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  • Sunday, March 30, 2008

    The Weather Outside's Delightful

    RIVERS SLOW, PRECIP UP, AVERAGES EXCEEDED
    Visitors Bogged Down with Short Memories
    the high country rocks
    fishing report / winter video / casting video
    .. A quick glance at our neighborhood SNOTEL and River Data, (see sidebar,) confirm that Spring is arriving at a nice slow pace. It will get here: it always has. The graphs for accumulated precipitation are looking normal and following the average slope with just a little more than average precipitation.
    .. The discharge graphs are running just a little below average. There are a few river gauges that are frozen and provide only interrupted data.
    .. With the snow pack at between 90% and 115% of average this is certainly not a banner year.
    -----
    .. This is "Spring Break" - whatever that means. Visitors from the lowlands visit West Yellowstone to "See Snow." They whine that there's too much snow and they have to walk in it too.
    .. They complain that their cars get stuck. They bemoan the gray skies and snow falling from the sky - "is that really where it comes from?"
    .. The "cute" little cabin that they rented two years ago is now buried. They can't make snowmen because they have to shovel a path to the door. It breaks their back and spirit.
    .. They turn on the T.V. and are transported to the outer world by microwave transmission. They tune in their local news channel and catch up on what they are missing. They didn't even bring a fly rod or wax for their skis.
    .. The snow last night brought the five day total to about 20" and there's more on the way. Bring it on.
    .. It makes the neighborhood look clean. It covers the blemishes, it builds a soft edge on the angularity of "rustic" architecture. We're loving it. Our memory is long enough to know that there is noting 'unusual' about this year.
    .. The town looks clean and uncluttered. It's flaws and blemishes are hidden beneath a soft white comforter that obscures the pimples and rashes. We like it this way. We like it the other way too.
    .. Having little in the way of Zen Mastery, (cf. Chandler #I & #II,) we just drove around town and took some snapshots. Perhaps they will satisfy the urge to "see snow" and the lowlanders will not be so put out by having to be in it.
    -----
    .. The wondrous caprice of nature has given us an early run of fish into the Hebgen Tailwater. This is probably not a permanent condition. The fish seek food wherever it may be found; and the brief warm up of last week did make Beaver Creek and Cabin Creek a kind of buffet on a conveyor belt for the trout. The cooling trend of the last few days and the projected coolness for the coming week suggest that the fish will drop back down to Quake Lake in the near future. Not to worry, they'll be back.
    -----
    .. The poor lowly carp is getting it's gills slapped around by viewers on You Tube. "They dirty the water." My, My, do you know what trout do in the water? Some people do too!
    .. Well it looks like the third iteration of Fishing Jones is in the final throes of completion. The look is clean, the prose concise, and golly we're glad he's back from all that globe trotting. Click over there and see what a Peacock Bass looks like. Pete's just fishin' and sharing the joy. After all as he says: "I’m just a guy who likes to fish and waste time blogging about it." Hear - Hear!
    ----- -----
    . video.
    ..

    P.S. -- Hazardous Weather Outlook


    HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREAT FALLS MT
    413 AM MDT MON MAR 31 2008

    MTZ008-012>015-050>055-011015-
    BEAVERHEAD-CASCADE-CHOUTEAU-CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN LEWIS AND CLARK-
    MADISON-JUDITH BASIN-FERGUS-JEFFERSON-BROADWATER-MEAGHER-GALLATIN-
    413 AM MDT MON MAR 31 2008

    THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF CENTRAL
    MONTANA...NORTH CENTRAL MONTANA AND SOUTHWEST MONTANA.

    .DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT

    A SPRING STORM SYTEM MOVING THROUGH THE REGION WILL BRING WIDESPREAD
    SNOW TO PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST MONTANA TODAY. A SNOW
    ADVISORY REMINS IN EFFECT THROUGH 6 PM MDT THIS EVENING.

    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY

    THE PROBABILITY FOR WIDESPREAD HAZARDOUS WEATHER TUESDAY THROUGH
    SUNDAY IS LOW.

    .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT..

    WEATHER SPOTTERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO REPORT SIGNIFICANT WEATHER
    CONDITIONS ACCORDING TO STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES.

