Just a quick update on what we’re hearing (and experiencing for ourselves) about the fishing on the Yellowstone River. Boy, this river can be fickle, especially during the salmonfly hatch! On fire one day, and slow the next. But you won’t know unless you try.
Paul, Dusty, and I floated from Carbella to 26 Mile yesterday. We had high hopes, based on what we had heard from Tuesday’s trips. Did we kill it? No, we certainly did not. We were lucky to boat a couple of trout. There were salmonflies everywhere, in the air and on the banks, but our stonefly dries floated down the river unmolested. Both trout ate a size 6 brown Rubberlegs dropper (as did a fair number of whitefish). In addition to the salmonflies, we spotted one goldenstone, and a bunch of different caddis and mayfly species. If anything, there’s too much food available to the fish right now; most likely the fish were too gorged on the big bugs to take interest in our imitations.
One day later, entirely different story. One of our guides floated almost exactly the same stretch of river today and had a great day. Fish were eating everything they threw out there, big and small. It just goes to show that you need to get out there and see for yourself, and be prepared for anything.
If you’re wanting to get on the front edge of the salmonfly hatch tomorrow, you’re going to have to float above Yankee Jim Canyon. The bugs are up towards Gardiner. But you can also do well fishing areas where the hatch is diminishing (or even over). The fish will continue to look up for salmonflies for a couple of days after the hatch has passed over them. And the slightly smaller goldenstones shouldn’t be far behind. Stock up on some gold-bodied Chubby Chernobyls and hit the river. Drop a lighter-colored stonefly nymph (such as a tan Rubberlegs) off of your dry. Truth is, it’s not unusual to do better with goldenstones than with their larger cousins.
Don’t forget about the plethora of other bugs that are about right now. Our guys in the shop have had good luck fishing caddis dries as the sun leaves the water in the evenings.
The fun’s far from over!0