• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Friday, February 29, 2008

    Before The Storm

    Anchor Ice Lifting
    shameful behavior
    random stuff
    .. The trail through the snow to the Madison River has reached bare ground in the vicinity of Campfire Lodge: brave soles have connected the post-holes at the Hebgen Tailwater, the anchor ice is rapidly disappearing along the Gallatin River in it's lower canyon reaches, and, (parenthetically,) fish have already arrived at the Henry's Lake Hatchery on the Snake River.
    .. As water creeps over the ice on Hebgen Lake, and the thrummers begin to worry about slush and cracking bringing an end to a very hot ice fishing season, local fishing and canyon fishing is on the upswing. "Buggy" flies and slow drifts are beginning to produce results among the pre-spawn fish on the Madison River below Hebgen Dam.
    .. This is the time of year that the Yellowstone Winter Grub shines. The fly looks like a giant Prince Nymph, casts like a bowling ball, fishes like a spark plug, and catches any fish with at least one eye open - it works wonders. Tied in sizes from 4 to 12 it is an old fly with just local fans, not a secret - just underused. Right now a size 6 or 8 is working good.
    .. The trail to the lower end of Quake Lake is still a snowy snake with icy scales. The fishable water is just now appearing and only the brave and young should attempt this type of fishing: risk/reward plays a part here.
    .. Another fly that the neighbors are using is the HELLIFIKNOW. This bit of flash in the early morning darkness is just the ticket for those fish that don't yet know that the fisher folk are prowling. It is fished as much as a novelty as it is a working fly. Often it is the fly of first and last resort . . . we have several sizes and use it in the backwater eddies - it's visible for a ways and provides some measure of security for our cold fingers in the morning. Sizes 8 - 10 are the choice right now.
    .. Starting around Red Cliff and going down stream the Gallatin River is providing good action in the afternoon. This is the time of year when the anchor ice has lifted and morsels from the deep are available to the fish. Nymph fishers usually tie on their favorite double and pound the depths of the deeper runs.
    .. Our current double is a Yellowstone Spruce Fly with a Yellowstone Badger tied to the bend of it's hook with a 12" leader. This rig is less used today than in the past; sad if you want to catch fish -- glad if you can't cast a whirling dervish.
    .. If you haven't seen it already, click on over to The Trout Underground and see how shameful behavior is running along the fine line between humor and slander. Poor Tom has enough on his plate without having to deal with marginal poop. Humor????
    .. The new format and focus at THE HORSES MOUTH appears to be in it's final stages of completion. It is lean, mean, and focused . . . informative and always a pleasure to browse. Two recent posts have gotten much review at our morning biscuits and gravy fest: MAS WAHINES SURFING & POISSONS LE VENDRETI - love the linguistic juxtaposition.
    .. Another revamp has seemed to reached it's zenith over at FLYTIMES. You'll be redirected if you use the old address. They are now at: http://www.theflyfishingblog.com/. Same good stuff but now a real DOT COM! We'd wondered about the paucity of posting and now we know.
    .. FLYFISHMAGAZINE lets us know that the times are truly changing as more and more fly fishers take up the challenge of "Competitive Angling." How very American!
    .. If you are still young and firm enough to wear a T-Shirt, it's worth your while to visit snorgTees.com. They have some shirts a bit out of the ordinary and show the kind of creativity that we wish we had. The shirts are grand, and the pictures are just as good. If you're the creative sort send them a design - they are always looking for Tee's with a bit of class.
    .. As if we didn't already know it, Microsoft's latest operating system is a resource hog of the first order. Now there is a formal class action suit against them for certifying minimal PC's as "VISTA Capable." Even Microsoft employees got stung and ended up with $2,100 email machines.
    .. Speaking of Windows, there is now a complete musical composition using only the sounds from Windows 98 and Windows XP. It won't seduce many wimmen at the bar, nor will it conjure fish from the depths . . . it is catchy though.
    .. Well it's time for biscuits and gravy, there's a storm coming, fishing is on the agenda for the day, and of course there's some lies to be told before it all.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Bad News -- Good News

