By Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures’ Summer Intern Zach Parker
Leading up to summer and my internship with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, I tried to visualize the tasks that they might have me doing. I worked hard all summer assisting the Yellow Dog Team, and when the opportunity to join on a 3-night, 4-day backcountry trip to Yellowstone National Park’s Pebble Creek with Sunrise Pack Station, I jumped on board. I packed my bear spray, 3-weight fiberglass rod and a box of dries.
After meeting at the trailhead and getting a brief horse-riding lesson from Sunrise Pack Station owner, Shane McClaflin, we were on the trail and quickly gaining elevation. The ride to camp was a little over three miles featuring some fun switchback trails, with tremendous mountain views and an abundance of colorful wildflowers. Yellowstone National Park has a deep history, wild and rugged terrain and healthy populations of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. It is one of the many exciting specially permitted trips we offer.
We finally broke out of the forest and came riding into a wide-open meadow surrounded by towering snowcapped peaks. The next three days consisted of a hearty 8:00 AM breakfast and full fishing days hiking up and down the intimate, cutthroat filled Pebble Creek. The cutthroat in Pebble Creek have little discernment toward the dry fly, and we found every little deep pool, seam, or pocket, held plenty of aggressive fish eager to check out our offerings.
The hungry Yellowstone Cutthroat trout gobbled-up well-presented Parachute Adams and Chubby Chernobyls. If a fish refused a Chubby, a smaller beetle did the trick. Just because there wasn’t a hatch, the hungry trout still rose to our dry flies. In some of the deepest pools, we dropped a small, but heavily weighted nymph off the dry which proved to be very effective as well. These trout lived up to their reputation of eating dries very slowly and methodically, so after blowing our first few shots, we started slowing down on the hook set, and bringing more to hand.
The food was prepared by Shane and was exceptional. Coming back to camp after a long day bushwhacking through the creek, with a home cooked style meal of steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans was impressive. Following dinner, Shane was quick to serve up dessert by the fire as we watched the sun set and listened to old tales of the West and the founding of Yellowstone National Park.
As the sun was setting on one of the nights, we spotted a large bull moose working down the creek before disappearing into the thick willows. Other wildlife we spotted on the trip were a group of eight mountain goats perched up on a high cliff surrounded our camp. This really was the penultimate backcountry experience.
Although the fishing was spectacular and everyone caught more fish than they could count, that was only the icing on the cake of what made this trip what it was: Sleeping under the stars, hearing wolves howling from afar, eating delicious fireside meals and spending time with good people in the backcountry was what it was all about. The good fishing was simply a bonus.
A trip that I highly recommend for anyone wanting to experience Yellowstone in a different way and one that I cannot wait to do again someday.