DATE: 09-09-2011 – 9/18/2011
LOCATION: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Day 1 (9-9)
Been a while since I’ve written a report, but for good reason…Brad and I just got back from 10 days in Yellowstone. With record water levels back here in PA and MAJOR flooding along the Susquehanna Valley, getting to Harrisburg for our flight was somewhat of an adventure. We managed to get out to Bozeman on time with no delays and landed around noon, picked up the rental car (more on that later), and headed over to Simms. After Simms we picked up our licenses, bear spray, beer, and snacks in Livingston. A short 30 minute drive had us at the hotel in Gardiner and on the Gardiner River by 4pm! Have to love the time zone shift on the way out!!! We managed a decent number of rainbows and a couple browns in the last 3-4 hours of daylight, all in the 10-12 inch range before heading back into town for some dinner. Not a bad first day, especially considering all the water issues back home, even saw a pretty good sized mule deer.
Day 2 (9-10)
Day 2 started off on Soda Butte. Noticed the car trunk had a strange odor, couldn’t really find where it was coming from….then we noticed the evidence stickers on the rear taillights and on the inside of the back doors…guess the cheapest rental car is not always the best idea.
As we pulled into the lot, we noticed about 30 people staring off above the creek with some major glass…swear I get lens envy every time I come out here. That being said, I knew there was no way all that equipment was out for some totonka and it had to be either the wolves or a bear. The grizzly activity has been very high this year and there was already a couple fatalities. As we geared up, a lady was walking back and we inquired….Griz! It was a good distance away on the hill, so we decided to head down to the creek. Had the place all to ourselves. The morning and afternoon brought some good top water action for some really nice cuts. Things slowed a bit in the evening as the hatches just never really got moving.
Day 3 (9-11)
Decided to hit the Lamar today. Passed an Osprey nest on the way into the park, and hopefully we would have the same luck he did. Parked and geared up. Heard from someone in the parking lot that Griz had been milling around the Soda Butte Creek most of the day yesterday….good thing we fished it the day before. Hiked a few miles in before starting to fish. As we hiked, we ran into one of the wolf packs. Saw 3 of them only a couple hundred yards away, and managed to snap a couple shots before they disappeared over the ridge. Fishing was a little slow, but as the skies clouded, the olive hatch helped the situation. Fished our way upstream until the good looking water started to thin out. Decided to head back downstream. As we worked our way back downstream, we popped out of the trees to see a large brown object standing along the stream….freezing in my tracks, I received a momentary sense of relief when I realized it was not Griz, but a bull moose….my relief was short lived, since running into a bull moose during the rut may be worse. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to care one bit we were around. We crossed a the small trib he was feeding next to, and snapped some photos from a safe distance. Even shot a little video of him going to town on a patch of willows. He pretty much had them stripped cleaned in about 10 minutes. From here, we continued our way downstream and finished the day off near the mouth of Soda Butte. Found a couple holes with some cooperative fish to end the day.
Day 4 (9-12)
Back to the Gardiner. The plan was to hike way in to Osprey falls. Started just outside of Mammoth, early in the morning. Fishing was a little slow until the sun came up, but we managed to nymph some fish up. As the day went on, the hopper action really picked up and some nice browns and bows came to the net. We were cut short of our ultimate ending location by some pretty good thunderstorms. After hunkering down for about 20 minutes, we decided to give it up and head back downstream. Picked up some really nice browns into the evening before calling it a day.
Day 5 (9-13)
Headed down to the South Entrance to check out some new water. Started by fishing a trib to the Snake that was d.e.a.d…we did get a few strikes and caught a small cut in the Snake, but could get nothing going on the trib. Watched some otters for a bit who were having much better luck before driving down to the Tetons to take in some mountain views…..Spectacular as always. From here we drove to the East entrance to a small stream. Was not able to get much going on top, but nymphing produced some consistent fishing for 10 inch fish. With the fishing slow, we called it a day and headed back into town to grab some dinner before 10 pm for a change.
Day 6 (9-14)
We were felt like the day before was too easy a day, so we decided to hit 7 mile hole on the Yellowstone. While it is really only a 5 mile hike, on the way out 7 seems like it may be a low estimate! Parking at the trailhead the first thing we saw was the “Caution Bear Sign” (same one you see everywhere in the park), except this one had “last seen 9/6/11. The first 4 miles of the hike was relatively easy, only slight inclines to flat..the last mile however descends 1500 feet straight down, via a series of switchbacks, to the river. Again, on the way in not an issue, actually had to run down some of them. Made it to the river in about an hour and 40 minutes. Fishing was fast paced most of the day for some good sized cuts. Most of the fish taken on top were on mice and stimi patterns, and we nymphed a bunch on big stones. Around 4 we decided we better get moving out, in order to leave plenty of daylight for the hike back. The switchbacks on the way up were brutal, but we surprisingly made it back to the car in just 2 hours! Still not really sure how, but we just put our heads down and powered through. Great day of fishing with some incredible views!
Day 7 (9-15)
Started the day off by hiking 4 miles to the Yellowstone at the mouth of Blacktail Deer Creek. Fished our way back up Blacktail canyon, catching some nice brookies along the way. Around 2pm we hiked back out and drove back to the Gardiner. Caught a few nice fish in the early afternoon. Just before dusk, we got into a pod of 16-18 inch browns that ate on just about every cast! Fishing was on fire for about 15 minutes before the lack of light forced us to climb back out of the canyon to the car.
Day 8 (9-16)
Woke up to cloudy overcast skies, so we decided to drive over to the Lamar to try and hit another olive hatch. Arrived to find all off trail travel closed due to bear activity! Ended up fishing Soda Butte in the morning. Fishing was s….l….o…w. Managed a few by lunch, but decided we would be better off back on the Gardiner…and we were right.
Day 9 (9-17)
Last day on the water. Stuck with the what was treating us right, the Gardiner. The fishing was not a good as it had been, but fish were not hard to come by. The big boys seemed to be hiding though. Decided to head into town in the early afternoon to do some souvenir stuff/eat and come back just before dark to a couple holes. While in Mammoth, we got to watch a tourist almost get gored by a big bull elk. Never ceases to amaze me how some people think they are in a zoo and not a wild area. Just before dark, we headed back to the creek. While the fishing was not a fast and furious as the other night, we did catch a couple really nice browns. Good way to end the day and trip.
Day 10 (9-18)
Travel day, up at 6 and back to Bozeman to catch our plan and return our stinky car. A few long flights later we arrived in Harrisburg about 1030pm. Around 130 am, I rolled back into Williamsport. The drive back gave me time to start planning for next year….