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  • Visit: The Trout Underground
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  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Monday, October 29, 2007

    Possible Reprieve For Another Cutt

    CUTTHROAT PAST IS KEY TO PRESENT SURVIVAL
    Imagine A Pristine Continent
    .. Moldy Chum lets us know that the Bonneville Cutthroat is being reconsidered for Endangered Species Status. The news release from the Center For Biological Diversity briefly details this legal struggle. It might be noted that back in the year 2000 Utah and several Federal agencies agreed on a conservation plan (PDF) for the survival of these fish.
    .. The Cutthroat Trout, Golden Trout, and Fluvial Grayling are fish that pioneered the inland waters of the America's. These circumpolar fish are the evolutionary descendants of fish stocks that eventually became all of the Salmonids. These fish are the inquisitive, adventurous, sturdy stock that gave us the inland fisheries that we have today. They deserve to be saved for that reason alone.
    .. Sometime between 80 and 60 million years ago these estuarine fish began to probe the inlets and rivers of a continent that was moving north and was full of steep rivers. The adaptive behavior of becoming anadromous served them well over the eons and has persisted to the present. They, unlike most of the other salmonids, can return to spawn several times.
    .. Below are a series of maps that show the changing face of our continent over the past 75 million or so years. This is the time period of the evolution of the salmon, char, and trout that we know today: (From Paleogeography & Geologic Evolution Of North America.)

    -- 75 Ma
    -- 65 Ma
    -- 60 Ma
    -- 50 Ma
    -- 40 Ma
    -- 25 Ma
    --15 Ma
    -- 8 Ma
    -- 3 Ma
    -- 0.126 Ma
    -- Present
    ------------------
    .. These fish are wed to the continent and the Western portion of it in the same manner that the Brook Trout and Atlantic Salmon are in the Eastern portion. The things that these fish have in common are a seeking behavior, the need for cold clean water, and their rapid disappearance from the contemporary waters of the continent.
    .. Although hooking up with any fish is special, these fish are part of the fabric of our heritage - they were here in some form long before us, and now they need us.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Fishing For Spooks

    CATCHING SURVIVES SUNSHINE
    Madison & Firehole Working Well
    visit the gibbon for fun
    Wyoming To Ignore Rock Snot

    ..The sunshine has prompted thoughts of an extended Fall season in Yellowstone - so? There's only one week left and the glorious days have not hampered the catching at all. The crowds have diminished a bit, and the hatches are just excellent, instead of spectacular - so?
    .. The Madison River is now in 'Full Fall Bloom,' and all of the usual places have fish, fishers, and watchers. From the park line to National Park Meadows there are fish from Hebgen Lake. The density of fish is less than in some years-past, but the declining numbers have not led to too many disappointed fishers.
    .. The thin water has revealed some of the "local holes" along Riverside Drive, and the catching in this stretch has been excellent for those willing to observe the water and plan their approach. Small White Zonkers and Yellowstone Spruce Flies along with Woolly Buggers and large Soft Hackles have produced in this stretch. It's the time of year for the Halloween Leech: we tried it last year too.
    .. The Firehole River is producing fish to 16" and it's almost easy if you read the river right. The water seems deep, but it's only about 80% of seasonal average flows, and running around 55 degrees - not perfect but damn near. The deeper runs and holes are holding the fish and they are holding tight. The hatches of Baetids around Biscuit Basin,the Iron Bridge, and Goose Lake have proved stronger than sunlight and we've fished the same double fly rig that we've used since the neighbors introduced us to it last week: a Baetis Cripple and a Baetis Emerger from Buzz's fly Shop.
    .. The fish have become spooky during the last few days but it's still not "First Of July" spooky. Good numbers of fish are holding in the canyon section, and the riffles and runs on either side of Dipper Cliff have little parking that is safe along the roadside.
    .. These quick sections are excellent places for a Soft Hackle in tandem with a Prince Nymph. Float the Soft Hackle, it'll take as many as the drowned fly even if there is no hatch. The foam lines are the key here. Don't leave the water too early because the Caddis, (bless their smoky little hearts,) are still a distinct possibility during this gentle weather.
    .. Entertainment of the less crowded sort is still available on the Gibbon River. The thin water above Norris Campground is still full of eager little fish, (to 10".) The big meadows are rumored to have larger fish but the walk, and approach, and effort keeps us from verifying it. The meadows above Virginia Cascade have become popular on these gentle days and the riffles and deep, (relatively,) bends below Wolf Lake have an interesting assortment of bright fish.
    -----------
    .. Over at Wired there is a page full of "Geeky Jack-O'-Lanterns." Not too bad an effort for a bunch of nerds - bless their triponometry.
    .. The folks at Get Outdoors are hawking sewer water from Utah. Capitalism will out - we suppose.
    .. And you thought that the grizzly bears on the Gibbon River were a problem - eh? well click on over to Flyfishmagizine to see what happens when the king of the jungle surrounds your hunting camp.
    .. Fishing Jones caught a Snakehead - he also reminds us just what sort of louts we fly fishers are.
    ------------
    .. The recent posts at Protect Your Waters have been very informative and insightful. It seems that Wyoming has decided on a course of inaction for the Rock Snot found in the Snake River just south of Yellowstone National Park - These are the same folks that want to slaughter all the wolves and the same folks that harbor Dick Cheney, who shoots his hunting partners. (By the way, the veep is on his way to the Clove Valley Rod and Gun Club for some Halloween shooting - Look Out Poughkeepsie!)
    .. There is also a bit of the slime in Colorado. Two articles are shown for those that care.
    .. Are native trout a nuisance or are they worth having?
    .. Pythons in toilets in Brooklyn.
    .. Why our next terrorist attack could come on six legs.
    -----------
    .. From Slate: Breasts Like Martinis.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Time Out For Fishing

    THE CROWDS ARE RIGHT
    Fish Now
    .. Well, it's on: a little late, a little slow, fewer fish - but the run is on. The Madison River is now in good shape and catching is almost as good as fishing. The Firehole River is cool and the fish are awake. The Gallatin River is low and cold. Nez Perce Creek has fish that are responding, and the Gibbon River, (both above and below the falls,) is a more than worthwhile enterprise.
    .. Should you decide to avoid the elbows of the west side of Yellowstone National Park go south or go north. Good reports at Jack Dennis Sports and Parks' Fly Shop.
    .. Hebgen Lake, the Hebgen Tailwater, Quake Lake, and the South Fork Estuary, (at the powerline,) are excellent. If you decide on the South Fork of the Madison River bring along lots of orange gear, bear spray, and ribald songs . . . SING LOUD! Grizzlies and gut piles make for a dangerous angling experience. The same holds true for the Gibbon River -- minus to gut piles.


    .. This is fishing and catching at it's best and you'll only need a few flies for success.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Lookin' Good

    NEW LOOK FOR "OLD TIMEY" BLOG
    Photos 'POP' - Info Sterling
    Brief Yellowstone Report Included Below
    .. FLY TIMES has settled into a new look that sharpens the photos, enhances the visitation experience, and looks kinda' "OLD TIMEY." Nice Job. Click on over and gorge yourself on fine flies, arcane information, hints of fish, and news of spawning results, (human and piscene.)
    .. A recent post suggests that the Wenatchee River should be open for Steelhead fishing. Maybe the "Iron Bridge Run" will be productive this year.
    .. Speaking of spawn; John Montana over at Carp On The Fly has a delightful picture of his daughter holding the "Carp Anglers Group Big Fish Award for the 2007 Fly Fishing Category." Great accomplishment - nice award too.
    .. Sunshine for a day or two should improve afternoon and evening caddis hatches on the streams of the Madison River drainage. This week may be the last for salubrious weather as Mother Nature gathers herself for a bit of snow and hail. The caddis are 'where you find them,' and a bit of hunting will deliver good fishing. Should you be lucky enough to find the dusty things in your ears; you know where to fish.
    .. The Lake Run Fish have finally moved out of National Park Meadows on the Gibbon River. The sparse nature of this year's run will make catching these logs a bit tougher than in recent years past. Good catching has been reported from the swift runs just above Tuff Cliff. Walk through the forested meadow to the water and fish the dark spots by the rocks and the undercut banks - the shade is your friend in this stretch. Small white Zonkers, (8 - 12,) and Yellow Stonefly Nymphs may be the secret to success in this stretch.
    .. Need a Brookie fix? Obsidian Creek is almost totally abandoned this time of year. On a day full of sunshine it's possible to take your 3-weight for a walk and catch dozens of eager Brook Trout in full fall spawning colors. A handful of size 10 - 14 attractors will do the trick here.
    .. The guys at Parks' Fly Shop have given away one of the area's great Fall secrets. Go South young fisher, try the meadows below the road when fishing down from Lewis Lake; not-so-small, and larger fish are awaiting your presence. The plunge pool below the falls is getting some attention too. Nice call guys!
    .. The November 3, 2007 "Drop Dead In The Park Day" is fast approaching. In its honor we offer the following as the inevitable result of the end of season party.
    ..

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Blustery Weather = Good Catching

    FIREHOLE GOING OUT WITH A BANG
    Madison Doing Well
    Hebgen Tailwater Productive
    Gibbon Worth The Time
    .. The neighbors are charging to the Firehole River for a mid-day fix of surface action before winter shuts down the park. The baetis action has been very good along with some midges and caddis. We visited with some neighbors who were doing obscenely well in the long riffles and glides just below Ojo Caliente. They were using flies picked up at Buzz Basini's Fly Shop.
    .. The interesting Baetis Cripple, and Buzz's Baetis Emerger were being used in tandem and dragging in good fish at an amazing rate.
    .. The fishing, catching, and bragging continued at a rapid pace for about two hours - from about 1:30 until about 3:00. We watched for awhile, fished for awhile, and pouted for the rest of the day. These flies are small, and seem smaller with cold fingers and trifocals. Success was being had with 18's, 20's, and 22's. Fish were in the 12" to 15" range with frequent violent attacks by the 8" Wonders. These little devils would exhibit a violent rise with a tail splash and immediately dive deep - no problem setting the hook.
    .. Biscuit Basin is gathering the usual crowds in the evening. Both the daily midge hatch and the evening caddis are providing dances for the persistent. This is "Spot & Stalk" fishing, and both patience and wandering are being rewarded between the bridges. We saw no baetis but fished a floating baetis nymph and did well. The fly is a typically small bit of stuff, (24 - 26,) and the pattern is from Matt Nicol - very competent imitation - of both a midge and an emerger, etc!
    .. We also overheard a good deal of Latin being spouted along the river and were befuddled, as usual, when any foreign language is being used with such fluency. We are reminded about a piece by Jason Neuswanger, (Trout Nut,) about the identification of BWO's & Baetis:
    ... "Baetis is probably the most misidentified genus in the angler's mayfly world. Many fly anglers see anything too small to imitate with a size 16 Adams and call it Baetis. In reality, Baetis is the most prominent of several very similar abundant genera in the family Baetidae.
    ... It seems every species in the family is perpetually being reclassified, and identifying any of them, even to genus level, is difficult. The angler who wants to be accurate has two choices. Most people call these flies "Blue-Winged Olives," a name which has lost all meaning because people apply it to several dozen species which mostly have neither blue wings nor olive bodies.
    ... It's better to just call them "little (whatever color they are) mayflies." The other good choice is to call them "Baetids," the general Latin name for members of the Baetidae family, unless you've had them scrutinized under a microscope. Most of the specimens on this site can't be keyed below the family level from the pictures. So the next time a fishing buddy identifies a little greenish mayfly from a distance as Baetis vagans, just smile and nod..."
    .. We do a lot of smiling and nodding.
    -----------------
    .. For a small group of persistent anglers along the Madison River - size matters. And the Brown Trout are providing it. The fishing and catching can't be described as slow, but it ain't fast action yet either. There is a fall ritual that is being played out along the usual places - morning streamers/evening hackles. This is both traditional and successful.
    .. Right now olive-colored Woolly Buggers are in ascendancy, (some with a bit of flash,) closely followed by Zonkers and San Juan Worms. The Zonkers are either black or white, and the San Juan Worms are mostly two toned, (a few neighbors are using mink strips for their Zonkers but don't seem to be doing any better than the black or white.)
    .. Good catching has been reported from The Barns Holes, Grasshopper Bank, 7-Mile Picnic Area - (fish the Gneiss Creek Trail side of the river,) Talus Slope, National Park Meadows. The fishers concentrated between the confluence area and the road in National Park Meadows are the most active fishers - the large meanders starting just 1/2 mile downstream are lightly fished and hold good Brown Trout in deep bends. Evening prospecting with large Raven or Starling Soft hackles in caddis green are the swing of choice right now.
    ------------------
    .. A few of the neighbors have eschewed the frenzy in the park for a more solitary, yet just as rewarding, an experience by fishing and catching on the upper Gibbon River and the Solfaterra Creek confluence meadows. The water is low, cold, clear, and the fish are concentrated. Attractor flies and generic caddis are bringing fish to net in very satisfactory numbers - some as large as 14" or so. This is stroll and cast fishing and on a bright afternoon with no wind, (HA!,) it's a pleasant diversion from the crowds.
    .. A couple of successful flies for this time of year are the Sparkle Renegade and Sierra Bright Dot. Given a choice, young fishers will choose one of these flies every time - rightly so; they work.
    .. The Hebgen Tailwater of the Madison River is attracting attention from the less than glamorous crowd. The big fish will come to a Dark Spruce Fly or a Yellowstone Spruce Fly. They, and the other sizes, will also respond to Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Prince Nymphs, and small caddis nymphs. Don't forget that this is a good place for stone flies, and if you'd like to throw a rubber legs, go ahead.
    .. The Madison River Estuary and the stretch between the 191-bridge and the lake are excellent places for the streamer stripper. Dark holes, around and in the braided channels at the point of debauchment and the undercut banks offer excellent places for the fish to rest on their run up the river. Apropos of this situation, there is a post in Best Fly Fishing Yellowstone (BFFY) about streamer tactics and undercut banks.
    ------------
    .. We are stunned by one of the most spectacular fishing photos ever; captured by the alert connoisseurs of the shutter over at The Horse's Mouth. The posts of the last few days have given us pause to think about sailing and a wahine's place in the world. Thanks for brightening our day.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Fluvial Grayling Making Headway

