Fly Fishing Yellowstone Lake

by | Jul 31, 2020 | fly fishing Yellowstone Lake

TetonsThis morning I found myself peering out the back seat window of fishing guide and longtime friend Josh Gallivan’s truck.  It was a sight to behold as it was sunrise on the Tetons.  We were on our way to Yellowstone Lake.  A place I honestly haven’t fished in a number of years.


Josh-GallivanJosh worked for me when he was in high school back in my Jackson Hole fly shop days.  He was a great kid then and now has worked his way up to the point where he’s one of the most requested fly fishing guides in the region and works for Grand Teton Fly Fishing.  While he specializes in a number of waters from the Snake to the Green Rivers, his latest passion is lake fishing in Yellowstone.


yellowstone-lakeI got to fish with Josh today by luck.  His client, Steve Buck, has grown into a good friend of Josh’s and somehow my name came up when they fished together earlier this week.  Turns out Steve and I met back in my fly shop days and he keeps track of my adventures and art.  He even sent me a Chicago Tribune the day after the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.  Steve told Josh to ask me if I wanted to come along.  I was in!


yellowstone-lakeI left my house at 5:20 AM and met the guys in Jackson and climbed aboard Josh’s truck.  It took about 90 minutes from there to the lake.  Josh has a boat slip at Lake and we loaded up quickly.  It wasn’t much more than 8:30 and we were heading across a glassy calm Yellowstone Lake.


Grand-Teton-Fly-FishingWe arrived in a pretty little bay.  All the shoreline here is deep backcountry. Seriously, on foot it would take two days to get here.  You expect a grizzly to appear at any second.  But better than a big ole bear, Josh spotted three beautiful native cutthroats heading our way.


yellowstone-cutthroat-troutI relaxed and watched.  I enjoy watching others catch big trout as much as catching them myself.  Furthermore, I’m always game for taking photos to update my PowerPoint Shows and what a great new segment this will be for my “Four Seasons of the Yellowstone Trout Bum”.  Steve made a cast and in seconds hooked up with our first cutty of the day.


cutthroat-troutFor most of my life, Yellowstone Lake has done nothing but produce huge cutthroats.  There was the period of the so called “introduced lake trout” and the park started recklessly gillnetting for them.  Populations of cutthroats took the brunt at first and not lake trout.  We were later enlightened that the Park themselves stocked lake trout in the early 1900’s.  Soon they took more strategic placings of nets and these days, as you can see by this beautiful fish, the cutthroat fishing is incredible once again.


troutOur first hour of fishing was sight nymphing.  We had big cutthroat weaving over the weeds and sand searching for Callibaetis nymphs.  If you got a Hare’s Ear Nymph in front of them and twitched it you had him.  By 11 AM the nymphs emerged and we had some rising fish.


YetiThe Callibaetis Mayflies were thick.  They jumbled every inch of our boat.  There were times you could hardly breath.  My new Yeti hat was covered.  Now you would think fishing would be easy, but actually when the hatch is so intense it can be hard to convince a fish to eat your fly over one of the millions of naturals.


Jeff-Currier-troutI chopped off my Parachute Adams (an excellent Callibaetis pattern) and put on a flying ant.  In these situations being different can save the day.  We saw a huge cutty working just a few feet from the shoreline.  He was completely focused on the mayflies when I dropped my ant his direction.


The first time the cutthroat saw my fly I thought I had him.  He lunged forward and rose towards the fly.  But just as I thought he was going to eat it he got distracted by an emerging Callibaetis a few inches away.  He ate that.  But I’m persistent and on my next cast I got him.  Yellowstone Lake is back!


yellowstone-cutthroatsIt was an amazing day up on Yellowstone Lake with an old friend and a new one.  A very special thanks to Steve for inviting me along.  Being there was a real treat and we caught a ton of fish.  Additionally, what pleasure to fish with Josh and actually see him in action being a top fly fishing guide in Yellowstone.  If you want to fish with Josh, contact my friends at Grand Teton Fly Fishing and get that trip set up!


Steve-Buck-flyfishingIn order for Josh and I to thank Steve for letting me join their trip I brought along a little gift.  Josh called me a few days back and wanted to buy one of my Cliff Boxes for Steve.  I said no way are you buying it, I’ll do one up from the both of us.  Steve almost cried!




Speaking of my art.  Don’t forget you too can order a Cliff Fly Box with one of my Sharpie drawn fish.  And also, speaking of Yellowstone Cutthroats, I have plenty of decals with my fish art of not just cutties but also all of the trout and a few saltwater fish too.  You can order my beautiful decals here.


Back to the office for a few days and then believe it or not, I’m giving a full day fly fishing seminar on Monday up in Big Sky Montana.  It will be outside and everyone will be six feet apart.  Have a great weekend everybody!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!