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

    Back At It

    Alpers Entrenching
    Pack Your Boat
    .. Our friend Tim Alpers has gotten some help from the Mono County Development Council and is rapidly on his way to making the Conway Ranch along Highway 395 a new destination for California fishing. Read the whole story by Pete Thomas in the L.A. Times.
    .. Lake fishers, big water river fishers, and daredevil rapids fishermen now have the opportunity to take it all with them.
    .. Hammacher Schlemmer has a complete pontoon boat in a pack on sale for just $299.95.
    .. If you're a flats type, or just have genes of the adventurous kind, try their inflatable kayak. Stand up for a better view. It's only $1,899.95
    .. The Firehole River has provided some O.K. fishing for the opening week in Yellowstone National Park. Baetis in the afternoon and just about any double nymph rig all day.
    .. It's picking up, and hatches are now making themselves apparent. We'll cruise, (and fish some,) tomorrow and let you know the full story.
    .. Check out the fishing report at Madison River Outfitters for recent details about the week's fishing.
    .. We like the little fly from up on the Missouri River called John's Baetis. It's quick to tie, casts like it isn't there and catches fish with the aplomb of a kid with a worm. It's featured by the Falls Outfitters - as tied by John Arnold. (Click HERE for the recipe.)

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    A Day In The Park

    Firehole Bound

    .. Fried something other than biscuits and gravy. Decided to go fishing.

    FIREHOLE RIVER DATA (click here)
    3000 LDA 96

    3002 CMP # 13

    3004 BNE 3007

    3006 BRK

    3007 RTS

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    This Morning's Snow

    A Bit More Tomorrow
    madison river becomes a lake

    .. Well, the snows were warm and wet. Even the higher country received a mixture of snow and rain. Melting of the current snow pack has not appreciably slowed.
    .. From National Park Meadows, downstream to 7-mile Bridge the Madison River meadows are under water. Fish are in the grass and the most beautiful shade of reddish-brown is the prevalent color of the water.
    .. The Gibbon River in the canyon is a raging torrent. The Firehole River is very high but the color and visibility remain fishable. Nez Perce Creek is deep and backed-up by the overflowing Firehole River.
    .. For real time information over the next two days we suggest that you contact the fly shops listed in the sidebar. The clearest water and most approachable portions of the rivers are changing by the hour.
    .. And please don't forget to get your Yellowstone National Park fishing permit.
    .. It's raining now: we just may sleep in on Saturday morning.
    P.S. Spectacular photograph of a trout at Parks' Fly Shop Report.

