There was "dew" on my truck and boat this morning. I noticed this as I hitched it up in the dark in order to beat my fishermen, guides, staff and other guests to the coffee pot or fly bins over at the lodge. (You only know how important that first cup of coffee is if you are one of those people who know.) And, you only know how important it is to talk about "what they are bitin' on", whadadeyhittin's, whattyagettemons, "fishooonnnnnns", "farmin em"(thanks Pappy)...and so forth. No need to go into the entire list, it is still being compiled to be served up around say...oh, like some cold January night that's going to come too soon like the rest of the good times.

The river is getting that late summer "gin clear" on it, the kind where you realize how many different colored rocks there really are in this huge river, and now that you can see the rocks, how many holes, deep runs, undercut banks, big rocks, stumps, and so many places fish "might be". The river is getting so low now that you start finding the cool stuff from the high water run off, it can be anything from those white Styrofoam coolers (you know the kind). Some of these ugly foamy things tell a good story, others; well they just blew out of someone's truck. The good finds are the flies in the willows-now when you get "snagged", "hung-up"...etc., you just drop anchor and go out and get the fly...especially if it took you 20 minutes the night before to tie. However, one is always better to go around the hole and pull it in from the bank so the fish will still be there for the next boat to have a shot at them.

As for what flies they have been hitting; lately, it could be just about anything from those late night patterns you tied up, or a fly from the 50 cent bin, it all depends on "presentation" and the "drift ". If both are fair, your chances will greatly increase. There aren't many "big bugs" on the water lately; hoppers are doing okay, along with any colorful, good floating pattern that imitates a terrestrial in the right water. Don't expect to get hit on every cast in stretches where the river has gotten low enough that the fish have moved to other areas. Although you can fish the traditional hopper-dropper all day and have some good action, to really get some numbers on the upper stretches you might have to slow down and change things up a bit. Now is the time of year when the "seams", "transition water", "green lines" or any term to describe a smaller part within the larger becomes important. Line control and mending across water flowing several different speeds just to get a 2 foot long drift makes all the difference. Although no one can guarantee how many fish you might catch, we can guarantee you that hoppers do not swim on the surface like a small speedboat. In addition, there are no Bass in this particular stretch of water. Think about not only "presentation" but "first impressions" as well. Lighter tippets and careful casting will result in much more action.

The "character" of this river really becomes a bunch of rivers in one at this time of year, so it will keep you guessing on some days, but isn't that fly-fishing? If you are going to be fresh in the boat, look ahead before every cast (while your fly is in the air, not on the water) in order to see "what's comin", a guide or buddy's description of a piece of water might be a lot different than your own perception if you take a second to look downriver and actually see the next sweet spot, read the water and anticipate to make good casts, not lots of casts.

If you are one of those folks just getting into this awesome adventure, about to have your first trip, a beginner fly fisher, make sure you prepare, learn as much as you can before you arriver relative to the depth you would like to pursue fly fishing versus "fishing", which I am learning has become two different things. Fly Fishing is life long pursuit, certainly not a "done that been there" sort of gig. Those of you who continue to learn with us, you bet we appreciate it and we do remember your names and maybe even your dog's name by now. Heck, just in case you are reading this now, be sure to check back in when you know we will be able to chat about your next fishing trip, we might even ask about that special thing you told us about.


Fish are "chasing" some big stuff and "smakin it" now and then, but not like they will be in October, or were in June, but I can testify that the one's that you do actually hook are fat, colorful and very, very healthy looking fish with apparently no regard for the fact that the river was recently very warm and clear. They "been eatin good" as some fly fisherman might say. Holding one of these incredible creatures knee deep in the middle of the Yellowstone river with a backdrop that never ceases to surprise and amaze. Well, fact is, it just doesn't get any better We still like the big pink and white mess we started with, heavily weighted, throw it through the holes and strip it. (not recommended for beginners-WARNING: tossing this rig up is equivalent to casting an old glass ashtray) If you can cast this, you have been fly fishing for quite a few years, a lot-one of those people who are so addicted to it, they literally do go fishing any chance they get, no just for trout either, they go fishing for everything that will hit a fly, it doesn't matter..."Eluisive Brownback- you are my savior...ahhh, the white fish. So, if you want big fish, go deep and go big and fish it hard all day long and you will get smacked and quite possibly see your backing..


Since the river has been closed after 2:00 pm to fishing, this is something different. A closure like this hasn't happened to us yet and a lot of people who have been fishing this river a lot longer than we have been here. The fish have all that time to be fish and worry about nothing other than an occasional inner-tube with a butt sticking through it or a raft, canoe, scenic floater types. The water was 75 degrees the last day I fished before the closure. Even I know that is "bluegill breeding temps there"! However, today it was 63 degrees when I took out, so it is definitely getting colder, good stuff's a coming for certain and the ban has been lifted. Thanks to the large fire up in Mill Creek we kind of created our own weather...I mean, where else can something the size of small town be on fire and we just like to "watch it". It is cool, and a natural part of nature as science tells us, just part of the show out our way. The smoke has stayed high and offered some great cover. We just keep fishing to be honest, heck fish bite better when the sun isn't beating straight down on them.

