If you could only visit one location, where would/should you go? Alaska would be nice, if you have deep pockets. But keeping it in the lower 48, there aren't many places so central to great fishing as West Yellowstone, MT. Using W. Yellowstone as a base, you can of course access the park, with unlimited fishing possibilities that would take seasons to fully explore. But the bonus comes into play when you venture out an hour or so. As rivers go, the major players are the Gallatin and Madison in MT, and the Henry's Fork in Idaho. And there are a few unknowns, (creeks) worth checking out. For diversification, you have excellent lake fishing at Hebgen, Quake, and Henry's Lake. If you're looking for big fish, the lakes are your best bet.
A good hybrid trip would consist of one week in W. Yellowstone to fish and enjoy the park, then migrate over the continental divide to Last Chance, ID for week two, and fish the Henry's Fork (The Ranch) and the Madison below Quake Lake. If the Henry's Fork beats you up, head down to the Teton for a day to get back into the groove. Don't forget some crickets.
There have been volumes written on this region and it's fishing, so all the information needed to plan a great trip is at your fingertips. My intent is to get the idea into your head, so you can start sending the spouse subliminal messages of your impending road trip. No spouse? No excuse!
Here are some observations that may prove helpful.
Plan ahead/do your homework. There's simply too much here to be guessing. I.E.: An early flight into Bozeman will allow you to fish the Gallatin on your way to W. Yellowstone. It's a two-hour ride on 191, and the river is right there for most of it. (Take your time on 191, all those white crosses represent dead people). Don't think about June. In a big snow pack year it would be a disaster. This is a July, August, September deal. September is my pick. The vacationers have scattered and the fish have settled down. Bring warm cloths though, at 6000+ feet you'll be cleaning ice from your guides in the mornings!
Set reasonable expectations. Yes, there are big fish here. Will you get one? Maybe, but just like everywhere else, you need to put your time in. Yes, there are zillions of fish here. Will you have twenty fish days? Doubtful, again for the same reason. Tip: Mid/Late September will see spawners leaving Hebgen for the Madison. How does a 25' hook jawed brown sound?
Time. There is enough fishing here to last a lifetime. A week is cheating you. Ten days is better, and two weeks, well you're getting warmer. Once you've been there/done that, you can focus your attention on your favorites, and condense your plans.
Food. Eat plenty of good food before you go. Unless chicken fried steak is your fav, you won't be seeing much in culinary delights
Don't forget the camera! Want further info? E-mail the author at FlyRodBum@aol.com.
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