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  • Friday, October 31, 2008

    The Blessed Gray Day

    IT COULD NOT END BETTER
    Visit With The Visitors
    fish with the neighborsA Bit Of Canvass For Sunset
    .. Some soft hail, a bit of cold rain, and sleet never hurt the catching prospects of the Madison River: it does keep the weenies away, though! The catching was good in the mid Light Casual Dressafternoon on streamers, (Yellowstone Spruce Fly, Dark Spruce/light Casual Dress combo.)
    .. A quick trip in late afternoon to Duck Creek turned up a couple of neighbors and a "popcorn rise" of resident trout in the 8" to 11" range. No runners were encountered. The confluence pools looked interesting but there was so much action on the surface that we stayed with it.
    .. We reached a consensus that there was a midge hatch; however, floating Feather Dusters and Yellowstone Badgers in the 16-18 range Yellowstone Badgerwere working just wonderfully. The fish were both spooky and eager. Casts of less than 10' would send them away. Light but short leaders were good in the dwindling light and any fish within 25' was an easy target. It doesn't happen often but the bite was on in the willow jungle that lines Duck Creek just next to the trees. A 10 1/2 foot 4wt would have made things easier.
    .. No Goblins were encountered and it was certainly dark enough by 8:00 PM for them to be about. The bear spray was holstered at the vehicles and conversation below a shout was resumed. There were bears sighted in the Fir Ridge Meadow yesterday and yet, we nearly fully enjoyed the outing.Duck Creek Secret PoolWitch at OF

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Sayonara Sunset

    WALLPAPER EDITION
    1600 x 1200
    Madison River - 10/25/08
    .. As fishing in Yellowstone Park comes to it's season's end we offer this wallpaper for your pleasure. Download it and use it as you like.
    .. Winslow Homer, Thomas Moran, Andrew Wyeth, and Fredrick Church all appreciated the low evening light and the subtleties of "flat light." Just before the sunset we were fishing in National Park Meadows and were treated to the kind of scene that would make these gentleman drool.
    .. The elk were so placid that we knew that there was not a wolf to be found. The fisher folks in the background are famous neighbors, (without clients,) enjoying the unseasonably gentle fall weather.
    .. The weather gods have decided that "enough is enough" and promised spectacularly dreary weather for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. Bluster, rain, snow, hail, sleet, and wind are in the offing. Climb into your woollies and enjoy the fishing.
    .. Wet flies, soft hackles, double nymph rigs, and streamers are the needed arsenal on the Madison River if you're looking for Hebgen Runners.
    .. Toodle up to Nez Perce Creek, the Firehole River, or the Gibbon River Canyon for mid day action - (don't wade: sneak the banks and fish the cool dark undercuts.) Stay late and enjoy the fishing and sunsets.
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    .. Here's some others for your enjoyment.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    The Halloween Flies

