How Good, Really, Is The Fishing?
“The fishing in Yellowstone is as good as the fisherman.”
I can’t recall when or from whom I first heard this saying, only that it was a long time ago. It was delivered by way of synopsizing the Yellowstone angling experience and I’ve never forgotten it. If it sounds slightly demeaning—implying that a lack of success equates to being a poor angler—it wasn’t intended to be. As I heard it expressed, it was more an observation that the broader an angler’s skills, the broader his opportunities and chances for success would be. Viewed in this context, it’s an adage I couldn’t agree with more strongly. Because while the fishing options in Yellowstone are practically limitless, taking advantage of most of them requires a certain level of competency. Limited skill means, well, limited options.
Consider the Firehole River, the Madison River below Quake Lake, and Soda Butte Creek. During prime-time all three rivers offer phenomenal fishing. They yield fish in numbers that transcend the skills of the average angler fishing them. In essence, they offer fishing that’s better than the fisherman. Which is a wonderful thing, especially for less experienced anglers. Only problem is, prime-time is short lived. Timing a trip to coincide with this period isn’t easy, especially when traveling here from afar on plans made well in advance. Save for impeccable timing, you’ll likely arrive here to find the fishing a bit more challenging. The responsibility for your success will lie chiefly with you, not Mother nature. For most folks that means summoning up a little more skill, fishing with a little more aplomb.
It’s not hard to improve your skills and thereby broaden your options. The ideal place to start is with your casting. Develop the ability to place a fly in a two-foot circle at a distance of thirty-five feet, delicately, in three tries or less. If you can do that, you’ll render irrelevant the timing of your trip. Indeed, you’ll discover, satisfyingly, that your fishing only gets better and better—no matter when you happen to visit.