The next stop on our fly fishing road trip is the North Fork Shoshone, WY.
Why the NF Shoshone? We’ve heard from a variety of people about how overlooked this river is because it is so close to Yellowstone and most fly fishers fish in the Park. And we see some large trout pictures on social media from Wyoming.
The other thing we heard, was “beware of bears”!
I used the Flyfisher’s Guide to Wyoming by Ken Retallic to help with our Wyoming fly fishing. Here is what Ken wrote about the North Fork Shoshone River that intrigued me:
The North Fork rises at an elevation of 8,184 feet at the merger of Hughes and Silvertip Creeks below Hughes Basin on the crest of the Absaroka Wilderness. This is remote, rugged country and the realm of grizzly bears. Don’t hike or fish it alone. Parties of three or more are recommended. First-time visitors should explore it with a professional guide or friends who know the terrain.
The North Fork emerges from the wilderness behind Pahaska Teepee as a classic small mountain stream. It stair-steps down the narrow valley in a series of rocky rapids, shallow riffles, slick glides and runs, and intermittent cutbank pools. Thick ranks of pine and fir carpet the slopes, and sheer rocky outcroppings funnel the river through it’s swiftest runs. A few flats slow the stream and braid it into meandering channels. Additional pocket waters and gravel bars are exposed as spring runoff wanes.Ken Retallic, Flyfisher’s Guide to Wyoming
Since we planned to fish the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, our thought was to fish the Yellowstone River and make a loop from the east entrance down the NF Shoshone to Cody and back to Cooke City and return to the northeast corner of the Park via the Sunlight Basin and the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone River. President Theodore Roosevelt described the road as “the most scenic 50 miles in the world”. How could we pass that up?
We exited the Park after fishing the Yellowstone River (more about that in a later post). What a beautiful drive! It’s about 27 miles from the Fishing Bridge to the Park boundary and another 53 miles to Cody. The mountains on the way out of the Park and into Wyoming are breathtaking.
We drove down the river looking for likely spots to hold fish. The only problem was we didn’t have a Wyoming fishing license.
Off to Cody and a stop at the North Fork Anglers to find out more information about the river and purchase a license.
Kathy was very helpful at the shop and suggested a few flies and access points. In addition, I was able to meet Tim Wade, owner. In fact, this week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly will feature Tim’s North Fork Special nymph.
That might sound like heresy to many of you followers that I might use a nymph, but I thought why not?
We headed back up river and found several Forest Service campgrounds.
The next morning, we took off to the Yellowstone River again, trying to catch a couple Yellowstone Cutthroat.
That afternoon, we returned to the NF Shoshone, found a place to camp and fished. It was right next to a good looking eddy.
We fished the eddy and both of us were able to hook and land our first Wyoming trout! Mine was on the North Fork Special. I was using a hopper/dropper setup. Karen’s took a Beetle Bailey.
We fished the eddy for a while and decided to head down river to the next run.
That was a good choice as we were able to catch several fish with Purple Haze late that evening. Seems like the last 45 minutes of fishing really brought up the fish.
The next morning, I decided to go back to the hopper/dropper. Kathy told us the hoppers were thick and to “splat” our flies in the water. Since we didn’t see any insect activity, I decided to take her advice.
A short time later, I was rewarded with several Rainbow Trout and a couple of Whitefish.
We drove downstream and fished a couple more spots.
Karen landed some nice Rainbows and I picked up some smaller fish on hoppers.
Evening found us back at our new favorite spot, but we were only able to get a few Whitefish and smaller rainbows to take our flies. I spent a lot of time watching for rising fish.
The last day fishing the NF Shoshone, I fished a spot we had seen two fly fishers fish the previous day. When we talked to them, they had big grins on their faces and said they’d been catching fish with a purple Chubby and/or nymphs.
I fished this section hard and ended up with one fish on a dry fly and about 15 Rainbow Trout on the North Fork Special. The two biggest fish were about 13 and 14 inches. The others were all in the 6 to 9 inch range. A few fish tried to take the dry hopper, but I wasn’t able to hook up on them.
We had a good time on the NF Shoshone River. What we didn’t see was an insect hatch (or bears) and fish rising to them. We only fished a couple of days and the end of August is a tough time to catch fish anywhere, including this river.
We counted our blessings we caught fish at all and headed downriver to Cody and the next adventure.
PS – if you consider fly fishing in Wyoming, I highly recommend Ken’s Flyfishing Guide to Wyoming.