• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Thursday, May 31, 2007

    Field & Stream Copies Yellowstone

    .. Mid Current has let the cat out of the bag. Fishing maps are the wave of the future and soon even the "secret" places will be well known - as if they aren't already. The functionality of our maps include: the ability to search for locations, add local names, and download the data base - you can literally make your own map from ours - enjoy.
    .. We hope that Field and Stream will catch up soon. We're pleased to have pioneered this innovation. Watch it spread.

    PS - Everything that you've heard about the fantastic fishing in Yellowstone, (particularly the Firehole River,) is true. PMD's are prolific and on schedule, Baetis are peeking out and getting thicker, stoneflies are beginning to pop, several kinds of caddis are already apparent, and there is no bad place to fish. Mega-report tomorrow for the weekend.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    Fish Now - Water Disappearing

    go grouper fishing

    .. Not to be too much of an alarmist - BUT - the snow pack is dismal:
    -> In the Gallatin drainage, there was only 27 percent of average as of Thursday.
    -> In the upper Yellowstone, there was only 32 percent.
    -> In the Madison, there was 20 percent.
    .. There are other complications:

    -> Without well-timed and abundant rains, the coming summer could bring stressed fisheries, dry farm fields and big forest fires.
    -> “I'm always crossing my fingers for lots and lots of rainfall,” said Ray Nelson, a firefighting logistics manager who sits on the Governor's Drought Advisory Committee. Nelson noted that National Weather Service long-term predictions say there's a chance of slightly warmer and drier average temperatures through August.“From our standpoint, that means hot and dry,” he said. “And that means fire activity. If that forecast pans out, we'll have an active fire year.”
    From The Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
    .. It can get worse:
    -> It's bad enough that snowpack isn't what it used to be, but when what's there melts early, rivers and streams can't maintain healthy flows through the summer. That plays havoc with fish, irrigation, recreation and, in a few cases, municipal water supplies.
    -> "May and June are usually our wet months, so that has me a little worried," Meier said.
    -> "We're on such a thin margin, things can change on a dime," Meier said.
    From Billings Gazette.

    Do Not Pass "GO" ! [Part II]

    All Signs Point To Multiple Bug Hatches
    bring the kitchen sink

    .. Evening on opening day brought a bit of broken cloud cover and honest hatches. On the Firehole River the small Caddis of mid day, (sizes 14 - 16,) seemed to have grown up, and fish were taking size 10 - 12 Elk Hair Caddis in mid stream. The fisher density had not dwindled much, and it was so crowded that folks were standing where they should have been fishing - and of course fishing where they should have been fishing.
    .. Sunday evening saw some light showers but the fabled Baetis hatch was sporadic. However, the snow that graced the west side of Yellowstone on Monday evening fell for only about an hour and then lifted to an overcast sky that was just above the tip of a 10' 4-weight. The Baetis made an appearance along the Freight Road.
    .. The Madison River near West Yellowstone produced reliable reports that the Local Hole and Barns Holes saw a similar event - the fish stories in the pubs after dark were numerous and gratifying to hear.
    .. Some Little Yellow Stone Flies were seen in National Park Meadows about sundown. They were flying and perfectly happy in the glow of the muted sunset.
    .. So were the fisher folk that had tied on a Quick - n - Easy. There were some folks fishing a Yellowstone Sally, and others fishing Salmon Fly Nymphs. All were taking fish. We can only imagine what a squirming mess there must be on the bottom.
    .. No reports of Salmon Flies on the wing have reached our ears yet - but they ought to happen soon if the weather warms up again.
    .. Suppose you went to college and had a class project that was to develop a business plan for an hypothetical business.
    .. Suppose that you lived in West Yellowstone and developed that plan to open a fly shop.
    .. Suppose your professor liked the work that you did in class and commended you for developing a plan that encompassed your passion and sound business sense.
    .. What would you do then? - - - -
    .. Of Course ! - - - -
    .. There are now seven, (7) fly shops in a town that may have 800 year-round residents. That's a pretty good ratio if you're a fly fisher. More than churches and just a bit less than the bars - about right as we see it.
    .. The kids have no web address yet, but they are open for business at the corner of Madison and Dunraven, in beautiful downtown West Yellowstone.
    .. The size of the building is small, (about the same size as Arrick's was 15 years ago. The enthusiasm is palpable, the humor high, the selection of equipment and supplies more than adequate, and the location is excellent: between a pizza-pub and the grocery store. Good luck guys.
    .. Our neighbors to the south are having a great time on the Lewis River. Check with Jack Dennis Outdoor Shop for particulars. They are also on the Firehole River right now as well. Need more fly suggestions? - check out their Firehole Favorites.
    .. Remember that a float tube can be used in the channel between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes. Remember too, that a float tube is a watercraft and must have a permit.
    .. Up north, the Gardner River and the Yellowstone River, (outside of the park,) are still fishable. Check with Park's Fly Shop for particulars.
    .. Three excellent local reports are also available for your perusal at: Madison River Outfitters, Bud Lilly's Fly Shop, and Blue Ribbon Flies.

    Monday, May 28, 2007

    Do Not Pass "GO" !

    It's Already Mid June

    .. On opening morning we fished not a whit. We toured the Firehole River, Nez Perce Creek, Madison River, and Gibbon River drainage's. We stopped and talked to to the fisher folk and watched the many visitors fishing. We surveyed the flies and the fish and the bugs.
    .. Every place that looked fishy had a fisher. There were lawn chairs, exotic license plates, waders galore; and the deep hazing efforts by the Montana Department of Livestock had put bison back in all the meadows.
    .. Along Fountain Flat Drive, (the Freight Road,) the bison and fishers and gawkers made for slow going but it was manageable. The Summer has started about three weeks early this year. The fish are looking up - directly into the eyes of record numbers of fly fishers.
    .. The Madison River is high and clear; just a bit of color is showing and there is excellent fishing with large nymphs, small nymphs, Caddis, and PMD's.
    .. There is good streamer and nymph action at the Barns Holes and below. Both Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout are holding in the deep holes, behind large rocks, and under the banks. Many of the rises that you see in mid-stream will be Mountain Whitefish. These natives have fared well during the last few mild winters and some are as large as 18". Caddis nymphs, (12 - 18,) floated on the surface will bring many fish to net.
    .. The long riffle and run sections along Riverside Drive are producing 12" - 19" Brown Trout on streamers and Stone Fly Nymphs. There are many small fish in the 7" - 12" range and they are rising freely to Elk Hair Caddis and and the Yellowstone Morning Glory.
    .. Below the surface is where the fast action is. Try a Montana Duster, Feather Duster, or Yellowstone Badger. Size does not seem to be critical - anything from about size 6 to size 16 seems to be working right now. Fishers at 9-mile hole, the Talus Slope, and in National Park Meadows report good catch rates on Yellowstone Sally's, and Yellowstone Winter Grub. It looks like the "Big Bug Hatch" will be early this year too.
    .. The Gibbon River is clear and still holds some large fish below the falls. These holdovers are concentrated in the last 1-1/2 miles of meadow section and are moving downstream. The heavy flow rates normal for this time of year have not materialized and they are still feeding in the clear sandy meander channels. These are wary fish and the undercut banks are the place to find them.
    .. There is already some Stone Fly action in the canyon sections. No bugs flying around but the golden and yellow nymph imitations are producing fish in the deep glides and swirling plunge pools.
    .. The upper meadows are still just a bit soggy for tromping long distances. Some fish are being taken on small midge imitations and small caddis nymphs. There were no reported hatches of any significance in these meadows yet. The thin water around the camp ground and Solfaterra Creek are full of eager Brook Trout. The One Cast Meanders have these Brookies too. We're going back to this section to start our Grayling Quest this week.
    .. The Firehole River is the current 'hot spot' for both fishers and visitors enjoying the park. The short stretch of river below Firehole Falls still holds a few large fish. They will probably be gone by the time you get here - or may stay in the deep holes and undercuts if the Stone Fly action picks up soon.
    .. From Elk Island, just above the falls, to the confluence with Nez Perce Creek, the riffles are fishing excellent with Feather Dusters, Montana Dusters, and Prince Nymphs. The Bead Head Hare's Ear and Yellowstone Badger in sizes 8 - 12 are also dredging up some good fish in the 10" - 14" range.
    .. The area around Ojo Caliente, Pocket Basin, and the confluence with Nez Perce Creek is showing some hatches of PMD's and small mid-day caddis.
    .. Baetis were reported along the parking lot stretch, and up the First 1/2 mile of Nez Perce Creek as well. The picnic area right at the confluence was a genuine jungle on opening morning. There was a good hatch of PMD's and Baetis, (despite the lack of clouds,) and both fishers and picnickers were enjoying the action.
    .. Although catching slowed just a bit during mid day, there was still plenty of action with soft hackle imitations and nymphs - sizes 12 - 16 seemed to be the consensus.
    .. The bison are all over the river in the sections around Ojo Caliente and even up to the first meadows on Nez Perce Creek. These are especially dangerous this time of year with the new born calves froliking around and their mothers watching them.
    .. Be sure to remember that bison injure more visitors than any other animal in Yellowstone each year.
    (Continued Tomorrow)

    Patagonia Recalls PFD

    Do It Now !

    This is more important than the opening day fishing report. The bugs are out, the weather is too, too nice. Report tomorrow. Go fishing with a safe PFD.

    Saturday, May 26, 2007


    6:00 AM, Yellowstone

    .. Report Tonight.

    Rich Memories

    -- WWII is over and, on this memorial day, we remember our relatives and friends that died in service. As we ponder life & death, three good friends come to mind, and we remember them here.
    -- Charlotte Smith, neighbor and friend, is gone from us. We sent her to far flung places to fish with our flies. She enriched our life with tales of joy and bright fish. We miss her deeply and grieve with Larry. She and Larry owned and hosted Sleepy Hollow, the fly fishing retreat in West Yellowstone, Montana. I pass the house daily, the memories leap at me. Those of you that knew her were certainly buoyed by her spirit, as I was. (Sleepy Hollow)


    -- Jerry Galvan, friend, neighbor, fishing partner, and father to a fine family has departed. We fished with Jerry in a time long ago. The Owens River, Slough Creek, The Gualala, The Upper Sac, Palma Creek, the memories are rich. We fished the bait recievers in San Diego Bay for baracuda, mackrel and bonito. We prowled the lagoons and shorelines of Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Oceanside. We pounded the surf for corbina, surf perch, and once a very ugly needle fish. Farm ponds and decorative water in the front lawns of Fallbrook, Carlsbad and Vista, provided bass and bluegills - wherever there were fish we chased them.
    --We once built a minature fly rod with very, very, small flies, (about 32's,) and tried for mosquito fish in the casting pond at Balboa Park in San Diego. Hot Creek, Hat Creek, both Walkers and the Truckee - it mattered not!
    -- The San Diego river and a couple of it's tributaries hold bass - Jerry knew where to find them - in the shadow of Mission San Diego, or the shadow of the giant stadium, (whatever it's current name,) we pounded them, (joggers were perplexed.) All the San Diego lakes, (big bluegills on poppers,) the San Gabriel River, (trout & rattlesnakes,) even the Tiajuana River, (don't eat these fish,) there are many places to fish if you look - and if you grew up there.
    -- We coursed the Owens River Ranch and John Arcalarius' place for giants. From downtown Hoopa to Arcata we scored and got skunked. Half-pounders were a passion for a while. The Mad, The Mattole, The Smith, The Cal-Salmon, the "Damn" Dusen, (from the top of the box cars,) they called and we came. The Russian River in muddy flood or dead dry gravel was always a challenge, (success came in the form of Bill Shadt.) We exercised flies from size 24 to 2xl 9/0 in fresh and saltwater.
    -- During his last visit here we stayed in the crummy cabins at Roosevelt, in Yellowstone Park. We fished the raging plunge pool on the Yellowstone River below Teddy's camp, and Soda Butte, and the Lamar - across the bridge, and Slough Creek. We traded hats, joked and even caught fish.
    -- Jerry loved bamboo, he enjoyed prairie dogs, he served his country and wore a bullet around his neck. He chased fish to the equator and back; always with a smile and always with success. His ashes are sprinkled on the Upper Sac that he loved so well. (Sierra Drifters)


    John Tebby, friend and colleague was happiest at work and loved Yellowstone in Winter and Summer. He is still here and awaiting the next eruption of Steamboat Geyser.

    Friday, May 25, 2007

    Opening Plans

    River's Look Scrumptious
    odds 'n' ends

    .. Biscuits and gravy at Ernie's Deli is the perfect companion for discussing the attributes of bonito off the coast of California - at least we think they're bonito and it's probably the realm of Queen Califia.

    .. Anyway - esta muy bonita, via la boca de caballo.


    .. When the plates of good gravy and biscuits were about done, and we decided to have another helping, we finally turned to making conspiratorial plans for opening day in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. There are many TOPICS:
    -> Yellowstone Park Fishing Permit; check! No new regulations this year! Read the regulations - it's all barbless.
    -> Weather Forecast; Saturday: Isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 64. Northeast wind at 10 mph becoming west southwest. Perfect!
    -> River Conditions: Madison River - Very Good, Firehole River - Very Good, Gallatin River - O.K. if you must, Gibbon River - Good below the falls, O.K. in the canyon, Near perfect but high in the meadows.
    -> Flies and Gear; Marshall Cutchin at Mid Current provided us with a peek into Craig Mathews fly box, great fodder for discussions and preparation.
    -> Strategy; fish the same places as last year and catch the same fish - or - check out some new places to see if there are fish present - or - drive and sample all of the obvious places - or - well you know.
    -> Food for conspirators; Key Lime Pie, Nutter Butter Cookies, Peppermint Schnapps, bold Single Malt, some Ham & Cheese on Rye for appearances, two thermos fulls of coffee, and maybe one of the left over Christmas Cubans from Aunt Mary.
    -> Where to fish;
  • Hotel Run on Nez Perce Creek,

  • Biscuit Basin, between the bridges on the Firehole River,

  • Barns Holes on the Madison River,

  • Hidden Pond,

  • Dipper Cliff on the Firehole River,

  • Pocket Basin on the Firehole River,

  • Campground Pool on the Gibbon River,

  • One Cast Meanders on the Gibbon River,

  • or some place else, like a walk up Solfaterra Creek.

  • -> What about the bears? There has been unusually heavy bear activity in the river valleys this spring. Whether this is due to the increased bear population or the availability of winter kill by the wolves is not known. By all means take your bear spray! Not the little can that hangs on your vest - the great big honkin' can that is as big as your wife's hair spray canister - and - know how to use it and how to get to it quickly without fumbling. (See "Headlines" below.)
    -> What flies to use; They will probably all work - so - take 'em all. Nymphs, a few Elk hair Caddis, large midges and small caddis, maybe a BWO or even PMD. The fish are hungry. Even some stone fly nymphs will do. We'll have a success report tomorrow or Sunday - (or Monday, depending on the results.)


    .. From National Parks Traveler comes an in-depth synopsis of the attempts to stop invasive species in the great lakes. There is also a note about how the new NPS campground reservation computer system crashed.


    .. A visitor to Yellowstone was mauled by a bear for the second time. The visitor had previously been ticketed, (and acquitted,) for approaching too close to a bear.
    .. We know that no fly fisher would ever walk off trail or intentionally sneak up on a bear - however the opposite is a distinct possibility. You can read about it in several web reports, here are a few: #one, #two, #three, #four, #five, #NPS-1, #NPS-2. The park plans no action against the bear.
    .. Bison are returning to the Madison River valley through the efforts of a hazing project to remove them from land outside of Yellowstone Park. Be advised that the Baker's Hole Campground is in the hazing path and many bison hang out between there and the meadows of the Barns Holes. There are fisher folks injured by bison every year. Read about it here.

    Anticipating The Opener




    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Snow & An Early BWO

    .. The neighbors went out yesterday in the snow. It wasn't much of a snow, just a reminder of why we love it up here.
    ..They trotted up to Cabin Creek. The flow has slowed to a trickle, and between the Madison River and the road they found an unusual occurrence: Big Fish, BWO's, and no one else on the river. Snow does that to the visitors.
    .. The cooling has continued, the flows are slowing, and clearing is taking place at a pace to make us drool. Saturday is way too far away.
    .. We're tying up some Yellowstone Cinch's just in case June comes a week or two early on the Firehole River.
    .. If you intend to fish the opener in Yellowstone you should already have reservations at wader friendly lodgings. Remember that all the trout shops in West Yellowstone can put you on fish and sell you a Yellowstone Fishing Permit.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    Ready, Set, Fish

    .. Two cool days have slowed the rivers, the bugs don't seem to mind the sun, the five day forecast brings the anticipation to a fever pitch; the decisions are many and painful: where to fish, what to fish, who to tell, what to eat, what to drink, drive more-fish less, big fish, little fish, Grayling quest?
    .. We'll figure it out on Friday.
    .. For the less faint of heart and for those of you with knees that still work; click on over to THE BACKPACKING FLY FISHER and get some fine tips on the way to do it, if you can.
    .. There are many excellent fishing opportunities in Yellowstone that require only a modicum of walking. We used to do it. Camp for a night and be bear aware - the rewards are priceless.

    .. Use the sidebar links for: river flows, trout shop reports, Yellowstone information.

    What Is It The Aussies Know ?


    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Rivers Looking Too Good

    Rivers Low & Clearing

    rain and snow in the forecast

    .. We took a quick scouting trip to our home waters and found swallows gorging on midges at mid-day along with fish rising on the Madison River, Firehole River, and Nez Perce Creek.
    .. The Madison River is flowing at about 575 fps, (about300 fps below the 79 year median statistic ,) it is light tea-colored and has over 2+ feet of visibility.
    .. The clarity at Barns Holes is surprising for this time of year.
    .. Trout were rising in mid-stream and smolts were leaping with loud splashing re-entries.
    .. There were no vehicle tracks on the gravel road, and no debris in the woods lining it. The road is already dead dry and dusty. The sky is a washed out blue of mid to late June. The grasses are bright green and short, some are beginning to turn brown and the wild flowers are wilting.
    .. Only a deluge of Biblical proportions will put this out of shape in the next week. The elk and bison are already scarce, probably moving to higher ground.
    .. The Gibbon River in National Park Meadows is not anywhere near bank-full and is flowing at about 150 fps, nearly 200 fps below the mean seasonal statistic. It looks sad and lonely with neither swallows nor large game in the meadows.
    .. The Firehole River is flowing at about 400 fps, just 150 fps below the median seasonal statistic. The early bear activity along the Firehole River near the Freight Road has continued, and the area is currently closed.

    ..The grass in the meadows along the Firehole River is very short and already turning brown as shown in the masthead photo. There are simply hoards of midges, and even some caddis.
    .. There were some Baetis in the foam around the Freight Road Bridge where the swallows were working. There were no bison on Fountain Flat between Nez Perce Creek and Fountain Ridge.
    .. Nez Perce Creek is looking as placid as an up-country chalk stream - not quite as clear though. The grass is a light green with dry spots and some is turning brown; the clarity is easily 3-4 feet.
    .. There is only a trickle of water coming out of the discharge channel from Hidden Pond. Midges are thick, and caddis are also present. No Mayflies were observed but conditions are ripe for an early Baetis or BWO hatch. Bring on the clouds with only a bit of water and the fishing will be great. On the other hand the water budget is shaping up for a "Fire Year."
    .. The areas, both up- & down-stream from the bridge, are also closed due to bear activity.
    .. Hotel Run has fish rising to something small - maybe this is the famous Pygmy-Midge hatch. We saw neither swallows nor bugs of any sort - left our glasses at the pub.
    .. There was a brief shower in West Yellowstone on Sunday evening. It made the dusty cars muddy, it concentrated the early pine pollen in the curbside ditches, and did very little to cool off the too warm evening. The weather pattern and the showers look a lot like Summer. This coming week will determine just how the opener goes.
    Click For Weather Forecast.