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  • Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Neighborhood Watch

    IT'S NOT
    Indicative - Not Definitive
    8 gig sdhc, many clicks
    they're here
    (1422 x 987 - big enough to tell it's a fish)
    .. The neighbors are a strange bunch. They take their children to a culvert to watch fish jump. They sit in the dirt. They sweat and swat mosquitoes. They keep their dogs out of the water. They count fish in the air. Peculiar behavior - but they're good neighbors.
    .. Some of them spend many hours at it. They exercise their trigger finger on motorized cameras. They click away in the hopes of catching a fish in the air.
    .. They time the jumps by the simple technique of counting. They look silly. The cameras become sweat and grime coated. And then, wonder of wonders - a fish jumps into the frame. Not professional photography - but fortuitous and fun.
    .. This neighborhood shrine is visited this time of year, (and for the next 60 days or so,) in order to judge the run from Hebgen Lake up Duck Creek. It's not a fancy fish weir like the one on the Madison River. It is, however, the source of neighborhood folk tales and a barometer for the upcoming fishing. It looks like this Fall is going to fish good - (barring unforeseen circumstances.)
    .. A few folks fish in the pool just below the rip-rap. They don't do as well as the folks that fish the next 4 pools downstream. It seems that by the time the fish get close to the rapids they have just one thing on their mind - jump and run.
    .. The Montana Department Of Fish Wildlife & Parks is familiar with this locale. They know it's a favorite stopping spot for fishers on their way elsewhere. They have posted a sign warning about the dangers of invasive species transport.
    .. The neighbors usually fish from the bank. A few wade the shallows downstream from the big bend. Most are in sneakers and shorts. They throw the sneakers in a washer and dryer and squirt them with 409. They know.
    .. Right now the water is high, swift, cool, and the catching is good. There are lots of ants, mosquitoes, beetles, and hoppers. Cool foggy and drizzly mornings will produce a sparse mayfly hatch. The caddis are here and sometimes in good numbers.
    .. The holding pools are well defined and the slick waters are often near undercut banks with vegetation overhanging them. The fish are willing. The neighbors friendly. The elbows dense, and the view can be exciting.
    .. A few hundred yards downstream and the fish are more friendly, the elbows thin out, the vegetation thickens, and the catching improves considerably. This time of year it's a good idea to keep a few big and ugly flies in your assortment. Gobbling the groceries is a favorite pastime of the runners before they hit the spawning beds.
    .. It's advisable to tread gently and walk well away from the steep dry banks. Erosion is a problem - as is crumbled banks and an unexpected dunking.