    Monday, May 19, 2008


    MAY 24, 2008

    Too Thick To Wade - Too Thin To Plow
    bring a slicker
    .. First, the weather: not as bad as it could be. Showers are in the forecast. Some snow, some rain, some mixed, and who knows what else. Temperatures will climb into the 40's and maybe even low 50's. The blue sky will be visible on rare occasions. Bring as much clothing as your first class ticket will allow.
    .. That's the good news. The other news is as follows:
    1] The west entrance station to Yellowstone National Park is now fully functional - the road isn't. A one lane constriction will slow you down.
    2] The snow cover has kept the large ungulates in the valleys and on the roads. The bears and wolves have stayed with them. Traffic will be horrific.
    3] The only people who can afford to drive to the park have land yachts in the 40' class. They pull $46,000 Hummers behind them. They stop in the middle of the road to grab a snapshot of ground squirrels.
    4] Die hard fishers are already gathering in West Yellowstone. The rivers will be crowded. Be prepared to make new friends and enemies.
    5] There is still a foot, (or more,) of snow on the secondary roads. There may be difficulty getting to some fishing spots.
    6] The meadows are full of water, bison, elk, wolves and bears. Other than that, they are slick, spongy, soggy and 'quick.' Be prepared to wade cautiously to the rivers edge in many places.
    7] The water is no less than bank high in most places on the Gibbon, Firehole, and Madison Rivers.
    .. Fly fishers are fond of describing rivers in the Spring with gentle phrases. Some like "tea-stained," or "tea-colored." Other folks like "off color," or "cloudy," or "brownish." Occasionally you will hear words like buff, dark, dull, or even gray.
    .. The current state of most of the rivers is better described using colors that could refer to the contents of a baby's diaper.
    .. The Madison River near West Yellowstone, (Barns Holes to Seven Mile Bridge,) is full, frothy, dark brown with a visibility of less than a foot and getting more dense each day. This is a sick baby.
    .. The road to the Barns Holes is still restricted by snow that should be mostly gone by Saturday. We went down and back but did not travel the muddy dirt trails of the meadow. Faint of heart, we are.
    .. The long riffles and glides are so deep that there is little in the way of spume, spray or whitecaps. It's possible to define the main channels by the organic froth and bubbles that are in the main stream flows.
    .. Above Seven Mile Bridge the river is out of bank in several places and some of the meadows are covered by a foot of water.
    .. The carcasses of dead elk and bison are seen as furry islands: usually guarded by ravens, or eagles, or bears, or coyotes. At the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers in National Park Meadows it is clear to see that the Gibbon River is contributing the majority of the silt and sand to the Madison River.
    .. The broad meadows that hold some of the better-fishing tributaries are no less that a foot deep and some are deeper. If you can get across the Madison River to a couple of these choice tributaries, they will be less clear than they have been in the recent past.
    .. The bank at Nine Mile Hole is rapidly eroding, and the hot spring in National Park Meadows is under water. Fishing the Madison River on opening day will certainly be tough and largely a symbolic gesture.
    .. There are spots on the Gibbon River that may be productive for the fly fisher on May 24. You'll have to be ginger in your step, quick in your reflex, and vigilant in your observation. There are bison and elk in many of the meadows. The water is spread thin and the little depressions hold fish in the grass.
    .. The canyon is pretty much out of the question. However the plunge pool above Tanker Bend has a bit of slow clear water. The plunge pool below the bend is a brown mud hole with pink and yellow froth defining the main channel. Over-all, the canyon water is not as badly colored as it could be. Cool temperatures may slow it down some - probably not!
    .. The constriction of the Gibbon River near the picnic area between Gibbon Meadows and Elk Meadows has produced an hydraulic dam and slowed the river enough that there are some fishable areas. After all, fish gotta eat!
    .. The meadows around Norris Campground are clear of snow and more than a little damp. The water is rising at the present writing and is about 14" deep. Fish are in the grass and the water in the meadows is clear. This is fishable if you have the skills of a bonefisher.
    .. The meadows above Virginia Cascade still have a bit of snow in them and trudging through this slush will be a chore. The Gibbon River is actually tea-stained in this stretch and it is only out of bank in a couple of places. The meadow is very soft and you could be up to your ankles, (or worse,) if you're not careful.
    .. The Firehole River is looking like its traditional opening day self. It's roiling, burbling, bubbling, twisting and very full. Color is not up yet and visibility in some places is as much as three to four feet. The constricted sections around Midway Geyser Basin and in the Firehole Canyon are showing a bit of energy but the river is still within its banks, (right now.)
    .. The meadows of meanders in Biscuit Basin are soggy and the water is nearly clear adjacent to some of the banks. This will be a popular destination on opening day. There is easy access, there is a big parking lot, there are "facilities," and the scenery can't be beat.
    .. The big meadows below the bridge are wet and soggy. The Firehole River is out of bank in a couple of areas. Walking this section is also complicated by the numerous bears and carcasses in the area. There will be crowds early for the bear shows. They will linger through the day and then thicken again in the evening. If you'd like to collect license plate sightings - this is the place.
    .. The waters around the confluence of the Firehole River and Nez Perce Creek at the entrance bridge to Fountain Flat are surprisingly clear. No baby diapers here. More like diluted iced tea. Very encouraging.
    .. The bison are thick and the bears are too. Nez Perce Creek above the Grand Loop Road Bridge is closed because of the dense bear population.
    .. The short stretch of Nez Perce Creek , between the bridge and the Firehole River looks very fishy as of this writing. The outlet from Hidden Pond is flowing nicely and that will be a good place to check. It's clear, cool, and very buggy.
    .. The high ground between the two rivers is dry, lush, and protected. The picnic tables are in place as well.
    .. What flies? What bugs? What waters? STAY TUNED.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    The Edges Have It