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    Potpourri #9

    GET AIRBORNE
    The New Jersey Heritage Trout
    Simms Steps Up
    Annual Statistics Report

    fishin' in the snow

    .. The web and feed readers are a near fatal combination. Open one up and add some feeds: add a few more, another few for fun, and BINGO! it's a full time J.O.B. Our selection of feeds is not overwhelming quite yet, but it takes a bit too much of our fishing time, nonetheless
    .. The less interesting things we digest ourselves, the rest we pass on to our visitors. Here's some of the recent things that used up a few billion electrons.
    ----------------
    .. Friday's breakfast meeting was so full of insight that truth had no chance. The main topic of conversation, as usual, revolved around the pictures in THE HORSE'S MOUTH. We like the sailing, the surfing, and the fish photos. We really like the wahines.
    .. This week is no exception and we've borrowed two of their pics. Flying carp, flying fish, and even fly fishing take on new meanings with the one image: spectacular becomes freshly defined with the other.
    ----------
    .. From HDW comes news of the genetic research that has discovered some of the east coast's finest of aquatic treasures -- native, indigenous, Brook Trout.
    .. The post is an excerpt from the New Jersey Star Ledger and details the research, importance, and location of these jewels of the east. The Brook Trout is the State Fish of New Jersey and nine other states. Most of the New Jersey "Heritage Trout" are in the headwaters of just a few creeks in that state.
    -----------
    .. The Simms Company, of Bozeman (Shameless Montana Plug,) sent out a recent news release that takes aim at three of the most damaging invasive species in our waters.
    .. They detail some steps that anglers can take to reduce the spread of these environmental pirates. Simms is a partner in the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers project. One of the products developed by Simms is the material used in waders and wading boots that reduces absorbency. This, combined with careful design, helps fishers clean their 'wet gear' and aid in the campaign. The text of the news release and the tips for anglers can be found HERE. It's worth more than just a click.
    .. For those that don't know about it, Simms has a custom shop that will use your specifications and sizes for truly custom waders. They have added 'boot foot' waders to their custom shop line. Boot foot waders have fewer nooks and cranny's for the invasive species to hide in and are easier to clean. The Simms Custom Shop is well worth a visit.
    ----------
    .. Feed readers are funny things. Ours coughed up a post from October, 2005. The delay is unexplainable. It's from a source that we deleted a couple of years ago, and haven't heard from since -- until now.
    .. In the interest of full disclosure we will admit to previously seeking pictures of the distaff angler in action. Happily, this feed returned one of them. Just a bit late, though. Here's the picture and the SOURCE.
    -------------
    .. Despite the perfectly prepared Breakfast, and the invasion of near truth into fishing patter; and with the continuing snow and violent breezes, we managed to visit the legendary Hebgen Tailwater. Know locally as 'Between The Lakes' this bit of water is open to fishing all year long -- if you can get to it. During winter months it is heavily fished in the most accessible section that runs along the road from about the discharge pool to the mouth of Cabin Creek.
    .. Local fools and die-hard use sneaky and devious tools such as snowshoes and skis to penetrate the better water around and below Campfire Lodge. They are most frequently rewarded with good fishing, beautiful scenery, and eager fish.
    ..We have neither the legs nor youth for this sort of adventure anymore. But old age and guile do have their advantages. We followed some snowmobile tracks to the edge of a nice stretch of water below the lodge. Only a few times did the compacted snow give way and dump us on our fanny.
    .. We danced with a few eager fish and enjoyed the exhaustion more than we have in quite a while. The fish were responding to nymphs of all sorts but only in the sizes of 14 - 18. This is a truly devastating situation for old frozen fingers. The fish are willing, the fingers are not.
    .. Shop Vacs were the fish's favorite, followed by the usual assortment of Feather Dusters, Montana Dusters, Yellowstone Winter Grubs, Prince Nymphs, Hellifiknow's, and Yellow Woolly Worms. Streamers were offered, none were taken. There was some vigorous midge activity but it was confined to our nose and ears.
    -------------
    ----------
    .. At the end of the first quarter of each year we've taken to reviewing our statistics and posting results for the year. It's that time. With no further ado here are the summary statistics.

    click on image for larger view

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Don't Try This At Home

    EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR
    Tying Them Is Tough Enough
    follow along
    .. Just as cabin fever is becoming a permanent condition, (another 10" of snow last night,) a brief and cheerful ray of light has descended into the gloom of our perpetual winter.
    ..We've discovered, albeit just a tad later than the rest of the world, Daily Fly Drawings By Jeff Kennedy.
    .. He's set himself the task of drawing a fly each day for a year. {{Hell, we can't even do the dishes every day.}} He's already created a third of the collection and we're busy perusing the site trying to catch up.
    .. The art work is in a wide range of styles and mediums - including snow. Some of the flies are old friends and others are new acquaintances, the renditions are full of personality and charm.
    .. Jeff is the featured artist at MidCurrent. You will see his work on the index page of Marshall's site. Now then, just why would you want to do this????
    Money Quote: Jeff's Own Words
    I initiated the creation of this blog as a challenge. The challenge is to draw a fly a day for an entire year. Part of the challenge is the discipline to accomplish this every day and the other is to expand my creativity and to help find my artistic voice. The sky is the limit on how the flies will be created. You may have wondered, "why is he drawing flies?" My other hobby is fly fishing and fly tying. I also welcome the challenge of drawing the natural materials that are used in the flies. So hang on and enjoy the ride for the next 365 days!
    .. Click on over to Drawing Flies and examine the work. You can follow along by email too. Just fill out the box at the top of his sidebar.

    images courtesy Jeff Kennedy
    -------------------
    .. The snow is falling, and the stomach is growling, and there's dishes that need washing, and the day is too far gone for our liking, and there's work to be done, and there's bills to pay, and there's important tasks to accomplish - we are going fishing - snow be damned!
    .. We did a terribly foolish thing and visited the fishing report at Madison River Outfitters. They sneaked down to the Hebgen Tailwater. They went fishing in the snow. They caught fish, and they were good fish! Then, fools that they are, they told the world about it. It convinced us. By the way, don't pay any attention to their suggestion that a two fly rig will work. Stick with a large bass bug and fish right at the discharge pool. The fish downstream are so dumb that they are taking anything thrown at them, and we wouldn't want them to be too fully exercised or exhausted.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Down Below -- They're Near

    'TIS THE SEASON


    .. There's rumors! We'll investigate.
    .. In the meantime we're going snow fishing.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Breakfast

    START THE DAY OFF RIGHT
    Eat With The Locals
    pretend their jokes are funny
    end the day right too

    **Just Good Food**
    --We generally avoid endorsements or advertisements, but like the old plumber said "folks gotta eat."
    +++ There are excellent places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in West Yellowstone. These are of the 'ask anybody' variety. [Just don't ask a restaurant worker.]
    +++ There is an exceptional deli for sandwiches or box lunches.
    +++ There is a friendly pub & eatery for a satisfying dinner.
    To find out where these places are - - - just ASK ANYBODY.
    -----------------
    -- The Running Bear has excellent traditional breakfast; in fact that is all they do! Great pancakes, perfect eggs, 'taters to order.' Tell Mike that we sent you. It might get you a stock tip. Get there before 2:00 PM.

    -- Ernies Deli provides a quick breakfast of donuts, (or GIANT sticky buns,) and coffee if you are in a hurry. The biscuits and country gravy demand a bit more time; although you can get them to go.
    .. They excel at prefect sandwiches, (try the Ham & Swiss,
    or Pastrami,) offer an excellent selection of beers and wines, deliver friendly service, and have great box lunches. Tell Dawn that we sent you. It will get you a wink and a smile.

    -- Bullwinkle's Saloon & Eatery is a sports bar with a twist - the barkeep is a fly fisherman. Tell Mark, or Jackie, or Dennis that we sent you. You will get good food - good conversation - and maybe a local fly or two.
    .. The information is only slightly tainted with local hubris and it's free. You can eat in the saloon, or one of two dining rooms.
    .. They open at about 3:00 and trout is on the menu, along with steaks, pasta, sandwiches, special salads, daily specials, and some local favorites as well.
    .. They have an excellent selection of beer and wine. Even some excellent Champagne to go with that tender flaky trout.
    .. If you're very lucky, and if there's any left,
    try the cheesecake - yum !


    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    It's Getting Worse

    CUTTHROAT TROUT
    ARE WHIRLING AWAY

    Malady Spreading Like, - well - Whirling Disease
    watch them go
    .. The Denver Post is just the latest in a long line of newspapers to run a story about the disappearing Cutthroat Trout of Yellowstone. Both the Yellowstone Cutthroat and the West Slope Cutthroat are in trouble.
    .. Whirling disease is the culprit, in the "Troubled Waters" of Yellowstone, cited by Charlie Meyers in his note about the declining numbers of the trout.
    .. In 1995 the New York Times and Peter Kaminsky brought the situation to national attention in their article "Trouble In Paradise." Mike Stark of the Billings Gazette has been diligently writing the same information in articles since 2004, (1, 2.) The Greater Yellowstone Coalition has been involved in the effort to save the species since 2005. The Montana Department of Fish Wildlife And Parks has been acutely aware of the problem since 2001.
    .. These natives are disappearing from the regions waters for a variety of reasons, and Whirling disease is not the least of them. Studies have shown the importance of these fish to the ecosystem, and their reduced numbers are alarming.
    .. The growing concern stems from the fact that the spawning streams are now infected and the trout are being wiped out in increasing numbers at an increasingly early age. The spawning streams of the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley and those of the South Fork of the Snake River are now breeding fewer Yellowstone Cutthroats and more parasites.
    .. This two year old map shows the known distribution of New Zealand Mud Snails in and around Yellowstone National Park. This is almost exactly the same as the known distribution of whirling disease. As you can see the dots follow the Yellowstone River into the Paradise Valley. Here, about 2/3 of the spawning tributaries have shown infected populations.
    .. The documentation shows that both are rapidly spreading and reducing the fish population to dangerously low levels.
    .. There are a couple of strains of Rainbow Trout, resistant to the disease, that have been developed by fisheries scientists that may be useful in stemming the tide of the disease in this species of trout. However, there are no known Cutthroat Trout that are resistant to whirling disease.
    .. In addition to whirling disease the native Yellowstone Cutthroats are being hybridized out of existence in most waters in the Yellowstone ecosystem. (See: Keeley for the work in Idaho, 1, 2, 3, 4.)
    .. The National Park Service advises each fisher on Slough Creek to kill up to five (5) Rainbow Trout that they catch there: provided they can tell the difference.
    -------
    Money Quotes: NPS

    To reduce competition, predation, and hybridization stress on native fishes, Yellowstone has increased harvest limits of rainbow and brown trout in waters where they co-exist with cutthroat trout and fluvial arctic grayling.

    In cutthroat trout waters where rainbow trout have been introduced, either by intentional, historic stocking or by invasion from a downstream source, the result has been a serious degradation of the cutthroat trout population through interbreeding of the two species.

    Harvest of nonnative trout is allowed, and in some cases required, in many park waters.
    .. Of course the unthinking fly fisher believes that catch-and-release is a panacea for all situations, in all places, and at all times. and has refused to do this in any meaningful way on Slough Creek.
    .. You should hear the patter in the local fly shops. "Hell one trout's as good as the next, and those cutts are lazy fish, anyway." "I'd rather kill a Cuttthroat than a Brown any day." "There's no difference between a Cutbow, a Rainbow, and a Cutthroat." and so it goes.
    .. In addition to New Zealand Mud Snails, Lake Trout, Whirling Disease, and Hybridization it might be that the most dangerous invasive species, for the native Yellowstone Cutthroat, is Homo Sapiens. Hardly sapient in this instance.
    .. The long history of our manipulation of the fisheries around us, gives pause to the thought that we can or should do anything now. Yet the fish of the Thorofare may be the next to go the way of the downstream populations.
    .. These gems are wild, wily, and cagey. They are prey for bears, coyotes, pelicans, eagles, hawks, wolves, and man, for starters. It would be a shame to see them disappear as both a sport fish and a member of the food chain.
    .. As the hint of Spring brings to mind fishing in Yellowstone, it also reminds us that it is the informed fisher that enjoys the pastime the most. The history of fish species in Yellowstone has informed the park's managers in their drafting of regulations. It behooves the fisher to be at least as well informed as the managers.
    -------
    .. There are much better resources on-line about Yellowstone Fishing than you get in the little pamphlet that comes with your fishing permit. The following are exceptionally well written and should be read and understood before fishing in Yellowstone.
    .. And, again, this year there are changes. We post this now, AND, let you know that we will post it again as fishing-time draws near.
    .. Yellowstone Fishing Regulations (PDF)
    .. Yellowstone Fishing Season Dates And Regulations
    .. Yellowstone Fishing And Fisheries Science
    .. Yellowstone Park Advice To Anglers
    .. Troubled Waters, Yellowstone Video About Invasive Species
    .. What's On Your Line? Yellowstone Video
    .. Fish Identification Tools - Poster Downloads (PDF)
    .. Yellowstone Fish Distribution Maps
    -------
    NPS RECOMMENDED LINKS

