• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Saturday, October 31, 2009

    211 Days & Counting

    "Don't cry because it's over. ---
    Smile because it happened." **

    .. Yesterday was a 'bad hair day' for the girls on the west side of Yellowstone National Park.
    ..They dealt with it admirably and napped in the warmth of a beautifully gray afternoon.

    .. Sunday November 1, 2009 marks the end of fishing in Yellowstone National Park. It's been a year of stories and memories not soon forgotten. From the record high Spring runoff to the return of fabled submarines from Hebgen Reservoir it's been a season of superlatives.
    .. Although we sorely missed our Gibbon Canyon fishing, there were ample opportunities in the neighborhood that provided solace for it's absence.
    .. And, next year promises a new look and new opportunities for dancing with rested fish. We'll be among the first to help bring them back to a wary state.
    .. This week the gray days have persisted and the fish have loved it - fishers too. Squadrons of bugs hatching on the Firehole River have been greeted by only a very few fishers. The fish were there, in numbers, however!
    .. Parking is not a problem and elbows have disappeared from many of the pools and runs. Fish on the Firehole River seem to know that molestation is about to end. They were seen cavorting in the air along the old freight road - in groups!
    .. The gentle snow and moderate temperatures drew a crowd of stalwart fishers to the Madison River yesterday. It's possible that everyone that wanted a partner had at least a few dances. The weather is holding for today and tomorrow, and although not much fishing will be done on Sunday, it's a fitting end to a wonderful season.
    .. There is still a lot of fishing to be done in the neighborhood - fear not. And with the closure of the park, the neighbors look forward to some of the best catching of the year. We'll bring you the blow-by-blow details; for sure.
    .. Wrap-up report tomorrow. It's getting late, the coffee's cold and there's more fishing and catching to be done. It's time for our annual ritual: exercise of the Halloween Leech.

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    Just A Reminder

    These Flies Entice Runners
    they work wonders
    .. As we sail into closing weekend we have chosen to forego the traditional goofy Halloween pictures and remind you that the Madison River is just chucky-jam-full of fresh fish from Hebgen Reservoir.
    .. The combination of impending winter, (less food,) and the urgency of procreation, (more energy used,) join forces to make the following flies worthwhile.
    .. Below is a recap of the flies that the neighbors have in their boxes. Many of these flies are so mundane and pedestrian that the "pros" don't even talk about them. They would not seem to be experts if they didn't have something "new and different." Many of these old flies are still around because the just plain work.
    (Most images are huge - just click on them.)

