Ben Pierce of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle laid out his hike last week to the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone: the salmonflies are hatching, and the cutthroats are thriving in an area usually untouched by humans.
Which is somewhat surprising: the Black Canyon is around 20 miles long and begins where the Yellowstone River and the Lamar River meet near Tower. But because it requires a hike in — you can access it from Hellroaring, Blacktail Creek and Tower Junction trailheads — it doesn’t see much in the way of people fishing.
Read how Pierce describes his day:
I crossed the Blacktail Bridge and angled down the rocky incline to the river. Along the shoreline, the big bugs were right were there where they were supposed to be, clinging to the willows.I rigged up my rod, tying a large salmonfly pattern to the end of my tippet, and cast the fly into a pool beneath the bridge. The fly landed with a plop and in short order was inspected by three big cutthroat trout. One of the fish slashed at the fly, but I set the hook too early and missed him.
A couple more casts netted some blank stares from the cutts, so I switched to a slightly smaller Golden Chubby. The fly hit the water and I watched in awe as one of the fish rose for what seemed like an eternity before rolling on the fly. After a brief fight the 17-inch cutthroat, full bodied and yellow bellied, came to hand.
What a life.