Trip Report... .3,000 miles through the west...

Friday morning 6a... My girl met me at my parents to pick up some extra gear, and drop my truck off. A quick egg, toast and coffee breakfast and we were on the road. First stop, Missoula. The new DMB at the Gorge disk set got us to the Rock Creek Merc. very fast.... This place rocks! super friendly, and everything you need. after 6.5 hours on the road, I was running tired and a bit dry, so I stopped in to see Doug. Funny as hell that guy, and super friendly. I told him SAK sent me :) He proceeded to cuss for a few minutes about him, and his brothers, then we got back to business;)...Talked about the river, and casted some TFO's in the field out see, along the way I realized I didn't have my 7' 4wt. All I had was a 9'6wt!!! I ended up buying a 7'6 3wt to compliment my 9'6wt on the trip, a couple of his fantastic Hoppers in anticipation of Yellowstone, and a 12 pack of beer.. The "Merc" gets my vote for the best fly shop. Jenny and I settled into camp, and I hit the river. I saw some sporadic golden stones coming off, so I tied on the corresponding nymph and began to work the riffle run directly in front of me... I immediately picked up two SNITS. I wanted bigger, but didn't get it until later that evening. A fantastic Caddis hatch began... size 16-18 Brown Caddis. Got myself a few more nice ones on dries then called it a night.

The next morning was beautiful as we began our trip into Yellowstone. No fishing today as I promised the little lady a day of "sight seeing"... We saw some great towns along the way, and killer wildlife in the park, including, Grizzly & Black bear, Bull Elk, Moose, Deer, and a Coyote... what a great way to start our adventure in the Park. That night I went over Topo maps, and made my game plan for the next day. I decided on fishing Soda Butte Creek, skipping the Lamar due to high and muddy water.

Day three: We are greeted with light showers, and very low clouds... it added more enchantment to an already mysterious place. We started at the Lamar trailhead, and worked our way up from there. Soda Butte was running high, and off color, though not as bad as the Lamar. Fishing should have been better, though all I managed was a SNIT bow... that's cool, it was my first Soda Butte fish. After hiking about a mile upriver, and having numerous encounters with the resident Tatonka's I wanted to check out Soda Butte further upstream... maybe it was clearer??? We packed up and drove about the rapids section, and to the next field. The fishing was no better, and there was no hatch coming off... had a sporadic Brown Drake, and some Baetis, but nothing that was rising fish. Here's the Jacked up part... we were about 3/4 mile upstream from where we started, fishing, chatting, and having a grand ole time, when a Black Bear decided to crash our party. A Bear who had been laying in the grass stood up about 30 yards from us. WE COULD NOT SEE HIM while he was lying down. He stood, looked at us and lazily started eating the grass, and then slowly wandered away, as if we weren't even there. We got some cool pix, then It was time to exit... stage left. The fishing was horrible in the NE corner of the park, so I packed up and headed for Madison Junction area. I didn't realize it was so friggin far... after working our way through Elk Jams, Bison Jams, and Bear Jams, we finally arrived in time for a great Caddis hatch. They were a size 18 and cream. Caddis EVERYWHERE.. it was great. I got 4 browns between 10-12", and saw a guy pull in a beauty of an 18". He was using a Halo emerger. Day three rocked. Back to camp for Chicken Casidillas, beer and bed. That night brough Horrific Rain, Lightning, and wind.... we slept in the Subaru.

Day Four: Morning was overcast, much like the day before. Today we were hiking into Slough Creek. Good coffee, lunch preps, and we were on our way. Recent bear activity in the area didn't faze us as we felt like we had communed with, and understood the bears ;) (inside I was hoping I didn't really need that Bear spray I passed up).
The hike into First meadow was beautiful... the sun decided to show, and all the wildflowers were in full bloom. Walking into first meadow was awe inspiring. One of the most incredible places I have ever been. It is huge... wildflowers, a beautiful meadow stream, and wildlife everywhere. I decided to walk along the stream on our way to second meadow, just to check it out. (this route was VERY indirect and much longer.) halfway into the meadow, I found a HUGE skull and Rack of a Bull Elk... I aked Jenny "I wonder what got him".. and as if on cue, a grey wolf started crying on the far ridge. A sound that will forever haunt me. I had never heard wolves Before. The echo in the valley made us feel surrounded. Jenny spotted the pair on a rock outcropping. One was lounging, the other pacing, and singing. A fantastic experience.
SO.. observation of the stream was disheartening. It was Chocolate milk. I was very suprised, as I thought it was a spring creek, so wouldnt' blow out in a heavy rain, but it did. Didn't catch sheot. Taked to four other fellas up there who didn't catch anything either, one fella said yesterday he was sight casting to cruising pods of cutts.. ****er. Jenny and I headed to second meadow, just for the scenery. The Mosquitos were out in FORCE. Deet was my buddy that day. Bottom line... no fish, but a great fishing experience.

Day Five: Allright.. I'm getting pissed at the fish to hand situation. Time to play hardball. I am going to drive, and hike until I find productive water. The weather finally got good. low 70's with cotton candy clouds floating across the Western Sky. I Settled on the Gibbon River upstream of Norris Campground. Three Bull Elk layed and watched me slay small brookies and Browns on my Rock Creek Merc hopper patterns. it was fun, glad I got the three weight. A few hours into the fishing, just when I was about to move downstream for bigger fish, I rose Butter... no take, but I know where he lives...I'll get him. Jenny and I loaded into the wagon, and went to take a trip to the Tetons. Beautiful. The plan was to take some pics, have a lunch, and fish the Snake under the Mountains. Construction made the trip longer than planned, so the fishing on the Snake was cut short. I need a lot more time to explore that river.... I have been to few places more beautiful. On the way back to camp I hit the lower Gibbon (still above the falls). Lower in the river proved better..... Great fishing while banging the banks with hoppers. Stealth, staying low, and putting the bug 1/2 inch from the grass was key. All fish were between 10-14". Later, the fishing was done so Jenny and I headed back to camp, with wildlife detours along the way, to enjoy some beers, and a good helping of Spaghetti with meatballs. I fell asleep ready to get up befor daybreak to taco my new 3wt on a butter ball of a trout.

Day Six: I woke up early... 4a. I didn't anticipate any hatches this early, but I thought the big brown might be more active, and a little ballsy in the waxing light, as opposed to full sun. I geared up, and made a cup of Starbucks out of the French Press to sip on the way down to the river. The morning was gold, but the coffee was fighting the chill from my fingers. I tied on the tried and true Hopper that was effective in raising him the previous day... I tied it to 5x tippet. On the second cast, a large shadow confidently rose from under the weed beds, and took the fly.... it was Butta'! A very true test to the 3wt.. the hardest test to date. I landed a beautiful Brown... long, and thick, with a lot of kick. Just the way she likes it. I fished a few more bends, then headed back to camp to tell Jenny of my good fortunes. We hung out, ate breakfast then set out for The Henry's fork. I wanted some evening fishing in the Ranch. We took our time getting out of West Yellowstone, and made our way into Last Chance, Id. I went into the Orvis Fly shop there in town, and met a hell of a Fly Shop guy. Very friendly, non-pretentious, and turned me onto some killer camping, and fishing spots in the Ranch. Went down a VERY bumpy, and potholed road, to find one of the prettiest sections of river I have ever seen completely overrun with white caps and wind. Damn it.... sustained 25 with gusts of 50+ that evening kept everybody off of the river. it was a Joke... I thought maybe the wind wouldn't be as bad in Box Canyon, so we doubled back to camp at Box Canyon campground, just North of last Chance. Set up camp, and rigged up the 6wt with A double nymph rig, and strike indicator. Its a steep scramble into the canyon, but pretty safe. I hit the water around 7p.... The wind was just as bad in the canyon... luckily I was nymphing and the wind was blowing with me, and not against me. I fished the canyon for the next two and a half hours. It got a mediocre hatch of Caddis and I saw a periodic Salmon Fly. One landed on the back of my neck.... big ole thing was bigger than the fish I caught out of there. Landed 3 Cutts in a couple hours, all small, all along the eged of the fastest water. I can't figure that place out.

Day Seven: Early to rise, and head to the Ranch. The wind had subsided, and I was JONESIN' to fish this classic trout water. I opted not to go back down the long, very bumpy back road, and took the easier option, exploring out from Harriman State park. The park was gorgeous.. again, the wildflowers were incredible, and the water was like mirror. Not a breath of wind, nor bug, nor fish. A beautiful place, but I sure timed it wrong for the fish. I tried tying on Drake Spinners, Hoppers, Caddis, Nymphs of all sorts, I even fashoned a shooting head out of my 9wt sink tips, and ran streamers deep. Not a tap... I fished a lot of water, until about noon. Then said to hell with it. Packed up, and headed out for Ketchum Idaho, and Silver Creek....
... We missed our turn onto 20 West, so ended up making the road trip a couple hours longer than it should have been. A good ride though despite the stank my backside was emitting. We arrived in Ketchum, jaws wide open. Silver Creek outfitters is a freaking JOKE. I will say they do have the best area fishing maps I have ever seen.. and they are free. The high heeled lady helping me was sexy, but she didn't know anything about the fishing in the area... things sounded very rehearsed from her. I took the free map and went in search of a real fly shop. I ended up at the Silver Creek General store in Picabo. GREAT place, highly recommend stopping in and chatting with Bob, the owner. He ties his own flies, wraps his own rods, and knows everything you could know about The water in the area. This is hands down the friendliest place we went to, and they have great food... fried chicken, vegetables, potatos, and a soda... all home made. His river maps are all drawn on the backside of bearskins.... thats tits. I can't say enough about this place.. a must visit while in the area.... anyways.... we checked into the Conservancy, and hit the river for the evening hatch.... INSANE amounts of Caddis, coming off.. they were the Sedge type with the long antennae. I couldnt' keep the fish off my Goddard Caddis. Good fun. I never did get a lunker out of there, but managed lots of fish in the 8-14" range. I later learned that the pond upstream of the conservancy has 25" browns that cruise in circles at night..... I'll be back ;).
Free camping right on the river made a good day even better.

