• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    Runner Watch

    Of Bends & Bedrock
    observe the waters
    "And te tide and te time ├żat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet."
    .. We seldom mention "The Beaver Meadows." We only visit once or twice each year: never in the Autumn.
    .. Submarines berth at various ports along the river in the meadows. Berthing strategies vary by the hour, day, month, year, decade and more.
    .. Time was that we made the trek to the river on a regular basis. Time was we could drive in very close to the Madison River. Time was that the beavers were more congenial. Fish, indeed, were in the beaver ponds and meander cutoffs. Like in a barrel!
    .. Times change. Rivers change. There has been an enormous proliferation of elbows in the Beaver Meadows over the past 50 years or so.
    .. Today there is a genuine traffic hazard with the inadequate parking and traffic on the highway.
    .. Above the Barns Holes the Madison River is downcutting. From the Barns Holes to the Beaver Meadows the Madison River transitions to a river that is at grade.
    .. By the time the Madison River crosses the highway below Baker's Hole it is at grade. The pool of Hebgen Reservoir has greatly influenced the lower segment of the current river.
    .. The psychology of rivers, (and lakes,) determines their personalities. Rivers want to be straight. Lakes want to be round.
    .. Fish have no idea about this. Fish do, on the other hand, take advantage of the morphology of the river: especially deep water fish in a shallow water environment.
    .. Despite the dynamic nature of flowing water, there are some elements that greatly influence the personalities of major river segments.
    .. From near the western entrance of Yellowstone National Park to the Firehole Falls and the Gibbon Falls There are terminal and lateral moraines from the last glaciation. From about National Park Meadows to Cabin Creek The outwash sands and gravels are sorted both horizontally and vertically.
    .. Their distribution and character are strongly influenced by the bedrock of Hebgen Basin.
    .. Just downstream from Barns #3 there is a recent washout, (about 9 years ago.) It took out part of the old stage road. The river scoured out all the sands and gravels. It left a high cut bank and bedrock bottom. The hole is deep, clear, cold and in the sun for the first 2/3 of the day.
    .. It should be fished at dusk. It's too often ignored because it's what it is. There will be a submarine berthed there tomorrow around 3:30 or 4:00 PM. Take your bear spray.
    .. There are several submarine berths that have persisted through the years. They are all associated with bedrock control features along the river.
    .. The "real Baker's Hole" is controlled by a bedrock headland and is full of fish right now. But they move slightly through the day depending on the shadows. Ask the counter help at your favorite feather merchant about headlands, bedrock, and shadow migration. They will let you know!
    .. Stable river morphology, (bends and meanders,) related to bedrock control will hold fish more consistently than ephemeral bends and meanders. This is the only hint we'll parcel out.
    .. There is a genuine pod of runners in the shadows, (on the inside of the bend,) up stream from Barns Hole #1. Took some on a white feather.
    .. You'll have to cross the river. You'll have to be there early. You can see the fish from your casting position above them. They will dodge your fly unless it's overcast. (Try fishing the fly on a loose downstream cast.)
    .. It's nap time and then off to Buttermilk.
    Wallpaper: APPLE TURNOVERS - Almond/Cherry Drizzle

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    River Report - plus

    A Retail Report
    the laureate knows
    .. The snow may melt off one more time. It will only affect the catching for the better. All three of our major west side rivers are in great shape and full of fish.
    .. Before we get to the fishing and catching of it all we digress into the social morass of contemporary America. It's only fit given the contemporary tenor of the season.
    .. With our nation rushing to follow the trend, set by Russia, toward oligarchy we have observed the same in the fly fishing world as well as in the political campaigns. More moneyed folks and fewer poor folks participate. Few would deny this in the political arena.
    ..  Hardly any would admit of it in the small world of fly fishing. Yet the designs, trends, styles, mores, behaviors, dress, vocabulary, and so many other elements within the pastime are dictated more and more by fewer and fewer people and companies.
    .. Euro-Anglo-American fly fishing, per se, has it's roots in elitist and exclusive behavior. Initially this was overt and acknowledged. It was in no way a democratic pastime. The whole fly fishing milieu was set by the premier tackle makers and the plutocrats that patronized them.
    .. The beginnings of popularization was noted in the early twentieth century. Tackle from around the world and from manufacturers in the good ol' U.S.A. enjoyed a boom in gear sales to the common man.
    .. But by the late 1960's and early 1970's gear got more expensive with the advent of new materials and manufacturing techniques. Today we are approaching the the same situation that the 19th century enjoyed.
    .. This plays out locally as well as nationally. Just as some folks bemoaned the passing of the 'family farm' so too did some folks bemoan the passing of the 'local fly shop.'
    ..Plutocracy leads to oligarchy. It's acknowledged by various names such as: progress, job creation, economic growth, competition, the capitalist way, etc.
    .. We are a bit different here in West Yellowstone. This little village thrives on the plutocratic mentality. As a destination village, folks come predisposed to spending money.
    .. Our local feather merchants are highly specialized in exploiting that mentality. They are also stricken with tunnel vision when it comes to fishing in general and trout fishing elsewhere. After all this is "Yellowstone Country."
    .. They have slipped into the mold of the earliest fishers in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Rich easterners saw all that lovely water with no fish in it. "Hell man, we'll just put some proper fish in the water." Being good anglophiles it was just natural that the trouts of Europe should be planted in the water. Being good plutocrats from the eastern seaboard it was only fitting that the Brook Trout should come west too. The history is there to read; should you care to.
    .. Today we have elitist has-been movie actors on the radio touting the local fishing. We have exclusive lodges and outfitters cajoling customers with the possibility of fishing with entertainment celebrity's. We have plutocrats celebrating their association with other plutocrats.
    .. Of course would be elitists are sucked in by the potential opportunity to rub elbows with such celebrity. Even if a sighting isn't actualized there is the status of shopping where the plutocrats have shopped. Or, being guided by guides to the stars. Or, fishing with gear sold to the feather merchants by plutocrats.
    .. We are greatly amused by the trends in our society: the trend from a republic to populism, to democratic socialism, to oligarchy. The pendulum swing in fly fishing from plutocratic oligarchy through populism and back to plutocratic oligarchy.
    .. We do glance askance as a Perkins dictates styles in gear and behavior. We wonder at the awe created by a Chouinard and labor abuse in third world countries.
    .. It is a niggling bother. It's nothing we can do much about. The rank and file fly fisher is so trapped in a march toward elitist conformity that the rush is overwhelming. We do wonder, however about needing to enter a trout stream with $5,000 worth of gear and a celebrity guide at $600/day
    >> America is an Oligarchy
    >> America devolving to Plutocracy
    >> Message from a rich Plutocrat to little people
    >> Exploited labor and labor abuse

    .. Catching has slowed on the Madison River. It's not the fault of the fish. Fishers have avoided the perfect fishing weather. It snowed last night and will snow off and on for the rest of the year.
    .. There are grotesque numbers of fish in the river. Both the residents and the runners are sex crazed, territorial, and hungry. If you explore the water you will catch fish: maybe many fish.
    .. There are no secrets. Fish the obvious 'fishy' water, keep the offerings down low, watch for dark water, watch for slick windows, watch for undercut banks in the shade.
    .. We took a healthy kype yesterday on a giant spider left over from Scotland, We're indebted to Yorkshire farmer John Swarbrick for the design.
    .. The Firehole River has some intermittent hatches for those fishers that enjoy the top of the water. Both baetids and caddis infrequently pop to the top.
    .. Every feather merchant in our village has a recommendation for the hatches: pick one or two. We use the copper tail caddis. We can sink it or float it. The whimsy of the fish can be just as easily matched by the fisher.
    .. We struck out this morning and only caught some feisty 16" residents and even a small flying fish - not really our fault. Time for some lunch.

    Friday, October 07, 2016

    Other Places

    Avoiding The Elbows
    weather's encouraging
    .. As our weather sinks deeper into the Autumn/Winter transition the runner rush is still in full stride.
    .. Good numbers of trout from Hebgen Reservoir are decorating cell phone screens. Everyone is doing it. The Madison River is sprouting elbows at a record pace. 
    .. The weather has much to do with it. Gray days with splattered gobs of wet snow can attract the fishers. We're not sure what the fish think. Join the crowd, it's a good year for catching and the weather is delightful.
    .. We've caught more than our fair share of the submarines of Autumn. We now seek those other places where fewer elbows sprout.
    .. One of those other places is the Firehole River. The traditional runs and riffles still have a good crop of elbows.
    .. But not far from the fisher concentrations is excellent water. We've been exploring the bits and pieces of Pocket Basin. Oh my, there's fish!
    .. There is also some quiksand, a few thermal springs, slippery bedrock stretches, and a couple of surprisingly deep pools. It's seldom explored because of the normally warm waters. Right now the weather cools the water. Yum !
    .. These fish are currently taking up their "winter positions" and are staking out their territory.
    .. They are feisty, still sex crazed, and hungry. Toss them a bit of a snack and they will happily dance with you.
    .. The hardest part of the catching is getting into position to present your fly. The water is very clear and the bottom ranges from very shallow to fairly deep over short stretches. The bank is fragile and the sun is never your friend.
    .. Creeping, duck walking, crawling, and slithering is possible in a few areas. Then again with our knees and back it's just slow crouch walking. Ugh; the price of fish.
    .. This is the time of year that the neighbors relish. Very few visitors clog the roads and pull outs. The fish are at their cooperative best. Feeding activity transcends the guide book wisdom. The whole water column is fair game - simultaneously.
    ..There is still a month of fishing left in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. With a dry/dropper combination it's possible to take fish on either fly or, occasionally both at once. We like a fairly large, (8 or 10,) on top and a bit of bead head below, (14 or 16.) Your favorite feather merchant can provide recommendations - it's the end of the season.
    .. There is yet another, other place, that we've been sampling. Up the road is Buttermilk Gorge and Buttermilk Creek. It's not in the guide books. It's unnamed on the maps. It's a dinky tributary to some very famous water. It's short and steep, (sort of like a miniature coastal steelhead stream.)
    .. There's a small population of rambunctious trout that spawn in the little creek. If you isolate an older fisher in a dusty corner of some feather merchant's shop you may find out about the buttermilk secret. Whispers are appropriate.
    .. Don't bother with the folks under 40. They're too busy with their 7-league boots to pause at the Buttermilk. They probably just step over it - if they even see it.
    .. Very small flies are the ticket on Buttermilk Creek. We usually use some form of midge imitation. Clusters are good. Sink 'em or float 'em - it really matters not.
    .. Long rods, short lines, shorter leaders, and stealth give the best results. Casting is optional. The fish are under the long grass that dangles from the bank.
    .. It's dark at 5:00 AM but the coffee is hot and there's just time for some vittles and a gentle run through the skiff of snow to some lonely fish.
    WALLPAPER: WHITE BREAD, (with milk, eggs, lard)

    Sunday, October 02, 2016

    Here It Comes

    Catching Picking Up
    elbows arrive en masse

    Courtesy Martin Joergensen
    .. The recent influx of anglers to this little village corresponds with an anticipated change in the weather. Even the fish seem to notice it.
    .. The rain and coolness is arriving with the regularity of a Winter pattern in the Gulf of Alaska.
    .. The big low off the coast is spinning off pulses that are suggesting that the snows in the forecast may be for real.
    .. The destination for most of the recent visitors is the Madison River. Runner fever is rampant in town and on the river. Rightly so!
    .. The fish are stacking up in all the traditional resting holes. The cars are crowded tightly in all the traditional parking spots. The stories range from child-like glee to morose blameshifting. Fish, by the way, are being caught.
    .. We  had a pleasant visit with a gentleman from Chicago.
    .. As he fished the Madison River he was taking a few good sized runners with regularity. We waited for him to take a break.
    .. Eventually, (not to be pushy or pry too much,) we asked about the strange bit of fluff wrapped on the hook that he was using.
    .. He chuckled and reminded us that we knew the name but not the fly. Of course it was a "Muddler" tied in the fashion of Don Gapen's original fly. The one that has transformed itself into the modern Muddler Minnow.
    .. The pertinence of this is a rather simple lesson about the variation of stylistic impositions of ego maniacal fly tiers. The flies in fly shops look little like the original. Even the one sold by Don's family is a later variation of the original.
    .. More interesting, however, is that the internal action of the original just beats the far out of the contemporary renditions. And the original is considered "too sloppy" and "too casual" for sale to the visiting sports that are on the water right now.
    .. Most interesting of all is that the one being used by the fellow from Chicago was catching fish at a rate far above that of the other three fishers, (crowded into the same run,) - two of whom were using Muddler Minnows dispensed by local counter help.  My, my.
    .. We admired the ragged, (rather large,) rendition from Chicago and as we were fondling the fly we asked a terribly impertinent question.
    .. Had the gentleman told the others what fly he was using?
    .. But of course he had! He just hadn't shown them the one that he was using. They didn't even ask.
    .. We've mentioned this before and do so again in the hope that this grand old fly will return to it's "buggy" roots and gather up fish the way it was intended to.
    .. Deeper into the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, all the pull-outs and paved parking lots are full of invasive license plates.
    .. Catching on the Firehole River is about as good as it gets.
    .. Were it not for the dogged insistence of the floating fly fraternity this could be termed "beginner water."
    .. Soft hackles and little nymphs, appropriately presented, are damn near guaranteed to weaken your wrist from cranking the reel to subdue the 10" monsters of the Fall Firehole River.
    .. For the persistent surface slingers there seems to be a trend toward flies  a bit larger that resemble the small patterns made so popular by the guide books.
    .. Way up the road the Gallatin River is still delighting a few of the neighbors. Some have even ventured out of the park and traveled as far as Big Sky, Montana.
    .. With a whisper we gently report that, in the biggest of meanders, streamer stripping is taking it's toll on the sullen fish of the darkest waters of the Gallatin River. For some folks it's worth the drive to avoid the elbow hatch around here.
    .. Other whispers, (that we will be soundly chastised for,) include: Bacon Rind Creek, Gibbon River - by the campground, West Fork Gallatin River, South Fork Madison River, and of course the Upper Firehole River, (not to mention Iron Spring Creek.)
    .. With all that whispering going on it must be Autumn in the neighborhood. The moon has become black and the evening turns to night way too early.
    .. Time for a breakfast cookie and some milk.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2016

    Sunny Runner Notes

    Always Avoid DFM
    enjoy the brightness
    .. Just a quick note as fishers bask in the salubrious sunshine of this gentile week. Even the rains are warm.
    .. Many fishers, (and most counter help,) suffer from a syndrome that inhibits very successful catching of the annual run of spawners out of Hebgen Reservoir and into the Madison River and its truncated tributaries.
    16 & 18
    .. The syndrome is referred to by the neighbors as "DRY FLY MENTALITY."
    .. This DFM is a grand and successful mental exercise for the fish of Slough Creek or late season Firehole River fish or in the midst of apparent surface activity.
    .. The syndrome begets a group of habits that can be successful for some fishing situations. It produces a series of behaviors that, similar to muscle memory, are automatic and unthinking.
    .. These behaviors include the automatic selection of terminal tackle and rigging: LONG LEADERS, LIGHT TIPPETS, DAINTY FLIES, INDICATORS OR BOBBERS, etc.
    .. These selections and the behaviors that engender them become more than second nature. They are the "correct" way and are employed mostly without thinking.
    .. Habit, peer pressure, and tradition reinforce this DFM syndrome. These factors, interestingly, mitigate against catching in many situations and reinforce a stringent conformity toward disappointment. But, make good stories of long unproductive hours on the river in the face of 'difficult' fish.
    .. We humbly suggest that situational fishing is a more successful approach to catching. Unless it's just fishing that you are after.
    .. For the Autumn run of fish from Hebgen Reservoir you should fish to the situation and conditions.
    .. This does not mean radical changes. Rather it requires that appropriate gear selections must be made.
    .. Neither a two handed twelve foot cannon nor a seven foot four weight are needed. Your regular seven or eight weight will do just fine. The reel matched to the rod is fine. A sink tip line might be useful.
    .. Leaders need to be shorter and much stronger than dictated by the DFM. Leaders can, (perhaps even should,) be cut back and fished without a tippet. One less knot is a good thing.
    .. Many neighbors use a bowline on a bight for hook attachment. It is simple, quick, strong, and allows the hook and fly added movement.
    .. Getting down to the fish especially in bright conditions is mandatory. It is important that the fly, not just the weight, gets into the 'strike zone.'
    .. Compensation for depth or current with weight can help. Long years of drifting a real live worm can aid your technique in this situation.
    .. Hook manufacturers, commercial fly tiers, and counter help usually promote flies with very light hooks, (it's what they sell.) We doubt that this is a conspiracy. It's probably just the byproduct of mass marketing to the DFM syndrome folks.
    .. Heavy very heavy  hooks put weight where it counts. Of course this demands that a modicum of fly tying be undertaken by the deep water fisher.
    .. These are hooks that are seldom found in destination fly shops - unless the shop is on the coast or on very big (non-trout,) water.
    .. A better compensation than heavy weight on the leader is a sharp, heavy hook. Despite "acid sharpening" there is always a need to sharpen your hooks: and, not just once. If you are fishing to big, top predator fish, in shallow and bright water your hook will have point-dulling-encounters. These fish are in an environment that does not favor their deep reservoir behavior.
    .. Hit them in the nose, cover all the dark water, fish to the likely and unlikely spots. Think like a reclusive predator in a foreign environment AND, have the appropriate terminal tackle to avoid just fishing.
    .. It's early. The sun is low in the morning. The fish move during low light or no light. Our second cup is cold and we're out the door.

