.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

03/06/09

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 Soda Butte Creek - Part One

Soda Butte Creek is one of our favorite trout streams in Yellowstone National
Park. It is the picture perfect Western trout stream. It is surrounded by beautiful
mountains that are among the last to complete their runoff from the melting
snow pack. It is usually mid July or later before the creek clears enough to fish it.
The creek flows through a valley that is similar to the Lamar Valley but just not
nearly as large. In fact the creek is a tributary of the Larmar River.  Basically the
lower end of the stream flows through large meadows and the upper part flows
through forest. The fish are rainbows and cutthoats.

It is among the easiest streams in the park to access. The road from Tower to
the Northeast entrance to the park borders just about the entire stream. This
entrance is probably the most beautiful of all, especially if you consider the drive
from Red Lodge. The Beartooth scenic highway  gets up to 10, 974 feet high at
the pass. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the United States. Cook City
is just outside of the Northeast Entrance. We have seen more bear, deer, and
moose in this areas of the park (and outside the park nearby) than any area.

Soda Butte is one of the easiest to fish streams in the park. You can get to its
banks just about anywhere fairly easy with the exception of the ice box canyon,
a deep gorge the creek flows through for a short distance. It only has one
tributary stream of any size, Pebble Creek, and it is rather small. The lower part
in the meadows contains some very large cutthroats. We have caught them up
to near eighteen inches. We have taken several between 14 and 16 inches. The
father upstream you go, the smaller the fish seem to average. Even so, the
upper part that flows through forest is still among our favorite places to fish.
That is because you usually have all the water you want to fish to yourself and
the stream is usually packed full of trout. The parts along the road may see a
few anglers at times but once the stream leaves the road, from upstream of the
point it passes under a bridge, we have never seen another human. In that
section it is not unusual to catch a huge number of the smaller cutthroats
around 8 to 10 inches. We have also done the same thing along the road below
the bridge. To put it plain and simple, it is just a lot of fun to fish the upper part.

The most popular area is the meadows on the lower end of the stream close to
the Lamar River. As I previously said, that is where the large cutthroats are.
That is also where the crowds go. If you get to a section that has not been
fished during the day near the early part of the season (after the creek clears)
you can usually catch a lot of trout. It is very possible to do so even when the
stream is crowded during the first few weeks after the stream clears. It will
become more and more difficult as the season progresses. By late September,
you can't expect the cutthroats to be such an easy catch.

More tomorrow.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh