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  • 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?