We’re getting our first fishing reports from those who have been out floating and fishing the Yellowstone River. They’re good, but not great. The water clarity yesterday was very good, at least 18 inches of visibility. Green is good! Last night’s heavy rains could murky things up a bit today, especially below 6 Mile Creek. But by the weekend, the flows should drop even more and the clarity improve.
All of the fish caught yesterday were on nymphs. One of the winners was a big stonefly nymph, such as a brown or black Rubberlegs. A King Prince also got the job done as a dropper. Don’t be afraid to go relatively large with your Prince or King Prince this time of year. There are a bunch of caddis around right now, so a caddis pupa, such as a Beadhead Mangy Caddis, would be another good option.
Our sources tried stripping streamers and moved a few fish (yes, that means they didn’t catch any of them). But I wouldn’t be afraid to cast a Sparkle Minnow, Sculpzilla, or other streamer pattern. The conditions are right for it, with some color to the water. If the clouds roll in, especially, dig something juicy out of your streamer box and have a go at it.
We haven’t heard of any adult salmonflies being spotted yet, but it’s just around the corner. We like salmonfly dry fly patterns with a lot of black in the body. They seem to work better than those that are primarily orange. And don’t feel like you have to imitate the very biggest of the bugs; often a smaller pattern (say, size 6) will do just as well or better.
Before the salmonfly hatch gets going, the nymphing can be lights out. The salmonfly nymphs will be crawling towards shore, where they will climb out onto the rocks or willows and break out of their nymphal shucks. They’re vulnerable to being eaten by trout as they make that journey. So cast your nymph rig (or dry-dropper) right along shore and expect good results.
I should note that the Yellowstone’s flows are still relatively high. So use caution, put an experienced rower behind the oars, and choose a “mellow” stretch of river to float (such as the “Bird Float” between Grey Owl and Mallard’s Rest).
The fishing is only going to get better from here. This time of flow “compression” can be one of the best times of the year to catch yourself a bunch of trout. Don’t wait until the masses descend on the salmonfly hatch. Get out there this weekend!0