One favorite option for walk/float combo trips is to hunt large fall-run brown trout using nymphs and streamers first thing in the morning...
Some clients like to walk. Others like to float. Sometimes the fishing on foot is better. Sometimes it's better out of the boat. Why not try both in one day on one of our walk/float combo trips? On these trips, we split up the day at lunchtime, floating one half of the day and walking the other half. While we've always gotten out of the boat from time to time on our floats, to take a few casts on shore before getting back in again, this isn't what we're talking about here. On our combo trips, we'll be in the boat for part of the day and leave it behind for the rest.
The reason we offer these trips is simple: flexibility. With the option of fishing on foot for half the day and floating the other half, we're best equipped to handle clients of different skill levels and interests, fish the best water for the time of day, and often to use very different techniques.
To run with this theme of flexibility, we're flexible in scheduling them. Many of our combo trips take place as "game day decisions" based on expected weather and water conditions. You and your guide can figure out exactly what sort of trip you wish to take at the last minute. If the drift boat fishing has been slow, you can choose to fish on foot all day. If the wade fishing stinks, take a full-day float. If both are good, take a walk/float combo. If you think you'll be interested in a combo trip, be sure to mention it when you book. Not all of our guides run both walk trips and float trips, and we'll need to be sure to assign one who does both if you might want the combo.
Rates for these trips do run slightly more expensive than our standard full-day trips. The reasons are simple. First off, because most combo trips take place in both Montana and Yellowstone Park, we have to pay commercial use fees to both jurisdictions. Second, these trips typically run rather long, so we want to be able to pay our guides a few bucks extra when they run a combo trip instead of a standard full-day trip.
...then to fish dry flies during the middle part of the day for good numbers of float trip cutthroats. Yes, the photos are from the same day.
The sky is really the limit with these trips, but we developed them with three particular sets of circumstances in mind, and the vast majority of our combo trips follow one of the following templates.
From the tail end of runoff through August, combo trips are ideal for parties in which one or both anglers are new to the sport or very rusty and want a refresher before taking on the challenge of fast-paced fishing from a moving drift boat or raft. On such days, we'll take a morning walk trip on one of the brook trout streams in Yellowstone Park. After everyone has the hang of things and is eager for some chances at larger fish, we'll break for lunch and then launch the boat at one of the accesses near Gardiner for an afternoon of dry fly fishing for cutthroat trout on a rough and tumble stretch of river.
If you or a member of your party is a beginner and you're interested in this sort of trip, more details can be found on our Beginner Trips page.
During the heat of summer, particularly when the water is low, we'll float during the cooler morning hours, then pull the boat out when the heat starts getting to both the anglers and the trout. After lunch we'll head up to a higher-elevation stream in either Montana or Yellowstone Park where the water stays cool and the trout stay frisky all afternoon long. These trips are a great choice in August, particularly during hot, dry summers following years with low winter snows. These trips are also a great choice when the wind is expected to be intense in the afternoons, since smaller streams are protected from the worst wind and the big river is not.
Finally, we like combo trips to enable us to "have our big fish and our dry flies too." Beginning in early autumn, the early morning dry fly bite on Yellowstone River float trips declines, but it's usually great from ten or eleven in the morning until three or four in the afternoon. At the same time, fall-run brown trout begin entering their spawning streams in Yellowstone Park, and they eat best first thing in the morning, generally from dawn until about 10:00. Therefore the final option is clear. We'll meet before the crack of dawn, fish for big browns in Yellowstone Park with nymphs and streamers until the air and water have warmed up enough for the dry fly bite on the Yellowstone to be turning on and the brown trout are getting lockjaw, then launch the boat and get our quota of trout on dry flies.
Below: Combo trip brown trout. The appeal of such fish should be clear...
Richard Parks is Montana Outfitter #327. Under his licensure, Parks' Fly Shop is licensed to operate in Yellowstone National Park, Montana waters under general regulations, and the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. Walter J. Wiese is Montana Outfitter #22001. Under his licensure, the shop is licensed to operate on the Madison and Missouri Rivers.
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