    .. Thunder Creek. When was the last time you heard someone recommend that old fossil? Who do you know that fishes it? They are either very good liars or just plain secretive. The trout in the Madison River haven't seen many of these. They usually eat the ones that they see. Fish it on the swing. Let it straighten out. Wait a little while then strip it in real fast. Old ways. This specimen, (rust, dead head cement and all took a nice fish at 7-mile bridge last October.)
    .. Original Olive Matuka. These are tied commercially but their sales are way off. Although infrequently used these days, there is probably one in your fly box. There may be several. They most probably are unused and forgotten. Drag one out and give it an honest try. The early morning is a good time for the darker ones. Dead drifted or stripped downstream in the undercuts may just surprise you.
    .. Chenille Matuka. Bright and boisterous, this variant is also tied commercially. It looks too gaudy for most "serious" fishers. It is a visual disaster in just about any fly box. It's not on the lips of the romantic poets of Yellowstone lore. Yet this variety is as good as or better than the original. The tail is splayed and provides nice action in the depths of dark pools. Sizes up to #4 and 4XL are not uncommonly found stuck in the noses of eager trout in the willows below the Highway 191 bridge.
    .. Bead Head Rubber Legs. There are a bazillion rubber legs flies. They have secret names as well as commercial names.
    .. They can be "Silli" - "Spooky" - "Madisoned" - "Fireholed" - and "Henry's Forked."
    .. We use several of them this time of year and all are just grand. This one may be the grandest of all. It gets down quick and is good for 'snap-casting' right above the big roll that ended with a baby splash just over your left shoulder. The combination of long hackle, wiggly legs, copper wire. and a prickly body are often irresistible when slow-drifted across the bottom of a dark pool at sunset.
    .. Guide's Secret Rubber Legs. Not a secret any more. Seven or eight years ago this pattern was hidden in dark places and fondled frequently in anticipation of Fall fishing. There are many variations of this fly: the chenille, the number of legs, the head and tail treatment, the size and hook. All seem to work just fine. There are now many commercial versions. Some of the local, (Cameron, Ennis, West Yellowstone,) versions are still proprietary. So be it.
    .. Hackle & Legs. Here's another rubber legs pattern that has been embellished with long widely spaced palmered hackle. This one can be made to float with enough goo, or what ever is your favorite flotant. The many dimples create little lenses that allow the light to be seen. Strikes can be explosive - especially after a slight twitch.
    .. The fly can also be drowned or fished on the swing in the film or down deep. It reminds us of an augmented Wooly Worm. It's good for a change of pace and is an excellent conversation piece.
    .. Woolly Worm. The poor thing: fallen into disuse and disgrace. Often mentioned in the same sentence as the San Juan Worm. The Fall sizes and variations are not within the traditional range for this old sweetheart, (how many do you have?) Sizes in the 2 - 6 range are not uncommon. Long hooks are used by the neighbors. Red buck-tail is used for an afterburner. Very long, (for hook size,) hackle is the norm for this time of year. Traditional yellow and black are frequently the choice for the area around the Barns Holes and the Local Hole #1. More often, the last couple of years has seen hot orange or bright rust being chosen for the big water just above the estuary.
    .. Pheasant & Blue. This streamer is a staple along the Washougal River in Washington and on the upper Clearwater River in Idaho. The pheasant rump feathers are popular in both steelhead and salmon fly patterns. Fishers on the South Fork of the Snake River in both Idaho and Wyoming have used this pattern for a couple of decades to take large migratory cutthroat trout. This pattern is now finding it's way into secret stashes of some of our neighbors. We've not used it but they swear by it - and at it.
    .. Brindle & Hen. This popular fly from Northern California locations around Hoopa, Eureka, and Salyer has been modernized by the recent explosion of color in chenille. Similar in form and function to the classic Brindle Bug this fly is not just another pretty face. Tied with a heavy wire under-body it bounces through deep riffles with undulating sex appeal and is hard to resist by submarines parked in the dark spots during mid-day. This is a useful probing fly when tied with no underwire support and the action is leech or eel like. Just the groceries a fresh-run fish is looking for.
    .. Bead Head Glitter Nymph. This monstrous cousin to the standard pheasant tail nymph is persistent in the repertory of the big-fish catchers in the neighborhood. It's easy to tie in sizes 4 - 8 and makes an excellent fly for the low clouds and bright overcast days of late September and October. It has nearly replaced the Casual Dress in our box and we don't regret it. Bleached goose biots are becoming rare these days. White will work just fine - or do some yourself.
    .. Sinking Hopper. It's time for the sheep to call it quits on their hopper box. The feather merchants have run low on their stash and are touting the flies of fall. Grasshoppers in the high country continue to grow and molt through the first couple of weeks in October. A hard frost will "knock 'em down." A couple of warm days, (even after snow,) will kick some life into them. Drowned, this fly is a nearly irresistible morsel for the big resident trout and a rare treat for the lake run fish of the Madison River.
    .. Many of our strangest neighbors use this as a dropper behind a big streamer such as a Woolly Bugger, Egg-sucking Leech, Chamois Leech, or a Brindle & Hen. Common practice is to soak the little dickens in water for a day or two and let the river do your shopping for you.
    .. Dark Spruce Fly. This classic has persisted despite the hawking of "more modern" flies. There are many variants and they seem to be quietly proliferating. We prefer ours tied a bit on the sparse side and choose to use a barred furnace hackle tip of a mahogany color rather than the traditional golden badger hackle.
    .. This pattern is old, (1918 - 1919,) and was originally called the Godfrey Special. It was a premier sea-run cutthroat pattern for over half a century. It is still seen along the Madison River, and steelhead streams most everywhere. This is just the tonic for jaded trout around Baker's Hole and the Barns Holes.
    .. This year the Light Spruce Fly is doing it's share of catching as well. Many of the neighbors fish it as a matter of course. With a short leader and a herky-jerky strip in a deep dark pool it will allow you to see the fly and the take. It seems to work best at mid-depths - but will take fish throughout the water column.
    .. The very adventurous casters in the neighborhood run this in tandem with the Dark Spruce Fly or a Little Brown Trout. If your casting action is powerful, smooth, and practiced this is a killer combination.
    .. Furnace & Red. This fly has been a staple for our Fall and Winter fishing since sometime in the late 60's. A couple of dozen were a gift from a fly fisher in Pocatello, Idaho. He may have "invented" it.
    .. The name was roughly translated as "BOB'S FLY" - Google shows nothing quite like it by that name. It's a dark fly that is sometimes stripped cross-current at night or in the twilight. It's caught a few big fish. A few of the ancient neighbors here and in I.F. use a similar fly - with different names. (The eyes are Herter's NOS. We have zillions of them and used to think they were important - works just as good without them.)
    .. The Little Brown Trout. Dear to the hearts of Montanan's that love our cutthroats. There is a satisfying surge of glee, (it arises somewhere between the epitome and id,) when one of these little flies gets eaten. This old pattern is seen in most fly boxes and is only occasionally used. It is special only in the hearts and minds of ancient neighbors that remember what a glorious bit of water the Snake River was without the scourge of the invasive Brown's. Fish it like the little streamer that it is. Shallow riffles, deep undercut banks, and deep slicks are it's prime hunting ground. Even the Browns will eat it.
    .. Stonefly Nymph. They live here. They get dislodged. They float around in the water column and get eaten all year long. Of course they are a Springtime religion, but the trout will eat one that's floating by any time of year. Often the older neighbors tell us to "hit 'em in the nose." That's good advice if you know where the noses are.
    .. The mundane task of systematically covering a run in the Fall is a bit tedious. It is also rewarding when using any of the many stonefly imitations. Like a dog with a bone, the fish grab it, shake it, and hold onto it with a fierceness like unto a virgin prom queen in the back of an S.U.V.
    .. Baker's Hole Bugger. Straight from Blue Ribbon Flies & Whiskey Creek Fishing comes a fly designed specifically for the water around Baker's Hole. It's a fly that has been "making the rounds" for a few years and shows some staying power. Although supposedly designed "for Brown Trout" the fly is just fine for pricking hungry trout of any stripe.
    .. A couple of the neighbors are aficionados of this fly and have already shortened it's name to "Baker's Bugger." They fish it all year long. The fly uses standard Brindle Bug chenille and a two toned tail similar to the Brindle and Hen. These long-tailed buggers have been getting more attention during the last decade. Probably a good reason for that.
    .. Here's a view of the Junction Pool. It will help you navigate through the elbows.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Do It Now - Yes Now !

