Our last week fly fishing Yellowstone Country, we fished a couple of days on the Yellowstone River in the Park, Hebgen Lake, and the Madison River.

We left southwest Wyoming looking for dry fly action on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.

Fishing the Yellowstone | www.johnkreft.com

We arrived on July 19, four days after the opener on July 15. Our hope was to find Salmonflies, Golden Stones, and Green Drakes.

Finding a Green Drake Spinner provided some hope of rising fish.

Green Drake Spinner from Yellowstone River | www.johnkreft.com

Along with these recent Golden Stone nymph shucks.

Golden Stone Shucks on Yellowstone River | www.johnkreft.com

But it wasn’t to be.

We didn’t find fishing like previous years:

Fly fishing the Yellowstone in late July was much different than we have experienced in past years. We were used to rising fish and adequate water flows and water temperatures. We found the opposite.

A few fish were rising half-way across the river.

It happened to be small fish like this 9 inch Yellowstone Cutthroat.

Yellowstone Cutthroat | www.johnkreft.com

On the positive side, it’s good to see small fish because this means the fish will grow and I’ll be able to fish for them in future years.

Fish rose for about 10 minutes on our first day on the river, but that was it. After that, perhaps four other fish rose one time each!

But it’s still a magical place to fish.

Yellowstone River | www.johnkreft.com

And while waiting for the fish to rise, it’s a wonderful place for a coffee break standing in the water.

Coffee Break on Yellowstone River | www.johnkreft.com

A stop at LeHardy’s Rapid rewarded us with a few of two fish immediately below us in the rapids.

LeHardy's Rapids | www.johnkreft/com

And with water temperatures between 66 and 68 degrees, I’m sure this had an effect on the insects AND fishing.

Temperature on Yellowstone River | www.johnkreft.com

Bottom line…we left the river a day earlier than planned.

After spending the night about 6 miles outside West Yellowstone in the mountains, we decided to wade Hebgen Lake to see if we could spot some gulpers feeding on Callibaetis mayflies.

Remember our theme of low water? I took this picture on July 4th…over two weeks before we returned to try our luck. It was lower then.

Low Water in Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake | www.johnkreft.com

Here I am waiting for a fish to swim by, but very few did that day.

Fly Fishing Hebgen Lake | www.johnkreft.com

Callibaetis spinners were on the water and flying in mating swarms.

And the Tricos had begun hatching as well.

Hebgen Lake Trico Dun | www.johnkreft.com

Needless to say, we fished until the wind came up and didn’t hook up on any.

Our last day was spent back at $3 Bridge.

The fire up by Cliff and Wade lakes had been contained. The firefighters were conducting back-burns to help control the fire. Much of the smoke had subsided.

But the fishing?

The river flows were back to 1550 cfs, much higher than the normal summer flows of 1100 cfs.

Between the high flows and compressed insect hatches because of the hot weather (I’m guessing), only a couple fish rose.

I landed a 9 inch Rainbow Trout and my wife caught this nice Brown Trout.

Madison River Brown | www.johnkreft.com

It’s not the best image, but it was the last trout of our 2021 fly fishing road trip.

If you’ve been fishing, I’m sure you have experienced low flows and high temperatures in your waters.

Let’s all hope the fish gods bring us a wet and snowy winter.

Click the link to read about all our fishing adventures from this year and before, see this Fly Fishing Road Trips link.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Hi John & Karen,

    Our thanks for your weekly reviews of the fishing during the 2021 road trip. We’re sure your other viewers enjoyed it as much as we did. For us, it was like “old home week” once again that we could relive through your writing. Thanks again. Take care & …

    Tight Lines – Gretchen & Al Beatty

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