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Fly angler's bucket list has to include a Yellowstone backcountry adventure

One of the best fly fishing trips I've ever been on was a backcountry pack trip in the wilds of Yellowstone. Anybody who fly fishes, enjoys wildlife, photography or scenery should put a trip like this on their bucket list. One of the main things you must think about for planning a trip like this is timing and plan ahead. You are in luck! My trip was very enjoyable with Sunrise Packstation and the company just released their dates for 2014, so book a trip before they all fill up. I've listed a few key fishing trips, complete with description thanks to Shane at Sunrise Packstation.

This is an average cutthroat on the headwaters of the Lamar. Best thing about them, you'll we see no other anglers on the river.
Photo by Brian La Rue
The headwaters of many of the famous rivers in Yellowstone don't only offer quality fish, but you can have the place to yourself.
Photo by Brian La Rue


The first trip of the year kicks off July 9. It is a three-day trip along Pebble Creek designed for fishing and photography. Your cozy camp will is surrounded by mountains. Cut Off Mountain to the west, Meridian Peak to the east and Barronett Peak to the south will enclose our home in wilderness. This three-day, two night trip will give us a taste of fishing, a chance for riding and a couple of evenings beside the campfire for stories.

It is a great beginner’s trip with a short 3-mile ride into camp. Once there we’ll set up camp quickly and give you a chance to get out fishing right away. The stream used to be called “White Pebble Creek,” due to the white gravelly sediments found at its headwaters. The clear waters are home to 10- to 14-inch cutthroat and rainbows, which tend to make up the majority of fish caught here. It will be a match the hatch or good attractor pattern type dry-fly fishing experience. When you have had your fill of fishing we’ll have a delightful meal and a chance for you to relax by the fire under the stars.

After a hearty breakfast, day two will give us another opportunity to fish or a chance to ride up to Bliss pass at 9,000 feet for an amazing view over lunch. These days are yours, so choose what you want to do. Once back in camp, the rest of the afternoon is yours to rest, relax, go for a hike or hit that stream again for a little afternoon fly fishing.

Our last day will give you the morning to hit the stream or hit the trail while we take down camp and ready for our departure. We’ll head out about noon and get you back to the trailhead in time for you to take a leisurely drive back through the park.


On July 29, Shane will lead a 5-day fishing trip to Cache Creek. Cache Creek is a tributary of the Lamar River. This creek has a great supply of cutthroat and is ideal for a few days of fishing. On the first day you’ll ride six miles to the Lower Cache Creek site, where we’ll set up camp for the next two nights.

Begin fishing as soon as we arrive in camp, as it lies right on the creek. Spend day two fishing up and down Cache Creek's pockets and pools. If you are more of a shutterbug rather than a bug slinger, can ride up Cache Creek for some photography. The trail follows the Thunderer for some great alpine shots or the occasional buffalo, wolf or bear meandering up and down the trail.

On the third and fourth days, you'll enjoy action a couple miles further upstream for some un-fished waters filled with pools and runs. The last day you’ll fish around camp while the guides pack things up and then head back toward home


On July 29, the team of horses and eager fly fishermen will hit the Bechler River trail. Here you will enjoy magnificent views of the Teton Mountain Range, spectacular water falls, and 24-inch rainbow trout. This 5-day trip takes you to the southwestern corner of Yellowstone.

This area is known for wide meadows containing tall grasses and shallow sloughs with spectacular views. The Bechler region is called Cascade Corner. Waterfalls drop from the plateaus into the meadows. The canyon is spectacular, one waterfall after another broken in between by cascades and cataracts. When you ride up the canyon we will stop and feel the mist from some of the falls and you will have the opportunity to take photos. After this we will ford the river at a number of places, leading the pack string up to their bellies through the clear cold waters.

Now to get down to business. The Bechler River offers great fishing. The big deep slow bends of the Bechler have great habitat for the large rainbow trout that lurk in its shadowy depth. Float a grasshopper, which at this time of year are hopping and flying everywhere, over these glassy waters and you’ll have the fight of your life on your hands. If you want to fish for more than rainbow trout, you might fish for brook trout in Mountain Ash Creek, or fish for cutthroat up in the Bechler Cascades, near the famous Ferris Fork Hot Pot.

Besides fishing, the Bechler region is filled with swimming holes for the family or just friends. There are hot springs, warm water falls, and comfortable pools to swim in. Throw in wildlife and you have the total experience.


