Time: 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Mayer’s Landing to Pig Pen take out.
I anxiously looked forward to the centerpiece of our trip to Wyoming and Montana, and that day arrived on Friday, August 17. Our friends Steve and Judy Supple joined us at Moon Dance Ranch between Bozeman, MT and Livingston, MT on Thursday, and several months earlier Steve arranged for a float trip on the Yellowstone River on Friday. We met our guide, Jeff Welke, of Montana Fly Fishing Guides at The Yellowstone Angler parking lot at 7:45.
Friday was overcast and smokey from the many western wildfires for the first two hours, before the sun broke through, after which the weather developed into a quite warm August day with highs in the low nineties. The Yellowstone River was flowing at 3,000 CFS…double normal for mid-August. Jeff set Steve and I up with size 14 chubby Chernobyls with tan bodies. He explained that the small rubber leg fly imitated a nocturnal stonefly as well as small grasshoppers. We covered multiple insects with one fly.
Over the course of the day we drifted 12.5 miles and flicked the chubby along the bank, through current seams, and bounced it over riffles of moderate depth. Steve and I both registered rainbows in the first hours, and this elevated our expectations for the day. The cool cloudy conditions and early success foreshadowed a fine day of fly fishing.
Unfortunately we remained locked on one fish until the sun burned through the clouds. Around this time we floated through some outstanding structure with frequent slow bank side pockets, so Jeff added a Pat’s rubber leg nymph to both our lines. I continued to fish the two fly dry/dropper until 2 PM, when Jeff removed the nymph. During the dry/dropper period I landed three additional small trout, and four medium sized whitefish. The action was actually better than three fish might suggest, as I also connected with four additional fish that escaped and pricked several others for a split second. A dose of refusals augmented the action.
The pace slowed measurably at 2PM, so Jeff removed the dropper fly, and we fished the chubby Chernobyl as a single dry. I was surprised by a gulp in a current seam in the afternoon, but I managed to react in a timely manner, and this enabled me to land the best fish of the day, a fourteen inch cutthroat.
The heat became a significant factor between 3PM and 4PM, and our arms and enthusiasm wilted. Jeff filled the lulls with animated conversation, and the scenery was magnificent. The quality of the water was outstanding, but spots that qualified as sure fired fish producers were quiet.
On Friday the heat was a factor, and the mid-August time period occured between post runoff hatches and the cooler fall weather. Given these factors Friday was a successful day on the Yellowstone River.
Fish Landed: 5