• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Fishing Essentials

    Let Critters Beware
    zap or repel ?
    .. The usual visitor to Yellowstone National Park, (fishers included,) gets no more than about 200 yards from the road, (or front country trail.)
    .. It's been estimated that 98% of visitors enjoy about 2% of the splendor of Yellowstone. So be it. If, on the other hand, you fish where the biting, crawling, buzzing, irritating insects throng to greet you, (like Slough Creek, The Thorofare, Bechler River, Boundry Creek, etc.): You need these essential pieces of gear.
    .. Get a stylish, floppy, unobtrusive, insect-repelling-hat for fishing. Make sure it has a lifetime guarantee and has bonded-in the odorless EPA-registered insect repellent permethrin.
    .. This fine hat will maintain its effective repellent power through 70 washings. Knowing the way fly folk worship their hats that should be about 11 lifetimes.
    .. Here is an accessory that will keep the critters out of your nose and eyes and ears. It will be the envy of all your buds and budettes.
    .. The hat is available from HAMMACHER SCHLEMMER and will only set you back $79.95 + $16.95 shipping and handling. That's only 1/10 of what you just paid for the latest soooper rod, not counting it's heavily padded travel case.
    .. So you're getting on a horse and riding to that legendary Yellowstone stream where the trout jump into your waders, yes you are! You planned for two years and depleted your children's inheritance. This will be glorious.
    .. The outfitter has promised you that there is no limit on the gear that you can bring. The list of essential items includes 40 pounds of various insect deterrents, such as: OFF, CUTTER'S, CREAMS & SALVES, NETTING, etc.
    .. You can surprise your outfitter by suggesting that solar powered bug zappers should be included. This will make those evenings by the campfire so much more enjoyable.
    .. The 300 volt "ZAP" will kill over 200 varieties of insects. Eight hours of moderate sunlight will fully charge the internal batteries. And with the flick of a switch you can have an attractive night light to guide you back to your bear-proof Marmot rain tent.
    .. A set of four of these murderous devils, with a lifetime guarantee will only cost you $99.95 + $16.95 shipping and handling. Get them too, at HAMMACHER SCHLEMMER.
    .. A not very well known WMD program has been unveiled by the WSJ. Weapons specialists and ghoulish scientists have just about completed operational lasers that will kill mosquitoes.
    .. These WEAPONS of MOSQUITO DESTRUCTION are selective and effective. This outgrowth of the STAR WARS initiative from the Reagan Administration promises to be a boon to fly fishers and malaria fighters everywhere.
    .. Soon you will need a gear belt with holsters for both bear spray and a mosquito laser pistol for fishing in Yellowstone.
    .. The lasers are not yet developed to the point where they are available to the general fishing population. We expect that it won't be too long before Orvis and Patagonia develop their own versions; after all, you can make one from items on eBay, (#1, #2.)
    .. The current prototypes are selective and won't hurt a butterfly and are accurate from about 100 feet away. Yes, Melinda, this will move fly fishing into the realm of rocket science.We don't make this stuff up, (#1, #2, #3, #4.)
    .. We're waiting for a gear review from the folks near Mt. Shasta. Tom at the TROUT UNDERGROUND is a gear-head and this is right up his brownline. Let's see you get one of these to test!
    .. Well, yesterday's snow is melting and swelling the already full rivers on the West Side of Yellowstone. We're going back for a second quart of coffee and a light breakfast.
    .. About a pound of ham slices, some scrambled eggs, toast, and mushrooms sauteed in butter. We'll have the last quart of buttermilk and wash it down with some fresh coffee. It should get us through to noon or so.
    .. With all apologies to Tom & Alice at the Cutbow Fly Company, our version sets better in the gut than does yours.

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    A Dream Opportunity

    Not Enough Castles Sold
    .. The 18,500 acre bit of paradise on the Madison River is for sale. It is encumbered with conservation easements and has some fancy home sites still sitting vacant. It's a pretty nice property and owns both sides of road and Madison River for an obscene distance.
    .. This bit of paradise has fouled the dreams of several mega-plutocrats, and it can do the same for you.
    .. For a mere $55,000,000 you too can move into the neighborhood, irritate the neighbors, restrict and redefine traditional land use, live elsewhere, shop elsewhere, shake up Bozeman, and drive in for interviews with the influential barons of the New Montana. Then, in a few years you can then sell it to another like-minded interloper. The Montana Monopoly Game for the rich continues.
    .. If cows and conservation was such a good idea - why quit now?
    .. Read all about it at NEW WEST.
    .. Get the company line HERE.
    .. Meet the plutocrat HERE.

