What Are You Waiting For?

Work? Highly overrated. Go fishing this weekend, if you must. But get out there. We got excellent reports from the Yellowstone River yesterday, both in the Paradise Valley and downstream of Livingston. The trout are eating. They’re eating dead-drifted nymphs and streamers. And they’re eating dries. You can’t really go wrong with your fly choice. Chubby Chernobyls, caddis, yellow sallies, flying ants, attractor dries on top. Big stonefly nymphs, caddis pupa, yellow sally nymphs, King Princes, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Zonkers, Sculpin streamers, Buggers underneath. Stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop and we’ll point you toward some of our favorites. Fish the slower water along the banks. Fish the riffle corners, shelves, and in front of and behind midstream rocks. The fish are being found in all the places where they should be. Excuse a bit of hyperbole, but the next couple of weeks should be what we’ve been waiting for. Yes, the Yellowstone is finicky, and there’s always some slow days mixed in, but you won’t know if you don’t try.

If you’re fishing the Paradise Valley spring creeks, expect to be challenged. Bring your A-game (and a good selection of flies). The PMD hatch has slowed down; there were sporadic rises to hatching bugs on DePuy’s yesterday. And the fish were feeding selectively. Emergers were all we could get them to eat. And not just any emerger, either. So get yourself several different patterns, find a rising fish, and experiment. 7X tippet, drag-free presentation, and a bit of luck. Sounds tough, but when that fish finally eats your bug, you’ll feel like a champion. Classic spring creek fishing.

Coming into Shape

Fishing on the Yellowstone River is heating up. The river is dropping steadily and is below 10,000 cfs at Carter’s Bridge. Some mud pushed through over the weekend and yesterday, but today the river is nice and green, with plenty of visibility for fishing dries or nymphs. Yesterday, a gold Chubby Chernobyl, size 10, was getting consistently munched. Other effective dries include olive and tan Elk Hair Caddis (as well as other caddis patterns), yellow sally imitations (Hairwing Yellow Sally, yellow Crystal Stimulator), and general attractors (Parachute Madam X, lime Trude, etc…). Effective nymph droppers include Rubberlegs (try the goldenstone color), red Copper Johns, Kyle’s Beadhead Yellow Sally, and Mangy Caddis. It’s getting to be that time of year when it’s hard to go wrong. Except by staying home. Don’t miss out! Oh, and pack your bug juice; the mosquitos are still out in force, especially in the mornings and evenings.

Quick Update

Reports from the last couple of days have been good. The Yellowstone River has been fishing well. We haven’t heard of any mud in the system, despite last night’s rainstorm. Both nymphs and dries have been catching fish. In addition to the usual suspects (see our previous couple of posts for some fly suggestions), a red Copper John was the winner for one of our guides the day before yesterday. If you’re only getting whitefish up close to the banks, try fishing a little farther from shore. Some of the trout have moved out a bit. It’s getting good; get out there! And stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop on your way back from the river (5:30-7:30) for some free burgers, brauts, and beverages. It’s BBQ season!

Clarity Update

There’s some mud mid-valley (Mallard’s Rest is unfishable this morning). But we’ve heard that it’s greening up at Carbella. So you might want to go up high if you’re heading out today. The fishing has still been somewhat tough, especially on dries. The Salmonflies have moved up and are now primarily above Yankee Jim Canyon. If you’re going up there, be sure you have someone experienced on the oars. Other than Salmonfly dries, gold Chubby Chernobyls, Lime Trudes, and Bearly Kickin’ Goldens have been bringing fish to the surface. For nymphs, try the venerable Rubberlegs, or go with a 20 Incher, a Kyle’s Beadhead Yellow Sally, a King Prince, or a CDC Pheasant Tail. Or consider dead-drifting a streamer, such as an olive Zonker. Fish tight to the banks; some of the biggest fish have been caught within inches of shore. Look for the fishing to improve in the upcoming days. The river is dropping fast and the clarity should be improving every day. Our prediction? It’s about to go off!

Weekend Fishing

Steady but not spectacular was the word from yesterday’s anglers on the Yellowstone River. You had to work a little for the fish. The great news is that the flows haven’t gone up, despite the warm weather. So the visibility is hanging steady at a fishable, if not great, amount. And there are still salmonflies (and goldenstones) through the Paradise Valley, though they’re more prevalent up higher, towards Carbella. Of note, there’s also a prolific mosquito hatch, so bring your bug juice.

We’re still seeing most of the fish caught on nymphs, though big dries did pick off a few trout yesterday. It’s worth throwing a dry-dropper combo, with the nymph hanging down about 2 1/2 to 3 feet. Gold Chubby Chernobyls in sizes 8 or 10 are a good bet with the goldenstones about. Or you could go with a more realistic pattern, such as a Bearly Kickin’ Goldenstone. But then you’re probably in it for the salmonflies. There are a bunch of juicy patterns you could try. Some of our favorites are Paulson’s Flutter Bug, the Gorilla Stonefly, and for a lower-riding pattern, the Drowned Salmonfly. For go-to nymphs, it’s the usual. Try your Rubberlegs in the dark brown and orange color, which can imitate either a nymph or a drowned salmonfly adult – it’s been working well. Caddis pupa (and the good old King Prince) are a good bet for a smaller nymph, as there are plenty of caddis coming off along with the stoneflies.

Remember, be careful and use common sense! The Yellowstone is still a very big river right now. If you’re not experienced on the oars, consider wade fishing instead. And if you’re floating, stay in the mellower sections, such as the Bird Float (Grey Owl to Mallard’s Rest).

Oh, and the Paradise Valley spring creeks are fishing lights out right now. PMD mayflies are the name of the game on the creeks. There have been prolific hatches every day, and the fish are eating them. Floating or shallow nymphs have been as or more effective than dun patterns. Drop a nymph, such as a Split-Case PMD, behind your dry. Dust it with Frog’s Fanny to keep it floating in the surface film. As far as dries go, cripples have been getting takes, as have emergers. If you don’t already have reservations, it’s going to be tough to get on the spring creeks for the rest of this month. But give Sweetwater Fly Shop a call (406-222-9393) and we might be able to hook you up, so to speak. We have some days pre-booked later in the month and would be happy to send you out with one of our spring creek experts.

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