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Branden’s joy: Climbing Montana's 50 highest peaks in 18 days

Branden’s joy: Climbing Montana's 50 highest peaks in 18 days

Branden Joy

"Feeling like a kind in a candy shop," Branden Joy grins during his exploratory climbing in the Beartooth Mountains. In the end, he would walk almost 200 miles to climb Montana's 50 highest peaks in 18 days.

The injuries Branden Joy suffered were painful, pestering and disheartening.

On day five, his fingertips became so cut up and bloody from scaling the ancient rocks of the Beartooth Mountains that even simple actions like sealing a plastic bag or tying his shoes became difficult and agonizing. On day nine, he sprained an ankle after slipping on a rock along the Beaten Path trail. A golf-ball sized inflammation immediately erupted.

The sprain came after logging close to 100 miles off trail through “insane terrain,” Joy said. He was feeling strong, energized by the progress he’d made. In that moment he temporarily “succumbed to complacency,” rolling his ankle on the flattest terrain he’d traveled in days.

Castle Mountain series

Joy climbed this series of peaks near Castle Mountain. The north faces were 2,000-feet tall.


The sprain was severe enough that he thought his epic journey might be over. Instead, the 27-year-old Helenan worked it out using skills honed in his environmental engineering profession.

“I was very aware of the center of gravity on every rock,” Joy said.

Going downhill, he always led with his bad foot.

“I still put in big days but went slower.”

After five days, the ankle pain subsided.


Cliffside bivy

To create a flat spot to sleep on the edge of the mountain, Joy stacked rocks and staked his bivy to cling to the sidehill.

Despite the physical complications — which included strains to his muscles and tendons as he commanded his body to perform at a consistently high level — on Aug. 29 Joy completed an 18-day, 195-mile trip through the Beartooth Mountains. Along the way he summited Montana’s 50 highest peaks, ascending 104,400 feet and descending 108,300 feet.

En route, through lightning and hail storms atop rocky, exposed summits, his thoughts distilled to an essential refrain: “These public lands, wilderness areas, are invaluable to not only our culture but our society.

“I know it’s not the most eloquent way to say that … but it’s really important.”

Sipping lukewarm coffee while relaxing inside his apartment — out of the wind, cold and heat that had defined his life for the previous two-and-a-half weeks — Joy was reflective about the journey. From now on he said his life would be lived intentionally.

“I’m an environmental engineer," he said. "My company helps clean up environmental messes. Now there’s another aspect of environmentalism within me: to protect areas from needing the type of work I do, preventing those types of messes from ever occurring.”


Rocky land

During his journey Joy stood atop knife ridges, gazed down on a myriad of lakes and even crossed a snowfield marked with mountain lion tracks.

Joy’s trek started in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness just south of Red Lodge and zigzagged west. During the entire adventure only about 10 miles was on a trail.

To resupply food in the 30-pound pack he was carrying, he had previously cached rations at four locations along the way. For the first half of the trip he carried no stove, relying on self-heating backpacking meals. For water, he used no filter, instead drinking directly out of seeps, streams and relying on melted snow. Worried about water shortages on high peaks, he often carried more than he needed, adding to his pack’s weight.

Sleeping under a tarp or in a bivy sack, he struggled to find level ground for his night’s rest. On one cliff he stacked rocks to create a level surface. At the base of one peak he dug into a snow drift to level off a spot.

Although he had started off with a detailed route and maps, those plans soon evaporated as he was required to make decisions on the go.

“Basically, once I was out there I said to hell with my map,” he said. “It was full exploratory field mode.”

Route planning

From below two spires between Sawtooth and Wolf mountains Joy sketched potential routes for climbing and descending two unnamed spires 2,300-feet above where he was standing.


The hardest part of the excursion came toward the end, after summiting his 40th peak. Above Goose Lake are two unnamed spires, which top out at 11,770 and 11,660 feet, which he saw as the crux of the journey. When he’d looked at them on Google Earth they appeared impossible to scale. Sketching out a map from below, he drew up a plan and executed it. In the process he’d covered about 7.5 miles while climbing 6,000 feet and losing another 6,000 feet in elevation.

“It was a burst of extreme focus,” he said. “It was almost like nothing else mattered.”

Although he still had a long way to go, his brain began having a difficult time focusing. The constant risk from hiking atop knife ridges, on loose scree slopes and climbing crumbling cliffs had exacted a toll. He called it being “exposure fried.”

