehole is a magical river full of jumping rainbows and browns.
The Gibbon River at the Junction..
Madison River in the Yellowstone National Park..
We then headed to Campfire Lodge Resort in West Yellowstone to check in, say hello to my friends Jim & Wendy Slattery and to crash in our cabin.
Campfire Lodge Resort is nestled between Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake right on the Madison River in the Gallatin National Forest…
The interior of the cabins are clean and rustic with all the things you need… heat, stove, sink, bathroom, kitchen, shower, living room and bedrooms.
Our cabin (Cabin #3) at Campfire Lodge Resort was right on the Madison River. You could literally sit outside the cabin and cast to the river.
Every morning we got up and had an awesome breakfast at the cafe at Campfire Lodge. This is the best place for breakfast in all of West Yellowstone and everyone around knows it too!
We went in real early for breakfast to avoid the crowds. Great food and great service!!
The fly shop which is connected to the cafe and has an amazing selection of Whiting capes and saddles, well over 1,000 capes and saddles to choose from! Plus, a huge assortment of flies for all the local rivers.
Trying not to bore everyone.. we first ran around fishing different places just for the fun it… including the Gallatin River which was extremely low and the fish were tucked tight against the banks and very shy. You need to fish upstream and be very quiet or you will spook these fish.
We went back in the park to fish the Madison in the evening for the White Miller caddis hatch. Every where we went there we guys fly fishing. I settled on a spot that is a fair hike up the last meadow and fished there that evening with lots of small trout rising.
The next morning I wanted to show Jeremy the 3 Dollar Bridge and see Raynolds Pass on the Madison River. The drive down from Campfire Lodge is spectacular…
We both hooked a few good fish but neither of us landed them. Most guys were fishing small beadhead nymphs or Shopvacs with a bobber for indicators, which I did not want to do. Overall the really warm sunny days were making fishing on the Madison pretty slow. Lots of FF’ers by all the bridges too.
After this I told Jeremy I can not handle this type fishing anymore and I took him to one of my special dry fly fishing spots, never to be revealed.
It was awesome… big rainbows, screaming reels and small dry flies. We were in pig heaven with Baetis, Callibaetis, fly ants, caddis and other crap floating down the river! We ended up fishing it everyday with amazing results.
When the wind wasn’t blowing we had a blast! My Hardy reel was constantly screaming with hot rainbows leaping and shooting across the river.
and some nice brown trout too…
Thursday was thunderstorms and raining and we headed back into the Yellowstone National Park to fish the Firehole River. I was hoping for a good Baetis hatch but instead we had clouds of White Miller caddis dancing along the river and small trout jumping every where. The water temp. on the Firehole was 72 degrees. In comparison, the Madison River below Hebgen Lake was 58 degrees.
I think there were more fly fishermen than tourists in the park!
We saw lot of bison, some elk, antelope, and had a cow moose and her calf come out morning and block our way back for over an hour..
The only bears we saw…
Fall colors were magnificent. This is Campfire Lodge Resort looking at cabin #12 along the Madison River.