    YELLOWSTONE GRAYLING NOT FLUVIAL
    WE HAVEN'T CAUGHT OURS THIS YEAR
    First Time In Over 13 Years
    .. About ten years ago we noticed that it was becoming harder and harder to catch a Grayling on the upper Gibbon. For years we'd enjoy a walk to Grebe Lake, take a few, smile, and walk out again. As the legs became more like rubber we could still take our gray ghost in Wolf Lake. Then as rubber turned to spaghetti, we'd take this jewel of the river just a few steps from the pull-outs along the Virginia Cascade Drive, or in the runs around Norris Campground. We're usually on the upper Gibbon 2 -3 times a week. The Grayling is not in our posts this year, and we started early.
    .. The catching of this fish didn't become a pilgrimage for us until about 4 - 5 years ago, when we noticed that they were particularly difficult to catch in Yellowstone National Park. Granted, it's possible to catch the Fluvial Grayling other places - but not many: maybe none if the USFWS has it's way.
    -----------------
    .. Last April sixth, New West ran a column about the Fluvial Grayling by George Wurthner, wherein he noted that:
    "Ever since the fish was first documented to be in danger by the FWS in 1982, the agency has done just about everything it could to avoid listing."

    .. On April 24, 2007 the EPA denied that the Fluvial Arctic Grayling of the upper Missouri River basin, [[ i.e. Big Hole River ]] was a Distinct Population Segment, and therefore not entitled to listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This action closely followed the denial of the Westslope Cutthroat as a separate species by a federal judge, in March.
    .. The EPA denial brought quick responses from bloggers. Ralph Maughan, on April 25 noted that:
    "We are witnessing the political dismemberment of what is supposed to be an agency guided by science - instead plundered by political obstructionists and public land profiteers."

