• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Sunday, October 11, 2009

    The Bottoms

    Patch Your Waders
    take a boat
    .. Last night's snow is a blessing. The temperatures will be down. The frail elbows will disappear. The fish will become 'antsy.' It's time to hit the local holes.
    .. If you promise to avoid the duck blinds, AND promise not to scare the ducks, AND can negotiate the shallow sand bars and weed beds; you won't eat #6's and will catch big fish.
    .. The delta bottoms of Grayling Creek & Duck Creek have big fish and few fishers this time of year. They are an invitation to fish and catch and celebrate the Fall.
    .. There is quicksand, and muck holes, and slippery cobbles, and line-eating snags at every turn and twist. For most fishers this kind of "adventure" does not comport well, in their minds, with the pleasant outing associated with 'fly fishing' .
    .. This is neighborhood fishing at it's finest. Specialized techniques, current local knowledge, and familiarity with the creeks are not mandatory but are useful in enhancing the catch rate.
    .. There are far fewer fish running up these creeks than there are in the Madison River. Happily they seem to come in 'waves' and they are 'podded-up' in their migration. If you find one, you find many!

    .. There is a good hole in every distributary channel. There are several in most. We tend to practice a bit of anthropomorphizing with these critters when explaining their distribution and position in the creeks. We use phrases like: 'they're resting,' 'they're getting used to the water,' 'they're lost,' 'they're waiting for their buddies,' and so forth.

    .. You already have the right gear; it's the combination that's a bit strange. A long rod, (9 - 10 foot,) over lined by at least two weights is the standard fare among the neighbors. Some use a level line, others cut the forward taper short on a weight-forward line.

    .. Short fast-taper leaders in the 6 - 7 foot range are a good place to start, and stout is the watchword for these. Waders with good knee pads, or some carpet-layer knee pads are a boon when crawling around the cobbles and overhanging willows.

    .. Short and very accurate casts are a necessity. Most of the holding pools are draped with willows and dead wood snags. Some of the best pools, on the other hand, are near lake level. They are deeeeeep, and slow as molasses.
    .. They are not gin-clear this year - more like vodka. You will get one or two casts and drifts if you are lucky. These pools give a new meaning to the term "dead drift." The fast moving shadows are the fish that could have been caught.

    .. It would be too capricious to call the fish indiscriminate when it comes to eating flies. However, they are an eclectic bunch of predators. They will take both large and small flies. Beauty is in the eye of the fish, we suppose. The last two days they ate Sillilegs, San Juan Worms, Gob O' Worms, Prince Nymphs, and Bead Head Glitter Nymphs. They shunned our perennial favorites: Feather Duster and Dark Spruce.

    .. Sunken and dead-drifted size 18 Midge Clusters were hot for about two hours on Friday. Very small Drowned Caddis were consistent fish-foolers most of Saturday. It's a crap shoot - and it's fun.
    .. It is possible to traverse the willow jungle from the road to the lake. It is also tough. There are trails and tracks that can be used, just be "gear-conscious" as you charge into the thickets. Be bear and moose conscious too!

    .. Access by boat is easier, but just a little. There are shifting channels in the weed beds, many of the shallow sand bars in the deltas must be walked across - boat in tow. Some recent sand and mud deposits are quick and deep - waist high in an instant is not an uncommon, (and sinking,) feeling.
    .. For the visitor none of this is worth it. For the neighbors it's a traditional venture. The fish are wild and unmolested. They can be 18" or more long: most are 14" - 16" and bright as a new chrome lug nut.

    .. We enjoy the solitude. The views of the surrounding landscape and lake are stunning this time of year. They can't be done justice with a little point and shoot camera.
    .. On a nice day with temperatures in the 20's and the sun shinning you can eat both lunches in the protected and bright hollows of the willow jungle. If it's blustery, and the low teens are the high, a small fire is a wonderful psychological placebo, even if it provides little warmth. Winds can bring a quick chop to the lake and it's best to dress for both fishing and boating.

    .. We think the rewards are worth the effort on these creeks. If you're into crowds & drive by fishing, and runners on the run there's always Baker's Hole, the Barns Holes, and the rest of the Madison River and Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park.