|.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
I am calling this series Yellowstone Journals and Additional Information. It is a collection of a
rambling mixture of experiences on the streams with some notes, tips and additional
information thrown in. Some of this comes from my video tape logs (record of video shot)
and notes made on my daily note books.
Fly Fishing the Madison River in September - Part 2
Catching fish is not the only thing that makes the latter part of September a
great time to fish Yellowstone National Park. The trees and grass have changed
colors; there are light snow falls every once in a while; the elk are in the prime
rutting mode; there are not a lot of anglers or other visitors in the park, and a
number of other advantages to fishing during the month of September.
Back to the fishing and the main attraction I think the Madison River has to offer.
It gets down to two basic ways of fishing, or maybe I should say three ways. One
if the BWO hatch. Another is casting your arm off with large streamers, and yet
another is fishing soft hackle flies. Either method can be productive. Either one
can produce a big brown or rainbow trout.
There are more than one species of the blue-winged olives that hatch about this
time of the year on the Madison, the nearby Firehole River and many other
streams in the park for that matter. Basically, without getting into deep
entomology, there are the baetis species which are about a hook size 18 and
there are some other smaller BWOs. They run from a hook size 20 to 22. We
have captured these tiny insects and tried to match them to perfection. I can
only say one thing for sure. You have to get fairly close or the trout will not eat
your fly - not in the meadow sections where the large rainbows are. They may in
the pocket water such as the nine mile hole or the riffles areas of the river, but
not the meadows. You need a very close imitation to do well.
There will usually be several anglers fishing the BWO hatch in the meadows. My
guess is, based on talking to them and watching them, is that only one out of ten
actually catch any of the larger rainbows that are feeding on the tiny insects.
They may on streamers or soft hackles elsewhere, but not on the dry fly
imitating the BWO hatch. It is not easy to catch the larger trout. You can catch
plenty of the smaller ones. They are just more aggressive and forgiving, but
hooking the larger trout is not a matter of luck. It is a matter of skill.
Having the right fly solves only a part of the challenge. Presenting it in a
drag-free drift, without spooking the large trout, isn't easy. The Madison River
Meadows have a lot of grass and a bottom that varies greatly in most areas of
the meadows. This grass causes conflicting currents. It tends to slow the water
down whereas the water flowing through the areas clear of grass flows smooth
but very strong and rather fast. The water swirls, twist and turns and changes
speeds. Casting across, either up or down, and getting a drag free drift over five
feet isn't easy. It is next to impossible in many situations where a large rainbow
Tomorrow I will discuss a few things I have found that works. (occasionally)
Copyright 2009 James Marsh