This is Montana, and there is a reason you hear people say "Christmas in August". There is a tree that is decorated yearly in Yellowstone Park to celebrate this event, you would only know if you fished near it, I am not sure where it is, just heard rumors, something about fires again. Fact is, sometimes it can snow, from here on out, the weather can change that fast and if I didn't hear an elk screamin the other day, I'd swear it was a September morning. It got pretty hot there for awhile, kind of took me back to a bad saltwater fishing trip where your "Teva Tan" would really look silly in a pair of high heels (chicks fish too-and we especially want to thank all you wives and girlfriends for consistently catching only the "really hungry" fish, but who's counting anyway?)


Today was a great day on the river, one of those days that make you realize how much you miss times with your fishing buddies, or how you feel right before that time you are going to go fishing with someone, somewhere, anywhere there are big trout, incredible wide open spaces and a whole lot of smiles and belly laughing. The slicks were popping with whitefish, you could anchor up and catch as many of those as you wanted, there were a few trout in there too feeding on small stuff, littel Blue Winged Olives, small emergers in darker colors. As the sun got higher in the sky big Cut Throats began looking up too in the shadows. Today was the last day of the restriction, things are going to change again for certain. We should give the FWP boys a pat on the back, they called it right, it should be open tomorrow and we can now once again catch those incredible evening caddis hatch, that float where we end up at the lodge and can only see the fly from the lights of the cars going across the bridge. Evenings are going to get pretty interesting around here!

We have been doing well fishing nymphs deep, anything from girdle bugs, buggers, bead head hares ears, and of course some of our secret little patterns we concoct late in the evenings. Getting a good drift has been much more important than fly selection. Keeping up with the changing depths of the upper Yellowstone means we slide that bobber up and down a lot depending on "what's comin". The bigger fish have been consistently caught on these and you never know what hole might have the next "pig" (a term used to describe a very large fish that you might feel, but seldom see or touch, they usually take some flies and leave you with a funny look on your face).

When it comes right down to it, what they were eating "today" might not necessarily be the same thing they will be eating tomorrow, the river continues to change with the day, which is what probably makes any river fun to fish, you just never know ("hard knowing, not telling" thanks Coy). As a matter of fact, like fly fishing itself, a continual learning process occurs. The term "downstream adjustments" isn't just for business plans. For example, Mickey from Whitehall tells me Jerimiah Johnson is actually from Pennsylvania and the name was "Johnston". I can live with that, and will read that book he told me about along with all those other things all our friends have told us this summer, from "good movies to good flies". Mickey and you other 12 Reel Recovery fellas, "we love ya man", "fish on, be well". We will look forward to seeing you next season! One can't help but think that this summer actually was better than last, just like those have been better year after year, even though we say it "can't get any better when it has been the best ever". Then I come to realize that it is only "mid-August".

I have been here long enough to agree that in spite of the fact that we can honestly say the fishing has been awesome, it can actually get better. The cooler nights will really help. There are still some hoppers in the fields, not only those big ones that sound like rattlesnakes when you are peeing in the willows, but some little guys too. Other bugs are crawling around on the willows near the water too. (hint) The big stuff is best reserved for when these bugs actually come to the water and where they will be along the river. There aren't many hoppers jumping from fresh cut lawns, so if you are fishing a stretch that has lost its "wide open", it is best to stick with the current mayfly hatch and what is happening on or under the water, fortunately most of the upper stretches still have some natural features on them. These are things like trees, willows, rocks, brush, log jams, and basically anything that someone didn't "put there". It will start getting fun fishing smaller flies in the pockets and deep runs. Attractors like Stimis, Trudes, Humpy's, multiple caddis sizes, PMD's, Yellow Adams, small stuff like BWO's and Brassies will all do well. The Yellowstone has a tremendous amount of insect life on and around it. Fly Fishing is pretty simple to explain. Basically, fish probably will eat most everything above, however when, what and how is a discovery you will better enjoy making on your own wet wading a special stretch or pulled up under a shade tree with a good guide.

Those who live on the Yellowstone also know about the consistent evening caddis hatches and spinner falls. Don't be afraid to swing them in front of the boat and down into the edge of rising fish either. Just because fish are breaking the surface doesn't mean they are taking bugs on top of the water. In addition, try concentrating on one section of the river at a time, go "fishing", not "floating" and you will catch some fish and have some fun. Most of all, enjoy, look around, take it in. If there is one thing about fishing the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana, it is the people, guides, rafters, and locals, the friendly ones, the real ones. Most likely you see them on almost every western river like ours. Wading or floating the waters of the Yellowstone makes you wish you could stay here forever. It is a place that grows on you. It will create memories. And, time will fly. We look forward to seeing you out there soon!

May you all be haunted by the waters!

JB Klyap, Outfitter

Fish Species: Cut Throat, Browns, Rainbows
Bait Used:
Tackle Used: Fly Fishing
Method Used: Dry and nymph
Water Depth:
Water Temperature: 59 degrees
Wind Direction:
Wind Speed:
Chicks love fishing too
Chicks love fishing too

Big Browns love big bugs
Big Browns love big bugs

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About The Author: Captain JB Klyap

Company: Dome Mountain Ranch

Area Reporting: Yellowstone River-Paradise Valley, Montana

Bio: Fly fisher for 35 years, published author, guide and outfitter in Montana.

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain JB Klyap