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

09/09/11

The Big Fish Migration
Before I begin the "Big Fish Migration" story, let me say that the streams within
and outside of Yellowstone National Park are all in great shape. Anglers are
having a good time catching lots of trout just about everywhere they go. Even
the Firehole River is coming back in to good shape.

Big Fish Migration is just a name I made up this morning for the big fish stories
that always begin by now and usually even before now. Giant brown trout are
moving in the Madison River from Hebgen Lake, the story goes. Later on but not
to the overdone extent that you will hear about the Madison River, you will begin
to hear similar claims that they are moving into the Gardner River from the
Yellowstone River, along with the Lewis Channel from Lewis Lake. It always gets
everyone's heart beating faster and dragging out their heavy fly fishing tackle
and gear.

It's amazing at the outfits you will see on the rivers. In the past few years the
Madison has been lined up with guys with their 12 foot Spey rods, swinging a
wet fly in such a wide circle as to catch any angler's hat that gets to within 40
yards of them. Those that don't have the long rods that originated from the
Spey River in Scotland, have 7 to 10 weight fly rods large enough to land blue
marlin. Yes, this contains some hyperbole, but it's closer to the truth than you
think. It came to my thought process just a few weeks ago when I video taped a
young man (steelhead guide) catch several brown trout in the 16 inch range in
the Eastern Appalachian Mountains on a 3 weight fly rod.

Angie and I have fished the September and early October ghost runs of huge
browns migrating into the park from Hebgen several different seasons only to
cast our arms off and watch twenty other guys cast their arms off. We usually
gave up on it for a couple of days and then repeated the same thing. I watched
one attorney from the East fish the big rod each time we visited the Barns Hole
for over two weeks. Near the time he was to leave to fly back to Chicago, he
hooked and landed one about 18 inches long. Well, we saw the picture and we
believe him. One thing you know for certain, since attorneys deal with the truth
in court day in and day out, is that when one opens his or her mouth, you know
your hearing the honest truth.

It just seems like every trip to the popular honey holes produced the same thing
- no fish but big stories about what was going to happen any day. It didn't matter
if you hiked down the Madison below the Barns Hole through the willows with
bear spray looking for them, or if you walked back to the Bakers Hole near the
lake. They were not there. It was always a day or two early.

Well, I have an idea about something that might change that and that's water
levels. I have a good feeling that the fish will move into the rivers much earlier
than normal this year but at the same time, I have a bad feeling that I won't be
there this year as bad as I would like to. The water levels have a huge effect on
the migration of the spawning fish.

The stories are going on right now. I haven't heard of any big catches yet, but I
bet I will. My suggestion to anyone that likes to catch large, about to spawn
brown trout, and wants to do so in a beautiful place, is to get out to Yellowstone
Park soon.

Oh, I should also mention, that unless your snowed in on the days you just
happen to be there, early October is probably the best time to fish Yellowstone
during the entire short season. The "catching" part of the "Big Fish Migration"
may turn out earlier and just great this year.