Day Eight: Woke up, and hit SIlver Creek upstream of the Conservancy. I walked to the wood bridge and waded up from there. About 7:45 the BIGGEST Baetis hatch I have ever witnessed came off. Bugs everywhere... all over me and the water. Fish rising with reckless abandon, and slamming size 18 Cream colored comparaduns with the same enthusiasm. All fish were brownies with the occasional Bow. After the hatch died, and the fishing slowed, I went in for a breakfast. I ate, and hit the river for another hour, using hoppers in the midday sun. I picked up two more. My girl was sick of birdwatching, and I had pretty much destroyed Silver Creek (as far as #'s go, not necessarily size), so she persuaded me to move onto bend in the afternoon. Ketchum to Bend... 7 hours...Found a great campsite for 5 bucks a night right on the Fall river in Bend. (south 97). I set up camp then spent the rest of the evenings light doing recon for the following day.... the holes directly above the bridge held promise. I saw at least 8 fish over 14" holding, picking off some unknown bug. Not much of anything came off that night... hmmm, time for bed.

Day nine: Spent ALL FREAKING DAY hunting fish on the Fall river....I couldn't find ANYTHING outside three holes upstream of the bridge. had some PMD's in the morning, and sporadic stones, and Caddis in the day. The water was around 50' ... the coldest river I have ever felt. Now I'm wondering what the secret is to this river. I retired from fishing early, and my grrrrr and I spent a relaxing evening at camp.

All in all it was one of the most fun I have had on the road... caught A lunker, a brookie, brown, cutt, and bow, saw some killer hatches, Saw my first grizzly, and wolves, four Black Bears, Elk, Moose, Bison, Coyote, and lots of cool birds. I could have had better timing on Slough, and Henry's Fork, but really I couldn't have asked for any better of fishing trip. The dominant fish of the trip was the brown... and I would have guessed Cutt. There was more wildlife than anticipated.. it must be something in the spring air.

3,000 miles and thats the report.

I want to plan a fall trip for spawners.... anybody down?


You call that a report?:dunno

Where are the details bro? :dunno Just kidding

Sounds like good times man, I envy you. I am looking forward to the pics.

Welcome Back,


New Member
Great trip report. I must have damn near run into you on some of those waters. I just left Last Chance on Sunday with my wife and son after spending a week with the outstanding people at Trouthunter.

Too bad about the water at Slough Creek, we fished that on Sat.(7/10) and the water was gin clear and the cutts and RBs were cooperative. My 15 year old son landed an absolute monster, 22" Yellowstone Cutt. Our guide said it was one of the biggest pure cutts he had ever seen out of there. Pics and a full report to come when I get back from a business trip.

We'll have to swap Yellowstone stories sometime, I have a good one when my wife was chased into a Slough Creek oxbow by a bison. I thought it was funny as hell while she was screaming "F-bombs" at the thing, I even took a few pictures of it later so she would never forget.

You weren't alone on the Henry's, we had a tough time the 2 days we were on it. The Ranch was brutal, being able to see those huge fish and having them ignore everything. The Box Canyon was an awesome float, but we had the wind issues as well (40mph gusts).

They need to have a Rehab clinic for that area, that place could be addicting. So don't tempt me with spawners........ :rofl

Marc :beer2
Dang! I was very close to staying in the park and hiking back up Slough on Friday.... I opted for H Fork.... bad decision! Oh well... I have more to look forward to next time. I'm glad you had some luck in such a beautiful place.



spent spinner
Did you guys hike over the hill to first meadow, or fish the lower meadow west of the road?
I'll be there next week. We usually hike all the way to 2nd meadow because the crowding is much reduced. But I've always enjoyed the tougher fish in the lower meadow. If you can get a good spot, you can have more fish to work than you need.

Yo B

I finally had a chance to read your 3 page report...That's some dope S#$%^!!! These are the places I've been wanting to hit for some time...I hope I get a chance to make that journey soon......Hmmmm fall trip huh

You know I might just be down for that:thumb


New Member

I was confused, I thought our guide said we were in the 1st meadow but we were definately in the lower meadow. We parked in the 1st parking area on Slough Creek road. The guide said it is one of the few places in the park that tends to get more crowded the further you hike in. We fished downstream approx. 1/2 mile and then back up to the 2nd parking area with plenty of space between anglers.
The closer we got to the Lamar the more rainbows we picked up. Gray drake wulffs were the ticket. Like Tightlines reported make sure you bring plenty of Deet, the mosquitos and horse flies damn near ate us alive, but the fishing was worth it!!!

If you have time, another very fun place he took us was the Gardner River. Park across the road from the campground just below Mammoth. It's a fairly easy 1/4 mi. hike down into the canyon. Even though the river was off color that day we had non-stop action on 10-14" browns with some bigger fish thrown in. I lost one I never got a look at but it had to have been huge.

Good luck and let us know how you did when you return.

Regarding the Fall River, there was a fish kill on the river last year when a plane dropping fire retardant on a nearby fire missed the mark and dumped it in the river. I can't remember where abouts that happened on the Fall but this could explain your tough time finding fish. I'm hoping to get over there myself this September