    A Bit Of Alright

    It's Snowing - With Some Fog & Rain
    we're going fishing
    .. The beauty of the web includes the opportunity to quickly scan and selectively choose from a myriad of sources some tidbits that may be interesting, entertaining, or useful.
    --> A great idea and a sentiment that we all probably have felt from the TROUT UNDERGROUND: "Guide Offers Free Trip To Winner Of Poacher Catcher."
    --> Not only that! Poor Tom has to put up with a dog that out fishes all the neighbors and lives at an address where BROWN TROUT FALL FROM THE SKY. Real estate prices going up in a down market!
    --> The Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide has expanded their fishing section to include a generalized hatch chart and some links to introductory articles about fishing in the park. Check out the note by Daniel D. Lamoreux. Fish where the folks aren't.
    --> Enhance your TWEETS, amaze your friends, confuse your enemies, and look like an 'uber-nerd' by following the advice of the WAYWARD FLYFISHER, in the April 17 post. We just LMWAO, and then had WIW.
    --> Just in time for the last of the heavy snow fly hatches comes a note from FLY FISH MAGAZINE: the ultimate trash fly. Brad Sprinkle has developed the "Pop Tart Wrapper Midge." The ingenious part of the fly is procurement of the materials. We're going to try it.
    --> All things wet and wild are contained in the FRIDAY FISHWRAP from THE HORSE'S MOUTH. We discovered that a 'cougar is an older woman that dates younger men.' We pause to wonder what a panther might be.
    --> The artistic talents of Jeff Kennedy at DRAWING FLIES will be hindered by some shoulder surgery. Visit the blog for nude shoulder fotos. Good luck kid and quick recovery - we're waiting for Brook. Noticed that the site has shown some progress.
    --> If you tweet are you a twit? Do you send 'em quick and dirty? Are your thumbs quicker than your casting? If so; you need a shirt to express yourself. Straight from the tee hunter comes the ultimate his and hers T-Twits.-------
    .. As a belated tribute to national pub day we're having the best of all pub foods for breakfast: Bangers & Mash.
    .. Some left over squished spuds, pan-fried with homemade pork sausage, (robustly seasoned in the traditional way, with a hint of dried tomato added to the traditional recipe.) We like to serve them on spinach or arugula and smother it all with a thick onion sauce, then sop it up with crumbles of English muffins. Stays with us through the second or third fish.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Snails Attacking California

    they are spreading
    like wildfire in montana
    the infestation has begun to take it's toll
    .. The Golden State, named after a beautiful black queen, and filled with Audi fish-cars is experiencing a resurgence of the New Zealand Mud Snail.
    .. The little mollusks are marching, (with just one foot each,) up the coast at a rapid rate and have infiltrated the rivers beyond the Oregon border. They eat the food that the bugs your fish need eat. How cruel is that?
    .. The Malibu Creek Watershed Council posted a Public Service Announcement on YouTube in 2007 (Spanish version HERE,) for all to see..
    .. The friendly NPS Ranger in the English version seems almost delighted at the prospects of more snails stealing more food from the streams and rivers of Califia's Realm. The Spanish version seems a bit more urgent.
    .. Mud snails have spread rapidly since their discovery near Hagerman, Idaho in 1995. They are in Yellowstone National Park and are a growing threat to our fisheries throughout the west.
    .. There are now two morphs in the western United States and fisher folk should be able to identify both forms. They should also be able to distinguish them from other resident and native snails. It's far easier than mayfly identification and better for your rivers as well.
    .. Montana State University has a research program and maintains a website for information about the crusty critter. It is the best online source for information about the mollusk.
    .. The maps are most interesting and suggest that this threat will continue despite our best efforts. There are now over 1500 recorded locations - and the data base hasn't been updated since January.
    .. The Greater Montana "dot map" is interesting: the watershed map is frightening - but only if you fish in the indicated areas.
    .. The areal spread of snails in Calfia's Queendom is a bit more sobering. How long before there's no food for the queen's fishes?
    .. If you are planning a trout fishing trip in the western United States, chances are you will be in mud snail territory. It might be useful to ask your guide or outfitter about the precautions they take to avoid the spread of these little gobblers.
    .. A kind gesture might be to help clean the gear: boat, oars, nets, boots, waders, trailer, etc. Consider it a part of the tip you give them. Will they accept your offer? What is the guide's schedule like? What is your schedule? How much time do you spend each day inspecting? How much time do you spend fishing in infected waters? Food for thought - food for snails!
    .. In the time honored flurry of finding the hatch and then fishing it do you change foot gear when you change streams? Do you have gear for each stream? Do you dash to the pub and hope the mud dries overnight? Are you too busy to take the precautions? What will your grandchildren say? Have none - don't care!.. Why talk about Califia's Queendom on a Yellowstone Blog? Because the California Department of Fish & Game still has the best research and guidelines for controlling the spread of mud snails on fishing and wading gear. Read about it HERE (PDF). And, Martha, because the file is hosted on the MSU computers. And, of course, because the 'mudsnail' pages on the California sites refer us to the MSU site, [ #1, #2.]
    .. Mud snails are crafty critters and hide very well. Just because you've given up felt soles is no reason to believe that you are "clean." There are several methods of cleaning mentioned in the California PDF - some will destroy your gear along with the snails. Choose your cleaning method carefully.
    .. Ask your guide, before you book your trip, what cleaning method is preferred for snail abatement. Ask about why the chosen method was chosen. Ask about the other methods not used.
    .. Ask the local fly shops how they store their cleaning solutions and if they are fresh. Ask them where the cleaning stations are on the rivers in the area. Ask them where you can procure the ingredients for making your own cleaning solutions locally.
    .. If you give a damn read the PDF from California and see if the methods you are using are successful or just for show. If you need additional information check out the California Mud Snail Warning Site.
    .. Time for a late breakfast and journey into wonderland. A little snow is present but so are the very moderate spring temperatures.
    .. Digestion of S.O.S. is aided by a gentle drive along some of our glory waters - and vistas without snail spreading fisher folk.
    .. We use wheat bread because the neighbors say it's healthy. We use butter and buttermilk because the flavor is better. We use two jars of dried beef because then you can see it. We add just a bit of nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce for the papillae on the sides of our tongue. We made it yesterday and heated it up today because that's the way they served it to us in the old days. Maybe there will be some left for tomorrow.

