• Visit: The Trout Underground
  • Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: Buster Wants To Fish
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Headed Out

    Bare Minimum
    .. Some fishers take the kitchen sink, (vests today will hold 'em.) Some of our neighbors leave the sink, (and the pile of dirty dishes it holds.)
    .. All they grab is the important stuff: rod, reel, flies, camp food. utensils, Pocket knife, kit bag, sleeping bag, poncho, TP, other shoes, spare undies, other jacket, hats, polarized specs, beverages, knowledge, determination, buddy, bankroll, road food.
    .. Perhaps the most important bit is the "Universal Field Box." It's an assemblage of flies that, from experience, can handle most situations in Yellowstone National Park.
     .. This is the time of year when a day can make the difference between catching and crying. The neighbors head to those places where the hatches bloom and then rapidly disappear. They search out the little streams in Yellowstone National Park where Summer is shorter than elsewhere. They need to hike and walk and run.
    .. These places are not in the guide books. They are not secret places they are just not popular. These are places beyond where the road ends and the trail begins.
    .. Our neighborhood fishers are funny folk. Their networks for information reach into other neighborhoods across the region. They seldom hit the feather merchants for conventional wisdom. They form a loose fraternity of fishers rather than talkers. They are cooks and servers and housekeepers and mechanics and clerks and other normal folks. They meet in pubs in the wee small hours after work. They listen to the woods and the waters. The local jungle drums from near and far relate intelligence that is seldom over eight hours old. Off they go - gainful employment be damned.

    .. Their food is sparse and basic. Their accommodations are rocks and dust and dirt and ants and beetles, and sage and quiet. Morning comes early and night comes late. Fishing days are crammed full of exploration, observation, speculation, and meditation. More often than not each day is full of anything but the fish. The fish and the fishing become excuses for exploring a neighborhood park that is larger than most.
    .. The assemblage of local fishers has little in common with new cars and destination fishing. This is an assemblage of folks that have time for only work, family, friends, fish and food. They are here because of the place. They could do what they do anywhere. They love the park. They love the town and live in it. They fish: they catch. They work hard and play hard. Bless their hearts, they share some hard won insights with us. They don't write books. They seldom take hero photos. They think a blog is something akin to an ink blot. They smirk at us and go about their lives.
    .. Right now they are catching in a variety of places around the neighborhood. Gulpers in Hebgen Lake. Cutties on Cache Creek.
    .. A mixed bag above the closure in the canyon on the Firehole River. Brookies on the Gibbon River in the little meadows at the end of the road by Virginia Cascade. Beaver pond fish down the trail on Duck Creek. Evening caddis hatches on the Gallatin River. Straight Creek baby fish. and of course those big Rainbow Trout that hide in the cold water of the deep cut banks at Baker's Hole.
    .. We can't fish all those places. We envy the youth and exuberance of the neighbor kids. We appreciate the information that they share with us. We share it here in the hope that more than just famous waters gain new friends among the visitors to our neighborhood. Waters without friends become lost and subject to depredation by the non fisher.
    .. Tonight we're headed to a small tributary of the drowned Madison River. It's only about 100 yards long. It dumps into the monstrous Hebgen Reservoir.  It could have been nearly a mile long. It will be there again after the inevitable removal of Hebgen Dam: long in the future. It's cold and spring fed. It holds enormous fish and small fish. They eat well and only get molested by their friends and the friends of the creek It will soon be developed and canalized. It has had few friends; that's why it has no name.
    .. Off to our favorite culvert.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Got Wheels ?

    An Often Forgotten Place
    eager fish, otters, and grunts
    .. While the Hoppers have inundated the campground at Slough Creek, and while the elbows are thronging to the famous northeast trinity of Slough, Soda, and Lamar, free-spirited elbows are working up a sweat and enjoying three little lakes with grand views and glorious fishing. Pretty good catching too.
    ..If you can handle a steep trail under a blistering sun we suggest that this is a proper destination for the angler not obsessed with headhunting or running water. Take your camera and a lunch. Take your bear spray and someone else who will enjoy postcard beauty and a few fish along the way.
    .. The trail is a 1/2 mile of uphill grunting. Once up the hill from the road you will encounter an undulating landscape that holds the true trinity of the northeast fishery: Trout Lake, Buck Lake, and Shrimp Lake. These little gems are tucked into periglacial depressions and are well worth the hike. Plan to spend a day or two exploring.
    .. The hardcore headhunters can spend a full day at Trout Lake in the hopes of hanging onto a 24" Rainbow Trout or several 18" Cutthroat Trout. This is the site of an early fish hatchery in Yellowstone National Park. The fish did well then and do well now. The otters know it well;  and some of the neighbors make a pilgrimage during hopper time, (LIKE RIGHT NOW!)
    .. Buck Lake is also worth fishing for the catching. Shrimp Lake is supposedly devoid of fish but there are otters there too - go figure ? ? ? ?
    .. For some reason known only to the trout the catching has been a bit harder than in recent memory. The fish are still large, (medium and small too.) The fishers are still happy to have been there. The otters are still fat and photogenic. The hoppers are hopping. The beetles are beetling and the trout are eating.
    .. If you plan to lug a float tube up the hill be sure to get a boat permit for the tube. It's a park requirement and the rangers know.
    .. For those of us trapped on the west side of the park the mysteries of the northeast corner hold a fascination that can only be assuaged by the expenditure of time and gasoline. A few of us trek to Cooke City and stay with friends for a long fishing weekend. Some of us camp in the wild. The affluent grab a motel and hang out: fishing hard each day. A trip up the hill is always on the schedule.
    .. Closer to home, it's important to note that the Gallatin River is providing some excellent evening activity for both fish and fishers. Hoppers, ants, beetles and caddis are all active and providing entertainment for a the neighbors.
    .. It's a busy time of the year for the merchants in town. High summer shopping is in full swing. The streets are crowded and the grocery stores become genuine freak shows with a cacophony of children's shrieks, carts clattering, languages sputtering, and clerks smiling through it all. It's worth viewing if you don't need the groceries.
    .. We're avoiding it all and fishing a small little no name tributary of the Notellum River. We will spend the upcoming weekend enjoying the mass gathering of cartoon cars at the 44th annual West Yellowstone Rod Run.