    Sunday, September 25, 2016

    We Digress

    Have You Ever Sung Them ?
    did you know they existed ?
    O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
    O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
    And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
    Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
    What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
    Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
    In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
    'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
    A home and a country, should leave us no more?
    Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
    Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
    Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
    Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    >> Beyond Colin Kaepernnick (NY TIMES)
    >> Historic Musicology View (CNN
    >> Banner Mythconceptions (Star Spangled Music)
    >> Contact Mark Clague (University Of Michigan)
    >> War Of 1812 (Wikipedia)
    >> Battle Of Baltimore (Wikipedia
    Good  Ol' British Drinking Song

    Friday, September 23, 2016

    In The Twinkling Of An Eye

    Real Fall Fishing
    lots of eager fish
    .. From anticipation to actualization has taken about three days. The lazy warmth has passed rapidly into some cool and stormy weather just in time for the best catching of the season in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. We've had some glorious rain, mixed with a bit of sloppy snow and hints of hail, with a few thunder boomers: lovely!
    .. The bugs, fish, fishers, and counter help have all responded with seasonal enthusiasm.
    .. The big topic in the dark corners of the pubs is how quickly the Madison River has filled with submarines.
    .. Not only are the tributary estuaries full of plump and fairly stout fish; so too the parking places all the way to National Park Meadows.
    .. Very large streamers chugged downstream through the dark holes have landed some heroic runners over the last two days.
    .. Even the resident small black stonefly nymphs have taken a few larger fish, (residents or precocious males - who knows?)
    .. The key to success seems to be movement. Movement of fishers - not fish. Some folks love to spend hours in the same run with the same fly - great pastime.
    .. However the formula seems to be: several flies + several techniques + lots of different water = good catching. Try it you'll like it.
    .. Leave us not forget the faithful as they return to the Firehole River. That whole population of fish has come alive with raucous abandon.
    .. Soft hackles are being slammed like no tomorrow and there has even been a small hatch of caddis in the breaks between thunder storms.
    .. We've inherited a fresh supply of "pretty flies" from the neighbors and, we are doing our best to wrinkle them. The trout are loving it.
    .. Residents on the Madison River and rambunctious Firehole River fish are enamored with the yellow ones and the sparkly ones that our kind neighbors have given to us.
    .. Check with your favorite counter help for locations of greatest fish density and activity. Be sure to ask the telling questions:
    >> How do you know? Who told you?
    >> Got a cell phone picture? With a date stamp?
    .. It's coming on dark and we've missed both of our naps today. Time for a snack.
    WALLPAPER:  Tacos: Carnitas de Puerco