    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    The Perfect (snow) Storm

    Calm Before The Deluge
    of cutts and lakers
    sad prognosis
    .. The perfect storm materialized yesterday in the form of a nearly cloudless day and temperatures more than a mite above the predicted numbers.
    .. We took the pleasant day as an omen to peruse the water level and color of the Madison River.
    .. Result: flood stage in about 6" - 8", heavy stained color and under 2' visibility. How usual.
    .. The hot springs in National Park Meadow are flooded and steamy in the early morning temperatures.
    .. The bison were lolling about in the sun; ruminating and absorbing rays.
    .. The elk were munching happily on the fresh green shoots along the road corridors where the sun allows sprouting first.
    .. We watched one exuberant fish beating up some invisible bugs. We tried a long distance photo. It's barely visible so we enhanced it some. Believe it or don't.
    .. There were many fish rising at each place we stopped - between 8:00 AM & 9:00 AM - hmmm!
    .. The meadow at 7-mile bridge is saturated, soggy, wet, and nearly underwater. The swans love it; as the meadows flood the bison will soon be clogging the road, and the elk will begin their upward migration soon: bulls first.
    .. Hopefully today's snow storm will be as perfect as yesterday's and we'll get a peek at the Gibbon River. It's pouring most of the color into the Madison River right now.
    .. Yellowstone Science is online now and has a brief note about the conflict between Lake Trout and Cutthroat Trout in Yellowstone Lake.
    .. The sound of doom and destruction is thick between the lines of the note.
    .. Last August a significant gathering of fisheries scientists from around the country met at Chico Hot Springs, (tough work,) and addressed the declining population of Cutts.
    .. Current efforts and future possibilities for salvation of this fishery were discussed and recommendations generated.
    .. A report with complete findings of the science panel, including strengths and weaknesses of the current program and specific recommendations to the park, is expected some time this year.

    . . . efforts to date, while certainly slowing the lake trout population growth rate, have not been substantial enough to collapse that population. Consequently, the cutthroat trout population remains in peril. They strongly stated that very little time remains to turn the situation around and immediate action to increase suppression efforts should be taken.
    .. As fishers we are obviously concerned about the opportunities that are being lost with the disappearance of the cutts in Yellowstone Lake. We often, sadly, can overlook the larger ecological consequences.
    .. For a peek into the ecological value of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout check out the article from the bear center at Washington State University.
    .. The article reveals the surprising relationship between bear scat, bear hair, and Cutthroat Trout. Bears are not the only species affected by the disappearing food source. At least 20 other species historically used the fish as a food source.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    .. Our local photo processors and resident photographers estimate that over 20,000,000 photos of bison are taken each year in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Not many photos are taken of these neighbors next door. We strive to do our part in correcting this disparity.

