Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth
Showing posts with label Soda Butte Creek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soda Butte Creek. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Back to Paradise Valley: Yellowstone Day Four

Cutthroat trout on the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park

After a fantastic day on the Lamar River (click the link and read to get caught up if you have not already done so) on just the second day of my Yellowstone 2015 trip, a return was in order. After a fairly tough day with just a few trout to hand, I wanted my buddy Kevin to experience some truly great Yellowstone fishing. As I told him, when you come to Yellowstone you need to fish for cutthroat trout. I figured that we would have a good time and catch some nice trout in Paradise Valley. Between the Lamar which had treated me so well two days prior and also Soda Butte and Slough Creeks, we had plenty of water to keep us busy for the day.

On the way over, we had to pass Roosevelt. Just south of that junction was the Yellowstone River falls area. We quickly detoured to see that as the day needed some time to warm up. The trout would be a little sluggish until later in the morning anyway. Nevertheless, our visit to the Lower Falls was brief as thoughts of large cutthroat kept nagging at us.

Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River

Upon arriving in the Lamar Valley, we slowly drove up to Soda Butte Creek. Lots of anglers were already on the water throughout the valley so bypassing the Lamar River was an easy choice. Finally, we found a good pulloff near the Pebble Creek Campground. Kevin was anxious to get started and wasted no time rigging up and heading for the stream. I, on the other hand, continued my now established tradition of a stream side breakfast before fishing. By the time I was finished, Kevin had worked through at least a couple of good looking runs without even spotting a trout.

Just as I joined him on the water, he was working up to a particularly good looking pool. His first cast was on the money and a big cutthroat ghosted out from beneath a fallen pine tree to take a look at his hopper. Both of us got excited but that didn't help convince the fish to eat. A dropper was added to the rig but that still didn't put any fish in the net. We continued working upstream, seeing a few fish here and there but not particularly great numbers. It was obvious that the fish had been pounded all summer. Gullible was not in their vocabulary on this particular day. Thankfully, the scenery more than made up for the slow fishing.

Soda Butte Creek and a large bull bison or buffalo

An angler fishes a pool on Soda Butte Creek

After missing some nice fish and in general getting tired, it was determined that we should head back down the valley to the Lamar and try our luck there. I remembered all too well how it had fished so recently and was convinced we would find some fish if we just found some open water there. Sure enough, the fish were there and easy to spot I might add. The water had cleared even more since I had fished it and now the fish were very cautious in the low clear flows of autumn. I had indeed hit it on the perfect day and was appreciating that fantastic fishing more and more by the day. Still, finding fish is at least half of the battle so we were in business with trout that we could spot.

With time and persistence, trout started coming to hand. Not in the mass quantities of two days prior, but better than going fishless for sure. Hoppers were still getting it done although there were some mayflies on the water as well. Kevin got his first Yellowstone cutthroat right at the junction of the Lamar and Soda Butte. He had spotted big fish cruising a large flat there, rising to various bugs including mayflies and terrestrials. After breaking the first two off, he was happy to land this gorgeous fish.

Lamar River cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park

Nearby, I also caught some trout and enjoyed the sweeping vistas. The low water was all too obvious though as you can see in the picture below.

The junction of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek in Yellowstone National Park

By this time, the sun was moving well towards the horizon and we had a decision to make. Leaving and heading back towards camp would get us there in time for about an hour of fishing in the evening on the Gibbon River. My experience in catching a big brown trout earlier in the week definitely tempted us to take this option. On the other hand, it was at least a good hour to get back and we would be burning valuable daylight to do so. Eventually, we decided to stay on the Lamar and try some different water.

As the river leaves the wide open valley it descends into a short canyon stretch. On both ends of this canyon are some rather large pools I have always wanted to fish. We found an open stretch and found a place to scramble down the steep slope. With daylight getting weaker as nightfall approached, Kevin decided to try streamers. I, on the other hand, noticed some spinners on the water and decided that an appropriate imitation fished behind my hopper might be good. Both of us found some good success! That just happens to be one of my favorite things about fly fishing. If you are persistent, you can usually scrounge up at least a few trout on whatever method you choose.

A closeup of my beautiful dry fly caught cutthroat trout on the Lamar River

A nice cutthroat on the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park

As the sun sank, the low even light made for some great photo opportunities. The mood was enhanced by pronghorn antelope coming down for an evening drink just downstream from me. I almost expected a wolf or grizzly bear to make an appearance and complete the scene. It is probably best that neither showed up though. It was a long run uphill to the supposed safety of my car.

Dusk on the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park

Far downstream, I could see Kevin still working a section where he had caught a really nice cutthroat, probably looking for one even bigger. I was happy with my nice fish and decided to leave all of the other fish alone. The walk uphill to my car went quicker than I expected. With plenty of time, I took off the wading boots and grabbed a light jacket against the chill already developing. My camera was still ready to work so I snapped one last shot to help me remember that great day I had just enjoyed...

Evening on the Lamar River

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yellowstone Day 2: Soda Butte Creek


Day two in Yellowstone was dedicated to Soda Butte Creek. The afternoon closure necessitated fishing earlier in the day and we were on the stream by around 11:00. We fished in the vicinity of Soda Butte and did well, mainly on terrestrials.

Things started out a bit slow for me as I was learning where the Cutts liked to feed and hold but once I figured out where they were, things became easy. It wasn't until just a little while before the closure that I discovered a deadly technique to take some nicer fish. It was really quite easy but provided a lot of fun and entertainment.


I positioned myself somewhere around the head of a pool where the riffle from above dropped off the ledge into the deeper waters of the pool. The best spot was where there was an eddy at the head of the pool. The fish would just stack up in there. The slightly off color water of Soda Butte Creek is really what made this technique work. After I had positioned myself, I would cast my fly just a short distance, never more than 10 feet or so. The goal was to have all my line off the water with just the fly touching. Once I got the fly (foam hopper) on a good drift, I would start tapping my rod vigorously enough to twitch the fly as it drifted through the whirlpool. The fish absolutely went nuts.




This technique accounted for my best fish which probably was around 15 or 16 inches. Unfortunately, the closure went into effect soon after I figured out this method so we had to move elsewhere.

After a quick lunch, we decided on fishing upper Soda Butte Creek above Icebox Canyon. This proved to be an excellent choice and we caught several more fish with most in the 6-10 inch range but a few nice 12-14 inch fish were mixed in as well. The best fly here was hard to determine. It seemed that once you caught a fish or two on one fly, it would no longer be effective. This kept me changing flies quite frequently. Another interesting phenomena we discovered here was that the fish were very hard to spook. Often, the fish would not hit on the first, second, third or even fourth drift. Sometimes it took 15 or 20 casts before a fish would rise. This was strange since I'm used to the willing fish of the Smokies where it is generally agreed upon that you give each spot a few casts and move on.



Despite changing flies often, several fish came to hand to complete a productive and interesting day. That evening, we decided we were going to make the trek over to West Yellowstone and the Gallatin River so we got to bed early. The next day would prove to be amazing...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Fun Continues!


Just as promised, I have taken time away from toiling over a textbook to bring you more on West Trip 2007. While I still have a post or two about Colorado, it is time to focus on Yellowstone for awhile.


We arrived in the park on August 6, 2007 and made our way to the Northeast corner to find a camp. We decided on Pebble Creek which turned out to be an excellent decision. After setting up camp and being lazy for awhile, it was time to catch that first Yellowstone trout of the trip. Being 100 feet from Pebble Creek made the decision easy (and the fact that the afternoon closures on the larger streams was in effect). It didn't take long to get that first Yellowstone Cutt and several others, most being 5-6 inches.

After being spoiled by all the hogs in Colorado, we wanted something at least a bit larger so we wandered up the road towards the upper portion of Soda Butte above Icebox Canyon where the closure was not in effect. We soon found a few fish that were a bit more respectable before wandering back towards camp to make some supper.


After eating, we just had to go find some pigs so we went to Trout Lake. Everything I had read about this lake indicated the fish were generally of good size. Upon arrival, we found the lake to have a bit of chop on the surface making spotting fish difficult. However, after awhile it calmed down and we were spotting some monsters. Some fairly large speckled cream midges were coming off but I had nothing in my box to match. I knew that the fish were probably taking midges under the surface though so I tied on a zebra midge and was soon sight casting over a nice Cutthroat. Many casts later, the fish ate solidly. Surprisingly, I had already got this fish to eat twice but had not stung it yet. The gorgeous fish soon came to hand and posed for a brief picture before it swam away.


That wrapped up the first day in the park but we had only begun...