• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Friday, June 29, 2007

    Get A Free Orvis Reel

    Cool Off In The Firehole
    fish elsewhere
    try the backcountry
    guyserguyser.. For a proper Yellowstone celebration of Independence Day, try the typical.
    .. Photograph bears, wildfires, fly fishers, motor homes, gawker blocks, buffalo jams, bear jams, elk jams, copper blocks, traffic jams, and other natural phenomena.
    .. Of course you better not miss the stupendously accessible parking at the Old faithful parking lot during the current construction frenzy.
    .. And then, be sure to look for the rare and unusual vehicles that people choose to use when they visit the park.
    guyser.. Plan to arrive before 6:00 AM at the west entrance. Of course, if you're not an early riser, it's always fun to breath the exhaust fumes that accumulate from your neighbor's vehicle.
    .. The wait is so long that life-long lasting friendships have been made while creeping toward the entrance station and visiting with the folks in the bus next to you.
    guyser.. You won't need a map, just follow the vehicles in front of you. Stop when they do, see what they see, (or don't,) and consider yourself just part of a giant Fourth Of July Parade.
    .. This is the stuff of stories, and with the 4th falling on a Wednesday, you can count on two weekends of celebration - yes it's started already.
    .. For a fishing celebration avoid the glory waters. There are still some excellent places to fish. Places where the water is cool, clear, clean, and abandoned. What, you don't want to walk? Well then visit a local fly shop and talk about the solitude that is fast disappearing from the fishing scene in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. The water is still cool in Grayling Creek, (very low, but cool.) Walk down the scree at Horseshoe Hill for some early morning fun with a few scrappy small fish.
    .. After you scramble back up the hill, head on up to the Gallatin River. Things are popping like they haven't in quite a while. Walk to the meanders and bends away from the road. Approach carefully, there are 16" - 18" fish for the taking. (Psssst . . . THE BIG BUGS ARE THERE NOW!) Stay until dark because the evening caddis are working right now.
    .. A brief sojourn up the Fan Creek trail in the evening is pleasant and will gather up some fish - if you're quiet and don't let your shadow fall on the water, (pesky things, shadows.) This stream has suffered quite a bit from the warm dry weather, so land your fish quickly.
    .. There are a few spots in the not too marshy meadows of Duck Creek that still hold fish. The low flows have driven most of the resident monsters to Hebgen Lake, but there are still fish to be had. Watch for fire closures and alerts in this area.
    .. Do you have the legs of an 18-year-old? Walk up to Grebe Lake. Carry a tube if you can. Don't let on where you heard it, but, the fish are wild and very hungry.
    .. One of the most busy roads in Yellowstone holds great fishing - if you can find a parking space. There are some places on the Gardner River that are still holding good fish and are away from the road. Check with Parks' Fly Shop for updated information. They let the cat out of the bag with this tip:

    Fishin' Hole of the Week

    Walk down the old railroad grade north from Gardiner. This bank of the river is actually in the Park down to Reese Creek. Fish a Salmonfly or Golden Stone ahead of your favorite attractor. No nymphs necessary for about two weeks here. Catch many trout, including surprising numbers of fish over 14" for this water.

    .. If you're coming from Cody, you should pause along the Shoshone River and sample the offerings. Both above the dam and below are fishing very well right now. Click on over to North Fork Anglers for the latest information and stop in the shop on your way to the park. This entrance provides some of the best secluded fishing anywhere.

    .. Scream it loud! Slough Creek has bloomed. The water temperature is perfect and very clear, (right now,) and is fishing very well. You can find good water below the entrance road on the sagebrush flats. Hoppers have started here and in the Lamar River valley. If you must fish the meadows, arrive extra early and walk until it hurts. Turn around, and fish down; and smile at the folks just coming in. Tell lies and be smug.

    .. The little canyon section of the Lamar River between Buffalo Ranch and the Slough Creek confluence is fishing well to just about anything. This rapid water is well oxygenated and that's particularly important this year. The pressure is always low here and the rocks are slippery . . . be careful -- catch feisty fish.

    .. If You are serious about fishing in Yellowstone National Park for the next 10 days or so, you'll be well served by stopping in at a local fly shop. The water conditions and hatches are highly variable this year and can change on a daily basis. Visit with your favorite shop and get the best available information. (Links in the sidebar.)


    guyser.. Now about that FREE ORVIS REEL! The Yellowstone Park Foundation has finally begun to concentrate on the park's environmental resources in a serious way, (you can only build so many buildings.) The $500,000 Yellowstone Fisheries Initiative is finally gaining steam, and they will reward your contribution of $1,000 or more with a Limited Edition Yellowstone Park Foundation Orvis Reel.

