The Driftless on the Fly crew had a chance to reunite over the summer for three and half days in West Yellowstone, where Jared works as a guide and shop boy for Bud Lilly’s trout shop during the summer season. This trip has become a yearly staple, providing a chance to fish some of the best water in the country and more importantly, reunite with a great friend.
We first spent a few days in Grand Teton hiking, camping, and seeing the sights. GT is a beautiful park, and if you haven’t had the chance, add it to your national park must-see list. The park is less crowded than Yellowstone with up-close and dramatic views of the youngest of the Rocky Mountains. After several days, we made our way to West Yellowstone via the Teton Pass Highway, a windy, steep, roadway that seemingly tested our car and took us through the Tetons to Idaho, then north to West Yellowstone. Eastern Idaho looks a bit similar to the midwest with neatly planted crop fields, farms, and twisted roads. However, the fields are potatoes, there was a noticeable lack of humidity, and the Tetons provided a dramatic backdrop.
Our first day we headed back to Idaho to fish the famed Henry’s Fork. The HF is a pristine tailwater that originates from Henry’s Lake, exiting through the Box Canyon, then meandering through Harriman State Park and Ashton, ID. Near Harriman SP, land that was donated to the state of Idaho by the Harriman family, is the Railroad Ranch section, an area that boasts spring creek-like water with prolific and varied hatches of insects. We were, as many are, “schooled” by the HF a few years back when we had fished it previously and didn’t want a repeat. We fished for about 5 hours before the heat of the day set in and found a handful of reasonable fish during that time. It’s a beautiful river and very challenging, the trick being able to find rising fish amidst acres of rippled water and then making them eat your fly. It takes a long leader and a great deal of patience. Later that afternoon, we met up with Jared and made plans to float the Box Canyon. While shuttling vehicles, we blew a tire, so I took Jared and Amanda to his boat and took off (unsuccessfully) to find an alternative for the replacement donut. Jared and Amanda found some amazing fish that night in the Box Canyon- the pictures speak for themselves.
The next two days, we floated the Madison River, finding fish on patterns ranging from nymphs to droppers to goldens floated near the bank. It was a blast finding gorgeous, healthy browns and bows. Jared put us in the right spots and knew the river and the flies to fish, while Sage provided the entertainment. Two of the more memorable trout (see pictures) was a nice brown on a golden on day one, and Amanda’s side-channel brown on her dropper on day 2. It was fun to have those days to share some laughs, plan our upcoming fly fishing classes, soak in the scenery of SW Montana, and of course, fish! We left West Yellowstone with a replacement tire, great memories, photos, and a renewed excitement for fall fishing the spring creeks in the Driftless.