The Rise and Fall of the Firehole

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

What goes up must come down! Like clockwork, the June cycles of the Firehole River in Yellowstone provide for a challenging angling experience. A light work schedule (thankfully nothing since late March) allowed me to string a series of seven day-trips between May 28 and June 12 to the Firehole during the opening salvo of the 2018 Yellowstone National Park season. Each year, the park season opens on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Despite having outstanding fisheries throughout the park, it is rare that any water other than the Firehole is fishable on the opener. It always attracts a lot of anglers, especially those that can make the easy trip from Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Montana for the weekend. However, by Monday, Memorial Day itself, the initial pressure subsides quite a bit. That’s when I make my first foray to the Firehole, always hoping for decent, fishable conditions.

We had a big snow year in Montana and a warmer than normal May had the big rivers in runoff early. That first trip of the season to the Firehole was always fraught with the odds that the river would be swollen and unfishable (if not just very difficult to fish). One of the big draws to the Firehole is the dry fly fishing (not my gig, but a lot of anglers live for it). Unfortunately, early season hatches can be sporadic if not absent completely if the river is cold and high. But that does not mean there isn’t decent fishing (catching I mean) if you get to the river at the right time in the right places.

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