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

    The Unofficial End Of Summer

    Pick Your Pleasure
    .. We're off to the famous waters of an ancient river in Yellowstone National Park. It was enjoyed by the locals long before Euro-Americans invaded the area. A loose translation of it's name into the English language produces a word similar to "NOTELLUM."
    .. The very word conjures up images of large and enthusiastic trout. The conjuring is no false vision. These are the strongest and most beautiful trout on the planet. Happily, they are also very gullible. We like it that way on occasion. No stealth is involved in the approach. No finesse is required in the cast. Gossamer leaders and perfect flies don't enter into the equation. There is no possibility of losing a fish once it is hooked -- and a fish is hooked on every cast.
    .. The trout leap and cartwheel with abandon. They run and they pout. They shake their heads with the force of shoulders that should be on a salmon; and then they come placidly to hand for a gentle release back to the chrystal clear depths.
    .. The length and breadth of the river is legend and it's fish border on the phenomenal - nay, they have crossed the border. From it's origin high in the wild back country of Yellowstone, the river runs and leaps and boils.
    .. Every pool holds fish of heroic proportions and spirit. Every bend reveals a new and more beautiful place to wet a line.
    .. Mornings start with a foggy haze as twinkling spinners fall to the placid pools. Ripples, noses, dimples, and splashes echo above the gurgling of the waters. Fish are beginning to feed. They feed until your arm is tired of casting and your back sore from leaning into the weight of the trout. Calendar pictures are taken on the Notellum River. They are scrumptious - you are in all of them.
    .. Lunch time is greeted by billowed clouds, a gently shower in the distance, and a shore lunch of such gastronomic delight that a nap is necessary. After lunch there is an all pervading twilight that lasts for 7 or 8 hours. Bugs hatch - fish feed and are caught; released and caught again.
    .. Evening brings on the cool mists of a coming night and the largest fish arrive to commune with anglers. The dances are beautiful. The cadence is varied and perfectly suits your mood.
    .. Lets tango - gladly. How 'bout a bit of a fox trout - whatever you will. Polka anyone - you got it. The last waltz arrives just as you are ready to leave and is prolonged into the moonlight. It takes you across the pool, into the depths and up current until your reel sings and the backing diminishes. Then with strings and brass blaring ends in a crescendo of pirouetting leaps as the perfect day ends on the Notellum River.
    .. Here are a few images taken over the years of the Notellum River. It's a beautiful bit of trout water that only the cognoscenti know about. You may have driven past these waters. You should have stopped to fish.
    .. We'll be back after a short pause for some dances and labors of love.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    It's Beach Time

    Go To The Beach
    There's Fish There
    .. It's beach time. If you need a bit of a fishing fix and your favorite river is hot enough to poach the fish you'd like to catch; fish a lake. There are some nice cold water fisheries that are fishing very well:
    * Grebe Lake,
    * Hebgen Lake,
    * Quake Lake.
    .. There are gulpers and shore dogs in all of these lakes and, by golly, they will eat your fly with exuberance. The tactics are rudimentary and the rewards are legion.
    .. Bugs of all sorts inhabit the shallows near the beach and the trout come close to eat them. Flies hatch and surface in the shallows. Terrestrials drown in the shallows. Mice swim in the shallows.
    .. Ooze and goo breeds in the shallows where light provides the energy for photosynthesis and growth.
    .. The beach is adjacent to the shallows. This is a classic example of the edge effect in biological succession, (see Wikipedia.) The diversity is amazing -- exploit it! Go to the beach.
    .. Take your foam collection with you to the beach. Float your ants and beetles, and hoppers, and moths, and millers. Drown your favorite Gob-O Worms, or San Juan Worm, or a Feather Duster, or even a Prince with a bead head.
    .. Fish at the edge of the shadows and cast parallel to the shore -- wade if you like, (P.S. Wade and Cliff are going nuts as we speak.)
    .. Fly fishing in lakes is rewarding, productive and less crowded than the rivers, right now. We wonder at the obsession with the rivers.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Where To Fish In Yellowstone

