Ed’s Lunch-Break Update



Shop worker Ed just got back from fishing the Yellowstone River below the Pine Creek bridge on his lunch break. Before you read about his exploits, read the warnings in my previous post. Ok, now for the report. There’s about a foot of visibility, with a lot of remaining particulate in the water. But the fish were eating nymphs. He caught trout on Rubberlegs, Rock ‘n Roller Stones, Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tails, Super Pupas, and Kyle’s Beadhead Yellow Sally. He also caught a couple of big suckers. Way to go, Ed! Perhaps of more interest, he saw both adult Salmonflies and Goldenstones. Probably not enough visibility for good dry fly fishing, but you could certainly try tossing a big floating bug in the shallow water right along shore. Use stout tippet (even 2X), as he broke some fish off in the strong current. That’s especially true if you’re fishing a big dry like Paulson’s Flutter Bug, which we love, but which tends to twist lighter tippets.

On The Verge!

Let me start with a few words of warning. At these flows, the Yellowstone is a very dangerous river. My best advice is to go fish one of the tamer nearby rivers (for example, the Lower or Upper Madison). There are Salmonflies on the Upper right now. Go over there and wait another week or so to get on the Yellowstone. I almost didn’t post this report; don’t make me sorry I did.

All that said, folks are itching to hear what’s up with the Yellowstone right now. Some of the Bozeman shops are posting reports. And some of you may well ignore my advice in your haste to be one of the first to get back on the river. Above all, be careful! If you’re floating the Yellowstone River in the near future, you should have a very experienced rower behind the oars. And stick to one of the mellower stretches of river, such as the “Bird Float” (Grey Owl to Mallard’s Rest). If you’re wading, stay in water below your knees and wade slowly and carefully. One careless step could send you downriver in a hurry; you don’t want to go for a swim in this much water! Please don’t underestimate the power of the river right now. We don’t want anyone getting hurt or killed.

The Yellowstone River is getting ready to fish well, finally. We put our first guide boat on the river this morning. The river is still moving very fast and has a good deal of color. But it’s more green than brown, with enough visibility for the fish to see your fly if you get it close enough to them. Right now, it’s going to be mostly a nymphing game, though we did hear of some fish coming up to caddis the other evening, and you might see some PMDs as well. I’d try a big, dark-colored stonefly nymph, such as a Rubberlegs, Yuk Bug, or Bitch Creek (yes, it still catches fish). For a dropper, you might go with Kyle’s Bead Head Yellow Sally or an orange-belly Psycho Prince. An olive Zonker under an indicator, either alone or with a stonefly nymph dropper, would be another good bet. Put a couple of split shot on your leader to get your bugs down quickly, and look for areas of slower moving water, particularly right along the banks or the inside corner coming off of a riffle. With the Salmonfly and Goldenstone nymphs starting to crawl toward the banks, you could be in for some good action.

We haven’t heard any verifiable reports of Salmonfly adults on the Yellowstone as of yet. But there were a few out on the lower Boulder River yesterday, and the warmer weather over the next few days could get things popping. Of course, it could also cause the Yellowstone to spike up as well. It’s a balancing act right now.

Stay tuned. We’ll post an update once we hear from some folks who are on the water today.


Yes, the Pale Morning Dun mayflies are beginning their annual hatch on the Paradise Valley spring creeks. We’ve had reports of decent PMD activity the last couple of days. If you’re heading out to the creeks, you should be ready to target all stages of the hatch. Various PMD nymphs will be effective before the hatch gets going. We like Sawyer Pheasant Tails and Split Case PMDs, among others. Emergers and floating nymphs will catch fish early on, and even during the midst of the hatch. Our spring creek expert says he sees fewer fish eating duns than used to be the case. So tie an emerger or floating nymph (you can also dust some Frog’s Fanny on a regular unweighted nymph to keep it floating) on as a dropper behind your dun pattern. We like CDC patterns for both emergers and duns. Remember not to use regular gel floatants on CDC; it’ll mat the feathers. Use a powdered floatant such as Frog’s Fanny, or get some Dry Magic. If you’re going to be staying late, be sure to have some PMD spinners; you may also run into some spinners early in the morning. These early-season PMDs tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum, 18s and even 16s. Size your patterns appropriately. When things get going, try not to “flock shoot”; pick a particular feeding fish to target, so as not to spook the whole bunch with inaccurate casts. If possible, a down-and-across presentation is best, so your fly will reach the fish before your leader and line does. Plan out a presentation strategy before you start casting; your catch rate will go up if you think things through before you go after a rising fish. Stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop on your way to the creeks; we’re profligate with our advice (that is, we love to talk fishing).

Spring Creek Update

Several of us spent the day on DePuy’s Spring Creek yesterday. There were plenty of fish to target, but the fishing was relatively challenging. Despite that, we managed to hook a number of fish. We were primarily sight-nymphing, which was exciting. Nothing more fun than stalking nice-sized trout in the crystal clear water. We succeeded in enticing fish with small midge (size 20 Zebra Midges & Miracle Nymphs) and mayfly (Sawyer Pheasant Tail, Juju Baetis, Cold-Turkey Baetis) nymphs. We saw a few risers, but no fish consistently surface-feeding. A smattering of large (size 16) PMDs came off in the afternoon. It’s not on yet, but should be soon. We’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, take a trip out to one of the Paradise Valley spring creeks while there are still spots available and the rod fees are at $75 (until June 15). Even if the fishing is tough, they’re all beautiful spots to spend a day. If you’re wanting to fish the creeks later in this month or in July, and most likely have great dry fly fishing during the PMD hatch, give us a call (406-222-9393). We have pre-booked several days and would be happy to set you up with an expert guide to show you the ropes.

Big & Brown

Lots of WaterLooks like we’re going to weather the storm. For now, at least. The National Weather Service is predicting that the Yellowstone River will begin receding slowly from its peak this afternoon. Whether it will come up again is an open question. It depends in part on the upcoming weather patterns. No flooding or other problems here at Sweetwater Fly Shop. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Thanks to all who have called to offer your assistance!

The good news is that the early snowmelt probably indicates that we will be back on the river a little sooner than we had thought. It’s a little early to be making predictions, but mid-July is seeming like a distinct possibility.

The Paradise Valley spring creeks are fishing well right now, primarily with nymphs and streamers. There are no significant hatches going on right now; we’ll let you know as soon as the first PMDs are spotted. The rod fees go up to $100 on June 15 (they’re currently $75). Get out there now while it’s a little cheaper and there aren’t as many people on the creeks as there will be later on. If you are planning a trip to the area in late June and July and want to fish the spring creeks, please give us a call at the shop (406-222-9393). We’ve pre-booked a few days and will be happy to set you up with a guide to show you the ropes.

The local private lakes are another great fishing opportunity during runoff. They’re fishing very well. We were up at Story Lake the other day and netted several really nice Rainbows (and one nice-sized brookie). Again, the fishing was primarily nymphs under an indicator, or stripping Buggers or Leeches. Damsel nymphs are also a good bet; strip them along the bottom and be ready for aggressive takes. There were plenty of callibaetis mayflies (both spinners and duns) out at Story the other day. Had there been less wind, we might have had some good dry fly action. Be sure to take some callibaetis dries with you if you’re headed to one of the local lakes. Again, we’ve got some upcoming days at Story Lake pre-booked in late June and July. Give us a call if you want to experience the spectacular scenery and have a chance at some big lake ‘bows.


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