“I had gone so far beyond anything I had put my body or mind through before. Every step was treacherous, you could literally snap your ankle.”

At the same time, his resolve was dissolving, which stressed his mind out even more. Yet he still had 10 peaks to summit and another 50 to 60 miles of off-trail hiking and 25,000 feet of elevation to climb and descend. Dealing with the psychological fatigue while still making good decisions about where to navigate was becoming a strain.

Drawing on what was left of his physical and mental reserves, he pushed on. On his final day he logged a 5,400-foot descent from Pyramid Peak to the Beaten Path, the last leg of his arduous journey. There he met his parents to celebrate the accomplishment with burgers and cold beer.

“I didn’t go out there to be comfortable and get a really good night’s sleep,” Joy said. “I knew I would bleed, be bruised up and get sunburned.

“But the experience of being on my own 18 days moving through that landscape far surpassed anything I have ever experienced.”

Pensive Joy

Smoke from California fires rolled into the mountains obscuring Joy's views of the peaks he hoped to climb and making it difficult to see incoming storms.

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Welcome to this year’s final week of Billings Gazette fishing report. It has been a solid year of fishing throughout the Big Sky.

Get your tackle and gear in order over the winter and we will be back next spring for another great Montana fishing season.

Meanwhile, here is are the top picks.

This week the Big Hole River is fishing well throughout the entire day. Get your attractor dry fishing while you still can.

The sauger bite is picking up near the state line if you’re on the Big Horn River.

For a sure thing, head to the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir for a fat kokanee, remember limit is 35 daily.

The rainbow action has picked up recently at Holter Reservoir. Head to Oxbow Bend to the Sleeping Giant.

The Yellowstone River in the Huntley area is producing some nice sauger and bass on minnows and crawlers.

Top picks

Big Hole River — These waters are fishing well throughout the entire day. Get your attractor dry fishing while you can, as it will be streamer season before you know it. For now, hoppers, ants, caddis and Tricos are out, with ants being the hottest item on the menu. On cloudier days BWOs are also making an appearance. A hopper with an ant or dropper has been very productive as fish are looking up. Streamer fishing has been solid and we have had good reports on both small and larger streamers. Yellow, white, olive and black are all working depending on the conditions that day. Smaller flashy streamers have been getting eats when the sun is high and bright. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — The sauger bite is picking up by the state line in about 15 feet of water jigging and trolling crankbaits. Some small mouth have been caught just not a lot of them. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir — The snagging season for kokanee salmon opened Sept. 1 and will run through Oct. 31. Limits are 35 salmon daily with 70 in possession. Anglers are starting to pick up quite a few fish and the action should continue to get better throughout the month. Snagging near the Pump House and the Outlet has been pretty productive and popular and snagging near the inlet has been producing the best salmon numbers lately. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir — Rainbows action was pretty good over the weekend. Most fish were picked up while out trolling Cowbells tipped with crawlers in the canyon from the Oxbow Bend to the Sleeping Giant. Rainbow anglers are also picking up some nice fish from shore at the Departure Point and the Gates of the Mountains with crawlers and PowerBait. Perch action is still pretty good. The best bite has been between Split Rock and the Power Lines. Pitching jigs around weed beds in 10-12 feet of water is working well. Small green, orange or black jigs tipped with crawlers are popular choices. Walleye fishing was slow over the weekend. — FWP, Helena.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — Bass and sauger fishing in the Huntley area has been very good. Minnows, crawlers and soft plastics have been working very well. The catfishing has remained steady. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.


Ackley Lake — The smoke has affected the fishing a little by mimicking cloud cover. The fishing overall has slowed down a bit. Hopefully things will improve with better weather. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The action has slowed down dramatically. We are having tough fishing from the Dam down to Barretts. The flows have dropped and the water coming out of the reservoir is off color and tons of moss is floating down stream. It is hard to fish anything other than a dry fly and maybe a streamer. If you throw any nymphs you will picking up a moss salad. Hopefully this improves but for now we suggest fishing elsewhere. — Sunrise Fly Shop.

Bighorn River — The fishing has been very good on the overall. We are seeing a fair amount of grass growth on the Upper 3, making the mid-lower river a better option.  Nymphing has been the most productive overall with Sow bugs (Carpet Bugs, Rays), Scuds, Worms (Chenille and wire) and some Caddis Pupa (PT's, poodle sniffers) here and there. The Tricos have shown up, but we haven't seen a whole lot of big fish looking up for them. Not a whole lot of dry fly options at the moment. Streamer fishing has been great on the cloudier days, but good overall. Smaller buggers and leech patterns are your best options. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.

Bitterroot River ­­— These waters are fishing well and the smoke from fires has actually helped by producing artificial clouds. The lower section is seeing consistent Trico fishing with spinners (20-22). A few Hecubas are hatching and a size 10-12 Bindle Chute, Lazer Pointe Drake, or Flash Cripple will get the job done. Hopper fishing continues to produce in the afternoons. Streamer fishing is another great option with the artificial clouds. Don’t forget to play with your retrieves from the dead drifting to stripping fast to see what they want. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Blackfoot River — These waters are fishing well this week. The smoke from the fires is producing a cloud cover effect. A few Tricos are out in spots in the later morning and afternoon as the temps cool down. A size 18 P-Haze or Adams with a Trico Spinner or dun off the back will help you track your Trico better. Hoppers in tan, pink or yellow with a San Juan, Jig Nymph, Rubberlegs or Copper John off the back. Streamer fishing is also another great option. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Boulder River — The water has dropped significantly. With the warmer weather a chubby or stimulator with an attractor mayfly nymph below is a good bet. Good reports of pink hopper and purple water walker have been coming in. With the cooler night, BWOs are out as well. The nymph and streamer game has picked up nicely. Try running a dark colored stonefly with a pheasant tail dropper. For streamers, stay on the small size in natural colors. Be careful wading. The river is still cold and slippery. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Walleye fishing has slowed down. A few successful anglers reported bottom bouncing and using jigs near Hole-In-The-Wall, Confederate and from Hellgate to Avalanche in 20 to 40 feet of water. Shore anglers are catching some walleye at Confederate in the mornings and rainbows in the evenings. Shore anglers are catching yellow perch on worms north of the Silos. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Fork River, Missoula — These waters are fishing great right now and the smoke cloud cover is helping the bugs hatch and fish rise. Tricos around noon to early afternoon are hatching consistently west of town. Light tippets and Tricos (20-22) are the name of the game. Presentation matters more than the fly at this point. Drag free, fly first presentations are a must. We are starting to see a few Mahoganies and Hecuba’s as well. Hopper/Dropper fishing is good in the afternoon with your favorite hopper and a San Juan, Jig Nymph or Rubberlegs off the back.  Streamer fishing will continue to be good with the smoky cloud cover. Smaller white or olive streamers are great on the Clarkfork like Zonkers, Mason’s Junior, Jewel Thief’s and Sparkle Minnows. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Cooney Reservoir — The cooler nights have dropped the water temperature down into the low 60s. Overall, the reservoir’s water has stopped dropping. All boating docks remain available for use. The fish cleaning station in Red Lodge Arm Campground will close after this weekend. Trout are being caught across the reservoir with worms and corn. Perch have been caught from the shore. Anglers have been jigging for walleye in the evening. — Cooney State Park.

Flathead Lake (North) — Lake trout are being caught jigging large Glow Tails and White Jigs in deeper water along ledges and shelves. Spoons are also effective on fair weather days, trolling in shallow rocky water. The whitefish bite is slow. The reports for them are few and far between. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Flathead Lake (South) — The whitefish bite never really caught on this year. The lake trout are being caught in 60 to 90 feet of water, but they are staging to spawn in 180 feet. There are a lot of perch fry in the weed beds. This has made for excellent perch (8-10.5 inches) fishing. From now until the ice forms, the fishing will slow down. The lake trout fishing will continue to get better on through their spawning season till the end of November. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Flathead River — The trout have been actively feeding, leading to fair success lately on the river. Grab your favorite spinner or Thomas Cyclone spoon and hit the bank. The whitefish should start working their way upriver in the next couple weeks, so grab some Anklebiters and Whitefish Jigs. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Salmon fishing is really slow right now. The lake trout bite is also slow. There has been a decent pike bite farther back in the Bays pitching spoon and pulling crankbaits. The walleye bite is on the slow side with jigging wraps and minnows in 25-35 feet of water. The small mouth are being caught in 30-40 feet of water with Slip Bobber minnows. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Gallatin River —These waters are a great option for fishing currently. The early fall allows an angler to fish their preferred method, whether it be dries, nymphs or streamers, the option is wide open. On any given day you might have to use each of these tactics. Hoppers and other terrestrials are tapering off, but dry hopper rigs are still picking up fish here and there. Most anglers are digging out their bobbers, as the nymph bite has been very consistent. A darker colored stonefly with a pheasant tail dropper is hard to beat right now. Other popular choices include caddis pupa, soft hackles, mayfly attractors, worms and midges. Streamer fishing has picked up and should continue to get better. Stick to smaller steamers in olive, white and black. A sink tip or an extra split shot or two can certainly help . You may see and abundance of green algae right blow Big Sky. Above Big Sky or in the lower canyon may be a better option for fishing if you are in this area. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Georgetown Lake — The best techniques here are stripping leech patterns, callibaetis nymphs, scuds, and dead-drifting chironomids and sow bugs. Try an Adams or callibaetis is a size 16. Anywhere you can put a fly will work. Sight fishing is 1-3 feet of water is optimal. The best time to fish is in the early morning or late evening. Fishing will be good through the fall until the ice is on. The wind this week will pick up mid-day but will calm down in the evenings. Best fly patterns: callibaetis adults and nymphs, leeches, scuds, sow bugs, chironomids, and baitfish patterns. — Flint Creek Outdoors, Phillipsburg.

