American based Airflo fly line and tackle consultant Rene Harrop shares his latest field report from the wild west fishing mecca that is Yellowstone country.
For the 64th time in my life, I am looking back on another year of fishing in Yellowstone country.
Adding the experiences of 2017 to an ever extending bank of memories is a reenactment of ritual that occurs at the beginning of each New Year and, as usual, there are highs and lows to be remembered.
Last year began on a relatively positive note with a winter that brought vastly improved water conditions to my homeland. While somewhat late in receiving the benefits of abundant snowfall, the lakes and rivers in and near Yellowstone Park experienced a level of stability that had been absent through much of the past three years.
Low point for the Henry’s Fork came in late winter when flows lower than ideal kept the water cold and the insect life in a state of dormancy. The result was a later than usual start to the dry fly fishing that usually begins with midges in February and then intensifies when Baetis begin to appear in early March.
By April, however, milder temperatures and a gradual improvement in water levels seemed to kick start a sustained stretch of dry fly fishing that did not end until early December.
Hatches subdued by unfavorable water conditions in recent years seemed almost miraculously revived in 2017, especially through the months of July and August.
While their numbers were noticeably reduced during the drought years, trout in the Henry’s Fork and other regional rivers appeared healthier and with good numbers of young adult fish. Positive winter flows should assure the availability of larger targets along with the hatches needed to keep them looking up.
Local still waters, which continue to receive my growing attention, were generally reliable through most of the time they were ice free. On the downside, however, was a troubling occurrence of algae bloom during the warmer period of July through early September. Although Hebgen lake in Montana was spared from this disruptive nuisance and fished consistently well through the season, just across the border in Idaho, Henry’s and Sheridan Lakes were not as fortunate. However, by October, both had recovered and were again producing the typically impressive fish for which they are known.
Most encouraging looking forward is the current state of lakes and reservoirs in this region. With only minor exception, local still water fisheries average more than eighty percent of capacity. What this indicates is the likelihood of a much greater winter survival rate for trout in the lakes and connected rivers of Yellowstone country.
With these positives in mind and a winter forecast that indicates continuation of favorable water conditions, twenty eighteen is looking good for fly fishermen.