    BIG FISH WANT GROCERIES
    Old Favorites
    new favorites
    .. This is the time of year to break out the Halloween Leech. This leech pattern is one of the most effective of the Halloween Flies. We mention it every year at this time and we do it again here. The recipe is given below for those of you that feel inclined to roll your own.
    THE HALLOWEEN LEECH
    ..The Halloween Leech is well known among the neighbors in West Yellowstone. We use it to fool the giant spawners running up the Madison River from Hebgen Lake.
    .. It is also useful for entertaining the fish in Duck Creek, the South Fork of the Madison River, and Grayling Creek. Surprisingly, we have never, (to our recollection,) fished this fly on the Gibbon River or the Gallatin River.
    .. The recipe is simple and the fly is effective.
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    Recipe - Tail: plucked throat fibers from midnight black emu, (the short ones right next to the beak,) - Body: dubbed orange and black scrotum fuzz from the hindermost parts of a wild Yellowstone Wolverine, (since this animal is about to be listed as endangered you must shave it alive,) - Body Hackle: Orange & Black barred neck feather from a Little Black & Orange Indian Hawk, (reverse palmered forward,) - Head: Black thread, a little on the long side for the attachment of a riffling hitch. Fish it deep, or skitter it across the surface - steelhead fashion.
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    .. There are other traditional favorites used both here and abroad during this time of year. They are usually large flies and are based on the sensibility that big fish want groceries and not just nibblies. A trait becoming most common among the trick or treat vandals roaming the dark streets on the eve of fright.
    .. Many of these seasonal flies are just adaptations of salmon or steelhead flies used for centuries and modified for the holiday occasion. There are stuffy old farts that poo-poo the fun to be had with these flies. Sad for them; these flies work, and work very well indeed. The recipes are, of course, a bit idiosyncratic and personal. You'll recognize the pattern and can improvise your own renditions.
    .. You've probably used these patterns but called them by different names. One of the most useful is a leech/bugger cross called the Black Cat. It can be tied with either an orange or chartreuse body and the fluffiest of marabou. It's just as good as the traditional black leeches and 'boogers' for big fish in deep runs. If you've a mind to, you can get them for $4.50 at Davecom Fish Flies.
    .. A variant of the pattern with lead or bead chain eyes is sold by Gray's Of Kilsyth (#1, #2.) These renditions from Scotland work well in both the fall and the spring when you need to get down and deep. Gray's will ship them to you for free.
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    .. Streamers are common fare this time of year and, interestingly, there are a pair of Black Cat Streamers used in the neighborhood. These are a bit less popular than the dark and light Spruce Flies that most folks use. They are found in as many fly boxes as the others, just seldom pulled out.
    .. The two variations are found at FlyTyingForum.com. The first is by Robert S. and features a rainbow dubbed body, no beard and peacock for the tail. The second is by Redwings1 and has a silver tinsel body, beard, white buck tail and a red hackle tail. Both feature jungle cock cheeks.
    .. One of our neighbors ties these for gifts at this time of year. We used ours to catch fish and he hasn't spoken to us since. They do work, and if tied large and in a sparse fashion are very effective - especially on the Gibbon River in the plunge pool below the falls.
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    .. The rediscovery of spey casting and flies over the last 15 years has spawned many adaptations of old flies. Again, idiosyncrasy and personal whim have influenced the patterns. One fly that is tremendously effective for both Spring and Fall fish is the Jack O'Lantern Spey.
    .. A commercial version is sold by TheFlyFishingShop @ 3/$7.25. Their rendition is quite nice, though the density of the dressing is a bit heavy for our thin water. An excellent rendition of the fly appeared back in April on Jeff Kennedy's site.
    .. The fish currently in the Madison River are moody and sulk as much as they eat. Love does funny things to all critters.
    .. A lively fly presented well and right in their face will, however, usually elicit action of the desired variety. Spey flies, properly tied, with a gob of 'internal' action will usually provide fishers with an exuberant - if unsuspecting - dance partner.
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    .. Ralph Cutter has developed a fly for the East Walker River that is excellent for fall run fish everywhere; it's called The Goblin. This hybrid Bunny/Marabou fly is well worth adding to the Halloween fly box.
    .. If you fish it locally then it's best to pluck the bunny fur for fall fishing in clear and thin water. It's just fine 'as-tied' for spring. It's also an excellent fly for early morning and late afternoon. It's density holds up well and it presents a clean silhouette in dim or stained water.
    .. This is the season for prospecting and searching for fish, dwindling hatches, endurable weather, and success before the winter weather sets in. It is a time for the last bit of fun on many of our rivers. Try these flies and you'll enjoy the novelty and the rare pleasure of having taken a fish on a fly that no one in your party has.
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    .. Action is rampant this fall in the blogsphere. Pete, over at Fishing Jones is off to Florida to stick some peacock bass. Talk about wanderlust! He also posted a note about the recent piece on the Patagonia page by Joe at Protect Your Waters.
    .. The National Geographic wants you. Their new series "Hooked" is on T.V. If you missed the first episode, you were probably searching for fish quite a bit smaller than are featured on the series. The series web site features a bushel basket full of photos for your edification, and some nifty wallpaper.
    .. Jeff over at Drawing Flies, 365 has been both busy and creative, and is on the downhill road toward his goal of drawing a fly a day for a year. He's up to the recently discovered number 293, the Brookie Oatman.
    .. Posting a bit more frequently than usual is the Horse's Mouth. We're not sure whether the wahines or wipeouts are more interesting. The photos are spectacular! They also turned us on to the Never Sea Land site that has mermaids swimming all over its pages . . . zowie!! The sea nymph to the right is the most modest of the bunch.
    .. Fujioka's Home Page has added some interesting new features and a link is provided for purchase of pictures from this talented flyfisher. These custom, made to order prints, should be a delight for any art or fishing buff. Now then, how much is ¥33,000 JPY in dollars?
    .. Rose River Farm reports an influx of Brook Trout has been washed into the waters from the park. A result of the recent rains: no doubt. If you would like to feel at home while on the right coast drop in and fish a bit.
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    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Sea Kittens Invade Yellowstone