Hauser Reservoir — A few rainbows were caught over the weekend. Most are being picked up around York Bridge, White Sandy and Black Sandy while out trolling Cowbells with Wedding Rings 10-20 feet down in the water column. Shore anglers are also picking up a few rainbows around Black Sandy and the Causeway Bridge as well with plain crawlers and marshmallows. Very few walleye and perch were seen over the weekend. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The window is closing fast on the dry fly opportunities. There are still a few bugs out there but they are coming later in the day and aren't lasting long. A few of the guys have been doing ok with black buggers and Barr's Boufaces up in the Madison Arm, where some fish have staged before they make their run up into the park. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Kootenai River — The Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 8,000 cfs to 7,000 cfs on Sept. 13 over two hours then drop from 7,000 cfs to 6,000 cfs on Sept. 14 and will hold through the end of Sept. The water temp is at about 56 degrees and the clarity is terrific. The water is gin clear this time of year. Dry fly action is great throughout the entire day. Caddis and PMDs are waning but still active in specific areas. Hecuba spinner falls are getting better each day but also still occurring in the mornings over riffles and down through run. If you see bugs, you will likely see rising fish. Make a good presentation and fish will eat a Parachute PMD (16), rusty or cream colored spinner, or an Elk Hair Caddis work perfectly well. Downsize your bug or consider natural materials if the bite is looky lue. Look for fish in 2-6 feet deep and especially in boulder gardens and deep riffles. The past couple days have been very good. Water temps have been a perfect 56 degrees at Libby Dam. The trout are feeding aggressively. Remember to get the bugs down deep and keep them down. Keep an eye on your indicator and if you notice even the slightest change in speed, LIFT! Also look for fish in slower current, buckets, tail outs, and around cover and rocky runs. Slip your bugs above and below boulders in the cushions as fish will be concentrated in soft pockets. Fish streamers slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish. Patterns: Parachute Adams, purple Chubby, red Chubby, hopper patterns, terrestrial patterns, parachute PMDs, Rusty Spinner, Spent Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, caddis pupae, and Prince Nymph. — Linehan Outfitting Company, Troy.

Lake Koocanusa — The kokanee have been very slow lately because of spawning. The rainbow fishing is picking with the cooler weather. Anything black, silver and red is hitting right now. — Koocanusa Resort and Marina, Libby.

Madison RiverLower — Water temperatures are looking great on the lower. Overall, the fishing has been fairly consistent. No need to head out too early, as the fishing improves with the rising water temps throughout the day. There is still the occasional fish eating a hopper, but nothing like they were a week or two ago. However, with the clouds and rain, BWOs are out and the fish are taking notice. Don't head out this way without some in your box. Along with the cooler water temps, the nymph bite has been solid lately. Crayfish, worms, soft hackles, caddis pupa, and attractor mayfly patterns are our go-to tactic. Streamer fishing is taking off and some big browns fell victim for some bigger flies in yesterday's rain. For now, smaller natural colored streamers have been working best, as the big articulated flies are getting more refusals than eats. Don't ignore the Woolly Bugger. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The upper has been fishing well these last couple days with nymphs, dries, and streamers. We have had reports of anglers having better fishing in the afternoon and others in the morning. It just depends on the day and the weather. Focus more on mid river structure to find the nicer fish. We are just starting to see fall BWOs out in certain sections, but the bulk of the other hatches are done and over until next year. Small and flashy is the name of the game if you decide to nymph. Green Machines, $3 dips, purple deaths, and zebra midges are all good bets. The hopper bite has slowed down quite a bit, but some bigger fish will still eat them on occasion. Streamer fishing has been spotty with fish on the chase for a short window, and other times not wanting a big fly at all. When the streamer bite is on, try natural colors and smaller profile streamers. Varney Bridge is open to traffic. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

