Rogers knows more about my fly than I do, and barks orders to mend right, left, upstream, cast closer to the shore, stay in the faster water. By noon I'm worn out, and we've only hooked a couple of mountain whitefish and smaller trout that soon spit the hook.
In his third day of trout bumming around Yellowstone National Park, Outdoor Life editor Andrew McKean hooked up with Matson Rogers and floated the Yellowstone River through Paradise Valley, Montana. >>Read today’s blog HERE >>About Andrew’s trout trip HERE
I guide the Ford Flex down a dust trail to get a look at the Yellowstone River where it leaves Yellowstone National Park.
We have an early morning date with Rogers, who owns Anglers West Fly Shop in Emigrant, Montana, in the very heart of Paradise Valley.
Rogers’ shop is a wonderland of basic gear and cutting-edge tackle. He also has one of the most extensive selections of flies I’ve ever seen. He tells me we’re fishing hoppers today, and scoops up a collection of big, orange-foam Mormish Hoppers.
Matson’s license plate tells you both a lot about his love of cutthroat trout, and the intensity of insect activity along the Yellowstone.
We’re rigged for anything. Matson ties a giant frog pattern to one rod, a streamer to another, and to my 6-weight Loomis, he ties on a size 8 grasshopper imitation.
We’ll float the lower end of Paradise Valley, from Pine Creek to Livingston. It’s about 11 miles, and Rogers expects to find big brown trout in pools and riffles.
Rogers prepares to launch his Clackacraft drift boat at Pine Creek put-in.
I’ll be standing all day in the bow, my legs bracketed by the casting platform, taking Matson’s cues about the best water and the right fly presentations. Rogers is a genius, anticipating most strikes and keeping the boat in perfect orientation as we slip in and out of pockets and fast-flowing seams.
Rogers knows more about my fly than I do, and barks orders to mend right, left, upstream, cast closer to the shore, stay in the faster water. By noon I’m worn out, and we’ve only hooked a couple of mountain whitefish and smaller trout that soon spit the hook.
Finally we boat a trout, a 12-inch-long rainbow that ate a Whitlock’s Hopper.
Just after noon on a blazing day we beach and Matson sets up a great shore lunch, sandwiches, chips and cookies. We notice as we’re dining a few rafts drift by, one that’s seriously crowded with three adults and a kid.
Back in the boat, we round a couple bends and Matson has us hang on as we shoot down a chute of frothy white water. It’s not that long or rough, but he has to quickly turn the boat at the end so we don’t run into a cottonwood sweeper. We notice a capsized raft just below the rapids. It’s the overloaded boat we had seen during lunch.
Matson and I run to help the rafters. Everyone is okay, but rattled. They need our help to flip the raft upright. Coolers and fishing gear is missing and the frame is torqued, but at least everyone is okay. We tote the youngest member of the party downriver to the take-out.
We’re nearing the end of our drift, and the action heats up. Matson changes my hopper to a big Foam Hopper and we catch a dozen trout in the next mile.
About four miles above Livingston we start getting into brown trout, our fourth species of this Trout Bum trip. They’re not huge, but they’re colorful and their head-pulling tug on the line is much different than the lively dart of a rainbow.
Matson and I wade to a side channel…
…where we encounter this bright rainbow that ate a grasshopper imitation.

Outdoor Life floats the Yellowstone.