Summer Season! June 20 to August 1
The upper Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon Rivers in the Park,
are good choices during late June and the first part of July. Small mayflies and
caddis will hatch almost every morning and evening. Hatches are short, but
frequent. Look for surface activity and match the hatch, or use small nymphs and fish
the riffles. Since the fires of 1988, the Firehole River has been fishing extremely
well in the spring and fall.
By Bob Jacklin
One of my favorite evening fisheries for this time of year is
the Madison river in Yellowstone Park. This fourteen miles of river from Madison
Junction to the West entrance is one of the largest limestone streams in the world.
Great evening hatches of caddis and Rusty Spinners bring the big fish to the
surface. Fishing the Upper Madison is both challenging and rewarding.
The upper Gibbon River, also in the Park, is another great
evening fishery. Just the opposite of the Madison, the Gibbon is a cold meadow stream.
After a warm day in late June or early July, the coolness of the evening triggers the
mating dance of the mayflies. The Western Brown Drake emerges along the slick
glides and silty bottom of this classic meadow stream. At the same time, the
Henry's Fork offers some great Brown Drake evening fishing on the Harriman
State Park section. About June 20th of each year, the ever popular Green
Drake Hatch occures on Henry's Fork. My new Natural Drakes, Green drake,
size 12, and the Brown Drake, size 10, were among the top flies last season for
these two great hatches.
July has been noted as the "Month the Madison Goes Wild."
Usually, around the last week of June and over the Fourth of July weekend, the
renowned "Salmon Fly Hatch" will start on the lower Madison River, from
Earthquake Lake downstream to Ennis Lake, a distance of approximately
40 miles. Each day, the giant Stone Fly hatch will progress upstream from
Ennis over a two-week period, the average duration for the hatch. Trout will
feed on either the nymph or the adult stage of this large aquatic insect. As on
Henry's Fork, our large Salmon Fly Nymph and Mark's Box Canyon Rubber
Legs, sizes 4 or 6 weighted, will produce when all others fail. The Jacklin's
Salmon Fly and Golden Stone, sizes 4 and 6, work best when adult Salmon
Flies are present.
The most practical way to cover the river is to float. Our
guides float the river every day. In most cases, the boat is used primarily for
transportation, which allows the angler to cover thoroughly the choicest water.
Fishing from drift boats is also rewarding. The guide maneuvers the boat into
position allowing the angler to place his fly in those hard-to-reach areas where
the trout are holding.
Mid-July offers an abundance of fishable water. The high
water of early spring has spent itself to an even flow in most of our streams.
Alpine Lakes are open and in prime shape for the back-country fisherman.
All of the smaller rivers and streams have warmed and cleared, and will have
good hatches of insects. The lower Madison River offers some great dry fly
fishing and using the Elk Hair Caddis, sizes 14 and 16, can bring lots of action.
Another great fly on the lower river is the Adams Parachute, sizes 14 and 16.
Evening fishing can be the most fun of all with lots of emerging caddis. Use
our Olive Caddis Emerger, size 14, and hang on for some fast action. As the
summer's long and warm days give up the last of the great hatches on the
Madison, our focus turns back to Yellowstone Park for a chance to fish
some of the great hatches all over again on the Yellowstone River.
July 15th is the normal opening of the Yellowstone River within
Yellowstone Park. From its outlet at Yellowstone Lake to the Upper Falls, the river is
a large body of water with an even flow. Here the river parallels the road for approximately
twelve miles. This unique fishery is in reality a wild native hatchery of Yellowstone Black
Spotted Cutthroat Trout averaging in size from 14" to 18". Set aside as a no-kill area, this
portion of the upper Yellowstone River has a gravel bottom in some areas with muddy clay in
others. Insect hatches are quite predictable, and the brilliant Cutthroats are not usually selective.
Some of the most productive flies are the Adams, Goofus Bug, Elk Hair Caddis, and the
Gray Wulff, sizes 12, 14, and 16. Small nymphs like the Prince Nymph, the Green Rock
Worm, and Soft Hackles are all good choices. Just after the opening on July 15, expect
to see salmon flies, caddis, small stone flies, and all sorts of mayfly activity. The fishing is
crowded and somewhat of a circus, but, if you like large trout rising to dry flies and lots
of insects hatching, the Upper Yellowstone River is a must. I have often said "If the Lord
gave me one day left in which to fish, I would fish the Upper Yellowstone River in
Yellowstone National Park. It has got to be the closest thing to heaven there is for a fly
After the Salmon Fly hatch is history on the Madison River, the
fishing isn't over there. Caddis, mayflies, and small stone flies hatch at various times.
Our guides continue to float the Madison River throughout the season. The Royal
Wulff, Golden Stone, and Elk Hair Caddis are standard arms, with the Stone Fly
and Prince Nymph serving as heavy artillery. Action is usually steady on this
Montana Blue ribbon stream. Wild brown and rainbow trout, the Rocky Mountain
white fish, and the occasional Montana grayling share this fast-moving, powerful
river.~ Bob Jacklin