July 27, 2015

Backcountry Trip -- July 2015

I just got back from a backcountry trip that I took with my son. We hiked into some difficult to reach streams in the greater Yellowstone area. I've been to these streams before but he had not. He soon will be applying to graduate school and so I might not get another chance to take him to these special places. This past weekend was my chance.

After driving a few hours we parked the truck on the side of a remote forest service dirt road, in a place where the map showed the best overland route to the first stream. We didn't follow any official or established trail, rather, we followed the USGS 7.5 minute map for the area and used compass to navigate. We hiked cross country until we reached the canyon that contained our first stream.

It takes about 35-40 minutes of a very steep descent into the canyon before reaching the stream, but once reached it is heaven. The water is crystal clear, there are no signs of human trespass and there are cutthroats a plenty.

We changed into our wading gear (waist high waders for him and hip waders for me) and started fishing upstream. He used a Tenkara Times Try 390 with a 3.3 meter Soft Tenkara line and I used a Nissin Air Stage Fujiryu Tenkara rod with a 12 foot #3 line. We fished subsurface all morning, he using a #10 UKB and I various kebari. The UKB out fished my flies easily. We fished pretty steadily, only stopping to eat an early lunch.

We caught cutthroats ranging from 8 inches to 14 inches. He also picked up a mountain whitefish. But after a few hours it started to rain and so we knew it was time to climb out of the canyon and head to our next destination.

The climb out also takes about 35 minutes and it is extremely grueling. Essentially, it is straight up a canyon wall, no trail. The first 100 feet is a 60° slope and from then on to the top is only 50°. By the time we got to the top we were pretty tired. Last time I did this climb I lost my vision for a few seconds half way up. This time was better.

We hiked back to the truck, drove north and got to our next "trail head" by late afternoon. From there we once again went by map and compass, hiking through pristine forest until we reached our predetermined camp spot. Since we were in the backcountry and off trail, we minimized our impact by hammock camping. We set up camp and cooked our supper --  chana masala and lentils over rice. I boiled the water on my titanium wood stove. I started the fire with flint and steel techniques, getting the fire going after only the second strike.

My pack

My tinderbox


Bear precautions -- hanging the food and all "smellables"

Camp -- minimizing our impact

The next morning we ate a hot breakfast and had our morning hot drink then geared up and left base camp, hiking about 0.25 mile in our waders until we reached our targeted river. From there we fished thorough out the pocket water, catching rainbows from 8 inches to 13 inches. He once again used the Try 390 but I used a Daiwa 53 MF with a long line, casting two handed.

After fishing the large river for a while we decided to head back to camp via fishing a small stream. I switched over to the Daiwa 45MC that I had with me and we walked side by side up the stream fishing all the best lies.

I didn't take many pictures of the fish we caught, mainly because I was having too much fun fishing with and instructing my son. We got back to camp, had lunch, packed up and hiked out.

It was a great weekend. This is what life is really about: getting outdoors and spending time with family, using backcountry skills to get to some really isolated and beautiful places, fishing, camping, and having plenty of time to talk -- not about anything special, just talk.

Me, at the end of the hike, still alive.

I hope I'll be able to go other places with my son but for now we have this trip. It was great!


  1. Hi Tom,

    I am glad you had the opportunity to spend time fishing and camping with your son. My son is married now and lives 1200 miles away. I really miss spending time fishing with him. Have you written a review of the Air Stage Fujiyru rod? I almost ordered one from Chris at Tenkarabum this week but ordered a Suntech Kurenai
    instead. Should I put the Fujiryu on my Christmas list?

    1. The Nissin Air Stage Fujiryu is a top of the line rod. It's really fantastic. I just haven't got around to writing a review on it.

  2. Looks like a good trip Tom. Hope the gear worked well for you and your son. Looks like some fun water to fish.


    1. Thank, Paul. It was fun, and the equipment I got from you was perfect!

  3. Really enjoy reading your posts; makes me look forward to getting outdoors more with my girls as they grow older.

  4. I used to live in your neck of the woods, and boy howdy do I ever wish tenkara had been introduced to the US about 10 years earlier! The SW Yellowstone National Park backcountry is full of perfect little streams full of cutts, and hardly anyone fishes them because they're too busy with the big glory rivers up north.

  5. What an amazing looking trip and how fortunate that there are still places like that to be experienced!

  6. Great photos. What make of camp stove is that?


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