Few angling experiences are as otherworldly as fishing the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. Elk and bison graze along its banks as geysers erupt and mudpots bubble nearby. Hell, the river smokes. The trick to fishing this river is to go early in the season. It fishes best in May, when winter gives way to spring. “The Mother’s Day caddis hatch can be legendary on the Firehole,” says Patrick Sumrell of the Bozeman Angler. “But if you get some low water or some summer heat going, it shuts down pretty quickly.” Swinging soft-hackled caddis pupae imitations — try an old British wet fly like a Partridge and Green — through the glassy water can draw strikes from rainbows and browns that may not be huge but are always hard fighters. The river is technically in the northwest corner of Wyoming, but it’s a major tributary of Montana’s Madison River, and you’ll need a special Park license to fish regardless. Stop by Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop in West Yellowstone for flies and friendly advice.
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