    Each reel is individually engraved and numbered, and only 100 reels were made. The reel is a modified version of the popular Orvis Battenkill Bar Stock III, with the following features:
    • Machined from bar stock 6262-T6 air-craft-grade aluminum for durability and low weight
    • Stainless steel gearing is durable and virtually maintenance-free
    • Adjustable Rulon® offset disc drag mechanism recognized as the most dependable in the industry
    • Allows for easy switching from right-hand to left-hand operation
    • Saltwater-proof 3” diameter, 3.95 oz., line wts. 4-7

    .. From the web site:

    The Yellowstone Fisheries Fund Initiative is a call to action - action urgently needed to protect and preserve native fish in Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Park Foundation, recognizing the importance of native trout to the viability of the Yellowstone ecosystem and the future of fishing in the Park, has thus undertaken a $500,000 Fisheries Fund Initiative. This Initiative will support science and research of the highest caliber that will inform Park management decisions with regard to the protection and preservation of native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park.

    guyser.. If you really want isolation, you already have your reservations for the best backcountry sites. Of course that means Yellowstone Lake and the Thorofare.
    .. The fishing on the southeast arm of Yellowstone lake is rumored to be exceptional. This is bear country and it's remote. Some of the best campsites are: WF2 & OD5 on Frank Island, Fern Lake Cabin on Peale Island, Calfee Cabin, 8c6 (known as mosquito central,) 8J4 if you can handle the 4 mile walk, and; 9D4 a bit farther; and 9D2 if you can get a boat ride. We always liked 1G5 - tough to get but absolutely beautiful.
    guyser.. Then there's Heart Lake, Clear Creek, Heart River, Beaver Creek and the often overlooked Cub Creek.
    .. If you are going deep into the Thorofare you may find fish, but you should not expect exceptional fishing, (not like 40 years ago. The drought, fires and horse packing have made this area a bit more populated than in bygone days.) Enjoy the scenery and the solitude, carry copious quantities of bear spray, sing loud and ribald songs and camp far away from your food. Try 1Y8 for access to eager little fish.
    photo courtesy the fur trapper

    Of Fires, Osprey, Swans & Cutthroat

    Fourth Of July Fishing Locations Tomorrow
    .. The forest is on fire - it must be August! No; still June. The fire north of town has drawn national attention. It has burned hotter than the 1988 fires in spots. It's not out yet. It's not in the park yet. The Gallatin National Forest office is the best source of accurate news for this fire and the Stage I Restrictions.
    .. There are a few bits of news that have escaped the journalistic frenzy to report a "Yellowstone Fire:" a black bear wandered into town while avoiding the fire, (yes it's that close,) poor thing posed for camera phone pictures in an apartment complex for an hour. It was tranquilized and removed.
    .. A borate bomber lost an engine and had to dump it's load over Hebgen Lake to reduce weight and get safely to the runway at the West Yellowstone airport.
    .. Travel on highway 191 north of West Yellowstone is subject to closure at any time. For road information call the Gallatin National Forest-Hebgen Lake District office, (406)-823-6961, or the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, (406)-646-7701.
    .. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but the crews on the line have intimated that it was an illegal campfire by illegal campers - we'll see.
    .. Terry McEneaney, Yellowstone's ornithologist has reported that the Trumpeter Swans of Yellowstone are dwindling in numbers. So too, the Ospreys.
    .. The ospreys are losing ground because of fire and diminished cutthroat numbers. An article in the Casper Star Tribune has the details; money quote:

    One of the biggest problems for the osprey is that Yellowstone cutthroat trout, a key food, has been hit hard by nonnative lake trout in recent years. At one spot on the lake where more than 70,000 cutthroat were counted in the 1970s, just 471 were tallied last year, the lowest number since record keeping began in 1945. There are other factors, too, including a 2003 wildfire on Frank Island, in the middle of the lake, that burned 570 of the island's 600 acres, wiping out nearly all the old-growth trees that were a popular spot for nesting ospreys.

    .. Time to get some biscuits and gravy. The folks at the horse's mouth have provided us with a lot of conversational fodder.

