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  • Rusty and Cindy Stimmel

Wyoming Fish: Mountain Whitefish

We stopped at the Orvis store in Jackson Wyoming to get information about where to fish for mountain Whitefish. When I told the guide helping me what we were doing and that the Wyoming fish was the mountain whitefish, He told me that I was being mean to Wyoming and that I should catch a Snake River Cutthroat trout inn Wyoming. I told him that Snake River Cutthroat was the Idaho fish. He then helped me with information about how and where to catch Whitefish.

He sold me some gold holographic tinsel as whitefish like flashy flies. I designed and tied some very flashy Whitefish flies. See the flies section for the tying instructions.

I went fishing several times in Teton while we were waiting for the eclipse. Cindy has written a nice article on the eclipse. We were staying at Atherton Creek Campground in the Teton-Bridger National Forest. It is located where Atherton Creek, a very small creek, enters slide lake on the Gros Ventre River. I tried fishing the lake from shore and caught several 4-inch Rainbow Trout. They hit any fly I cast out, if I put on a 16 or smaller fly, they would hook themselves. I tried to catch a bigger trout without any success. No one was catching larger trout from shore. One person in a kayak caught a 9-inch trout on a worm.

We drove up to the Snake River below Jackson Dam twice. The first I used fished from near the shore as I could not wade very far out due to the drop-off. I caught one cutbow on a brown mayfly. I also used hopper dropper with several types of droppers and foam hoppers. I had one hit on a hopper from a small fish and possibly a few very soft hits on a dropper. There were several other fishers on the river at the same time. I was not alone in my lack of success. There were about a dozen people fly fishing with one other fish caught during the time I was fishing. One of the people I talked to said that last night was on fire. They caught fish almost every cast until they could not see their fly.

The second time we went to the Snake below Jackson, we went so I could fish in the evening after dinner. Since, I still did not catch a fish. I tried hopper dropper, 90 degree nymphing and dry flies. There were few fish rising, no hatch and no one catching fish. Even the worm fishers were not catching fish. Grant Teton was not good to me.

One day we decided to go to Crystal Creek which was about 5 miles up a decent dirt road from our camp to catch a trout for dinner. I started fishing just below a bridge over the creek. I caught a small white fish almost immediately. I caught another a few minutes later. We decided to try another location and drove into an area near Crystal Creek Campground. The creek had several deep holes between runs. I put on a two no name whitefish flies and fished a hole with tree roots in it below a small rapid. I immediately hooked a good fish and tried to work it up through the rapids to land it. It pulled off in the rapids. I tried again with the same results. I then looked at my situation and decided that I had ignored Lefty’s second rule of where to fly fish, where to land the fish. As the fish in the hole were large whitefish, and I could not fish the hole from below, I could not land the fish. We moved to another place with a deep slow run. I started hooking fish immediately. I still could not land them as I was fishing from shore and when I lifted their head to net them, they pulled off. I solved that problem by pulling the fish up on the gravel bar them netting them and washing them in the stream.

I caught several small and a few large whitefish on the no name whitefish flies. It was enjoyable catching the whitefish. Before I realized it, we needed to return to camp without a trout for dinner. I released all the whitefish.

Since I do not want to be mean to Wyoming, I am giving them a bonus fish of a Yellowstone Cutthroat. We decided to drive up to Crystal Creek and try for a Cutthroat trout. There were people camping at every pullout. When we got to the bridge, where I was planning to start fishing, there were several campers and several fishers. We drove around and found a place on the Gros Ventre river. I started fishing and worked my way up stream. I did not catch any fish until I was at the tail of a ripple at the head of a pool. I caught two small fish and released them. I hooked dinner, a cutthroat or cutbow or about 12 inches, and lost it as I was reaching for my net. While I was wading back to Cindy when it was time to quit fishing. I was wading in shallow water as the bank was not walkable. I stepped on an unstable rock and put a lot of weight on my wading staff. It bowed and I went down. When I got to Cindy, she told me to get a new wading staff. The staff I was using was a White River folding staff. I had bought it on my wat to go fishing after I had lost my previous staff. It was the only staff available in the Bass Pro shop in Manteca.

We left Teton through Yellowstone. There were not camp sites available in Yellowstone, so we exited the park east and camped at Elk Creek campground on the North Fork of the Shoshone River. When we had set up camp, we ran into Cody to do laundry and grocery shopping. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant where I left my cell phone. I realized I had left my phone when we were about 10 minutes out of town. We went back and I ask the clerk about my phone and she told me she would ask the manager. I waited near the cash register. Cindy saw an employee in the dining room and ask him, he had my phone. We then stopped at the Sierra Trading Company on our way out of town thus it was almost dark when we reached camp. I went down to the river, put on a royal wolf, stood on a rock and made a few cast. I caught a brown of about 10 inches almost immediately. I fished till I could barely see my fly, then hooked a large brown. I was standing on a rock about a foot above the river and the fish was too large to lift without a net. I tried to net the fish and it twisted just as I tried to net the fish and it threw the hook. It rained that night and the river was muddy the next day. As it was the only day I would have to fish, I fished the entire day and only caught one fish, a 10-inch brown on a czeck caddis nymph.

I will return to Wyoming, probably in Yellowstone Park to catch a Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.