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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fishing the Yellowstone River - McConnell to Corwin Springs

Each summer I spend a couple of weeks with my family in Bozeman, Montana enjoying the area, and of course fishing. This summer we concentrated on the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley and below the town of Livingstone.

The Yellowstone River has many access points for putting in and taking out your drift boat or raft. The river changes character as you move down stream from Gardner to the river below Livingston. We fished different runs from below Gardner to about 13 miles below Livingston.

Upper Yellowstone below Gardner - McConnell Landing to Corwin Springs
The river between Gardner and Yankee Jim Canyon which is a stretch of about 13 miles is characterized by some whitewater , flat water, occasional small rapids and riffles. We chose to float the run from McConnell Landing to Cinnabar which is near Corwin Springs. This run is about 5 miles which makes it a leisurely float. The stretch of river provides fishing for rainbow and cutthroats. It offers a great opportunity to cast attractor dry flies like hoppers, yellow stones, trudes and caddis patterns. This section has many boulder gardens with nice pocket water to target as you float on by.

The river has some class 2+ rapids with big waves but no obstacles to speak of, some large boulders but no boat eaters. This float can be accomplished with intermediate rowing skills even with big water in early season. The float has varied water types and is also a very scenic float that I highly recommend.

We rigged up with 7 1/2 foot 3x leaders and two hoppers, a large one and a smaller one, or similar attractor patterns. We had good success casting to the bank and behind boulders catching rainbows, cuttbows and yellowstone river cutthroat. The fish are aggressive and this is an excellent float for beginners and seasoned veterans alike that are yearning to try their luck casting dry flies.

Upper Yellowstone Photos

McConnell Landing Access

Zack with a Yellowstone Cutthroat

Yellowstone River above Corwin Springs

Yankee Jim Canyon

We elected to not run the 3 1/2 mile section of Yankee Jim Canyon with it's class III water. I scouted the river and it has two large mid stream boulders with large holes behind them. These obstacles are not really that difficult as long as you scout the river, make a plan, and then execute that plan. The "Montana Afloat" map states "This segment contains three major rapids and should be attempted only by experienced white water floaters especially during periods of high water". I plan on floating this section one of these days when I have confident and brave passengers. The fishing is stated to be very good early season.

Yankee Jim Canyon Photos

Yankee Jim Canyon looking upstream towards Gardner

Yankee Jim Canyon Middle Section

Yankee Jim Canyon looking downstream towards Paradise Valley

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.