    Thursday, June 28, 2007


    Some Roads Closed

    .. The fire crews are still working to stomp the fire that roared north of town yesterday. The smoke is thick in the air. The whispers of gulper fishing are growing louder. The motor homes clog the streets. The car alarms are blaring. The borate bombers are still in the air. Just another day in paradise.
    .. Click on over to Fly Fisherman for a brief primer on gulper fishing and some flies that you may want. Hebgen Lake is the home of gulpers, and it's early this year - like everything else, including the fire.
    .. Hyalite Reservoir is producing Grayling and the tributaries open in a couple of weeks. We may just have to use the fish car to get this year's Grayling.
    .. This year's Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks web page is featuring the Grayling on it's header. You can see it HERE. They have also developed an invasive species logo, and a full page devoted to curtailing the spread of invasive species.
    .. Need some new sporting art for your wall? Check out the new works from J. Russell Jinishian.
    .. Time for biscuits and gravy, and news about the fire. The park fishing is shifting to a summer tempo and the visitors are streaming into wonderland early for the Fourth of July. Madness promises to be the norm. We'll post the quiet places to be tomorrow or the next day.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Quick: It cooled down a bit!

    Fish Now

    .. This has got to be brief; there is some fishing to be had on the Firehole River due to a couple of cool days. Word is spreading fast and we're not going get elbowed out of our favorite chunk of water.
    .. The flows are still low, and the water has not cooled much, but the PMD's and spinners are happening in and around Biscuit Basin . . . off we go, key lime pie and nutter butter cookies in hand.
    .. For the best recent news click on over to: Blue Ribbon Flies, Madison River Outfitters, Bud Lilly's. They are on their way too . . . and we thought it was all over.
    .. With the smell of freshness, there bursts upon the scene, another fish blog - and fish pole. Click on over to FLYPOLE for a whiff.
    .. Pete over at Fishing Jones just posted his Half Year Resolutions. We hope they all come true.
    .. From Protect Your Waters comes news of the banning of the pet store turtle. What's the world coming too? Just ask Florida.

    .. From the "It's Not A Rumor Department" - Big, Big, Big Bugs on the West Fork of the Madison River - NOW! It's insane!
    Excellent Firehole River Links:
    From Fujioka's newly revised page: My Best Streams,
    From the lens of Phillip Colla: Firehole River Photos,
    From Wikipedia: Firehole River.

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Water Wars Cool On East Gallatin


    .. He has shown the rest of the world, and the rest of Montana just how to be a good neighbor.
    .. He put up a sign and erected a gate for river access on the East Gallatin River.
    .. Read all about it in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
    .. Thanks, again, NEIGHBOR.
    .. The Flying D Ranch, (owned by Ted Turner,) has also maintained this policy. They also are restoring the Westslope Cutthroat to Cherry Creek.


    Flies Too

    .. The Yellowstone Fishing Maps have multiplied to a total of nine, (maybe 10 by the time you read this.) Each will, in the near future, become a page of it's own. The plan is to have a fishing guide with maps for the most accessible and productive waters in Yellowstone. It's a huge undertaking and will take longer than anticipated - fishing is more important than blogging in this bit of geography.
    .. The Flies of Yellowstone page is coming along too - much more slowly. Apologies are in order to the folks with dial-up connections . . . the maps are a pain, and the photos on the flies page are not of a uniform format. Winter should produce cleaner pages for next season.
    .. The links in the upper left corner of this page will take you to the maps and flies.

    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    Bad News - Good News

    [where there's water]

    Gibbon OK Above The Falls [better above norris]
    Madison Fair [wait 'till evening]
    {go elsewhere for now}
    == The Bad News ==

