Getting up at 4 am is tough, but not when you’re about to escape three-digit South Texas heat
to enjoy some fly fishing on the blue ribbon Yellowstone River in Montana. And that’s just what Jan and
I did on the fourth of August as we flew to Bozeman, Montana, rented a car, and made the scenic 22-
mile ride east to Livingston, where we enjoyed all the comforts of home with the friendly folks at the
Livingston Inn Motel located on the south side of the quasicentennial western town right on Hwy. 89
and just a short ride to the famous trout-rich Yellowstone River flowing like a ribbon in the wind through
After obtaining a four-day fishing license we enjoyed some leisure time walking the streets of
Livingston, a town full of friendly and courteous people.
Tired from the long day of travel, sleep came quickly. Our first night in Big Sky Country with
temperatures forty degrees cooler than those 1,600 miles south in Uvalde Texas, an open window and
small blanket was all we needed to comfortably sleep.
By 8 am the following morning, I was walking around inside Dan Bailey’s iconic Fly Shop, visually
enjoying wall-to-wall sporting goods. After picking up a few fly-tying materials, we enjoyed a breakfast
of bacon and eggs at one of the local’s favorite restaurants—Gil’s Goods. Shortly afterwards, Jan and I
did a little hiking into the Gallatin National Park, enjoying the stunning vistas including a spectacular high
By 1:45 p.m. my guide Dennis Alverson picked me up, and we headed up Paradise Valley
towards the park to launch Dennis’s drift boat at Carter’s Bridge.
As Dennis prepared the boat, I coated myself with sunscreen, but little did I know it would not
It was only partially cloudy over the first hour or so as I visually salivated over the grand
Absaroka Mountains that hover over the river, as it winds its way through Paradise Valley. Normally fish
action is intense, allowing little time to enjoy the amazing vistas, but fishing was slow with few trout
surfacing. Other than a few small, colorful rainbows, nothing appeared to be overly attracted to my dry
fly, so I switched over to nymphs, fished below the surface, and immediately on the first cast a nice 15”
rainbow nearly took my 9 feet, 6 weight rod out of my hands. Landing the fish after a considerable fight
in the swift freestone waters, I had Dennis take a few pictures of the beautiful speckled fish with a
pinkish red stripe running the entire length of the fish’s sides reflecting the early afternoon sun. Within
the next hour however things changed as a heavy rainstorm developed, and I was glad Dennis had an
As large rain drops slapped the water’s surface, I remained focused on the small red strike
indicator attached high above the nymphs as we followed my line downriver after each cast. With
flashes of lightning nearby, we shored up for a little while until the storm passed.
As the rain came to a halt, and temperatures dropped to the low 50’s, I was not only cold but
wet. Dennis altruistically suggested we head in, but that was not going to happen!!
Not much further downriver, dark clouds reappeared from above the Absaroka Mountains and
pelted us once again for over two hours, and sometime during that storm I caught a magnificent
rainbow cross cutthroat, referred to as a cutbow by the locals. I may not have been catching a lot of
fish, but what I caught was exceptionally nice. Besides, that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.
By the time we arrived at our take-out point close to dark I had caught several more rainbows of
average size, but lost two exceptional fish in rough water. I was cold and wet, but couldn’t think of a
better way to escape the Texas heat, and since this was only my first day on the river, I was confident I
would have additional opportunities to catch some of the Yellowstone treasures. But little did I know
that excessive rain in the park upstream would impact just how well I did over the next three days.