    Learn The Names
    enjoy the conversation
    .. For the visiting fisher folk, Yellowstone National Park has some "must fish" destinations.
    .. Good, bad, or indifferent, if you come to Yellowstone you will probably fish one or more of the following: Firehole River, Slough Creek, Lamar River, Yellowstone River, Madison River, Soda Butte Creek, Gallatin River, Gibbon River, Snake River, Lewis River, Gardner River, and maybe a couple of other famous destinations.
    .. And if you do visit visit you will probably change into your wading gear on a paved road where buses full of other visitors will take your picture. Hardly the wilderness experience portrayed in the prose of tour guides, fishing magazines, and feather merchants alike. Kind'a like collecting postcards.
    .. If you can bear to fish where there are fewer elbows and no buses, there are fish to be caught, (yes Mable both the big and the little fish,) on the lessor known waters of Yellowstone National Park.
    .. And if you come to visit Yellowstone you probably will not fish Cabin Slough, or Solfaterra Creek, or Rock Run Creek, or Shoshone Lake, or Lewis Lake.
    .. You probably won't hear about Otter Creek, Sam's hole, or Hayden's Folly. These are not words bantered about in the corners of fly shops or the watering holes of Gardiner. They are too far from the paved road.
    .. The neighbors are screaming right now! "He's done it again!" Well, we will not reveal too much, but the fishing and catching right now is exceptional on: Grayling Creek, Winter Creek, Cache Creek, Obsidian Creek, and the Upper Firehole River along the Lone Star Geyser Trail, (ever seen a 16" Brook Trout in Spawning colors?)
    .. The feather merchants and sage guru's will warn you that there are no "Big Fish" in Duck Creek; "it's hardly worth fishing." Just ask them about when was the last time they were there? After all there's gravel on the road. And they know just the experience that you are looking for - after all they taught it to you. Too muddy, too many mosquitoes, bears, willows to eat your every cast.
    .. Don't bother with Nez Perce Creek or Iron Spring Creek, it's too far to walk. And, of course, the big fish need to rest in these cool waters.
    .. Why would anyone fish Blacktail Deer Creek? After all it's just a few more miles to the Lamar River or Slough Creek. And there's no dust on the paved road. Well, Mable, the most dense population of hoppers in Yellowstone may just be feeding the fish along the trail. But then, you do have to walk a bit.
    .. Ice Box Canyon is abandoned right now in favor of fishing a bit lower down. Poor upper Soda Butte Creek ignored for it's meadow water's near the Lamar River. There are only day hikers and lookee-lou's along the Pebble Creek trail. The fish are feeling neglected -- and loving it.
    .. Don't bother with Trout Lake. It's three miles from a paved road. And the fish don't eat anything during July and August. Hardly worth the trip. Oh, and, by the way, the water is the coldest in the Gibbon River drainage during those months too. And there are beautiful pools all along the trail - but you wouldn't want to leave the trail.
    .. Yes there are hoards of eager Brook Trout in Winter and Obsidian Creeks, but you do have to avoid the snags. And, sadly, even the little fish are particular about what they eat this time of year -- avoid it at all costs.
    .. The big meadows of the Gibbon River are far more interesting even if you have to crawl three miles between fish.
    .. Heavens Mable, look at how far down it is to the Yellowstone River. How far down do we have to walk before we can see Tower Falls? Look at all the people on the trail, it sure is crowded. How come there's no one with a fishing rod?
    .. If the social beast within your breast demands that you brave the crowds for your Yellowstone experience, try the Tower Falls Trail. When you get to the bottom you can fish -- generally unmolested. And there are many fish to be caught both in the creek and the river.
    .. Well, the crowds are in all the usual places, and you should follow the advice of the feather merchants and fishing guru's. Click your way around the web. Find the fishing reports and what flies to use. The advice is good and will take you to where "it's happening." Go the the glory waters of Yellowstone -- 'tis the season.
    .. We're going to . . . . 7-mile hole, it's a grunt; but then there's fewer elbows, no conversation, no traffic noise, and giant fish -- little ones too. There's not even a nice paved road for changing clothes, (why would you?) There's even thermal features and scenery. But then, dammit Mable, you've gott'a climb back out of that hole!

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    From Another Place

    Lurker Lunker Landed
    feed big fish mice

    The neighbors have chastised us soundly for our night time fishing posts. The critics and unbelievers have called #@$%!^%&* and accused us of senility. We have broad shoulders and accept it all. However an email from a not too distant quarter sent by a recent visitor to Yellowstone helps us endure.
    .. For, in fact, in a life long-past we fished the area a bit west of here. The memories have softened into the glow of slurred synapses and were awakened by a recent communication from [name redacted] as he reports about a late night journey to 'Hidden Hole' on a river that we'd nearly forgotten about. The tale is worth a read:
    It started during the fall caddis hatch last year. Harlan looked down into a pool bordered by vertical cliffs and impenetrable brush and trees to see the biggest fish of his life, three trout the size of salmon or large steelhead.