    Silt In On Madison
    neighbors enjoy near record highs
    fish now - weather coming
    .. Too much is happening. The USFS is burning the dense duff north of town. The neighbors are walking in the road. The lawn chairs are on the shore of Hebgen Lake. Snow is making the rapid and erosive transition to water. Land yachts are entering the port of West Yellowstone. The sky has reached a summer blue. All is right with the world - for a bit.
    .. Fishing is an edge effect right now, and the edges are disappearing fast. The Madison River below Quake Lake and above the West Fork is High, Cold, Clear, and OPEN.
    .. Below the West Fork the edge of the silt plume is where the fish are. This colored water acts as a conveyor belt for groceries.
    .. The debris and bugs from erosion are laid out for the eager trout and whitefish . . . They are loving it. Make sure that the guide you hire is not color blind. Fish the edge with something that looks like a sack of groceries. Something big enough to wiggle and squiggle and stand out in the hazy fog of a silt plume.
    .. Right now that means some sort of stonefly or rubber-legs creation. Your choice. They are working great for now. The good news is: the edge is well defined and full of groceries. The bad news is: the soaring temperatures will turn the whole river a beautiful tan color within the week.
    .. Major fish and tourist activity is taking place around Hebgen Lake. The ice is receding rapidly from the edge of the lake and fishing has reached a frenzied pace. Very large pods of winter-starved trout are cruising the edge of the ice and gobbling the bits of flotsam that have been trapped in the ice for the last five months.
    .. Worm dunkers, gear heads, fly fishers, and kids with rocks are all taking large ravenous trout in the shallows at the edge of the ice.
    .. From the Hebgen dam to the Happy Hour Bar the open water is thin and scattered. Up-lake from the Happy Hour Bar through the narrows and into the Madison Arm the open water is growing at a pace to make even an Olympic skier jealous.
    .. Specific fly patterns are not too important for fishing the edge: technique is! Any tandem rig with a size 10 or 12 up top and a size 14 - 18 at the tip will do just fine. Lay the rig on the ice, (or as close to it as you can,) and wait until the ripples disappear. Drag the rig into the water and let it sink slowly.
    .. Hang on. The pods are very competitive right now and a double is possible. When is the last time you had one?
    .. In another day or two the mud will warm up and larvae will commence wiggling. Fish the bottom with a tandem rig on a sinking line, (or a sink tip if you have the patience,) let it get to the bottom. Up top should be a San Juan Worm, (size 8 - 10,) and on the tip a small fly that is well greased and will float. We use a well greased Yellowstone Badger.
    .. Let this rig rest between short and gentle tugs punctuated with an occasional jerk. Be sure to work a lot of water. The fish are cruising and not standing still. You can see them coming with a good pair of polarized glasses.
    .. Traveling the roads around West Yellowstone is a dangerous chore at the moment. The danger will increase as we approach the Memorial Day opener in Yellowstone National Park, (Saturday, May 24, 2008.)
    .. Many of our neighbors have four legs and enjoy the sun, green grass, salt, and convenience of the roads. Many visitors jab the brakes and pause for a "Kodak Moment," on an instant's notice.
    .. You will be surprised at just what constitutes a "photographic opportunity."
    .. Additionally; the local, county, federal, and state gendarmes are out in full force. They are enjoying this brief spell of postcard weather too. The road from Bozeman to Idaho Falls and Salt Lake City is also heavily traveled by commercial trucking. Please slow down and drive very carefully. It's a dirty shame to catch a bumper instead of an angry trout.
    .. Now then: about the weather. The opening in Yellowstone promises to be perfectly traditional. Blustery weather with high temperatures into the 40's and maybe the 50's. Showers and a bit of snow are both in the forecast for next weekend. The rivers will be mostly very high and muddy. The warmth of this weekend promises to guarantee some very challenging fishing for those folks that have made it a tradition to "get there first."
    .. We're going to cruise the park tomorrow and we'll let you know how bad it really is. We'll also let you know where the fishing will be good and not so crowded. Stay tuned.
    Some of the neighbors agreed to pose for the portraits below.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    The Spring Fly Box - Redux

