Spring Fishing conditions and options in Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone region

Options for fly anglers and what to expect…. Below: Snake River cutthroat from a March midge hatch.

Springtime cutthroat

As February comes to an end, those of us fly fishermen can’t help but think about spring. So too do folks looking to come out to the Jackson Hole and greater Yellowstone region to do some fishing. Many folks ask me if it’s possible to fly fish around here in the spring. And while area runoff certainly makes some waters unfishable, my answer is always, “of course, …. you just have to be flexible and know where to go”. Here’s what I like to fish and some ideas of where you could expect to be guided when fishing with me in the spring:

March- April: This is a fantastic time to cast a fly out here in Jackson Hole. Rivers are low and clear, and as the days get longer and warmer, bug activity picks up significantly. The Snake, Green and Wind rivers can be tremendous, both from a wade-fishing and float-fishing perspective. Many days, hatches of stoneflies (both small black and brown and larger Skwalas), BWOs, midges and march browns, will make dry fly fishing outstanding. For times when fish aren’t rising, nymphing and streamer fishing can be really productive.

May lake fishing

Area lakes are FUN in the spring!

May: As April comes to an end, so do much of our fishing possibilities on the rivers mentioned above due to runoff. This however does not mean fishing halts. May is the time I like to fish small area lakes; both by drift boat and on foot. After ice off, our lakes are a blast to fish, as trout (cutthroat, rainbows, browns and lakers) are often found cruising the shallows, searching for food and preparing to spawn. Fly fishing from a drift boat allows anglers to target these cruisers with streamers and nymphs. Similar to flats fishing, anglers often wait to see a fish and then cast ahead hoping the trout will give chase. As the end of May comes, even more great fly fishing becomes available. Memorial Day weekend begins the fishing season in Yellowstone National Park. This is not to be missed. Waters like the Firehole, Madison, Gibbon and other smaller streams in the southwestern part of the park fish well and experience huge hatches of PMDs, BWOs and stoneflies. In addition to fishing these great hatches, nothing beats casting along active geysers and geothermal features while Bison roam across the river.

Yellowstone Fly Fishing

Yellowstone offers a variety of waters for fly anglers…

June: Fishing options expand even further around here, both in Yellowstone and elsewhere in June. As mentioned above, the Firehole, Madison, Gibbon, etc. all continue to fish well. Additionally, Lewis Lake and river come into their own offering anglers a chance at catching some really nice brown trout on the fly. June too means that the upper Green River is becoming fishy. Often by mid June I’m taking anglers down to the Green to fish some great hatches of Grey Drakes, Stoneflies and caddis. Area lakes continue to fish well too, making it a tough decision for some anglers as to wear they want to fish.

So that’s the skinny on fishing Jackson Hole waters in the springtime. I encourage folks to give me a call and book some fun days on the water… Here’s a quick summary of where I like to fish in the spring months:

March/April: Snake, Green and Wind rivers

May: Area lakes, Yellowstone National Park

June: Yellowstone National Park, Green, Area Lakes, select small streams

Gambling on the conditions and winning

Like most of country, we here in Jackson are getting a big
dose of winter weather lately; not really anything new for us,
but worth noting none the less. This past week a system of
snow storms has brought continuous moisture to our area,
adding to a good snowpack. While it’s easy to become a
hermit in these conditions, it’s always good to get out of the
house, especially when escape comes in the form of a fishing
trip. So, when my neighbor and fellow fishing guide, Chris
Stump, invited me to join him yesterday, I said yes.

Despite the winter storm warning and snow covered roads,
Chris drove us to freedom. Expectations were low; maybe
hook a few fish while donning 20 layers of long underwear,
wool, flannel, down and Gore-Tex. Fortunately, the weather
cleared and the fish gods smiled, rewarding our dedication.
Fishing was fast and furious and at the end of the day all we
could do was laugh.

mid winter man eater

Fortunately, no fingers were lost landing this big


As some of you who occasional check the Wyoming weather know, it’s been cold and wintery lately. Tonight (sunday) we’re riding out the tail-end of a powerful winter storm that has dumped a lot of snow around here. Prior to its arrival on Friday, we experienced some bone-chilling cold temperatures, reminding us all that we’re still a long way off from spring. I was over at our cabin working on some paintings last week and experienced several days in the proverbial “ice box”. Below is a quick picture I took of the thermometer upon waking up on Wednesday. So much for the bananabelt. Brrrrr.

Cold fishing in Dubois

Cutt Slam Completion

Well, I can cross the Wyoming Cutt Slam off my “to do”
list. The official certificate of completion arrived in the mail
earlier this week documenting Jamie and my achievement. It
may be the only certificate I’ve ever gotten kind of excited

Teton Fly Fishing's Cutt Slam

For those that don’t know, the Wyoming Cutt Slam is a
challenge put forth by the WY Game and Fish in
which anglers are challenged to catch (and document) the four
Wyoming native cutthroat trout species. Each species resides
in its own specific region/drainage, making it a really fun fly
fishing adventure!

Jamie and I, along with Sage, began our Cutt Slam quest
back in 2012, journeying to the Tri- Basin divide area to camp
and fish. Our first stop was a small stream that had an
abundant population of Bonneville Cuttroat Trout. While I had
caught the Bonneville before, both in the Bear River in
Evanston, and also fishing this same water, I hadn’t
documented it, so it never happened. It didn’t take Jamie and I
long to both catch and photograph our first fish of the Slam.

Jamie showing off a Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

Jamie showing off a beautiful gem of a trout; the

the Wyoming high country

An architypal Wyoming high country trout stream.

On to find a Colorado…. This didn’t happen despite some
fairly serious fishing. You can read more about it here. Fast forward to early last summer
(2013). We had two free days together and a desire to get out
of town, camp and shake off the Colorado Cutthroat slump. Off
we drove again, me, my lady and a fourteen year old
Labrador. We fished some new water, exploring numerous dirt
forest roads and eventually finding our prize.

elusive Colorado Cutthroat Trout

The elusive Colorado Cutthroat; once plentiful in the
Green River drainage

finding the way to trout

Fishing alongside some western history. Wonder if
the pioneers d
id any fishing along the way?

along the Cutthroat Trail

and his best friend

Sage and I are on a mission…

With time ticking, off we spend to a place where
Yellowstone Cutthroat are plentiful. Here we found some willing
participants, documented the catches and headed back to hot

Yellowstone Cutthroat in Wyoming

A beautiful Yellowstone Cutt fell for a well presented
peacock soft-hackle fly.

The Snake River Finespotted cutthroat is what we catch
while fishing around home here in Jackson. Even though we
had tons of Fine Spotted pictures already, we decided to make
things official. We’d go out and hunt a few local fish. This
proved to be easy, with Jamie and I catching numerous fish
over the course of the past summer and fall.

Finally (with some prodding from the lady) I got around to
sending in our completed cuttslam forms this December. I
requested that Sage be listed on my certificate since she was
along for all the fish we caught, not to mention the thousands
of others during her life. Our certificates are a cool reminder of
the great times we had fishing our Wyoming waters for native
cutthroat trout. If you ever get the chance, take on the Cutt
Slam challenge too!