    Monday, July 28, 2014

    Worth A Couple Of Days

    The Horse Knows The Way
    a truly secret fishing hole
    .. Briefly: there is no better dry fly water in all of Yellowstone National Park. It's name is not in the lexicon of "experts" whose stories start with "I fished . . . ."
    .. We don't recommend it to many folks. We don't mention it too often. We're not afraid it'll be "discovered" and become too crowded - it's too far from the road. In fact just forget that we mentioned it at all.
    Red = Nex Perce, Purple = General Howard
    .. Adam "Horn" Miller was born in Bavaria in Oct. of 1839 and moved to St. Louis when he was a child. He came up the Missouri River in 1854 from St. Louis and settled in Emigrant Gulch as early as 1864 or 1869.
    .. He prospected in Yellowstone at that time along with John Davis. He later prospected with Bart Henderson, Ed Hibbard, James Gourley, Sam Shively, Pike Moore, and Joe Brown. He discovered gold in the Cooke City area with Bart Henderson and others in 1869-70, naming their mine the Shoo Fly Mine.
    .. During the next few years he helped Bart Henderson build the road from Bottler’s Ranch to Mammoth. He acted as guide for Superintendent  Norris in 1877 in the northeastern portion of the park when Norris was looking for another northern approach to the park. He again guided Norris and photographer Henry Bird Calfee in 1880 on an exploration of the Hoodoo Basin.
    .. Miller was one of the scouts under Gen. Howard during the Nez Perce War of 1877. Miller also did guiding and hunting out of Cooke City. When asked if he ever killed an Indian, he replied, "I never went to see, but I shot a good many." Later on he settled down in a cabin across the Yellowstone River from Yankee Jim.
    .. Miller Creek and Miller Mountain were named after him. He died in 1913. His obituary described him as a "man of sterling character, a man without enemies of any kind, it is said, and a citizen who always had a kind word for everyone." [[ REFERENCE HERE ]] Thank you Geyser Bob.

    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    Plan Ahead

    .. The catastrophic intersection of normal people on vacation and rabid destination fly fishers is taking place in a remote corner of Yellowstone National Park.
    .. This is a corner of the world where a new kind of fish is rapidly evolving: "THE SLOUGH CREEK RAINTHROAT."
    .. This not so rare trout is the byproduct of miscegenation by fish that do what fish do - in water that people drink. To the normal folks the fish is just another trout. To the fly fishers it is a highly sought after trophy. A trophy that is featured in hero photographs of conquering fishers in the wilds of Yellowstone.
    .. Despite regulations and suggestions, scofflaws lovingly release the trophies back into their home waters to continue their place in the origin of a new sub-species. Fish doing what fish do. The religiosity of the catch and release ethic is unbreakable in some folks.
    .. Right now there are bugs aplenty for the Rainthroat trout to eat. Around, and below, the campground at Slough Creek the morning fishing is tantamount to a simplistic endeavor. Teeny-Weeny PMD's are the breakfast fare. Drakes for lunch. Caddis for dinner. A few various stoneflies thrown in for snacks. This is the place to practice your midstream etiquette and socialize with kindred souls.
    .. Up the trail and into the big meadows is where the dedicated anglers will be found. Creeping and crawling is the preferred mode of locomotion in the lush grasses. No arthritic fishers need apply.
    .. Success comes to the practiced caster. Take your pocket binoculars and pick a target. Figure out what the fish are eating. These Rainthroats are frequently particular about what they eat, some of them are "one-cast-fish." Make it count.
    .. There are places on Slough Creek where the water is swift, full of boulder gravel, and highly oxygenated. Here and there are small populations of big and little stoneflies. Take some yellow ones.
    .. Of course there is always the lowly caddis fly. Take several of your favorite imitations. Be prepared to fish with nymphs, emergers, and adults in the late afternoon and evening.
    .. If you take a large enough selection it will be possible to spend many productive hours sharing the patterns with other fishers of a like mind. Be sure to have your vintage Wheatley Fly Box in a readily accessible pocket of your $300.00 Filson® Foul Weather Vest - after all it may rain.
    ..The best information about what to fish with and where to go is easily gathered from the feather merchants in the neighborhood. A few phone calls and a visitation on your way out will allow you to be fully prepared for the wild adventure of Rainthroat hunting. You might even be able to buy a new fly box and several dozen flies to cram into it.
    .. Some folks with less taste for social adventure will walk upstream from the campground at Pebble Creek. The creek holds thousands of Cutthroat Trout to be visited, (a few rainbow trout and some rainthroat trout too.) The Cutthroats are the typical brightly colored, very healthy specimens in the 10" to 14" range that are neglected in favor of the fish just down the road.
    .. The stream is small. The trail is gentle, (for a couple of miles). The scenery is overwhelming. The bugs are prolific. The mosquitoes are ravenous. The bears are frequent. and the elbows less dense than many of the more famous social waters.
    .. Forget the vest. Take a dozen flies and enjoy this fine little stream before it gains the grandiloquent status of a social fishery and the Rainthroat Trout take over.