    Saturday, April 25, 2009

    On The Desk

    SB 425

    Mostly A Good Idea
    feds pay costs for awhile
    .. SB 425 was transmitted to Governor Brian Schweitzer for signature yesterday. He is expected to sign the bill.
    .. The full time operation of Fort Peck Hatchery will incur additional operating costs of $80,000 per year. This burden will be covered by federal Wallop-Breaux funds through 2012.
    .. In 2012 the Montana Warm Water Stamp will be eliminated and state funding will be supplied from the general license fund. The estimated cost, to the state, of hatchery operation in 2013 is $243,616.
    .. In 2014 the total cost of operations for Fort Peck Hatchery is estimated to be $436,059. This money will come from the general license funds.
    .. The Fort Peck Hatchery was built by the Corps of Engineers and completed in 2006. It is operated by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and sits on federal land leased by the state.
    .. Since completion it has operated at less than capacity. It has been both under-used and under-funded.
    .. In anticipation of completion the state instituted the $5 warm water stamp in 1999. This has been the primary source of funding for the facility and it has been insufficient to fully utilize the available 22,000-sq.-foot hatchery.
    .. Up until now the hatchery has been essentially idle after the annual walleye production has been completed. SB 425 will change that. The facility is capable of producing tiger muskies, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, sauger, and the endangered pallid sturgeon, in addition to the walleye.
    .. The hatchery could also produce trout if Montana law would allow it. Currently trout that are planted in the eastern part of the state are trucked in from other hatcheries at a cost of thousands of dollars in gasoline and staff time.
    .. We look for a $1 - $2 increase in license fees to take place in the next year or two to support the full funding and operation of the hatchery. We suspect that there is already a draft bill for the production of trout at the facility. This will relieve the burden on the state's other 7 hatcheries.
    .. We commend the legislature for this straightforward approach to funding. We commend them for rejecting the thinly veiled attempt at funding in the guise of declaring the walleye a native fish. And, we commend them for placing the burden of funding on the population of users.
    --> SB 425 Language
    --> SB 425 History
    --> SB 425 Fiscal Note
    --> FWP Funding Page
    --> FWP Quick Facts for Fort Peck
    --> All 8 Montana Hatcheries
    .. Well, time for steak and eggs. With all due respect to the 2008 "Orvis Fly-Tyer of The Year," Greg Senyo; we'll eat ours before yours.

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Far And Fine

    As Far As You Can Get
    in the lower 48
    the stuff of stories
    .. Plan now! There is a place in Yellowstone National Park where you can catch fish farther from any road - anywhere in the lower 48.
    .. You can get there on foot; it's best done with gentle horses and friendly mules. It takes some planning and some determination, but it's worth the time and money.
    .. Wild, "un-pounded" fish, native to the stream and molested only very infrequently, are yours for the taking, (and putting back,) in the Thorofare.
    .. This is no plush 'fly-in' experience so favored by the Alaskan tourist bureaus. No boats with guides and tall tales is this. This is work, hard work; and solitude and glorious adventure.
    .. Remember these numbers: 6Y2 & 6Y4 & 6Y5. These are the campsites closest to the one spot farther from any road in the lower 48 - and you're not there yet. Fewer people stand on the spot than climb Mt. Everest in a year. Fewer yet, catch a fish here.
    .. Ask your favorite Yellowstone expert how the fishing is on Cliff Creek. Enjoy the quizzical expression. Ask what fish can be caught. Ask about the mosquitoes. Only a select few can enter the conversation. Only a select few explode with enthusiasm about the voracious trout that will dance with you at the drop of a fly - any fly.
    .. There are 20" native Cutthroat Trout that soar like a pounded Rainbow Trout never could. But they are in the bigger streams nearby. You'll see where they are. You'll even see them. You'll catch them too.
    .. But the thrill of taking a fish far from the road and fine as they can be can only happen on Cliff Creek. Here a 10" fish is a giant. Here a 6" fish is a prize.
    .. In about four months there will be a few people near this place. Probably not a one of them will stand at: 44-05-05 N, x 110-04-12W. Maybe one will. Maybe they will catch a 5" native. Maybe it will be you!
    .. If you plan to walk it will take you a week, probably more. It demands stamina and enormous backcountry skills. This is bear country at it's finest. It is also moose country, deer country, and all the other critters in Yellowstone's country. It's as wild as it gets - anywhere.
    .. If you go by horseback, it's probably still a week - but it's more gentle. It's a bit easier but a bit more expensive. It will cost between $1,500 and $2,500 depending on the outfitter and the amenities that you choose. And, even then it won't be plush.
    .. There is still time to get a spot. There's not many and they are filling fast. Remember, the photo ops are spectacular, the experience exhilarating, the water cold and clean, and the fishing is "UNIQUE" in all the lower 48.
    .. Want to read about how it's done on foot? Check out the hiking report at SEAKAYAK. Want to see the spot? Watch the video below. It's from the documentary film Division Street, the official selection of the "Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival."
    .. Like movies on your computer? Tired of HULU? Try TERRA! Don't know about Terra? It's full of movies about Yellowstone and our neighborhood.
    .. Whirling disease? Sure thing! Montana beef? Sure enough! Elk responding to wolves? Of course! Fish & Cow? Most certainly! Winter in Yellowstone? A sure thing! Check it out.
    .. It's Got'ta be good it's from MSU.