    GET CATNIP FLIES
    AT LOCAL SHOPS

    Hookless Flies In Vogue
    PETA To The Rescue

    .. The campaign to "Re-brand" fish as 'sea kittens' is picking up steam as PETA takes it's fight to the streets in London. They are, again, deadly serious in this undertaking.
    .. They feel that by renaming fish as sea kittens the public will treat fish more humanely.
    [[ What could be more humane than releasing fish -- after stabbing them in the jaw, battling them to exhaustion, dragging them on their side's to the shore, squeezing their guts, and depriving them of oxygen? Yup, it's us they are after!]]

    .. We're sorry to be four days late on this report but we were 'sea kitten hunting' and missed the story in the Telegraph. We apologize and beg forgiveness for this negligence.
    .. The picture in the Telegraph article shows exemplary form for fish porn and it's obvious that we need their pointers on how to present the cats of the day, (OOPS, catch of the day.)
    .. The PETA site SAVE THE SEA KITTENS is aimed at children and has cutsie stories and even an interactive build a sea kitten page. Such creativity is sure to turn daughters against fathers, and sons against mothers in the fight to avoid batter fried sea kittens.
    .. Here's hoping that the National Park Service moves quickly to stem the invasion of sea kittens into Yellowstone National Park.
    .. The sea kitten incubator and nursery known as Hebgen Lake is full of these critters and they may just destroy the fish if their population gets out of hand.
    .. By all means be sure that your offspring signs the online petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It asks them to quit promoting sea kitten hunting.
    .. We wonder what's next? How about "Re-branding" rattlesnakes as sand hamsters? Or, whales as pelagic porkers. Or, snails as peat bunnies. Well, that's enough of that!
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    .. We're planning our semi-annual golf getaway. And, it's hard to understand how the wild golfs continue to propagate without their balls. PETA should be in this arena too.
    .. As we do each spring to break the funk of cabin fever, we do in the fall to prepare for the long winter's sleep.
    .. Golf is far more relaxing than fishing. There is no anticipation, no getting wet, no sand, no trees in the way, no uncomfortable shoes, no missed strikes, no glib kibitzers, no press of time, and no counting of strokes.
    .. We've had some special balls made. They swim to shore, poison our companions, hold tight to the green, and are allergic to dry sand. We anticipate better results on the links this trip than on the last venture. We hope that PETA isn't watching.
    .. Our motivation for these retreats is the same each year and is a simple one: maybe we'll bump into Natalie Gulbis or Sophie Sandolo. We need their autographs for our collection.
    .. Sophie was kind enough to send us a seasonal photo for this post and we thank her from the bottom of our heart. Such desire to please fans is going beyond the call of duty.
    .. We know that PETA will try to "Re-brand" Sophie as something like 'Links Lion' - perhaps appropriate!
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    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Neighborhood Runners

