Summer fishing conditions are in prime shape throughout the Cody-Yellowstone region. More rivers and streams open the first of July, just in time for the annual Fourth of July camping trip. Flows are still high, but the good news is that they are a bit ahead of last year’s flows and water clarity.
High country lakes have mostly thawed out and should provide great fishing experiences for those escaping the crowds over the weekend. Multiple species of fish exist in many of the lakes in the Beartooth and Bighorn mountains.
This time of year, when everyone is sweltering in the valley, anglers can enjoy cooler temperatures while fishing the high mountain lakes and streams with flies or lures and have equal success regardless of choice.
The upper Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone is still quite full and flowing fast. Kayakers like it, but anglers will need to be careful when wading, even in the upper reaches near Fox Creek. Most of this Wild and Scenic River’s tributaries are flowing the same way, but they do have clarity and good fishing conditions. Flows will continue to drop as we enter July, however it is unlikely one can wade any of the faster waters until much later in the month.
Boating anglers will find lake trout taking 1/2-1-ounce lures at Yellowstone Lake. Cutthroat are taking 1/4 Little Cleos, Jake’s Spin-A-Lure and Thomas Buoyant in gold-red or silver. If you’re fly fishing from a boat in Yellowstone Lake, streamers or leech fly patterns have been working very well this year, especially in the back bays and where rock structure is found along the shoreline.
At Buffalo Bill, water quality is improving despite the 8,000 cubic feet per second coming into the reservoir from the North and South forks of the Shoshone River. Shore anglers can work a variety of spoons, spinners, crankbait, flies or bait along the north shore with good success for trout, lakers and walleye. The reservoir is still closed on the west side until July 15.
Boaters at the lake have been taking the same species by trolling lures, spinners, or cowbells and flashers with worms, or some sucker meat attached to the hooks trailing these rigs. Anglers who like to use smaller personal watercraft like float tubes or pontoon boats can find some very nice trout by kicking off rowing just offshore of the state park. Sinking lines and rabbit strip streamers or Clouser minnows with dumbbell eyes is the secret for this time of year.
As a note to boaters, if trailering a boat to Yellowstone and its lakes, make sure you rinse the boat completely clean (bottom too) and get an Aquatic Invasive Species inspection and permit before unloading it into any rivers, reservoirs or lakes, whether Wyoming or Timbuktu.
Yellowstone Park requires the same. Inspection is done at the Bridge Bay Marina. Fishing regulation literature can tell you more. Bottom line is, we don’t need to have invasive critters and/or plants invading Wyoming or Yellowstone waters.
There is so much fishing to be found around the area, it is difficult to cover everything. For the fly guys, you have to fish the salmonfly and golden stone hatches this year. High, clear water demands it. Salmonflies are found throughout the Cody and Yellowstone region and provide great early season dry fly action for about two weeks.
For those not knowing what to fish with this week, that is because there’s a lot going on. Big dry flies or weighted nymphs or streamers will keep one’s fly rods bent. Caddis and scattered mayfly hatches are also occurring. These hatches will demand smaller, more delicate flies. Have a safe Fourth of July weekend wherever you go to fish.