Trip Report: Pebble Creek, Yellowstone National Park

Last spring, Roy asked me if I wanted to spend a few days in Pebble Creek.  I figured I would not go there on my own because it’s a long haul for small water, so I agreed. Good thing, too, because my summer plans have all fallen apart except for a couple trips; luckily, this one stayed in tact because it was AWESOME.

Friday morning, left Pocatello at 9:30am because I had to have a business meeting Friday morning that didn’t happen as expected Thursday afternoon. No worries, this is a vacation. Cruised to Mammoth to meet Roy, and we were off to the trailhead at Pebble Creek campground. This is way out in the northeast part of the park and takes almost forever to get there. But that’s a good thing because it limits the traffic.

We started hiking at 2:30pm and got there at 6:30. Seven miles to the campsite, I was thinking it was going to be five. No worries, this is vacation.

We scouted the water a bit in the immediate vicinity of P3 campsite, and then hit the tents. That hike was tougher than expected!

Saturday’s fishing was great. We went upstream from camp, and almost got to P4 campsite by the end of the day. Great fishing. Great catching. They hit pale and yellow humpies almost every cast, and when they didn’t want that, they took one of Roy’s Caddis that he makes.  The fish didn’t want anything else basically. It took about an hour to find the right fly, and then we were in for a great day.

The scenery in the area is spectacular, as you can see below. The creek is small, about what I expected. And there are many, many fish in there. What a great day of fishing. The pockets and pools of water in this part of the park are a great way to fish. I really prefer something like this to the South Fork of the Snake River or even most of the Yellowstone River where it’s hard to find pockets and pools, although down in Blacktail Canyon it is easy to find fish behind the rocks which is alot of fun, too.

Sunday, we worked our way downstream and got almost to the first ford on the creek. The water got just slightly bigger as we worked our way down, and the fish got just slightly bigger. Still, huge fun with the pockets and pools. Downstream there is more log debris, which makes the terrain more interesting but harder (funner?) to navigate through. It threatened rain beginning about 11:30am, and then finally opened up around 2:30 for a half-hour of fun. We waited it out, completely dry, under a big tree. The fish seems to really hammer the flies right before the rain started.

These little 10-12″ cutthroat hit the fly really hard, unlike the bigger fish on the Yellowstone, Lamar, and Slough Creek…where they seem to kind of “roll” the fly much slower. These Pebble Creek Cutts hit it like a rainbow, and then they jump out of the water and give a great fight.

We were using 2wt and 4wt rods that Roy makes himself. They are 7 1/2″ three-piece, perfect for hiking, and perfect for this type of water and fish.  The 12″ fish really gave Roy a go on the 2wt!

A note about our campsites. We setup in P3, which Roy had asked the Ranger to change from P2. We got there and setup. The first night we had to ourselves. Then the second night, some Montana State students were so-kind enough to allow the old guys with a permit for P2 to stay with them. Then Sunday night, a few guys from West Virginia obliged us, and we taught them a bit about fly-fishing in Yellowstone. Folks in the backcountry are so nice. Seriously, we thought we had changed the permit when we setup our tents. A HUGE thanks for playing nice!

We saw one bear in the meadow on Sunday night. I just happened to turn around and notice it watching us. He ran off after a bit, which is a good thing. No other signs of bears except one pile of scat on the trail about a mile up-trail of P3.

Has a hump like a grizzly.
Has a hump like a grizzly.
Looks like a black bear, with small ears and black fur
Looks like a black bear, with small ears and black fur

 

Monday was the walk out. Sad day because that’s my only big fishing trip this year. Next year, the kiddos will be hold enough (and both out of diapers) to hit L2 on the Lamar River for a two-nighter of fishing!

 

trail sign at the Pebble Creek campground.
trail sign at the Pebble Creek campground.
I love the deep red color of the paintbrush in the Pebble Creek valley.
I love the deep red color of the paintbrush in the Pebble Creek valley.
View of Mt Hornaday from just a mile or so out from the campground.
View of Mt Hornaday from just a mile or so out from the campground.
View from the campsite. AWESOME!
View from the campsite. AWESOME!
Basic view of Pebble Creek looking north/northwest-ish.
Basic view of Pebble Creek looking north/northwest-ish.
Nice view of the fishing.
Nice view of the fishing.
One of many 10-12" cutts.
One of many 10-12″ cutts.
Roy makes his own rods. And I got one, too! Thanks!
Roy makes his own rods. And I got one, too! Thanks!
600 mile flight. 80 miles driving. 14 miles hiking with a 35 pound pack. 5-8 fish per hour. 3 nights in the backcountry. 1 log crossing. 67 years old. What are your retirement numbers?
600 mile flight. 80 miles driving. 14 miles hiking with a 35 pound pack. 5-8 fish per hour. 3 nights in the backcountry. 1 log crossing. 67 years old. What are your retirement numbers?