    THE QUIET FISHERY
    Big Fish, Small Crowds
    you'll be discouraged
    .. The Hebgen Dam Reservoir supports a large population of both stocked and native fish of various origins and genetic strains. Fish whose genes stem from such foreign countries as Germany, Scotland, England, and California cohabit in this shaky pond.
    .. Miscegenation and the need to spawn has produced several distinctive strains of both Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout as well as dwindling stocks of Grayling and Cutthroat trout.
    .. One thing that these fish have in common is the need for a proper incubator. One with clean, well aerated, flowing water and gravels to hold the eggs away from predators. These incubators are found on about 11 feeder streams. Four of these streams have sufficient water and gravel to support fishable runs of these trout.
    .. The spawning runs are 'clocked' differently for the various streams, and both cultural and environmental variables can affect the run. One of the requisites for a spawning run is an estuary of appropriate size for the fish to hold in and 'sense' the conditions upstream.
    .. Of course everybody wants to fish the Madison River. So be it. There are, however, big (or bigger,) fish in the other three streams. These have both Fall and Spring runs.
    .. You'll be discouraged from fishing these other runs by the neighbors, the feather merchants, and the Camber of Commerce - for many of the obvious reasons. You will find discouragement in the form of disparaging comments such as: 'There's too few fish,' 'The willows are too thick,' 'That's just a mosquito swamp,' 'There's no access,' and the usual one - 'The Madison is better.'
    .. Better for what? More crowds? Litter-filled parking lots? Long waits to fish low productivity water? The joys of comradeship in the gathering dusk? The chance to fish water where there might be a fish bigger than the rest? Have at it. Enjoy.
    .. The sunsets are the same, (or better,) from the other waters. There is more holding water on the South Fork of the Madison River. The fish are more closely spaced on Duck Creek. There are many easy lies on Grayling Creek. There are more elk and visitors in National Park Meadows.
    .. The neighbors tend to treat these fall fisheries as their own. They jealously guard the access points and parking spots with the ferocity of a wolverine in must. These are secrets that take years to discover. These are secrets that are handed down not to your children, but to your younger fishing buddies. These are secrets that when learned are guarded and whispered about in the solitude of a brief respite while letting your arms rest from landing fish too great for the tackle that you brought to the dance.
    .. We've made our peace with the neighbors about this annual post. No parking or access points will be divulged. No secret flies, techniques, times, or places will be revealed. Should you really want to explore the catching of large fish in the fall, you'll have to hang out where the locals do.
    .. The hardware store, the dark corners of watering holes, the gas-n-go's, the post office, or even the library would be good starting points. The neighbors are friendly. They enjoy conversation with visitors from the outside world. They may even mention the streams. The real trick is becoming 'local' in mindset and in demeanor.
    .. Anthropologists call it 'protective coloration.' Don't look or act like you are desperate to land the big fish. Be sure that your 10-year-old pickemup is dented and covered with local dust and mud. The neighbors can tell where you've been by the type of dirt on your sidewalls.
    .. Be affable and reveal a few of your own secrets. Offer a few flies that really work. Draw a map in the dust on the hood of your pickemup. Praise the dog in the truck next to yours, (curly coat, lab, yellow, black, chocolate, pointer, dachshund, Maltese, or whatever.) Talk about wet wading like you really knew what it meant, and the problems of getting to a stream and back during lunch hour. Then and only then, come back tomorrow and do it again. Eventually you'll become familiar enough that a small tidbit may be revealed.
    .. This is not the kind of process that can be carried out with the jovial clerks and guides in the musty aisles of a feather merchant. The important business of life is in the barber shop, the hardware store, the local bar, and a couple of restaurants. These are not places where fancy waders and new vehicles attracts candid conversation about fishing.
    .. One secret that is becoming known outside this cloistered little burg is that the fall run of giant fish on the South Fork of the Madison River is a few weeks later than that in Yellowstone National Park. The best fishing is usually the last week in November. Most of the time you need a snowmachine to get to where the fish are. You do have one don't you? Is it ready to go? No wet wading for this go 'round. Silk underwear under wool is the best. {{OOPS, you didn't mention polypropylene did you?}}