The Gardiner River
The Gardner River begins in the mountains west of Mammoth, at Joseph
Peak. The upper sections of the Gardner River - upstream from the Mammoth-Tower
bridge near Mammoth Hot Springs, offers only limited fishing possibilities,
with small brook trout consisting of the primary resident.
best fly fishing on the Gardner River will be found in its lower stretches,
just upstream from the Yellowstone Park Boundary. The road between Gardiner
and Mammoth Hot Springs provides easy access for much of this section,
while a hiking trail follows the river into Gardner Canyon.
The terrain in this section of the park is noticeably different than
found elsewhere in Yellowstone. The lower Gardner River area is very
arid, with trees only found on the upper mountains. The valley itself
is quite arid with extensive meadows and sagebrush.
The Gardner River upstream from Gardner flows quickly and has extensive
smaller rapids. Lots of runs, riffles and some pools are found on the
lower Gardner River. Rainbow and brown trout are both found in the lower
Gardner River, averaging around 12 inches, although occasional large
fish are taken.
The Gardner River generally runs clear before other nearby rivers. As
a result, productive dry fly fishing can occur in June if favorable conditions
occur. Popular dry flies for the lower Gardner River include the Elk
Hair Caddis and the Parachute Adams (sized 14-18). Beginning in July
and lasting through September, the Gardner River, as elsewhere in many
of the park rivers, becomes an excellent place to use hopper and beetle
imitations, sized 4-10.
Fly fishing pressure on the Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park
is quite low compared to other major rivers in the park. Solitude can
be easily found just off the road or by hiking a short distance up the
many trails that parallel the river. It should be noted that the lower
Gardner River has a very quick current and lots of slippery rocks in
it. While the river is not very deep or wide once spring run-off ends,
the fast current and slippery rocks can make wade fishing and good presentation
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