This past weekend I found myself in the region that is often called "The trout heart of America", which is of course West Yellowstone, Montana. As I was en route from Bozeman to W. Yellowstone I was kicking myself for not departing early enough to leave time for some fishing. The Gallatin River looked incredible above the Taylor Fork, flowing clear - and no doubt cold. And then there were the enticing glimpses I got of Grayling Creek, but again, I had people to meet and places to be. I was no less torn as I drove over Duck Creek and the Madison River above Hebgen Lake.
I did eventually find time to wet a line on the Madison River between the lakes on Friday evening. I fished above the Cabin Creek confluence, and had excellent fishing on a variety of subsurface fly patterns ranging from stonefly nymphs to midges. The catch consisted largely of rainbows, along with whitefish.
As the light began to fade I motored west, toward Cliff and Wade Lakes, where I had more business to attend to on Saturday. I pulled up to Wade Lake in time to witness an incredible sunset over the lake. I awoke Saturday morning to my first daylight view of Wade Lake. I could hardly believe my eyes...I'd seen pictures and had heard about the lake's beauty, but seeing it for myself was really something. Both Cliff and Wade Lakes are spring fed and have incredible clarity. Under the right lighting conditions the lakes have a beautiful emerald green hue to them.
I spent most of the morning photographing the lakes and visiting with a local lodge owner. Around noon a prolific callibaetis hatch emerged over Wade Lake, enticing its finned residents to the surface. The dry fly fishing would no doubt have been exceptional, but again, I had places to be.
I'm looking forward to getting back to Cliff and Wade Lakes this summer when I have ample time to fish. I learned much about the fisheries while visiting with the locals and I look forward to applying that new found knowledge.
Montana Sporting Journal's regular fly fishing columnist, Josh Bergan, will be educating readers about these unique trout lakes through a full length feature article in the upcoming summer issue of MSJ...stay tuned.