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Tower-Roosevelt to Northeast Entrance - Yellowstone National Park
This section of road includes Lamar Valley, the so-called “Serengeti of North America”, abundant with wildlife. It is not farfetched to see bison, elk, wolves, pronghorn, and grizzly bear during the drive. The setting is the most picturesque valley in the park with wide meadows and the towering peaks of the Absaroka mountain range as its backdrop.
From this road section you have access to multiple trailheads, two scenic backcountry campgrounds, three picnic sites, a few notable historical sites, some geothermal features, and some of the best trout fly fishing in the country.
Fly Fishing the Yellowstone River (Black Canyon – upper part): This stretch of the Yellowstone River begins at the bridge that crosses the river less than a mile northeast from the Tower-Roosevelt to Northeast Entrance junction. Parking on the west side of the bridge provides access to the river below. Shortly after crossing the bridge there is a turn off to the left (north) that leads to a small dirt parking lot. From here a trail leads you down to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Lamar rivers and more good fishing access. The Garnet Hill Loop Trail that begins just north of Tower-Roosevelt Junction on the main road to the Northeast Entrance, and before crossing the bridge, parallels the Yellowstone River for about 3 miles. There are several prime fishing locations along the river for most of this trail that are easily accessible with a short hike from the trail down to the river. Fishing from the bank and some wading in select places is the typical approach here, mostly fishing pocket water, the edge of rapids, and along the banks. Cutthroat, browns, and rainbows are the goal.
It is not until around the first week of July that fishing this stretch of the Yellowstone becomes practical due to high water levels. Soon after this time the Salmonfly and Golden Stonefly hatches begin and may last three weeks and possibly to the end of July with cooler weather.
Flies to Use by Hatch During the Early, Summer, and Fall Periods of Fishing the Yellowstone River (Black Canyon- upper part):
Early/June: Usually not fishable due to high water levels
July/August: Salmon fly, golden stonefly, caddis, attractor patterns, hoppers, blue-winged olive
Sept/Oct: Attractor patterns, hoppers, blue-winged olive
Fly Fishing the Lamar River:
From the Lamar and Yellowstone confluence to the entrance to Lamar Valley: Hiking upstream from the confluence, or north across the landscape from several pull-off locations along the Northeast Entrance Road, or up from the bridge over the river allows you access to this section of the Lamar River. Upstream from the bridge, the river runs through a narrow canyon with large size boulders throughout creating rough and tumble waters and large pools. Downstream from the bridge, the river flows through a combination of meadows and canyon. During mid-July to early August, salmon fly and golden stonefly hatches provide good chances for the larger fish of the river. Caddis, hoppers, and attractor patterns fish well through the summer season. Streamers and nymphs can be effective fishing around the boulders and in fast-flowing sections of the river.
From Lamar Valley entrance to Soda Butte Creek confluence: This flat section of the river is accessed from multiple pull-offs all along the main road. A short hike to the river is required. Around mid-July, the fishing gets good and remains such through August and early September. Caddis, pale morning duns and drakes fish well, with hoppers, beetles, and ants becoming effective during the latter part of the summer.
Fly Fishing Slough Creek:
Lower meadow: This part of the stream is accessed at various points along the Slough Creek Road from the exit off the Northeast Entrance road to the campground, a 2.5-mile stretch. The first week in July usually initiates the start of reasonable fishing on the Slough. Mayflies, caddis, drakes, midges, and pale morning dun fish well during this time, with hoppers, beetles, and ants coming on in August through September. Cutthroat and rainbows that reach up to 24 inches are the sought for prize in this deeper and slower part of the stream. When fishing this area look for pools, descent size riffles, and banks with the promise of an undercut.
Upper meadows: The three upper meadows of Slough Creek are accessed from the Slough Creek Trailhead at the 2.0-mile mark into the Slough Creek Road where a large parking area marks the spot. From the trailhead you hike 2 miles to the first meadow, at the 4-mile mark the second meadow, and at 8 miles the third meadow. The best fishing begins around the first of July after the runoffs have cleared the water. Fishing with mayflies, caddis, drakes, and PMD's is effective throughout the month. During the months of August and September, hoppers, ants, beetles and midges fish well.
Fly Fishing Soda Butte Creek:
Soda Butte Creek is easily accessed at several points along on the northeast entrance road. From the Lamar River Junction to Thunderer Trailhead this stream flows through an absolutely gorgeous valley with large meadows flanked by mountains and is home to mostly cutthroat trout and blue-ribbon fishing. From Thunderer Trailhead to the Northeast Entrance of the park the stream flows through Icebox Canyon and some meadows. The entire stream fishes well from mid-July to early September using stoneflies, caddis, mayflies, PMD’s, drakes, blue-winged olives, hoppers, attractor patterns, and Chernobyl ants.