Taking a Yellowstone trip close on the heels of another major fly fishing trip is a recipe for blogging disaster. I have enough material to start a couple more blogs, at least for a little while that is. I'll do my best to not keep you in suspense for too long. Just know that there are big fish to come...
Our first full day in Yellowstone country was supposed to be an easy day of catching cutthroat trout in an idyllic meadow stream. We hit the Slough Creek trailhead just ahead of an army of backpackers and hustled to stay ahead of them. During the initial climb over the ridge to the First Meadow, I came across a beautiful rack of elk antlers. My buddy Joe and cousin Nathan took a few pictures to document what I would look like as an elk. Deciding that antlers would be too heavy to carry around on one's head, I put them back and continued up the trail in search of the beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat.
Our goal was the Second Meadow, but it was difficult to pass up the First Meadow. Our sights were set though and we pressed on. Finally we glimpsed water again through the trees and quickly veered off towards the stream. The hike in had made us hungry so we paused for lunch. As soon as he finished, Joe tied on a fly and started searching for that first fish. He caught the first and several more while Nathan and I watched. Finishing our own food, we both couldn't wait any longer and moved on up the stream looking for risers.
Coming up to a perfect bend pool, I saw a good fish rising against the far bank. This pool was one of the larger on the stream and I wasn't sure how my accuracy would be at that distance. The water was perfectly flat and I didn't want to spook what appeared to be a nice cutt. Stripping off plenty of line I started casting. Finishing off with a good double haul, I let the line shoot through the guides, and the fly plopped onto the water a few feet above the fish. The fish was anything but selective and inhaled my offering. Everything worked out perfectly from the hookset to controlling the last run just as I was about to net the fish. Finally I had the fish in the net and ready for a couple of quick pictures. Joe and Nathan both snapped a few for me, and then I released the healthy fish for someone else to enjoy.
We all moved on up the stream catching fish in just about any good looking spot. Later in the day we started sightfishing to the bank feeders and fooled a few good fish that way as well. Terrestrials accounted for most of our fish. I had been looking forward to a solid hatch but it wasn't meant to be. The bright sun kept the fish hunkered down and spooky for the better part of the day. Cutts are not known for their intelligence and this reputation came through as we all did well under what would be tough conditions on my home waters.
I should mention that it was Joe's birthday and he caught plenty of birthday fish...definitely not the worst way you could spend your birthday.
Nathan had a tough time that day because he forgot sunscreen. By the end of the day he was a crispy red and experiencing the chills that can accompany a good sunburn. He was a warrior though and caught his share of fish. Thankfully he started feeling better after resting for a couple hours back in camp.
We definitely had a great start to the trip but things would only get better. Fittingly the very last day of the trip was the most memorable for both my friend Joe and me. Unfortunately my cousin couldn't join us for the whole trip but his second day was unbelievable. In fact, my second day wasn't too bad either. Rumors of salmonflies on the Yellowstone had us planning on fishing there for day two. We were all tired after the long hike up Slough Creek and hit the sack with dreams of the mother of all salmonfly hatches...