    As Good As It Gets
    one more silly weekend-------
    .. There is some fine fishing and perfectly grungy weather to accompany it. There will be rain, and wind, and snow, and sleet, and other forms of bluster coming to a park near us. It's the stuff of stories.
    .. Don't say we didn't let you know. Every river on this side of Yellowstone National Park is fishing well; the catching is almost automatic.
    .. Join the throngs as they kiss fishing in the park goodbye. It will be a very long time before the fishing is this good again.
    .. P.S. There is a local myth that goes like this: "The Gallatin River is too cold to fish." Choose your beliefs wisely!
    .. Fish spawn in all waters or they cease to exist. They are aggressive when they spawn. There are fish in the Gallatin River. Hmmmmm!

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Went Fishing - Found Elk


    Enormous Bandwidth
    click on images for high resolution - enjoy

    .. A very pretty, precocious and curious pregnant mother-to-be found us fishing far from the symphony of elbows along a quiet stretch of river. She belched and we could smell her breath. She left, we fished.

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Join The Party


    Runners Galore
    .. As if you didn't know! This is a very good year for catching lake-run fish on the Madison River. The neighbors concede that even they will venture into the throngs of elbows for a jostling good time.
    .. They have adopted some reverse protective coloration so that strays and infrequent visitors won't know it's the locals at work.
    .. Most have borrowed their wife's cars. They poke around the little known wide spots in the road and then park the 3-year-old Subaru, (or Cadillac, or Buick, or Audi, or Grand Cherokee, etc.,) in a spot not too far from where they ply their trade.
    .. The pull-outs and wide spots have become gathering places for itinerant fishers from around the world. Jovial fisher folks and dour spouses are gathered in abundance. It's a crackin' good time.
    .. There is an interesting assortment of gear and flies in evidence. A few two-handers were observed yesterday, and even one 4-weight. The sky came and went with the winds and new words were invented for the melee that ensued.
    -> Best time: Dawn to Dusk.
    -> Best places: Local Hole #1, Bugger Bend, Junction Pool, Little Sandy Bend.
    -> Best flies: Soft Hackle, Rubber Legs, Yellow Anything.
    -> Best lunch: None.
    -> Best rig: Cast-a-bubble with a yellow woolly bugger trailing a big soft hackle.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    The End Is In Sight

