The agenda was to spend the day fishing on the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers whose flows come together to make the world famous Madison River. And I think it goes without saying that while we were there, we had to fish the Madison. I mean, who doesn't fish the Madison when they are close? I know, people who don't fish : )
We left the area of Ashton Idaho as early as we could for getting in bed the night before at about 1 a.m. The drive would take us to the town of West Yellowstone and the fly shop of Craig Matthews (Blue Ribbon Flies) who I had met in Indianapolis earlier this year (Greg and I had the opportunity to drive him to the Indiana on the Fly show as we were staying in the same hotel). At any rate, I wanted to stop in and say hello and check out his shop....and better yet, I wanted to hear some of his stories from when he was the police chief in West. He told me one about when the Hell's Angels saved West from a bunch of ticked off cowboys who were minutes away from setting town on fire....I swear....the story was amazing and hilarious at the same time!
So, after a brief stop in West Yellowstone to get our licenses and such, we made the punch into Yellowstone National Park (YNP), but not before some traffic issues.
THE GUYS WAIT FOR A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE WAY TO
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
After a ten minute traffic jam due to construction, we were on our way and the challenge was to not stop at the first glimpse of Madison water. The road paralleled the river all the way into the park making fishing access to the very easy and I'm sure highly pressured due to the immense traffic in Yellowstone this time of year.
A BEAUTIFUL PANORAMIC OF THE MADISON RIVER IN
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
ANOTHER SHOT OF THE MADISON RIVER
We drove for about 15 minutes before we couldn't take it any longer. The water started looking better and better, and our fly rods were just screaming to be used. So, without any further delay, we exploded from the truck like legendary super heros of the fly fishing kind (capes included) and walked across the water to the perfect places for presentation....Well, maybe it wasn't exactly like that, but close...... ha, ha.
DON LOADS THE ROD FOR A NICE LAYOUT
As soon as we could get a good look at the water, we noticed fish rising throughout the flows. Smiles graced our faces for the fourth day in a row and the dry flies came out. One thing is for sure, after a long fall, winter, and spring chasing steelhead, we turn into dry fly bums in the summer!
It only took a few presentations before fish started coming to the nets, and this time they were Browns....in fact, these were the first Browns that we had seen since our arrival out west. Ben was the first to score and the rest of us followed.
SAO GUIDE BEN BARGER RELEASING A NICE
MADISON RIVER BROWN TROUT
After a short stint on the Madison, it was off to see the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers. It didn't take long to get there as we were just a couple miles below the confluence. Looking down the valley of the Gibbon was a beautiful sight, but from the fishermen we spoke with, the scenery was the best part of the fishery. I'm sure there were some nicer fish somewhere in the watershed, but most of what we heard was that small fish were the norm, so we opted to move onto the Firehole.
LOOKING WEST DOWN THE GIBBON RIVER
So, on the road again (can you hear the song)....we started our drive into the caldera that houses some pretty amazing water and volcanic features! So, with rods readied, we meandered the region of steam vents, geysers, and rather hot Firehole River.
DRIVING THROUGH YELLOWSTONE WITH THE RODS READIED!
Upon our arrival on the Firehole, I was caught off guard when I stepped in a side channel only to feel water that I guess had to be somewhere in the 110-120 degree range hit my skin! No wonder this is an early season fishery! This water is great in the winter I imagine! However, due to all of the volcanically heated water that flows into this river, it also shuts down much faster than other rivers.
The river aside from it's hot waters, was yet again, a totally different kind of river in it's features. Within a couple of minutes of my arrival, we found fish. Here is where the distinct difference was noticed! These fish were as spooky as any fish I have ever fished for....bar none!
On several instances, I walked up behind fish and at a distance of twenty yards or more (again from behind them), I watched them scatter like I had just thrown a rock at them. These fish were not going to come to a fly easily. Fly line in the air would spook them, too much ground vibration or water disturbance would spook them, shadows, talking to loud, cloud shadows....I mean, it got to the point that I think getting a fly out of my fly box spooked them.
Needless to say, the Firehole River was the only river we visited that left us with our tails between our legs. It was a challenging fishery, at least in the area we fished her, but was extremely unique in it's features! I hope to return to this water during a cooler season to see this place in greater splendor!
DON MAKES AN ATTEMPT AT SOME VERY SPOOKY TROUT
The photos were few due to me shooting video most of the time, so I apologize for the limited photos. Hopefully I will find some more time to get some video of this place put together for all to see.
Next time I will get started on another amazing fishery where we shot a lot of video and shot a lot of photos and that is the amazing Teton River.
Until then, tight lines...
Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Steelhead Alley Outfitters