    Rainbows Without Whirling
    mindless sex
    .. As the sun splashes over West Yellowstone, (and mothers hide their children from the strange shinning orb,) news reaches us in the form of continued stupidity from our federal bureaucracy.
    .. Marshall Cutchin over at Midcurrent pointed us to the final, (in a long line of finals,) decision about the fluvial grayling by our very own United States Fish and Wildlife Service. It seems that " . . . genetics similar enough . . . " is good enough to damn the grayling in the lower 48 because it has genetics similar to those genetics of grayling elsewhere.
    .. As near as we can tell the genetics of the USFWS are more similar to chimpanzees than the genetics of the the two sub species of grayling being considered. Perhaps a new genetic infusion is needed in the USFWS. You can read about the most recent results of this struggle in the Helenair.com article.
    .. As we've noted previously rainbow trout that are resistant to whirling disease are being studied in Utah and Colorado. Now the resistant fish in Colorado are proving capable of breeding and may provide another front in the war on this invasive species. The Hofer strain, (similar to the Ho-Ha strain in Utah,) were introduced to the Gunnison River in 2004, and the Frying Pan River in 2005.
    .. The fingerlings introduced back then have produced what appears to be a viable population. Much of the credit of this project belongs to the dedicated staff of the Colorado Devision of Wildlife and research scientist George Schisler. A tip of the fedora to you folks. You can read all about it in the Coloradoan article.
    .. Not so surprisingly, beer consumption in West Yellowstone increases about this time of year. This phenomenon has been attributed to many diverse factors ranging from love to Valentine's Day to the approach of St. Patrick's Day, to cabin fever.
    .. Whatever the reason, it's not an all bad thing, (and useful in a snowbound setting.) Alcohol, in its many forms has, throughout the ages, served as a social lubricant, and the same is true at this time of the year in the high country.
    .. Those of us who remember Falstaff Beer probably remember its claims, and it's fishy and sexy advertising, (dating from as early as 1897.)
    .. The happy coincidence of fishing, beer and sex is probably not as random as it would seem.
    .. Certainly there is an element of substitution and sublimation in this social trifecta. It is certainly apparent in the pubs around this town.
    .. If talk turns to fish it also turns to sex. The parallels and vocabulary are humorously similar. It takes little imagination to see the similarities: bait, trolling, snagging, catching, hooked, hooking, hooker, etc. Even T-shirts celebrate the association: "Tie me, fly me, whip me, strip me . . . "
    .. Hot fish and hot women are on the minds of our neighbors as the snow continues to accumulate.
    .. And you know that when it's deep enough to ride your snowmobile to the second floor window of your beloved, it's deep enough to suggest that Romeo's fair Juliette is on the minds of even the sled heads in West Yellowstone.
    .. Even the crusty old farts in town, lubricated by a bit of brew, begin to succumb to thoughts of warmer topics. Entice a fish? Drift a little deeper? Get hung up? Really snagged? It's hard to fish without being sexy. Have you ever been bit?
    .. FISH ON! The call comes from the end of the bar. Where's the bite? Nice fish, good fish, pretty fish; it goes on and on. There are even sights that float into the mind that defy reality.
    .. Winter, snow and brew bring about a bit of hallucinogenic foolishness. Images, that never could be, float through the convoluted folds of remaining cerebral cortex. Cool cats and hot fish don't seem like much of a likely pairing. Yet in the muted light of a congenial pub all things seem possible -- nay -- probable.
    .. A vise-like grip? Play her a bit longer? She's not ready to be landed? A bit of dark fur for enticement? Blue ribbon waters? A gentle rise? A swift current? Where's my fly? Did you land her?
    .. Was it this good last year? Is it always this hard? The words and images of drinking and dunking seem continuously interchangeable. Where were we last night? Do fish, once caught, get bigger with each retelling of the tale? Do the girls all get prettier at closing time?
    .. The end of the rise? All played out? One last cast? Trophy waters, trophy women? It can't be cabin fever, winter's only five months old.
    .. We recall, very fondly, these fine and beautiful fish that we caught . . . . Gorgeous!