    How to reach them, how to lure them? The banks are inaccessible and the casts from above and below far beyond our abilities. One fish clears the water like a Polaris missile leaving us stunned. These trout are enormous, the stream too small, they live in a fortress.

    The season ended and winter was the time to plan. Deer hair mice were bought with the idea of full moon night stalks. With the second most snowfall on record, the cool spring runoff was high and long. A soccer season leading to a bid for the state championship (one team finishes better and 48 worse) sidetracked one or two monthly opportunities. The first attempt came in July and a day or two after your Galleon Moon posting, which wasn't seen until two large fish struck hard and instantly went their ways (weak leadership).

    There were a number of lessons learned that long night. A careful reading of the Galleon Moon would have greatly improved the chances of successful landings. Between first hand experience and a little Internet book learning we are ready to try again.

    The next opportunity came last Saturday with an 8:00 pm moon rise. Pulling waders on at 10:00 pm we set out for the fortress about a mile and half upstream. The first stop was at a big hole where two large fish have shown themselves and have been lost. No takers tonight. The second stop another big familiar hole, fast water entering the deep, thick foam in the big eddy. A stealthy stalk to the edge of the high cut bank edge and concerns about moonlight shadows cast upon the water lead to casting a mouse on a very short and obscenely stout leader. The drift is short before the fish is on with a line stripping run, leaps that clear the water, and a weight indicating that this is not the usual 'Hidden Hole' rainbow. A few minutes later and with Harlan's help the big brown is documented. It worked!

    On to the fortress where all efforts are futile. The biggest ones are not seen or landed, but water clearing rises that sound like cobbles thrown into the steam confirm that they are still there. Sunrise, after landing a 23 inch brown in a sagebrush steppe stream, looked great.

    Good fun, hope that all is well.
    [name redacted]

    .. In the interests of full disclosure, and for the few night owls in the crowd a picture of the stream and its hidden hole is posted below. There's still a couple of nights left with a BIG moon. Don't catch 'em all.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Red Flag Warning

    .. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for north central and most of southwest Montana. Winds, low humidity, some new record temperatures, and 'dry' thunderstorms are in the forecast.
    .. The warning is for noon until midnight. Be careful and watch the radar before you take your mouse for a walk in the moonlight.
    .. See today's post in BEST FLY FISHING YELLOWSTONE for precautions.
    .. Roy Sullivan, a ranger in Shenandoah National Park, Was struck by lightning seven times, (a world record.).
    .. Check out the timely post in National Parks Traveler. Just the facts in Wikipedia.
    .. Roy had enough of it all and put a bullet through his head on September 28, 1983.
    Money Quote from National Parks Traveler:
    So, what are the odds of being struck by lightning seven times in an 80-year lifetime? The answer is one in (3,000 x 3,000 x 3,000 x 3,000 x 3,000 x 3,000 x 3,000). You can do the math in your head if you're familiar with exponents. The odds of being hit by lightning seven times in your lifetime are one in 2,187 followed by 21 zeroes. That is an awful lot of zeroes.
    .. Here's a Berkeley "Lightning Rod" for the brave of heart. It's made of IM6 and guaranteed to generate stories.

    What A Beautiful Moon


    Saturday, August 16, 2008


    Fish Weir Again
    don't abandon gulpers
    .. Straight from HDW-MOBILE comes a note about lightning and graphite fly rods. There's a fine photo of an anvil, and reference to the FLY TALK page in Field and Stream.

    FYI: "It's cloud banger time."
    .. From our own West Yellowstone News Online comes a note about the placement of the Madison River Fish Weir for the fall-run-fish from Hebgen Lake.

    FYI: "It's looking like fall in the high country."
    .. Gulper fishing on Hebgen Lake is happening as we speak. Some of the neighbors have lamented that the high water level in the reservoir has hampered fishing because the water-weeds haven't reached the surface.
    .. Other, more savvy, neighbors understand that when gulpers gulp, they do it despite the proximity of weeds to the surface.
    .. The classic image of gulper fishing usually encompasses glass-smooth water, late morning dimples, a placid float tube, and big fish in the apron. Abandonment of the fun comes with the wind-rippled water that hinders sight fishing and turns tubes into roller coasters.
    .. Feeding often picks up during the windy spells. The cavitation currents near the surface "jiggle" the weed beds and dislodge bugs, (Tricos, of course: but others as well!)
    .. Additionally, a "chum line," so-to-speak, is formed in the down wind section of water below the weed mass. Often times shore fishing to gulpers in this chum line is far more productive than bobbing around in a tube or boat.

