The Yellowstone River still has a good deal of color from the recent rains (and snow!), but there’s enough clarity now to catch some trout, if you’re willing to give it a try. There is at least 8″ of visibility this morning at Carter’s Bridge, which is plenty to get some fish on nymphs or streamers. In the brownish water, I’d at least start with something relatively big and dark. You could drift a brown or black Rubberlegs, or perhaps a purple Explosion Stone. Yes, I’d still tie on a smaller nymph as a dropper. Perhaps it’s just superstition, but I like something a little flashy in these conditions, such as a red Copper John, Lightning Bug, or a Red-Headed Stepchild. Don’t be afraid to go small (16 or 18) to imitate the baetis nymphs that are active right now.
Streamers, you ask? Of course! Streamers can be very effective in muddy water. Again, I’d start with a darker-colored streamer. Perhaps a black or peacock Sparkle Minnow. Switch up colors if you’re not at least getting some chases. And if your arm is getting tired from all the casting and stripping, try dead-drifting a streamer under an indicator.
Even under these conditions, you might see some noses coming up in the eddies and slacker water, particularly under cloudy skies. We’ve had reports of sporadic baetis (blue-winged olive) mayflies. You usually don’t have to be too technical on the Yellowstone. A size 18 Parachute Adams or Purple Haze will often suffice. But try a Sprout Baetis, CDC Biot Dun, or your favorite spring creeky pattern if you’re not fooling fish.
I’d expect the clarity to continue to improve as we move into the weekend and next week. Fall is one of the best times to fish the Yellowstone River. Take advantage before the snow starts flying!0