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Just A Bit Of Paradise

    Where Nature Meets Culture
    God Bless Chum
    .. It's nice to see that the folks over at Moldy Chum are keeping an eye on the glories that are Montana . . . . . . for the rich. Even their savvy readers are watching.
    .. Last October we suggested that the "Ameya Preserve" was the perfect place for retirement for filthy rich fly fishers - reality scoops reverie!
    .. If you want your children and their children to enjoy a bit of Montana, you'd best mortgage it all and get here quick. It's disappearing at a rate of 11,000 acres a bite. After all - any thing good enough for Nieman Marcus, is good enough for us!
    .. P.S. The 'news' link on the Ameya Preserve site is disabled . . . . hmmmmm!

    Real Cabin Fever


    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    In The Depths Of Winter

    Reality Provides It

    .. Winter Provides it's own rewards:

    Monday, February 04, 2008

    Just How Deep Is It ?

    Sand, Sun, Fish, Golf
    the mind wanders
    .. Whilst shoveling last night's 10" of snow from the sidewalk a vision appeared. The beauty of sand and sun and fish are ever with us in the depths of our winter wonderland. Snow feeds the streams and snow is the joy of winter.
    .. It's also deep! This is the way it used to be. This is what we're famous for. Snow for trees, snow for streams, snow for trout. Thinking of the good things about snow leads to the mind seeking justification for watching the snow build. It will make the flowers bloom, it will allow the golf courses to be watered, it will give sustenance to all the lowland pleasures that the valley-folk enjoy.
    .. We've noticed that the snow brings taxi drivers to local watering holes. They gather and share stories of winters past. The young ones marvel that the snow is over their heads - thus it always was. Is this normal? The question resounds in the quiet mornings and the hectic evenings. What do you do with all this snow? Where do you put it? Under the bed? In the closet? The questions are real, and the beginning of "Snow Wars" is upon us.
    .. Neighbors fight neighbors for a place to dump the snow. Business vs. business in the quest for a cleaner access. City vs. state in the attempt to provide space for both cars and people. The snow can only be pushed so far. Then it's the skidsters and front-end loaders. Trucks and dump trucks. Pile it high, pile it higher, pile it still higher -- the sky's the limit. Push it into the next door neighbor's lot. Push it into his backyard. "My loader's bigger than your loader!"
    .. In this environment a snow shovel has no chance. Alliances are formed: we'll get'em this year! Let's lease a 4-yard bucket. Let's get up at 3:00 AM! Let's take it to the dump.
    .. We moved about a yard and a half of snow this morning and called it good. We hope that our bit of clean sidewalk goes unnoticed. We hope the plows are moving too fast to see the little empty space. We dream of sun, sand fish and golf. The mind does wander during exertion. Sixty-five years plus of weather and the young'ns think this is big. We've seen tunnels to front doors. We've seen streets buried until June. We've known the need for a door on the second floor.
    .. Before snow blowers and the access to front end loaders it was a slow time of year. The snow came and we endured. The rich man used his tractor and that was that. Be nice to the rich man, you may get to your car by the end of May. It's still that way. But, now there are more rich folks. More loaders, more blowers, and the poor just shovel the roofs.
    .. Cars, that don't move for more than two days, get buried -- and found next spring. Spring comes late to the high country. There will be bits of snow well into June this year. It'll hide in north-facing shadows and under the boughs of conifers. It'll melt slowly and feed the trees and fishes. It'll fill the lakes and reservoirs.
    .. If it's a wet spring Ennis and Livingstone will try their best to move downstream in the high runoff. Don't pray for rain, it melts the snow, it gorges the rivers, it rearranges the gravels, it makes a mess in the lowlands. Will it hurt the golf courses? The mind does wander.
    .. There's things to do in the winter, in the high country. Beside attending to the sidewalk; there's flies to tie, lines to oil, tackle to attend too, and guns to clean again. There's food and mail to retrieve. There's rooms to clean and rearrange. There's visitations and business and even some ice hockey, skiing, and skating.
    .. The deep snow is always with us. Visitors see plowed streets and call it wonderland. They're here for a week at most. They marvel at the beauty. They write home, email their friends from the wifi in the motel, and make a few calls -- they never shovel a sidewalk. They get escorted to the park and never get their ankles cold -- such is the business of postcard living.
    .. The post card does not include snow flies: wingless or winged, ( #1 - #2 - #3.) It doesn't include the dogs that freeze to death. It doesn't include the engine blocks that crack and the batteries that burst. It certainly doesn't include the broken bones and bruises that even the experienced gather up in the winter. It is a pretty post card though - the mind does wander.
    .. As the unseen sun brightens the cloud cover, bustle appears. The kids go to school, the snow coaches rattle the windows as they rumble past, the sleds zip about and dogs do their business in a hurry. The grocery store opens: trinket shops at 10:00 or so, no hurry in the winter. Kitchens come to life and snow gets kicked off boots a thousand times an hour. At the post office, in the deli, in the diner, at the school, at church, at the city offices, at the gas stations, in homes, on construction sites. Snow is moved in big and little pieces all day long. It's here and that's that! Put it in a postcard home.
    .. It's time for biscuits and gravy and, some people-watching. Look at all the new down pants. Look at all the down parkas. Look at the new boots. Couldn't perform a bit of shoveling in that giddy-up! The mind does wander. We're planning a golfing trip.