    FYI: "Gulpers gulp in the wind."
    .. Caddis in the early moon last night brought to the Madison River quite a few neighbors. They chortled, giggled, guffawed, and amazed themselves with their catching prowess.
    .. It could happen again tonight but the warm day, and warming water may discourage the same neighbors because of the damage they could do to the fish.

    FYI: "Hoppers are in full flight at The Barns Holes."
    .. From Felicia's Atomic Lounge in Ithaca, New York comes:
    Another kind of grasshopper:
    ¾ once white (clear) crème de cacao
    ¾ ounce of green crème de menthe
    splash of cream or soy milk
    Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled martini glass.

    FYI: "Go now, Grasshopper, and guard above all things the purity of your cocktail."

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    It's Hopper Dropper Time


    Big Caddis & Little Hopper
    Big Hopper & Little Caddis

    The conditions are perfect. We'll let you know.

    430 cfs

    59 degrees and falling

    moonrise 8:03 PM

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Soda's Poor Sister

    Stroll Gently Sweet Angler
    avoid the crowd
    .. For just a few pennies more in gas, (or a few less if you're coming from Silver Gate,) you can fish Pebble Creek and avoid the riffle-rush of rabid visitors.
    .. There's a small campground and space for 30 camps, (more - or - less;) and a brief stroll will find you some eager fish and very few elbows.
    .. If you've the legs for it, the upstream area has some spectacular scenery and fantastic holding water. The fish are generally unmolested and only the bears appreciate them -- many bears!
    .. You'll need only a few patterns and a light rod. Put on a day pack; carry a 4 or 5 piece 4 or 5 weight rod and enjoy Soda Butte Creek's poor sister.
    .. The glory waters of the Lamar River, Slough Creek, Cache Creek, and Soda Butte Creek garner all the attention during 'hopper time.' Well Mable, there are hoppers-a-plenty up stream from the campground.
    .. Take a Humpy. Take a Wulff. Take a Feather Duster. Take a Caddis. A couple of Hare's Ears and a Prince will also be needed, too. AND -- DON'T FORGET THE HOPPERS!
    .. Cock your bear spray and fish where few fishers dare to go.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    The Bugs Will Kill You

    Poo Poo On This Willow Marsh
    .. We've spoken of Duck Creek before. We visited it again. Drive to the end of the access road, (shown above,) park and walk a bit to the water. The bugs are horrific. The fish are small. Even now the meadow is spongy and mucky. The fishing is so poor that we're gong back tomorrow just to make sure it was that bad. Avoid this water at all costs.
    .. As the waxing moon shines brighter over the next few nights we suspect that the fishing in the evening along the Madison River will become so poor that we will have to verify it's horrid state for ourselves. Avoid the heavy caddis hatch and have an early dinner. Many of the restaurants in West Yellowstone serve Chablis - you'll enjoy it.
    .. Gneiss Creek is even worse. But it is a gneiss walk, (shown below.)
    .. P.S. There are two grizzly bears in the meadow where the Fan Creek Trail leaves the Fawn Pass Trail.
    .. By all means, fishers should loudly sing ribald songs and carry their bear spray.
    Don't just have it:
    CARRY IT ,
    >> not the cute little designer canister, but the great big one !!<<

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    A Brief Impertinence



    .. Use the canoes below, and the chart above, to cross hundreds of miles of the South Pacific. And you thought that fly fishing was tough.
    .. Thanks to THE HORSE'S MOUTH for dredging up synapses long dormant. {P.S. note the tillerman's foot on the steering oar.}

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Retorna me

    Retorna me
    Cara mia ti amo
    Solo tu, solo tu, solo tu, solo tu
    Mio cuore
    .. Jeff Kennedy has returned home from a busy month and flooded us with images from our neighbors at Blue Ribbon Flies.
    .. The challenge to draw one fly per day for a year is being met with style and class. Jeff is up to #213 - or more as we post; and still going strong. Click on over to visit the flies.
    Just a little bit from Mr. Martin