This is a guest post from our friends at FlyFishingFrenzy.com! Fly Fishing Fenzy is a great fly fishing resource and we’re excited to have them as a part of the TRV family! This was piece originally posted on their website.
“The top 20 places to fish in the Rockies before you die” was the tag line that got Yetter and I excited as we heard the The 16th Annual East Idaho Fly Tying and Fishing Expo was in Idaho Falls. It was presented by world renowned Jack Dennis and we were committed to go and take notes, because chances are some of these places are right in our very own backyard.
Jack was in rare form. He was pretty excited about the topic which caused him to jump from place to place at times and minus the technical difficulties, it was great. I tried to count 20, but it seems that he gave about 25 places. And at times he compiled 2 or 3 into one. I will do my best as I compile this treasured list of places for fly fishing in the Rockies before you die.
#1 Montana in March for the Blue Wing Olive Hatch
The Big 3 for the first place were the Big Horn, Beaverhead, and Big Hole. He asked if anyone knew where the Big Horn starts and not a hand went up. It originates out of Thermopolis, WY.
He also stated that BWO are tied strictly into the sun and elevation. Jack has seen BWO in Japan, Egypt, and the Amazon. The Beaverhead in the Spring is probably the best time for fly fishing that river because for most of the summer it is unfishable due to the murky water caused by irrigation.
When fly fishing those rivers for the BWO hatch Jack said to take plenty of BWO cripples.
#2 Clarks Fork of the Columbia River Montana
Jack said Scratch the Hatch and don’t leave the Woolly Buggers behind.
#3 The Stonefly Hatch on the Deschutes River in Oregon
According to Jack Dennis, this stonefly hatch is the most consistent stonefly hatch out there, and I spoke with some guys that I went fly fishing with later that afternoon and they seconded that.
#4 Fly Fishing Private Waters for Little $$ out of Your Pocket.
Jack was very private on this topic and said he couldn’t name specific landowners or lakes, but he did say that the ones he liked fly fishing were around the vicinity of Manhattan, MT.He mentioned that there are some lakes there with world class Pike.
#5 North Platte River in Wyoming
Funny thing is; I was fishing the Green River a while back and I was having a conversation with a Wyoming resident that told me the best fly fishing river he ever fished was the North Platte River in Wyoming. I didn’t give much thought to it because it is on the eastern side of the state, but since Jack’s confirmed the rumors I might have to make the trip.
Jack went on a little rant at this point in the presentation that you need to invest in a 4 piece 3 wt rod and not to buy a $500 rod, and that no one should own a $500 + rod. He apologized to Sage and other expensive rod companies, but said St. Croix makes a fantastic 4 peice 3 wt for $180.
Jack Dennis also adamantly stated that to be successful as a fly fisherman one needs to go to the Green River and not fish, but walk the highway observing anglers from a distance taking notes of how they fish. He said that all kinds go to the Green and one will learn more from watching presentation, casting, and technique than actually fishing.
#6 Yellowstone River in the Spring in Montana
Jack said from end of April to Mid May is called the Mothers Day Caddis Hatch and is one of the best of the west. He said the Canyon section is the section to fish during this hatch.
#7 Spring Creeks – Book ’em.
Jack stated that all great western rivers will have spring creeks that large trout frequent and to really experience some great fly fishing one has to find and fish those spring creeks, and put it on the CALENDAR!
#8 Boulder River near Livingston Montana
#9 Tongue River near Sheridan Wyoming
Jack raved about the historical value that the Tongue River presents. He dove into a historical lesson on General Crook and the indians during Crook’s time.
#10 Provo River Utah
This is a river that we have blogged about many times here at the frenzy. The Provo River really is a great fly fishery. During his rant on Utah, he also said that one must fish the little streams in Southern Utah in the desert and their are fly shops in Cedar City and St. George that will direct you to them. He also said that one must definitely fish Strawberry Reservoir.
#11 South Central Oregon. The Donner and Blitzen River near Baker Oregon.
#12 New Fork River near Pinedale Wyoming.
Jack showed us a clip of video taken 23 years ago on the New Fork and he said the fishing is better now than it was then. He suggested using stonefly nymphs and using a pulsating motion while in the water.
#13 Green River near Kemmerer Wyoming.
Jack said many venture to fish the Green River, but most head to the Utah Green River. However, the Green River near Kemmerer is equally fantastic fly fishing as the Utah Green. He also mentioned that if one is near Kemmerer to make sure and fish the Big Sandy River which flows out of the Wind River Mountain Range and has really nice size Brook Trout.
#14 Railroad Ranch Section of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake in Island Park Idaho.
This section of river is probably one of the most technically difficult stretches to fish for rising rainbows. The fish here have their PhD’s in snobbery and only take the best presented dry fly. Jack mentioned that the best technique on this section is to have one man fish while the other one spots where the fish are at and directs his cast to large awaiting rainbows.
#15 South Platte River near Denver Colorado.
Jack raved about his river. He said size #24 flies are too big. He says little bugs are the best. Jack also said to not pass up the following rivers: Yampa, Poudre, and Thompson Rivers.
#16 Places in Yellowstone National Park
Everyone knows that YNP is famous for some of the great fly fishing rivers, but Jack Dennis gave us his favorites and they aren’t the Firehole or the Madison River. They are the following: Lewis River, Bechler Meadows, and Upper Gibbons River near Yellowstone Falls (Near Norris). His favorite lake in Yellowstone was Heart Lake. Jack claims that Heart Lake boasts Lake Trout near 20 + lbs. I checked this info with my buddy Royce Klinger at Premier Fly Fishing and he verified the tale. Royce has hiked in there (about a 10 mile hike from the Lewis Lake trailhead) and experienced the big fish that reside in Heart Lake.
#17 Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.
About 90 miles of the 125 mile Wind River flows through the Wind River Indian Reservation and one must have a guided trip through that section. But, there are huge fish in that section and Jack says that Hoppers, Crane Flies, and Cicada flies.
#18 St. Mary River near Kimberly BritishColumbia Canada
Kimberly British Columbia Canada is the highest city in Canada and delivers excellent fly fishing.
#19 Cypress Hills in Southeastern Alberta Canada
#20 Greybull River near Cody Wyoming
Jack told us that there are a lot of little streams near the Greybull that are excellent as well and that if one has the chance to fish Newton Lake in October. For moreinformation on #20, Jack said to contact North Fork Angler’s Tim Wade.
I imagine that most fly fisherman have list of “Places I Must Fish Before I Die”, and mine just got a bit longer.