Best Clarks Fork of Yellowstone River Fly Fishing

The 3rd most popular fly fishing river in Wyoming.

  Cody, Wyoming, US


  August 18, 2016

Near Cody, the Clarks Fork of Yellowstone River is known for its fly fishing opportunties. It is a designated Wild And Scenic River. The Clarks Fork starts up in the Beartooth and Absaroka Mountains on the northwest borders of Montana and Wyoming. The Clarks Fork has three distinct sections: Upper Clarks Fork , Middle Clarks Fork and Lower Clarks Fork.

The Upper Clarks Fork headwaters near the town of Cooke City, Montana, some 12 miles north of the Wyoming border. As the river gains small springs and freshets flowing off the ice pack of the Beartooths, the Clarks Fork is a fast-flowing freestone stream. Not wider than 50 feet, the flow is definitely moving downhill rapidly. Wading in the early part of the season can be a true challenge. Nevertheless, there are eager brookies, Yellowstone cutthroat and rainbows to be found in every nook and cranny of the river. Pocket water fishing is the norm. The upper section of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone (beginning at the Wyoming border) runs close to Highway 212 for half of its 25 miles. There are some private ranches which do not allow angler trespass, but those stretches of the river are not long, so access is available via trails, turnouts and campgrounds in Shoshone National Forest.

The Middle Section of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone begins below Hunter Peak campground. Elevation here is around 7,000 feet. The river is wider here with long runs, some pocket water and some riffle sections. The river has also added 40% to its volume from Crazy Creek and Lake Creek. From where it begins at Hunter Creek campground, the Clarks Fork still has some characteristics of an alpine stream/river for about 2 miles. After that, the river begins its plummet through a huge, thousand foot deep rent in the earth's crust for 8 to 10 miles. This is considered by our guides the heart and soul of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone. The upper canyon has some long, flat sections where outstanding midday hatches of mayflies and evening hatches of caddis can be enjoyed.

The Lower Section of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone begins at the end of the deep canyon section. Here, the Clarks Fork yet maintains its appearance of hairy Class III and IV waters, but the long runs, deep pools and rapids also hold good numbers of Yellowstone cutthroat, grayling, rainbows and Rocky Mountain whitefish. Due to the volume of water, most of the trout in the upper fast water stretch of the Clarks Fork are smaller than those found in the two other sections already discussed. However, it is not uncommon to catch fish larger than 18 inches, especially in the pre-runoff months of April-May, and again in September-late October. Approximately 3 miles after exiting the canyon of the Clarks Fork, the walls of the canyon widen to a mile or more, leaving lots of room for the river to begin snaking its way toward the small agrarian community of Clark. Wading becomes easier and accessing the entire river allows fly fishermen to, once more, begin to pick the river apart.

Overall, Clarks Fork of Yellowstone River is the 3rd most popular fly fishing river of all 28 fly fishing spots in Wyoming. Several of the better fly fishing rivers are nearby Clarks Fork of Yellowstone River including Greybull River, Wood River, Lower Shoshone River and Bighorn River.

Local Contacts:  Wyoming Tourism (307) 777-7777; North Fork Anglers (307) 527-7274.

Reference Source:  click here

GPS:  44.885264, -109.655313

Date Published:  12/30/2015

Date Updated:  8/18/2016

ID:  21697

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