­Rock Creek — The higher up you go the better the fishing gets. The lower is being fished quite a bit. This is making for a picky fish. It is terrestrial and attractor dry fly time. Hoppers (12-14) or P-Haze (14), Adams, Bindle Chutes, Stimulators or Royal Wulff’s are great options. Don’t overlook fishing ants and beetles either. Nymphing the runs has been good as well with any Jig Nymphs and San Juans. Streamer fishing continues to get better as the days get shorter and the night cooler. Brown/yellow streamers are great options. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Spring Creek — Hopper flies and caddis nymphs have been productive on the trout bite. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — With the leaves turning, flows are still hovering in the 500 cfs range. The river is bony, but still floatable in the lower sections. Although it’s slowed down a bit, hopper fishing will still continue on most afternoons as it warms up. Big dries like PMXs, Stimulators, Jack Cabe and smaller size chubbies (10-14) and hopper patterns like Fat Franks in peach, purple, gold, olive and tan have been working well too. Dropper nymphs have been successful with smaller size Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, red Copper Johns, and Lil’ Spankers picking up fish. Straight nymphing with a double nymph setup of a bigger rubberleg like a Girdle Bug or Pat’s Rubberleg along with a smaller beadhead nymph like a Prince, Optic Nerve, Batman, Lightning Bug, Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear have been productive as well. On poor weather days, look for BWOs to pop. If so, fish the old reliable Purple Haze in a smaller size.  Another good combination has been to fish a double dry setup with a Purple Haze as a lead spotter fly trailed by a size 14 Jack Cabe or stimulator. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Although, still continuing most afternoons, the hopper bite has started to become more sporadic. Try nymphing in the morning before the hoppers get going early afternoon. Nymphing early with a bigger lead fly like a rubberleg Prince Nymph, or Batman with an Optic Nerve, Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tail, Lil’ Spanker, or Hare’s Ear as a trailer should produce. There may also may still be some Trico spinners in the mid-morning with fish rising to them in the slicks and back eddy water. If so, a small size Purple Haze or Parachute Adams should do the trick. If the fish are on the hopper in the afternoon, patterns like a Fat Frank, Yellowstoner Hopper, Water Walker or Chubby in peach, olive, purple, pink, red or tan size 6-10 have been working well. Try fishing a double hopper setup with a larger top pattern and a smaller trailing hopper smaller hopper pattern like an Otter Hopper, Parachute Hopper, Micro Chubby, or Fat Frank. Space them well apart to cover different lines of current on the water. During the afternoon, fishing a double dry fly setup of a Jack Cabe and a Purple Haze searching likely water is a good option as well.  Also try dead drifting buggers. Now’s the time to start think about streamer fishing, and The Grinch and Electric Goldfish are always good choices. The Hecubas have started to show up on some days and a big size 10 Purple Haze or Parachute Adams has been picking up fish in the afternoon. With cooler water temperatures, fish are being found all over the river. Don’t just pound the banks. There’s no hurry to get on the water this time of year as it’s best to let things warm up a bit. Note that Twin Bridges remains closed for access while the railroad bridge is undergoing repair. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — The water flows are running around 1,880 cfs but still proceed with caution when floating as wave trains and hydraulics are nasty in some sections. The water temps are looking good and should drop more with an extended forecast that looks promising with much colder overnights. Hoppers aren’t our first choice of flies right now, but if it warms back up we might see a few more big browns eating them on top. Look for BWOs, as these cloudier days have the fish looking up. If it’s slow on top, try throwing a selection of nymphs. Stoneflies, worms, soft hackles, and attractor mayflies are all on the menu. We have had some good reports from anglers getting fish on streamers as well. Time to break out the big rods and sink tips. Natural colors such as olive, white and black seem to be the hot colors. Size and profile have been varying day to day with the weather. Dead drifting a sculpin or baitfish under a bobber has resulted in some big fish hitting the net. Before you go, be sure to check out your boat ramp options, most are in good shape but some tend to change quite a bit after the runoff. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.


Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Nymph and streamer fishing is the name of the game with some dry action later in the day on caddis, midge pupae and dropper patterns. Anglers are having a lot of success on float trips at Weddingof the Waters to Thermopolis. A lot of grass and moss now due to the increasing water temps. This can be a nuisance but manageable. Water flows are at 1,200 cfs. Flies: Nymphs- Zebra Midges, San Juan Worms, and Yum Yum Scuds. Streamer patterns: Leeches, Woolly Buggers, and Cone Head Zonkers, Double Bunnies and Muddler Minnows are also taking trout. Hatches are Trico’s, caddis and midges. Dries: Griffith’s Gnats, Rojo Midge, and Parachute Adams, Hemmingway Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Dave’s Hopper, Wade’s Yellow Ho Candy, and Wade’s Natural Horror. — North Fork Anglers, Cody

Upper Clarks Fork — The upper from Painter Bridge MT to the MT state line is low but in gereat condition. Please do not try floating this section even to kayak. There are water falls and drop-offs one cannot see from the raod. Beadhead nymphs (8-18) are working well. North Fork Specials in tan or black, Prince, Pheasant Tails, Copper John’s, Zebra Midges, Hare’s Ears and soft hackles all work. Dry fly action is best using attractor patterns such as Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Royal Trudes or Wulffs.— North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone —The water flows are at 364 cfs and are almost too low to successfully float anywhere on the river now. Private property laws apply when floating below the US Forest boundary through Wapiti Valley to Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Be prepared for encounters with land owners if not obeying the water laws. Guided trips have gone well through early August for Float or Walk/Wade Trips. We are now Walk/Wading the river since the flows are now marginal for floating the lower river. Dry fly action has been good throughout the length of the river. You must have in your possession a valid Wyoming Fishing License. Hatches: caddis, and very small Trico’s. Flies: Wet – tan or black North Fork Specials (10-14) are working very well, especially the black bodied red or purple tungsten bead versions! Other wet flies (6-16) that are working: Fat Bastard, Epoxy Stone, double beaded stones, Pat’s Rubberlegs, Girdle Bugs, bead head or regular Prince, Copper Johns, Hare’s Ear or Peacock Soft Hackles. Dries: Tan, purple or gold Chubby Chucks (6-12), Wade’s Ho Candy Yellow or Purple (8-12), gray Drake and or Royal Wulffs (10-16), Parachute olive or gray (14), Natural Horrors (8-12), Panty dropper Hoppers (10), Dave’s Hoppers (4-12), yellow Stimulators (8-16), yellow or red Humpies (10-16), Royal Trudes (8-14), yellow Sallies (16), Elk Hair Caddis (12-18). — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Leech patterns are very effective. Bead head nymphs stripped or slow trolled behind a kickboat or float tube also work well. Scuds are effective fishing the bottom near the shoreline. Damselflies are out on upper now. The upper is mostly stocked with cutthroat. Fishing pressure is the reason for the diminished size. The trout are also taking Callibaetis, Parachutes Adams, Hoppers, ants, beetles and Elk Hair Caddis. Fish Damsel Nymphs, soft hackled Bloody Mary’s and midge pupae for best results on the upper. Hoppers, ants and beetles are working on top. Some imitations that do well for dry fly anglers such as: Ho Candy yellow, Joe’s hopper, Chubby Chuck gold, Parachute Adams, Foam Beetles, Magic Beetle, and red or black ants. On the lower, larger streamers are effective on the splake and tiger trout in the lake. In shallower water, leeches, scuds, bead headed nymphs, Zebra Midges, Bow-Tie Midges and Wire Worms work well as do hoppers and larger ant or beetle patterns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park (Slough, Lamar, Soda Butte) — Let the water warm up a bit, but the fish are still willing to take hoppers, beetles and ants in the afternoon. Morrish and Thunder Thighs Hopper in pink and tan (14), Longhorn Beetles, Parachute Ants and Improved Killer Bees are what you'll want. The Drake Mackerels are still very much in play in this section of the park along with Baetis as well. Make sure to have with you Sparkle Dun Drake Mackerels (12) and Baetis (20).  — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.


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