    The Scene's The Same
    just two months later
    Fantastic Scientific Research Results
    .. Below is last years post about the spring fly box. We've added just one fly this year. The Shop Vac. With snow currently on the ground and it snowing on and off all week it seems that the bug activity will be mostly underwater.
    .. This is as close as we come to recommending flies for fishing. We have used some of these patterns for 40 years or more - really - and they continue to work. They do not satisfy the need for experimentation, nor do they tickle the fancy of feather merchants, nor are they the latest and greatest; they just suit us.
    .. Other flies work fine, and other flies may even work better. One old local fly fisher was fond of asking and answering a question in the same breath: "Why are there so many flies? - Because they all work!" We agree.
    .. Spring fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park is weather and runoff dependent - no surprise there. The weather can be brutal well into June, and the runoff can keep you off of the water for days, (or weeks,) at a time. The flies shown here are designed to work well in a variety of conditions and in that sense are "generalized flies." There are some that could be considered 'imitative,' however most will fall into the 'attractor' class - that's O.K. with us. Got'ta attract a fish to catch it.

    .. Montana Duster: We use piles of these all season long and start the Spring nymphing with it. This pattern, and the original Feather Duster are staples in our Spring assortment. The yellow color is most popular. However, about this time each year the pink makes an appearance - probably taken for an egg - who knows? Sizes: 6 - 18.
    .. Yellowstone Coachman: The occasional day in early Spring that allows a good hatch is an unanticipated joy. The fish are seldom very selective, (well - sort'a,) and this fly works wonders. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. The Yellowstone Cinch: This is our other choice for early Spring dry fly days. It is a local adaptation that floats like a cork, and can be quickly tied at home or on the water. Size is the key to this and other early season flies in Yellowstone. Later the fish become much more selective. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. Yellowstone Spruce Fly: This fly was developed by some neighbors that use a bubble on a spinning or casting rig for Fall fishing. It is an exceptional fly when casted with a fly rod in the spring. It's a bit gaudy for many of our purists, but with a nice slow presentation in the cold waters of the early Spring it looks like a big sack of groceries to hungry trout. Sizes: 4 - 12.
    .. Yellowstone Morning Glory: This is an all season fly that we like to keep handy for fishing in the film, or slightly submerged in the Spring. It is a traditional 'early morning' fly for those that find the right foggy morning after the rare early Spring hatch. In the Summer it's a useful attractor. There are many flies similar to this local variant and most will do - we use this one. Sizes: 10 - 16.
    .. Yellowstone Winter Grub: This looks like nothing other than something to sample - or some such. We fish this all Winter and carry it into the Spring. It's a heavy fly, though it casts well, and is useful for 'dredging' those big fish that you know are there. It's apparently an old fly from the Salmon & Challis area in Idaho. We usually have this in a variety of sizes for the desperation moments. Sizes: 4 - 10.
    .. Woolly Worm: Spit the words out of your mouth if you must - it's a great Spring fly in Yellowstone country. Sometimes we use small ones on the surface when the snow flies are out. Black or yellow seem to be the colors of choice, we've got more yellow ones. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. Yellowstone Badger: This prickly little devil is one that serves a multitude of purposes. Float it, sink it, splash it, strip it, or just dap it - it is a winner. This fly is similar to the other nymphs that are popular around here - the Pheasant Tail, and the Hare's Ear. We use them all, but keep coming back to this one. Sizes: 12 - 18.
    .. Stiff Hackle Nymph: This variant of the soft hackle variety is not a favorite among many folks in the fly fishing community. It does work well and it is used by some of our 'more mature' neighbors. We've used it since the 80's and found it to be a useful resource - but we tend to forget it too. This is an all season fly that we just put in the fly box because we have them. Sizes 12 -18.
