Monday, September 16, 2013

My Favorite Small Stream*

If one were to sit down in a large sand box and design a perfect small stream -- plentiful cover, clear, cold waters, meandering bend pools, undercut runs -- it would probably end up looking a whole lot like the Gibbon River above Virginia Cascade.

This stream seems purpose made for trout though back in the late 1800s it was described as troutless. In fact, the only fish that had historically been present in this portion of the river was the mottled sculpin. Natural barriers like Virginia Cascade blocked the upstream migration of trout. Today it holds a vigorous population of Brook Trout that were stocked through the early part of the 20th century.

Over the coming years, the Yellowstone National Park Native Fish Conservation Plan indicates this water will be changed to a Westslope Cutthroat and Grayling fishery. This will require the elimination of non-native species via chemical poisoning and then the establishment of fish that are native to the area. While there is a vocal minority that opposes the establishment of more native fish in the park, I'm all for it.

For now, the Brookie fishing is excellent. It took me a while to dial in the secret fly: #14 Adams. Once that was sorted out, the fishing was close to easy.** Every likely spot and most of the unlikely spots held trout from 6-9 inches. I look forward to a time when this stream will be full of equally eager Cutthroat and Grayling.

* In Yellowstone. From last week's trip.
** I've probably cursed myself by saying so and will not catch a trout for the remainder of the year.


  1. Hey buddy, love that brookie in the water shot.

    1. Those fins, fully deployed, are among the prettiest things in the fish world. I wish the photo was framed better, but the critter wouldn't sit still. You'd think the National Park Service would train them better.