    .. Well, the Fat Lady has sung her song on the Firehole River. Morning and evening catching is fair to poor, mid-day nymphing is poor, hatches are present but the fish are sluggish, the cooler side creeks and tributaries are warming up as well. Unless it's imperative that you catch a fish on the Firehole River - give the fish a break! We look for an official closure if the warm weather and low flows continue.
    .. The Fat Lady is waiting in the wings for the Madison River. The growth of aquatic vegetation is accelerating rapidly; this depletes the oxygen as it slows the river. Some evening catching can be anticipated in the narrow, riffled, and deep sections. Another week will tell the tale. Caddis is the name of the game now. These flies will come off until dark, (Yellowstone Park fishing closes at 10:00 PM.) Should we get a cold or even cool overcast day there may still be some Baetis in the offing.
    .. The Gibbon River has a fine crop of active smaller fish. The sections around Norris Campground and Virginia Cascade are still a viable catching situation with fish to 12" still active. We haven't caught our annual Grayling yet and hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come.
    .. Nez Perce Creek has succumbed to the warm spell as well. You'll have to walk a good two miles to reach the narrow and aerated waters of the bridge ford and above. Caddis are hatching all day right now, and the catching is good. Don't spend too much time at any one place. Just stroll and fish.
    == The Good News ==
    .. The Gallatin River is in great shape and this early warming has brought out the bugs and the fish. The low discharge makes the holes very apparent. Try a Yellowstone Sally, a rubber legs, or a Montana Duster as the stoneflies invade the park, (sizes 10 - 14.) This is a good river for your favorite attractor patterns. A Royal Wulff, Humpy, Stimulator, or anything else in the box. Walk around and fish the pools below the riffles. Be a careful observer of the transitions from sun to shade and you may be surprised with a 14" fish from under the bank. Caddis are starting to hatch about 2:00 PM and continue until dusk, (sizes 12 - 16.) There seems to be a good recruitment of little rainbows this year. Treat them gently and they may grow up.
    .. The short stretch of Fan Creek from it's confluence with the Gallatin River to the first meadow is holding some larger fish in the pools and the undercuts banks. Drift your favorite nymph, (bead head preferred,) with only your leader on the water. Stealth is important in this thin water.
    .. There are also some fish in the meadow section of Bacon Rind Creek. It's a gentle walk and it's beautiful in the morning. Try it early before you drive on down the Gallatin.
    .. After a brief absence, (including last Friday, - but they got it right this Friday,) The Horse's Mouth returns with a flurry of posts and an absolutely beautiful fish picture, (the woman is only gorgeous.)
    .. Click on over to Flytimes for a fantastic photo of the channeled scablands and some insight into bass fishing in the steppe of Washington.
    .. The joys of flying and fishing are briefly told to us by Pete over at Fishing Jones . . . not all that's evil turns out bad.
    .. Marshall over at MidCurrent alerts us to the state of poaching in Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. It's an insight into more than just the slaughter of salmon.

    <<-- Have you seen this fisherman? It seems that there is a new fashion statement being set on the Upper Sac. Cute!

    .. It's beginning to spread to the mad minds at Moldy Chum; All because of a brief post at The Trout Underground.

