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Getting Back on the Yellowstone River After the Closure

The Yellowstone River was open once again to the world following a temporary closure prompted by fish bacteria.

The forecast looked bleak as Devin, David, Ronald and I checked out of work before the long Labor Day weekend, but the Yellowstone River was right on our backyard and it had just became accessible to the public.

Although it would be cloudy and not too warm, we knew these were the last days of summer and not one precious minute could be wasted. Weeks earlier a fish bacterial swept through the waterway killing thousands of Mountain Whitefish, a Montana native.

Ronald had a raft, a Riken which he claimed was made from a pattern that NRS bought for mass production. It was a retro boat which “Had maybe thirty days on the water.” The four of us meet at the 89 Bridge and shuttled a car up. Shortly, we were on the water flying down America’s longest undammed river.

At several points we beached then snacked, drank, searched, stretched, fished, swam, smoked, and laughed. My highlight of the trip had to be landing a large rainbow trout.

“Johnny cast right over there in the eddy,” Ronald prompted me, and I justly threw my Blue Fox spinner into the pocket. Not seconds later did I have a fish on, I saw the large bow break the surface and swim under the raft.

I was able to reel him in and hold him gently to the boat. For what seemed like eons I could feel the fish’s heart beating and I watched it breath through its gills. I was hesitant to bring it on board before getting the hook out, and when I loosened my grip to get the pliers David was holding out for me it got off. One more splash of its tail and it was gone. We estimated it to be about fifteen inches.

Photo credit: TheProwler

We only saw one other drift boat the entire trip.

It seemed this kind of solitude and solace would be impossible most places in the world. However, we were lucky enough to find it in no time flat with minimal effort.

That might be the American dream for me.


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Getting Back on the Yellowstone River After the Closure