The dry fly fishing on the Yellowstone River has been exceptional the last few days, with lots of trout eating grasshopper patterns and attractor dries all over the river. Whether you want to float or wade above Yankee Jim Canyon, in the Paradise Valley, or downstream of Livingston, you should run into excellent fishing conditions. The water is clear everywhere, with just a hint of green to keep the trout from getting too spooky. Cooler nights are moderating water temperatures, and the flows are still significantly above the long-term averages for mid-August. What a difference a good snow year makes!
You could throw nymphs or streamers right now and probably do quite well, but why would you? Get out your 6-weight rod, put on a relatively stout leader (e.g., 3X), tie on your favorite hopper, trailed by a smaller terrestrial (ant or beetle) or attractor dry, and put your casts right along the banks. Many fish are stacking up in the shallow water (even inches deep), especially when the warm Montana breezes are blowing. If you’re not getting a lot of takes, try backing off a bit and running your bugs along the first drop off (look for slightly darker water).
Pink hoppers have been the go-to color the last couple of years on the Yellowstone River, and pink is definitely a great one to try. We’ve heard good reports from folks using a pink Thunder Thighs Hopper (a good pattern to try if you’re at all “visually challenged”), and the pink Morrish Hopper is also a favorite. But what, the trout have stopped eating any other color of grasshopper? Hardly! I had a rather epic day on Monday with a golden More-Or-Less Hopper, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could do really well with an old-school Dave’s Hopper, if you were willing to give it a try (the trout sure haven’t seen that pattern much in recent years). Experiment, experiment, experiment, until you find a bug that’s attracting a lot of attention.
I caught almost as many fish on various attractor dry fly droppers earlier this week as I did on the hopper. Trout were eating a Purple Haze, a small Stimulator, but especially a size 12 lime-colored Neversink Trude. Tie a couple of feet of tippet material to the bend of the hook of your hopper and then tie on your favorite attractor dry. Double trouble!
Whatever you choose to do, don’t you dare miss out on the best hopper bite that we’ve seen on the Yellowstone River in at least a couple of years! I can’t guarantee that you’ll have an epic day of fishing every day you get out, but you sure do have a fighting chance of catching a good number of nice trout on top right now.
For your viewing pleasure, here’s a video fishing report from a wade fishing outing a couple of days ago:0