    Fishing in Yellowstone - YNP Site
    Invasive Threats to Yellowstone Fisheries - YNP Site
    Whirling Disease Initiative - Montana State University Site
    Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers - A public awareness campaign, and a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard.
    National Invasive Species Information Center - US Department of Agriculture Site
    Aquatic Nuisance Species - US Environmental Protection Agency Site, Region 8
    Montana University System Water Center - Montana State University Site
    Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force - Unites States Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force Site
    Whirling Disease Information - Whirling Disease Foundation Site
    New Zealand Mudsnail Information - Montana State University Site
    Aquatic Invasive Species - Wisconsin State Environmental Resource Center Site
    National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse - New York Sea Grant Site
    ---------
    .. The weekend was busy and we had barely time to fish or to visit THE HORSE'S MOUTH. But we did both. One of the cutest wahines ever was posted on Good Friday. And, just in case you missed the week before we reproduce below one of the most daring of all Friday wahines.

    LOOK OUT BEER DRINKERS - SEX SELLS

    &
    LAKEMAID BEER
    brief fishing report too
    .. The guys over at Fishing Fury report that a joint beer venture between August Schell Brewery and Rapala is being launched on the web.
    .. The web site should be live on Monday, March 24, 2008. Right now there is a snazzy placeholder and a nice bit of Photoshop work on the nearly nude women. This is one set of sexy lakemaids - or whatever.

    Money quote from Fishing Fury
    The beer will make its first public taste-test at the Northwest Sports Show, April 2-6 at the Minneapolis Convention Center at the Rapala booth. It should be in stores by mid-April. Merchandise will be available on the website and at all Gander Mt stores.
    .. The Fishing Fury team seems to prefer Miss Muskie. We, on the other hand, are kinda partial to Miss Smallmouth Bass. We've reproduced the poster for your edification. Click on it for a pretty good view.
    .. We have to drive all the way to Fargo, North Dakota to get Schell's beers. The drive is worth it, and sometimes the beer is too. Perhaps those Midwestern types will bring us some Western Maids; we can hope.
    -------
    .. The fish are making their presence known in the Hebgen Tailwater. With just a small bit of snow in the air, and bright sun most of the day, it's a real chore to fish for these eager fish.
    .. We only had a few hours and it was a shame to leave the fish; they were in a dancing mood. There were some precocious males leaping and there were hoards of midges on the surface and in the air. But, as previously noted, the real action was beneath the surface. Yellowstone Winter Grubs, Montana Dusters, and Shop Vacs were all eagerly gobbled up, (sizes 14 - 18.)
    .. Interestingly the same flies, in the same places, were ignored if they were any larger. The fish were on the average side of the tape measure but failed to demonstrate any sluggishness in the cold water.
    .. One of our neighbors, grunting all the way, took his snowshoes for a walk to the lower end of the Hebgen Tailwater and reported that big fish were in the Estuary Glide and the Long Riffle.
    .. He took several little 14" Rainbows on a size 14 Bead Head Hare's Ear. He said that a 20" LDR threw his size 12 Prince Nymph into a tree and that's why he was puffing so hard. We'll accept this fantasy as gospel until we have the stamina to disprove it.steamy beaver creek