    .. Deer Hair Caddis: This little fly we borrowed from Jason Neuswanger over at The Trout Nut. We fished it all last year along with the local versions and it was a standout performer. It's a dark fly that is consistent with some of our early Caddis hatches and we like it very much. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. The Quick -N-Easy is one of those flies that makes many a fly fisher cringe. It is gaudy, flashy, big, and effective. It is famous for its spectacular refusals, and that's it's purpose. Tie it on early and then fish the fly that the fish are taking. This will show you that there are really fish in the water, and it may even catch one or two. Sizes: 8 - 14.
    .. Hellifiknow: This pattern is reminiscent of the Black Nose Dace and Micky Finn patterns. It is useful when the water is murky and you need to get a bit of twinkle down deep. It's a Spring staple and often a 'what if ?' kind of fly for prospecting. Sizes 4 - 12.
    .. Scarlet Ibis: We've carried this fly since the early 60's. Back then they came on a card and you got four for a dollar. They were imported from Japan and attracted the novice and expert alike. Bit of color never hurts the old fly boxes. This traditional wet fly is one that we fish for fun. It may be taken for an egg, a flying saucer, a cowboy's bandanna, or "who knows ?" - but it takes a few fish every year. Sizes: 8 - 14.
    .. Here's the post on the Shop Vac. It's proven its worth in subsurface fishing over the last few seasons. Tied a bit larger than the traditional sizes it is a fine upper fly in a tandem rig and can be seen on a slow shallow swing.
    .. We have an irrational fondness for the local Feather Dusters, (Original, Montana, Egg,) yet we always have a few Shop Vacs as well. For year-round success these nymphs rank very high. Most people use the bead head variety. Contrarians that we are, we stick with the fluff sans bead.
    .. The recipe lets you know why we're fond of these by the dozen.
    Recipe. Hook: size 12 - 18, Thread: black, Body: pheasant tail fiber, Rib: medium, (or fine,) copper wire, Wing: gold or white Zelon, (cul de canard works fine.)
    Instructions. Move thread to the rear of the hook, attach pheasant tail fibers and the wire, return thread and fibers to head, counter wrap the wire rib to the eye, tie off, attach zelon, (or cul de canard,) on top of the hook shank, whip finish a large clunky head.
    .. These can be greased up real heavy and floated if you choose. The smaller sizes float very well.
    .. New research results have been released from the Montana State Piscatorial Institute, (MSPI) detailing the findings of fish vision. The results had been delayed for about three years due to the problems of replicating the results from the implantation of sensors in the visual centers of the living trout brain.
    .. The results are scientifically astounding.
    .. Trout have as their main brain component the optic lobes. These highly developed brain tissues are capable of a higher resolution than previously thought, and are capable of providing the necessary stimulus/reaction response to a wide variety of external phenomena.
    .. The single most astonishing finding is that the trout uses this highly developed cerebral mass for a process of transliteration.
    .. The transliteration of visualized objects into desirable objects takes place at the interface of the cerebrum and the optic lobes. This is facilitated by neuro-synaptic activity that was also traced to both the hypothalamus and the olfactory interface. The resulting interplay of these electrochemical processes produce a cognitive impression of an object with attributes of both food and sex.
    .. In simple terms: the trout sees food items as desirable objects in a way exactly similar to the way fisher folks see desireable objects. And the trout sees subsurface objects as the most desirable of all food objects.
    .. Of all the subsurface food items, nymphs are seen as the most desirable of food items and they produce responses that are similar in intensity to the desire for sexual objects . . . in both fish and humans.
    .. The transliteration phenomena was successfully captured by the researchers and reproduced as an image comprehensible to humans.
    .. The image is the product of newly developed technology that not only implants sensors in the trout's brain, but produces output in visual terms. Although some transliteration algorhythms are informed by food of the fish, others are informed by research in humans and adolescent canines as well.
    .. We are fortunate to be chosen as the first place to release this image to the public.
    .. Below is what a Feather Duster nymph, (we provided the research props,) looks like to a trout. We have to admit that the trout has good taste!