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Bring Depth Charges


    .. It's about over on the Firehole River, the Madison River is holding on, the Gibbon River is doing fine, and the Gallatin River is coming on strong. Quick and glorious the fishing has been. Legends of the fall are creeping into psyches, they shall. Hoppers already on the mind, they are. Desperation is the key. Resistance is futile, bring depth charges.
    .. This is the year for Caddis on the Madison River. Pick your poison. Spent Caddis, Crippled Caddis, X-Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Goddard Caddis, Fish 'em high, fish 'em low: fish 'em drowned, or just throw 'em out there - fish eat 'em! We don't know how long this will last but from the park line to National Park Meadows this is the best first choice. Some mayflies are still working and you should be prepared with some CDC imitations. Sizes are varied for the caddis, (12 - 16.) The mayflies can be PMD's, Baetis, and any of a series of infrequent "others."
    .. Most are in the 16 - 20 range and the fish in quiet water can be very selective. You'll need more than a single box of flies if you're "going technical." The clouds have not been too friendly to the afternoon fishers. If you see them grab a double handful of size 18 - 20 flies and drive until your windshield is black with the critters - stop, back-up, fish.
    .. The eager fish are still in the Firehole River and the Madison River: the bite is slowing down too early this year, we believe. Flows continue to dwindle and the postcard weather is dragging visitors to Yellowstone National Park in near record numbers. The upper Madison River and it's two main tributaries in the park are at all-time record lows, (Firehole - Gibbon - Madison.) If this keeps up the flow gauges will be stuck in the mud in the very near future.
    .. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but, fish now or forever hold your peace. Temperatures on the Firehole River have spiked to 81 degrees Fahrenheit during the afternoon and the best catching has been limited to the early morning and early evening. The PMD hatch is still strong but not as spectacular as it has been. Use your favorite fly in sizes 16 - 18 for the PMD hatch. You can also float a soft hackle for excellent results.
    .. Before and after the hatch a bead head Prince or bead head soft hackle will work wonders. For those that have pretty flies and seek a technical challenge try small loop-wing flies, don't try to force feed the larger sizes, the fish have "smartened up" quickly. The Yellowstone Cinch is still working in sizes 18 - 22.
    .. Caddis have remained the mainstay for consistent catching during late morning and through late evening. Try a Goddard Caddis when the bugs are on the water and your favorite nymph for the submarines - sizes are running smaller now and an 18 - 20 is about right. The larger caddis are still available but you have to be sure before you tie on on. You can leave the antennae off.
    .. There has been little pressure on Nez Perce Creek at it's confluence with the Firehole River. Fish the riffled runs near the picnic tables. The low flows make this oxygen rich bit of water an excellent prospect. Just be sure to smile for the visitors, and have your most dapper outfit in good shape. Your picture will adorn many a vacation slide show. Nymphs in the 12 -16 range will work.
    .. Try the Hotel Run, or saunter upstream to the Bridge Ford. You can fish this little river all day and find fish. Most fish are in the 8" - 10" size range. Whoppers as large as 14" can be found, but bragging starts about 12". Keep the flies at or below a size 12, and pick your spots as you stroll along and enjoy the isolated serenity and beautiful scenery. Keep your bear spray handy as there are a few bruins still around - bison too.
    .. The Gibbon River is providing good catching in the stretch just below the falls. This is the place where your Royal Humpy, Royal Trude, and Yellowstone Coachman will produce good results. If you see, (or even if you don't see,) stoneflies this is a good spot to tie on a large nymph and prospect for the resident submarines. We tend to use a Montana Duster in a size 12. Try a rubber legs if you're daring.
    .. The Gibbon Canyon has some Golden Stoneflies and this is an excellent place to exercise your precision nymphing skills. the low water makes the hides very apparent but the stalking is tough in the cobbles. Have patience and the rewards are great - not large - but great
    .. Elk Meadows and Gibbon Meadows are both well worth the effort. These wily fish are becoming a challenge for the best of fishers and the low flows are making the fish spooky. There are some Baetis if the clouds are overhead and even some PMD's. This is an excellent area to float an emerger or a cripple. Keep the flies small, (16 - 20,) and remember that a stance resembling a quadruped will be necessary. Evening seems to be best. The riffled sections around Virginia Cascades are still working as is the thin water near Norris Campground. The Brook Trout seem to continue their cooperative ways even in the bright light of mid day.
    .. Obsidian Creek, (WHAAT?) is nearly abandoned. Day strolling visitors sometimes walk along the paths, but seldom is seen a fisher older than 12, (with a proud family enjoying the scene.) This is the place for pleasant fishing. Walk along and enjoy everything from open meadows to tangled snags. The fish are everywhere. The water is low but still cool enough for very active fish. Your fly selection can be kept to a bare minimum and still be very effective. One small box with some Hare's Ears, a Prince or two, some Caddis, a Coachman, a Soft Hackle, 1/2 dozen Montana Dusters in various colors; and you're set. Hip waders will do, if you must, and a short rod - fish all day - catch many fish - brag if they reach 12".
    .. If you're looking for some early action on a river of some difficulty try the Gallatin River, right now. It's just beginning to warm to the point of "bug activity." A few Salmon Flies have been reported as far up stream as Taylor Fork. The weather forecast is for continued warming and this weekend should improve and allow the big bugs into the river sections in the park. Your favorite Rubber Legs, or a Yellowstone Winter Grub will give the fish a bit of groceries at this time - they love it.
    .. The Gallatin River is always a good choice for evening caddis this time of year. Start out with a Feather Duster or a Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear. When you see the bugs, switch to an Elk Hair Caddis and continue to catch fish. Don't be in a hurry to get back to town, these flies come off as late as 9:00, PM.
    .. Whispers of clear water and available fish are creeping out of the hinterlands around Slough Creek and Soda Butte Creek. It's a tad early, but it's that kind of year. The Gardner River is elbow to elbow with fish gobbling up big bugs; it's an absolute feeding frenzy and getting better by the day. Visit Parks' Fly Shop for the gory details.
    .. Even more frightening are the fantastic sounding reports from the Lewis River, Lewis Lake, and the Snake River: we wonder if Jack Dennis has figured this out?
    .. A sad note is found at Protect Your Waters. Despite warnings, New Zealand Fishers are ignoring warnings to clean their gear. Only 24% of the fishers cleaned or dried their gear to prevent the spread of didymo. From our conversations with the neighbors and the guides of Yellowstone the same situation seems to obtain. Who will be screaming the loudest when the rivers have no fish?