The Bechler River - a technical challenge!

My fellow fishing guides and I set out on a "road trip" to the Bechler River. We were looking for some challenging fishing, big fish and a long hike.  We found them all at the Bechler located in the Southwest corner of YNP. The river is about 4 miles from the TH at the Ranger Station.  It's a long flat hike as easy as they come, but after fishing all day in the meadow it seems a lot longer and tougher hiking out.

Wilson and Ben
So, how was the fishing? Well, matching wits with these big rainbow trout was nothing short of humbling, to say the least!

Ben and I 

Sure enough the big fish were there and the river and meadow section are beautiful. We knew it would be tough as these fish are regarded as some of the hardest to catch in Montana. These rainbows are smart and super spooky. I mean you couldn't put your big toe in the water without spooking these guys. Trying to get close to them for a short accurate cast, that's not going to happen. At the slightest disturbance they would spot you and be gone.  The meadow also has tall grass and willows that catch your flies or prohibit a long cast across this wide flat river.  The fish of course were in the outside bends and under the high banks. Trying to get a fly to them properly delivered without drag was a challenge indeed. Any walking on the high banks spooked the fish.  There were tons of small brown hoppers with yellow abdomens in the meadow.  I saw no hatches on the day other than a small Trico size 24.  So, the three of us would take turns spotting and then stalking the bigger fish and casting to them.  I had a perfect copy of this hopper a small Korn's Wrapped Hopper in size #14, but even with a good cast just the fly hitting the water would spook the fish every time!  

the Bechler River crystal clear, slow, and wide

Finally we got a break and Ben found a big fish in a small side channel, delivered a red and black ant and the fish rose and took it.
the fight was on...

Ben with his ~ 20 inch Rainbow... 
Ben managed a couple of small fish on nymphs too, but I really wanted to get one on top with a dry fly. I moved over to Ben's narrow side channel and lined a good fish spooking him and putting him down, damn. We fished up stream for a long way, had lunch, spotted fish tried casting to them with no takers for both Wilson and I.  At 2pm. we turned around heading back down stream.  When we got to the side channel, sure enough, the big rainbow was there in the same spot.  This time, with the fish facing upstream, I cast short of his tail hoping he would hear it, turn, and see my ant,  but no reaction.  The next cast I made just a little longer putting the ant just in front of the fish and he spooked, game over!

If I look happy with this little fish, it's because I am...
No skunk for me!

We were almost to the point in the river where we needed to break away to the trail head and I said to Ben let me try this corner of the river.  I made a few casts and nothing.  I said one more cast and we'll pack it in. Yep, you guessed it a fish rose and took my ant.  It never felt so nice to have a 6 inch fish tugging on the end of my line!  I had taken my "Bechler Trophy", yeah right.  We'll get-em next time!


  1. Beautiful places, but the wires across the river are horrible. Spain have some rivers with this problem too.

    Best regards

  2. Thanks for sharing! My son and I just returned from a 10 Yellowstone trip, mostly in the northeast corner and before we left the park, the plan for next year was in place. Top of the list is the Bechler for two nights! Tough sleddin' but love the challenge!

  3. Yes Brian - it's tough but fun none the less, give it a go... Doug.


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