My son, Tyler and I set out last Thursday in an attempt to float the Yellowstone River in Livingston, Montana. Having spoken to our local guide (Eric Adams of Montana Fly Fishing Guides www.montanaflyfishingguides.com) our chances of hitting the "Mother's Day Caddis" hatch were pretty good.
We hit the ground in Bozeman around 3pm and ran over to Montana State University. My son is a sophomore in high school, plays football and thought a trip to a local college might get his "post-high school" juices flowing. After a very quick campus drive-by and stadium picture shoot, we headed off to Livingston.
Weather was looking promising for some increased bug-action, cloudy with a chance of caddis (we hoped).
Upon arriving in Livingston we checked into the Super 8 and then headed to the Sweetwater Fly Shop two miles down the road to get latest report and get licenses for the next two days. We were informed that the previous weeks warm weather had increased flows and the Yellowstone was high, chocolate colored and not fishable.
Upon meeting our guide, Eric and the 49er in town (good pizza, tough steak and an interesting crowd) he confirmed fishing the Yellowstone was NOT and option. He was checking reports from other guides and we determined our best bet was to do some spring creek fishing at Armstrong's spring creek. For those not familiar, there are three quality spring creeks just miles outside of Livingston, Montana (Depuy's, Nelson's & Armstrong's).
Armstrong's proved to be a great choice. We sight-fished to large cut-bows & rainbows and browns all day, landed some solid fish, losing some others. My son (thru Eric's excellent instruction) really improved his angling skills. This is a kid who fishes about as much as I golf, once or twice a year. So to watch him sight fish to a very large brown in very still water and actually get the drift right(against the far bank) & then actually get the fish to eat was really something to special to see. Midge and Baetis nymphs were the trick, using light 6x tippet, long leaders and tiny indicators.
We decided to float the Lower Madison on day 2 just to mix things up. Crayfish were beginning their molt, so the idea was to dead drift and swing streamers trailed by a midge or baetis nymph. We hooked up pretty early and then the wind started. I guess in that part of Montana they refer to another four letter word, the "W" or as Mariya. Not sure where the Mariya reference comes from but man did it start to blow thru the canyon that day anywhere from 5-20mph. Mariya made for some extra work in the casting department but regardless, we were still able to land some nice browns. Tyler had one hooked that even go the guide excited, which quickly turned into a nice roll (to show us he could) and then just as quickly broke off.
Fishing was great but I also want to make mention of some good eats. Montana's Rib and Chop House. The pork chop and ribeye were both "out of this world" and served up with great Montana-style hospitality.
If you go, make sure to book with www.montanaflyfishingguides.com and be sure to try the Chop House!