This is the trip I enjoyed. This five-day trip set for Aug. 19 takes you 14 miles into the backcountry. The Lamar River Valley within Yellowstone National Park is the most common place for watching wolves, bear, and American bison interact. From where the Lamar River leaves the upper Lamar Canyon and flows to join the Yellowstone, visitors can see spectacular wildlife interactions on a daily basis from the safety of their cars. However, for the more adventurous, ride with up the upper Lamar and see the wildlife in a more intimate setting as buffalo stroll down the trail, bears forage on the hillsides and wolves dog trot along in search of prey.

This trip is an adventure fisherman’s paradise with scenery as wild as the animals. Our trail starts at the Soda Butte Trailhead, where the Lamar River meets the road. We’ll travel up the Lamar River, ford Cache Creek. Beyond this we will ford Calfee Creek traveling up to our first camp on the Lamar River where you’ll find the fishing excellent. Fishing the Lamar rivals that of Slough Creek. Big deep pools abundant with healthy size cutthroat trout are scattered throughout the river. Actively feeding fish and nice hatches characterize this fishing trip.

After two nights fishing at the first camp we’ll move up the Lamar about a mile and a half to another camp, and some new waters to fish for another two nights. On the last day you can fish a bit in the morning as we pack up camp and get ready to head the 12.5 miles back to the trailhead.

On my particular trip the cutthroat ranging from 14 to 19 inches could not pass up a Kaufman's stimulator. Ever fishy-looking spot yielded numerous takes. One angler in our group managed a 2-plus-inch fish and we never saw another angler in the entire five days.


One of the other really popular trips that fills up fast for Sunrise is Slough Creek. If you never have fished Slough Creek, time to plan a trip. Sunrise is running two trips here, but one is already booked. So reserve your spot for the Sept. 3 four-day trip ASAP.

This Yellowstone vacation trip will thrill fisherman and horseback riders alike with the great fishing and the spectacular scenery of Yellowstone National Park. For the fisherman, you can ride into camp and spend the next three days fishing until your heart is content. The cutthroat trout are impressive, averaging 18 to 20 inches and they are hungry. They can be caught with a variety of different flies, but most of the action comes on dries. While cutthroat are the most plentiful fish, you may also catch the rare rainbow and cutbow trout. The water is slow and clear at this time of year.

Slough Creek flows out of the Beartooth and Absaroka wilderness and makes its way into Yellowstone National Park. The creek cuts its way through short steep canyons and beautiful open meadows plentiful with lush vegetation and buffalo. You may see other wildlife as well. Slough Creek eventually empties into the Lamar River. For the rider, you can also head up to Bliss Pass to see some of the most extraordinary scenery as we look over Pebble Creek at 9,000 feet and the Absaroka range in the distance. If you are planning a vacation to Yellowstone National Park and love fly fishing mixed with spectacular views, this trip cannot be missed


Sept. 7 kicks off Sunrise's longest trip, the Thorofare 7-day trip. This region is the are where you can get the farthest from any road in the lower 48. Here you are fishing the Yellowstone River headwaters and fishing can be sensational.

Follow the trails of fur traders who traveled north and south through this area between 1806 and 1840. Sit before our campfire and learn the stories of mountain men who have passed through this area like Jim Bridger and Osborne Russell. Hear the stories of rangers capturing poachers who tried to take advantage of these remote places.This trip is a progressive travel trip where we will move every day and see new scenery and new places. Our gentle horses will cover some miles as we wind along Yellowstone Lake, then follow the Upper Yellowstone River where few people go. We’ll ride below the Trident, along the Thorofare River or at least to its confluence with the Yellowstone River. It will be some of the most amazing scenery you will ever see in your life. For the photography enthusiast, bring your camera. We will ride an average of 12 miles a day and cover close to 70 miles by the end of the trip.

And although this trip isn’t a designated trout fly fishing trip, bring your fly rod along. There will be places every evening to fish, and the resident Yellowstone Cutthroat here, though small in numbers, are not small in size. You will have the opportunity to see abundant wildlife. While guiding trips in the area Shane has seen grizzly bears, wolves, moose, elk, mule deer, bison and black bear. This is a once in a lifetime wilderness experience.

For more information on these exciting trips or to book a spot, contact Sunrise Packstation at 202 Custer Ave.
Belgrade, MT 59714, or call or click (406) 388.2236,

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