    Fish Breath A Sigh Of Relief
    fishers retreat to tie flies

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Brief Sky

    Fish Here

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Blessings Be On Us


    It's A Grungy Week
    fish now
    .. This is the week of stories untold. The weather is being described by non fishers as "ROTTEN." Poor folks.
    .. Real Fall Weather has set in for the next 10 days or so. Call the boss and be sick for a week. Get to the park. Fish your feet off. It won't be this good for another year.
    .. Follow the weather on our weather page. Real time radar and up to the minute conditions and forecasts: CLICK HERE.
    P.S. Bring wet gear!
    P.P.S. Image is wallpaper sized.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Roads To Solitude

    Or, Maybe Not
    (brief report)
    .. There are some less traveled roads in Yellowstone National Park that lead to fish. Good roads, (or trails that were roads,) that remain substantially abandoned by fishers. There are many and spurious reasons for this. Perhaps the number one reason is that most fishers are gregarious folks.
    .. Despite the whining about crowds, they like to fish alone - together. Too, the aging fly fishing population seldom takes it's $30,000 SUV into the dust and dirt. And then, walking is hard on old legs.
    .. The bigger roads in the park have many pull-outs. If you're lucky you can visit with celebrity fishers as they hold court in their folding canvass chairs. They will provide you with entertaining conversation, clever anecdotes and stories that you can take to the folks back home.
    .. Little clusters of fishers dot these bigger roads. Waiting for the hatch - yup! Talking for hours - yup! Moaning about the current state of things and bemoaning the passing of time - yup!
    .. This is entertaining and enjoyable - yup! As if fish didn't eat until the hatch - yup! The god Skues is diminished in these conversations - yup! The god Halford is revered - yup! Their names are never spoken; perhaps not known - sad!
    .. There is good fishing in the long and riffled waters of the Madison River along Riverside Drive. The neighbors fish here. Nymphs, attractors, dry's, etc. Even in the bright October sun. Find the fish and you'll catch the fish.
    .. The Brook Trout are in an aggressive mood on the Firehole River along the Lone Star Geyser Trail. There were no cars in the parking area yesterday.
    .. We have precious little time to fish. When it's available we do it. We wave at the celebrity feather merchants.
    .. We toot the horn at the neighbors. But with the days getting shorter and the park about to close we forgo the pleasantries of genteel conversation. We forgo the exploration of truth, (there's plenty of that in the fly fishing world.)
    .. The weather looks to be making a slow crawl toward winter. That's a good thing. Last year it happened all at once. There's just time for a quick run to the park before work. We'll go.
    .. The Firehole River was a cranky tart over the weekend. A few persistent fishers waited for Baetis that showed in sparse numbers. They blamed the sun for poor fishing. The waiting might have had something to do with it too.
    .. Double nymph rigs took fish in the sun and broken clouds. A Bead Head Prince, (size 12,) followed by a Speckled Soft Hackle, (size 16,) was the ticket for those that fished.
    .. Several fish were taken in the big pool above Dipper Cliff on small Golden Stone Fly imitations. Some also fell to Gold Ribbed Hare's Ears, (size 16.)
    .. Catching on the Gibbon River has slowed down and there are only a few dedicated fishers willing to walk the distance to the good pools. There's plenty of parking and very little traffic with the road closure.
    .. The fishing and catching centers on soft hackles and very small nymphs, (to size 20.) That's a bit small for our eyes. We rig a double loop connection in the gentility of the home place and manage to make it work on the water. When it's warm it's fine. We'll see what happen in the next 10 days.
    .. Nez Perce Creek is seeing a surprising number of younger fisher folk. These are young legs that can make it to the pools around the first old bridge. Again, soft hackles and assorted nymphs are the flies that are in play.
    .. Midges and midge clusters are doing their part along the shadow lines and in the evening.
    .. One trusted source reports that large, (size 8-10,) Royal Wulff and Yellow Humpy flies are working in the fast sections of the wide pools. We believe it.
    .. The Madison River continues to entertain. Persistence seems to be the watchword. One thing to remember is that there is a range of dark water and holding pools that are not near the turn-outs and traditional parking spots.
    .. Not that we have any special piscene insight, - BUT - if 15 felt-soled pairs of boots charged through our resting place every hour for hours on end, we'd move to a quieter, (if less gentle, spot.)
    .. Woolly Buggers, Woolly Worms, and Yellow San Juan Worms are all the rage right now. They work so why not? The Crackleback Worm is making inroads this year too.
    .. Most anglers over the weekend groaned and whined about the bright sun and brilliant blue sky. It was different for sure, but, warmth is always welcome to these old bones. Fish will tell you how to catch them - just listen - even in the sun.