    .. On the same day Ecorover Pat Munday delivered two posts about the Grayling: "Who Killed Big Hole Grayling? A not-so-mysterious murder." AND "US Fish & Wildlife Service: Big Hole River grayling are not significant."
    .. A day later we posted a note, and The Trout Underground noted that:
    "Astoundingly, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has once again denied species protection (under the ESA) to the fluvial grayling.It’s clearly a political move; the fluvial grayling qualifies for protection under almost any ESA standard."

    .. Now, it's possible that the USFWS is going to reconsider its decision. Mike Bias, Executive Director of The Big Hole River Foundation has sent a letter in support of a reversal to Mark Wilson and Doug Petersen - USFWS, Helena - in support of the Grayling. The letter is annotated with an additional letter of support from the leading Grayling experts from around the world. The documentation in both letters about the genetic and behavioral differences between the Fluvial and Lacustrine forms is significant, and should be familiar to all fans of the Fluvial Grayling.
    ------------
    .. Ted Williams writes, in Fly Rod & Reel Online, about this situation as well. The post; "Who Needs Grayling?" was penned in June, and just published. He cites the results of Amber Steed, a graduate student at Montana State University, who will shortly publish data revealing that the Grayling occasionally seen in the Gibbon River are adfluvial fish that drop down from Grebe and Wolf lakes, stocked in 1920.
    .. We now know about the Yellowstone fish, and this makes the Big Hole fish all that more important. The whole sordid tale of the politics of this fish is retold in a succinct form by Williams and is worthy of review.
    .. There are several organizations that are working to save the Fluvial Grayling of the Big Hole River. Each has web pages and sections on efforts and issues associated with this fight.
    --- The Big Hole River Foundation,
    --- Arctic Grayling Recovery Program,
    --- The Nature Conservancy
    --- Montana River Action
    -----------
    Just how rare is the Fluvial Grayling of the Big Hole River?
    Try Google for an indication:
    .. Google Search for FLUVIAL GRAYLING:
    --> Web = about 23,000 entries, (vs. about 22,800,000 for trout,)
    --> Images = about 286 entries, (vs. about 1,900,000 for trout,)
    --> News = one, (vs. about 4,710 for trout,)
    --> Maps = 7, (vs. about 10,200 for trout,)
    --> Video = one very well done entry presented below for your edification. (vs. about 6,569 for trout.)


    .. Other Resources:
    "Jeremy Bentham, the Pieta, and a Precious Few Grayling" by David Quammen
    "Entrepreneurs Save Native Fish" by Jerry Johnson
    "Arctic Grayling Will They Be Delisted?"
    "Reintroducing Fluvial Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) To The Upper Ruby River, MT. A Progress Report"(PDF)
    Montana's Fish Species Of Special Concern - Fluvial Arctic Grayling

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Good Morning Snowshine

    FISH IN THE SNOW
    THE PARK IS BEAUTIFUL
    So Are The Baetis
    now is the time to join the 20/20 club
    (video included)
    .. There's 6" on the ground, it's warm, it's cloudy, it's snowing,it's time to fish! The drip of the late evening turned into real snow and there are even duns in Beautiful Downtown West Yellowstone. The slushy roads sing sweet songs - go fishing.
    .. The 10-day weather forecast is promising and should allow for a variety of bugs on the creeks and streams of the Madison River and Gallatin River drainage's.

    .. Put on your trifocals, augment them with some clip-on magnifiers and tie on a pair of 18 - 20 nymphs: fish the deepest and darkest runs.
    The slicks at 9-mile Hole, the currently, not-so-broad sweep, at Horseshoe Bend, the first tailout and bend in National Park Meadow, and the head of the long riffle below Gibbon Falls are good bets for feeding giants.

