Seven Tips for Fishing the Firehole

1. If it looks good, fish it

The road between Madison Junction and Old Faithful follows The Firehole for much of its run. Have your fishing buddy keep his or her eyes on the river, and don't be afraid to pull over and hop out when they spot fishy-looking water.

Iron Bridge, Mule Shoe Bend, and Some Other Place may hold the most anglers, but the trout spread out through the whole stream.

2. Plan your attack

The Firehole's not a big western brawler like the Madison, but the fish sure see their share of pressure. These fish are wily and spooky. Plan your approach from the bank and sneak yourself into position when you find a rising fish or a likely lie. Just because you're wearing waders doesn't mean you have to use them. It's easier often easier to put the sneak on a big wary brown from the banks.

3. Figure out what they're eating, and match it

They may have devoured PMD's yesterday, but today they may be after the smaller baetis on the water at the same time. Take a look at the natural insects on and off the water, and start your fly selection from there.

Watch the riseforms – splashy rises might mean the fish are taking emergers. Slow, purposeful sips may mean they're keyed-into spinners.

These fish see a lot flies, so change bugs if you've put a few good drifts over a rising fish with no luck. Stop by the shop and we'll set you up with flies to cover all the stages of the current hatches.

4. It's all about the presentation

Did I mention that these fish see a lot of flies? Long sections of The Firehole are slow, braided currents that let the fish watch your fly for a long time. These currents can also require tricky casts and mends to get a drag-free drift for more than a foot or two. While we all want to catch our fish by casting upstream and across, sometimes that won't get it done. Study the currents around the lie and plan your cast and mends before you start to cast.

5. No hatch? Get in the swing of things

The smooth, braided currents of The Firehole often make attractor fishing frustrating an ineffective. When there's nothing hatching try a soft hackle on a downstream swing.

Know what bugs are active in the stream, and pick something that imitates its size and color.

6. Pick your fish

Sometimes the sheer number of rising fish can be overwhelming. When fishing to actively rising fish, cast to one fish, rather than casting around and over a bunch of fish.

7. Know when you're beat

I can't tell you how many times I've picked the perfect fish, in a tricky spot and cast to him until I realized I'd fished to one fish through the whole hatch.

That big brown right up against the bank, under the overhanging limb, at the back end of that tiny eddy? He may be the best fish rising, and your casts getting stuck on the limb, dragging through the eddy or hitting the bank may not spook him, but sometimes it's best to move on and find catchable fish.

 

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