Slough Creek is one of the most popular fishing areas in Yellowstone Park. The access is relatively easy and the cutthroat fishing is some of the best in the world. The lower meadows of Slough Creek, below the campground, are easily accessible from parking areas between the campground and the Cooke City road. There are rainbows in this lower water as well as cutthroats. The upper meadows of Slough are accessed from a trailhead near the campground. The first meadow is a 45 minute walk from the trailhead. The first meadow is the most popular since it's close and the fishing is excellent. Slough Creek's second meadow is about a 2 hour hike. Cutthroat trout in Slough offer good dry fly fishing with heavy hatches of caddis, pale morning duns, and large Green Drake in July. Terrestrials are prominent in late summer.
|Slough Creek Road|
Slough Creek road
|Slough Creek (Easy Pools)|
Slough Creek easy pools
|Slough Creek Campground and parking area|
Slough Creek Campground and parking area
|Slough Creek (Pocket Water Riffles)|
Slough Creek pocket water riffles
|Slough Creek (First Meadow)|
Slough Creek - First Meadow
|Slough Creek (Second Meadow)|
Slough Creek - Second Meadow
Slough Creek originates in the Beartooth Mountains near Cooke City, Montana and flows southwest into Yellowstone National Park where after 16 miles it joins the Lamar River. Slough Creek is one of the most popular trout streams in Yellowstone Park due to its relatively easy access and world-class cutthroat trout fishing.
Slough Creek Description
Slough Creek ranges from 20 to 30 feet wide and flows through 11 miles of beautiful meadows populated by elk and bison. The remaining 5 miles of Slough Creek inside the park is characterized by steep canyons with cascades and riffles.
The lower meadows of Slough Creek, below Slough Creek Campground to the confluence with the Lamar River, are easily accessible from parking areas between the campground and Cooke City road. This section of Slough Creek contains huge cutthroat trout and cuttbows that go 30 inches and hide in plain sight visible from the bluff that overlooks the creek. These monsters are extremely wary though and nearly impossible to catch.
Above Slough Creek Campground, are the infamous First, Second and Third Meadows of Slough Creek, accessible via a wagon trail that leads of the campground parking area. It is here that Slough Creek is famous for its dry-fly fishing and that fisherman from around the world trek to fish for cutthroats that regularly grow to 18 to 22 inches. Fishing terrestrial patterns that imitate ants, beetles, crickets and grasshoppers is the big draw in the upper meadows in July through early October.
The First Meadow is approximately a 2 mile hike and the Second Meadow a 4.5 mile hike along a historic wagon trail that extends to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. To reach the Third Meadow requires a 6 mile hike from the campground. The Third Meadow begins where a ranger cabin is located near a small creek that crosses the trail.
Backcountry campsites are available at the Second and Third Meadows and an overnight stay is a great way to fish this portion of Slough Creek. A Backcountry Use Permit is required to use these campsites. Campsite reservations can be made in advance but the actual permit needs to be picked up in person at a visitor center or ranger station no more than 48-hours prior to your trip. Tower Ranger Station is the nearest to Slough Creek.
As with any fishery, the fishing get betters the further you get from the parking lot. So if you have the time, plan an overnight trip to the Second or Third Meadow and you’ll be rewarded with some handsome fish and a true wilderness fishing experience that you will not soon forget.
Fly Fishing Slough Creek
Slough Creek offers excellent dry fly fishing with heavy hatches of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies. Terrestrials are prominent in late summer given Slough Creek runs through miles of meadows (prime hopper habitat).
Runoff dies down by late June in most years around when stoneflies including Golden Stoneflies, Little Yellow Sallies and Salmonflies start to emerge. These hatches can provide excellent top water action when the water is not too cloudy.
Caddis and mayfly hatches including Gray Drakes, Green Drakes, Pale Morning Duns, Blue-Winged Olives (Baetis) and midges are staple hatches throughout the season. These insects get smaller and smaller as the season progresses and patterns in hook sizes #18 to #22 are often required late in the season.
Terrestrials work well through the summer and fall, beginning in July through early October. Hoppers, ants, beetles and cricket patterns in hook sizes #6 through #12 will often draw slashing strikes.
Slough Creek Hatch Chart
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Recommended Flies for Slough Creek
Stoneflies: Yellow Stimulator size 8 to 12; salmonflies size 6; Little Yellow Sallies size 12 to 14
Mayflies: Green Drakes size 8 to 12; Parachute Adams size 14 to 18; Baetis Sparkle and Baetis Thorax Duns size 20 to 22; midges size 18 to 22; crane flies size 12 to 16
Caddis: Elk Hair Caddis and X-Caddis, size 14 to 18
Terrestrials: Dave’s Hoppers size 6 to 14; crickets size 8 to 14; Parchute and Chernobly Ant patterns size 14 to 18; foam beetles size 14 to 16
Nymphs: Pheasant Tail, Prince and Hare’s Ear nymphs size 14 to 20
Streamers: Black, tan, and olive Woolly Buggers size 4 to 8
Slough Creek Access
Access to Slough Creek is via the Slough Creek Road that starts 6 miles east on the Northeast Entrance Road from Tower Junction or about 27 miles west from the northeast entrance along the Northeast Entrance Road. There are several pullouts along Slough Creek Road, prior to reaching the campground that provides access to the lower Slough Creek meadows. If you are heading to the upper meadows continue onto and park at the campground. Follow the wagon trail that leads out of the parking area.
Slough Creek Fishing Regulations and Precautions
All cutthroat trout caught in Slough creek must be released. Rainbow trout may be harvested and doing so is encouraged. Moose and Grizzly bears are common sightings through the Slough Creek meadows. Be careful when moving through willows and brushy areas and make a little noise to let the critters know you are coming. Inquiry at the ranger station about recent wildlife sighting before you head out.