    .. If the little nymphs don't work, try the same-sized midge cluster. If that is also a failure, resort to hand grenades in the form of Woolly Buggers, Dark Spruce Flies, or even a giant Soft Hackle.
    .. The neighbors were out early this morning and found good fish in National Park Meadows on the Madison River, The Firehole River at the base of Firehole Falls, and bottom of the Gibbon River in National Park Meadows.
    Here's a video of the morning - Full Report Later.
    . video

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Mixed Blessings

    THE USUAL IS HERE
    FINALLY !!
    ..
    .. Well, it took a bit of time this year, but the Fall Weather has settled in and the fishing and catching is now weather dependent to a great extent. Pray for clouds and get rain and colored water. Pray for hatches and get midges in the nose. Pray for big fish and get crowds. Mixed blessings abound.
    .. We need more benches and more parking for the crowds at the Barns Holes - a good thing - probably. The fish are in and they are taking!
    .. It's snowing now, and river levels are up and the fish have finally smelled the cold water and reproduction is invading pea-sized brains of trout in the neighborhood.
    .. Hebgen Lake is the staging area for the run of big Brown Trout waiting to ascend the Madison River. If you don't mind a bit of dampness, this is the time to get in the tube and dredge the deep sections of the old river channel in the Madison Arm. Trolling is a good technique, (and not a bad substitute for an afternoon at the gym.) Use Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash and a full sinking line, or a sink tip with a long leader and some weight. Black, olive, and maroon seem to be the colors, (sizes 4 - 10.) If you can find the edge of the silt plume, work back and forth across the edge. If the water is clear follow the channel. It's not water skiing, but you can get a good ride if you're lucky.
    .. The fish are a bit early in the South Fork Estuary, and as the days get shorter the run up the South Fork of the Madison River will pick up.
    .. The Hebgen Tailwater is holding true to form. "Big below, action on top," is the local phrase. The hatches are fairly substantial right now and midges, Baetis, and evening caddis are all present - not prolific, but present. The Choice Hole is still holding some large fish from Quake Lake, as is the Long Riffle above it. This is the place for big soft hackles and woolly worms - yellow if you please.
    .. This is a good place to mention the "International Brotherhood Of The Flymph." These folks practice a time honored, and tactically challenging method of catching large fish with subsurface flies. There really was a Jim Leisenring, and the "Lift" is well worth perfecting. There is a fine web site commemorating this technique and the flies that work with it. It's well worth a look: http://www.flymph.com/index.html.
    .. We are particularly fond of soft hackles and stiff hackles. and the site is full of excellent information, patterns, materials lists, and photos.
    .. The area around Baker's Hole, and right at the park line, is getting more attention this year than in recent past years. This is probably because the fish caught in the weir are parking in the holes and bank undercuts in the low flows - time to rest and recuperate. The researcher's tagging the fish want us to remind fishers that the recuperating fish are tired, stressed and not fit for sport. Please leave these fish alone.
    .. The waltz at The Barns Holes on the Madison River has picked up to a fox trot, and streamers and soft hackles are the preferred ammunition of the successful fishers. We prefer a Dark Spruce Fly, or a Yellowstone Spruce Fly. Good success is also being had with Buggers, (with and without bead heads.) Deep glides at Talus Slope and 9-mile Hole are also productive. Although the run has reached into National Park Meadows, there is just "some action" to be had, even in the sweeping meanders of the Gibbon River at its confluence with the Firehole River.
    .. There are excellent reports for the Firehole River at The MRO, Blue Ribbon Flies, & Bud Lily's web sites. What is not mentioned is the exceptional catching on the Firehole River above Old Faithful. There has been a consistent midge hatch along the trail to Lone Star Geyser, and although the fish are not as large as those below the Upper Geyser Basin, they are far more friendly and willing to dance. The incised portions of this section hold good numbers of fish that are not too particular about their dance partners.
    .. Mike Stark, of The Billings Gazette, reports on the cessation of the "Catch & Kill" efforts on Yellowstone Lake. The NPS has concluded this season's Lake Trout eradication program.
    This year's six-month gill-netting effort killed 73,279 lake trout, said Patricia Bigelow, a Yellowstone fisheries biologist who oversees the program. That's 13,000 more than caught last year and twice the number netted two years ago. All told, more than 268,250 lake trout have been removed from the lake since the program started in 1994. The Park Service spends about $400,000 a year on the gill-netting program.

    .. FlyfishingEbooks.com is offering a free E-book in PDF. The book "Fly Fishing In Wonderland" was published in 1910 and is an interesting reminder of the way it was - - - if it really was! You will have to order it just like anything that you order on line. That means your credit card number and other personal information. BUT -- IT'S FREE!