West Yellowstone Report

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Mike, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. Mike Active Member

    Posts: 239
    Someplace between here and there
    Ratings: +39 / 0
    I fished the West Yellowstone area in early October this year. It is a good 12 -13 hour drive from Seattle to West Yellowstone. To break up the drive, I decided to check out Fish Creek in Montana and then spend the night in Missoula. Fish Creek is about half the size of the more well known Clark Fork tributary, Rock Creek. While the pressure on Fish Creek may not be as high, it is still a popular river. This was highlighted by the fact that the car that I followed into the access area had Missouri tags. Of course my Washington tags made no statement at all. I counted about 10 anglers on the lower 3 miles of the creek. The weather was clear and sunny in the mid 60’s with little wind. The fishing wasn’t bad. I took several small bows on nymphs and had a few risers to my hopper pattern. I spent the night at Ruby’s in Missoula. Not a bad place for $85 per night. That evening I ate at Pearl’s. They have a very nice buffalo steak on the menu.


    Fish Creek


    Fish Creek Bow

    The next day brought me into West Yellowstone. After checking in at the motel, I drove over to Henry’s Lake. While it was in the mid 60’s, it was windy and Henry’s lake was choppy. Trying to get out of the wind, I launched and fished in a cove on the west side of the lake but with little success. I left the lake and took the north road to West Yellowstone going by Quake and Hebron Lake. The wind howled at both of these spots as well. I stopped to fish the Madison where it enters Hebron Lake. There were a few takers but no fish to hand.


    Quake Lake – created by an earthquake in 1959

    The following day I returned to the north shore of Henry’s. The wind was down and the lake calm. It was easy to see fish cruising in water that was about 6 feet deep. Slowly stripping a small black leech on an intermediate line was productive. I brought 10 fish to hand by 1:00 pm I decided to call Henry’s a day and check out the Park.


    Homes along the north shore of Henry’s


    Henry’s Lake Cutthroat


    Cutthroat with a black leech

    After acquiring a Park Fishing License at a West Yellowstone fly shop, you can’t purchase them at the Park entrance; I went to check out the Gibbon. The Gibbon is wonderful creek, but seemingly devoid of fish, at least for me.


    Gibbon River

    I moved downstream below the confluence of the Firehole and the Gibbon and fished a meadow on the Madison. There were lots of fish rising but most were small. Sometimes there was an aggressive take on a hopper.


    Anglers on the Madison


    Elk herd and congestion along the Madison

    For day three I returned to Henry’s hoping for a repeat of the day before, but the wind had returned with a vengeance. After fishing for a while with only one take I decided to check out the Firehole. Arrick’s Fly Shop had a sign stating that the Firehole was fishing better above the Midway Geyser Baser where the water was cooler. Above the Basin I found a nice meadow and walked in. The fish weren’t large but they were aggressive. A stealthy approach was necessary. I tried small heavy nymphs to get into the deeper holes but hoppers and a black caddis pattern produced the best.


    Firehole below Midway Geyser Basin


    Meadow along the Firehole


    Firehole Brown


    Firehole Valley looking down towards Midway Geyser Basin


    Traffic on the West Entrance Road

    West Yellowstone isn’t much of a town and finding inexpensive and decent accommodation is a challenge. I stayed the Lazy G Motel for $61 per night. The room was large and clean. However the room did not have AC. Finding a decent meal, besides a burger in West Yellowstone is another challenge. Sydney’s Mountain Bistro offer nice fare but is a bit pricey. Also, if you are going to eat there, arrive early or late, otherwise expect to stand in line for a half hour or so waiting for a table. Another option is Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon. It has decent pizza at a good price but after 7:00 pm, it isn’t a place for kids. It is a saloon and it is West Yellowstone. I watched a woman at a pool table try and use a pool stick as a phallic substitute in any number of ways (with all with her clothes on of course). I would not have wanted to have to explain this to my child. But she sure had everybody cracking up with her antics.


    Sign of the times
  2. Michael Thompson the flavor of BADFISH

    Posts: 536
    camano island wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    outstanding report and pictures!
  3. Itchy Dog Some call me Kirk Werner

    Posts: 3,729
    Ratings: +422 / 0
    Nice report. Always fun to see what those rivers look like this time of year. I usually go over Memorial Day weekend and it looks a bit different then!
  4. rbaileydav Active Member

    Posts: 45
    Atlanta GA
    Ratings: +65 / 0
    great report enjoyed it wish i could have gone

  5. creekx spent spinner

    Posts: 361
    Rancho Deluxe
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    Your photo "Firehole Valley looking down towards Midway Geyser Basin" is the famous "Muleshoe Bend" - one of my favorite stretches for fall BWO hatches. Have had great times there in the past, but have also had my @$$ handed to me a number of times also. Love Yellowstone in the fall. Thanks for sharing...
  6. Chris Corbiere "I'm new... dont make fun"

    Posts: 43
    Marysville, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I goota get out there! looks beautiful.
  7. SteelieD Non Member

    Posts: 1,001
    In a van down by the river
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I have fished most of those spots. So awesome! Thanks for sharing!!!
  8. Nooksack Mac Active Member

    Posts: 1,945
    Bellingham, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +109 / 0
    Sadly, the Firehole (especially), the Gibbon and the upper Madison have been running unhealthily warm during summers for the last 20-odd years. I'd think they are cooler and fishing better in October, and in the spring.
  9. Itchy Dog Some call me Kirk Werner

    Posts: 3,729
    Ratings: +422 / 0
    Agree that good food is not easy to find in West Yellerstone, but cheap lodging is easy: Just go to the Ho Hum Motel. I did a little write up, sort of, about it on my blog. Just do a search for "ho hum motel" It's cheap, and you get what you pay for ; )
  10. tediousthumper Hello My name is Thad and Im addicted to flyfishin

    Posts: 465
    Ratings: +39 / 0
    How fun, I wonder how much a park fishing liscence is? PM me if possible.And the picture of the two people fishing... the one fellow is crazy for fishing in shorts in October on the Yellowstone,Burrrrr!Wonderfull report,great pics,Thanks.
  11. riseform Active Member

    Posts: 1,090
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +280 / 0
    3 Day Permit -- $15
    7 Day Permit -- $20
    Season Permit -- $35
    Kids permits are free!
  12. rockymtflyfisher New Member

    Posts: 5
    Eagle, Idaho
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Thanks for the report. I enjoyed it.
  13. goose biot Member

    Posts: 61
    Seattle, WA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Thanks for the report. Too bad the Madison wasn't turned on for you. I used to fish there every fall from about '85 to '98 and it was amazing most years. Fat 18-20" rainbows would chase the spawning browns up out of Hebgen lake and give you 20 to 30 fish days with out much trouble. After whirling disease took hold, it has really declined.

    West has grown a bit in the past 20 years, but I agree it has gotten harder to find a reasonable/good place to eat, not easier.
  14. miller special Member

    Posts: 50
    windsor, co, usa.
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    What was the name of that woman in the saloon? I think I know her.... Nice report.
  15. Bob Jones Still truckless now farther away

    Great report and pics. thanks Bob
  16. Upton O Blind hog fisherman

    Posts: 2,158
    out of state now
    Ratings: +211 / 0
    Really enjoyed your report and photos. Thanks for sharing them.

  17. Richard Torres Active Member

    Posts: 1,350
    Mill Creek
    Ratings: +76 / 0
    Fantastic post and pics!
    It's been too long to not see such a beautiful place as yellowstone or Montana/Wyoming..