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    The Groundhog Flies

    Imported From The Allegheny Mountains
    a winter diversion
    .. It's Groundhog Day in West Yellowstone and we had just enough of a break yesterday to dig out. Winter is back to normal and the snow is beginning to pile up like it did just a couple of decades ago.
    .. Surprisingly, (or not so!) the old farts in the neighborhood are "knockin'em ded" on drowned groundhog flies and maggots: under the ice at Hebgen Lake, of course.
    .. Again, (just like last year,) the town is suffering a shortage of both meal worms and maggots. Crusty critters of the all-season-fisher variety are doing well despite the lack of wiggly carnivores and snow depths of 5 or more feet.
    .. The trick, learned before maggots and meal worms were commercially available, is to put a bit of rubber band on the hook of a Groundhog Fly and fish it just like you would a maggot. This involves a very short spinning rod and a bit of weight. The ideal rod is made for ice fishing and the preferred model is a "Thrumming Rod," which has a bit of spring steel under the thumb or forefinger. The spring steel is "thrummed" (rapidly or slowly,) and sends vibrations down the line to gently impart motion and sound to the bait -- Works well.
    .. The fly is originally a Pennsylvania innovation that has become rather standard fare for the Brook Trout of Vermont. Although seldom seen in these parts, (due to the lack of groundhogs,) an identical fly is tied with the fur of our Yellow-Bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris.) It's nothing fancy, and it's fished dry, wet, and drowned - both under the ice and in flowing water.
    .. Interestingly the best illustration of this fly is in a blog about Terriers - Terrierman's Daily Dose. Excellent original references to this fly, (and others using groundhog fur,) are found at Fishingwithflies.com. The recipe is simple, straightforward, and the one given here is from that source:
    Hook: Photo shows size 14 Tiemco 100.Thread: Color and size to suite. Photo shows Danville 6/0. Abdomen: Dub the rear half or two-thirds of the hook shank with woodchuck dubbing made from underfur. Directions for making dubbing are in the article Working Wonders With Woodchuck. I used the dubbing-loop technique here. Hackle/Legs: Dry fly hackle to match the hatch. Photo shows cree-colored rooster saddle hackle over the front half to one-third of the hook shank.

    .. Fished well waxed and dry, this is a very corky fly that is well suited to our boisterous waters. Tied in the smaller sizes, (down to 18, for those with nimble fingers,) this is a genuine killer as a generic nymph or maggot imitation - sans flotation, hackle, and with short fur - of course.
    .. We lost all of ours in 30" trout between the lakes or we'd show you some. They will be illustrated on the flies page as soon as we tie some more.