After our time fly fishing the Yellowstone River, we headed to the NW corner of Yellowstone National Park to view for ourselves the impacts from last year’s 500 year flood. Our hope was to fish the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek and continue over the Beartooth Pass for a quick stop fly fishing the Stillwater River.

Stillwater River |

We left Canyon Village and travelled to the Tower – Roosevelt junction via Dunraven Pass and Mt. Washington. The views were stunning. We couldn’t believe how green the foliage was, contrasting with the wildflowers.

We stopped along the lower Lamar River to watch a herd of bison before turning into Slough Creek

Bison Along the Lamar River |

There were many bison along the Creek as well.

Bison Along Slough Creek |

We continued our drive to the Lamar and waited around 20 minutes for road construction where the Lamar canyon and could see how the high water affected the canyon walls.

Continuing our drive up Soda Butte Creek, we passed on fishing because of the bison and headed toward Cooke City.

Mountains along Road to Cooke City |

Our journey continued through Cooke City and on the Beartooth Pass and Red Lodge, MT.

Here is sunrise on the Pass (I created a panoramic image by stitching 3 pictures together).

Beartooth Pass Sunrise - Pano |

And a closeup of the bear tooth seen from the Beartooth Pass road.

Closeup of Beartooth on Beartooth Pass |

I’ll share more images from the Beartooth Pass in tomorrow’s Images from the Water.

We drove through Fishtail, MT and stopped at the General Store. Here is an image of the Fishtail General Store I took back in 2019.

Fishtail General Store |

You’ll be surprised what you can find here! Their fresh produce and bakery goods are worth the stop.

Upon arriving at the river, I noticed the water was higher than our last trip, but when then again, we fished the Stillwater in mid-August.

For future reference, I’ve included the streamflow while we were there.

Stillwater Streamflow 7-18 to 27 |
Stillwater River Looking Downstream |

It was quite evident the river had seen higher water from last year’s flood. I don’t recall these gravel bars seen below.

Stillwater River Looking Upstream |

And a closer look upstream with trees in the river too.

Stillwater River and Gravel Bar |

As in past years, we found a few fish rising in the evening. We’ve used Purple Haze in the past along with an ant pattern.

There were a few small Yellow Sallies on the water and Dancingtrout tied on a yellow RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripple, which did the trick.

Dancingtrout with a Stillwater Rainbow Trout.

Dancingtrout with Stillwater Rainbow |

And another…

Stillwater River Rainbow |

I found a couple rising fish and had one fish rise six times for the fly, but never hooked up. I did catch this little Brown Trout.

Stillwater River Brown |

I wasn’t feeling up to par that evening and spent more time watching Dancingtrout fish than actually fishing myself. I’d had a run-in with some hornets or wasps and ended up getting stung on the back of my head, earlobe, and forearm. I react to bees by swelling up and it had begun. I took a heavy dose of Benadryl to counteract the swelling and something for a headache.

I wasn’t any better in the morning and we decided to drive back to civilization and ended up close to the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley.

Our plan was to fish the river, travel back through Yellowstone National Park and return to the Madison and fish Hebgen Lake as well. After that, we’d head west to the Bitterroot Valley or Rock Creek…or both.

All those plans went out the window the next day. We were parked along the Yellowstone River and I decided to take a Covid test…which turned out to be positive.

Our plans changed immediately and we drove through the Park to Island Park and the Henry’s Fork to camp for the night. It put us closer to home and we rose early the next day and hit the road.

About 10 hours later, we pulled into the driveway, thankful to be home after driving 2,947 miles on our trip.

I was feeling bad and Dancingtrout began the downward spiral the next day. We’ve been recuperating ever since.

Clearly, we are feeling better, but not back to normal. I assume that will take several more days before I can return to the vise or want to go fishing.

Lastly, I was on my RiverKeeper Flies YouTube channel recently and came across this video I posted last year. It brought back some good memories and I decided to add it here. The video really captures our fly fishing experience on the Madison.

And that was the end of this year’s trip. In case you missed my earlier posts, here are the links to this year’s fly fishing road trip posts:

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Hi John,
    Your road trips feel like an online version of “Inside Angler”, the now closed, print publication with first-hand info and great photography from the minds and first-hand experience of long-time fishing friends Mike and Christine Fong from their home on Northern California. Well done.

  2. Thank you for posting all of these. So much fun following your adventures. And a bonus
    I will be fly fishing the Bighorn, Yellowstone and Gallatin rivers in Montana. 2 weeks from
    today. It’s always nice to see the bugs you are using since I’ve never been to Montana
    before. Being from Denver we have plenty of rivers here to fish but getting out and exploring
    other rivers in others states is always fun.

    1. Thanks for the Comment Dan. You should have a wonderful time in that country! I’d be sure to have some terrestrials like Arrick’s Ant, Harrop’s CDC Ant, Beetle Bailey, and some hoppers. I hope to share some of these flies in next week’s post.


  3. Had a chance to fish the upper meadows of Slough Creek a few years ago. A bit of a hike in but the cutthroat were extremely cooperative. They loved the soft hackle I offered. Check it out next time you’re up that way. DB

  4. Hope you both feel better soon John. It’s going around, I know a dozen people in Sisters with COVID right now including my spouse! Rb

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