• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Friday, April 30, 2010

    Zone Forecast

    Snow Tires & Instant Closures
    call or click

    .. The current pile of popcorn storms is raising havoc with the park roads. Some are open, some are closed, some are both open and closed.
    .. Call: 307-344-2117.
    .. Click: HERE.
    .. Advisory and warnings from NOAA: LINK.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    A Dump Cometh

    Not to worry, just another two feet.

    Gentility Now ?

    Mother's Day What ?
    they're here & they're small

    .. As the neighbors are streaming toward Hebgen Lake for their chance at some early Spring tugs, we took the opportunity to cruise in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Our gentle weather has been truncated by a return to typical Spring weather -- 6" - 12" of snow, a bit of sleet, high wind gusts, and intermittent sun between the storm cells. We take this kind of opportunity to enjoy the chance to be a tourist.
    .. Very few visitors darken the portals of the park at this time of year, especially in the rain and snow.
    .. All visitors were shooed out of the park yesterday because of the snow. Visitation is limited to administrative travel today, (or until the roads are deemed safe for touring folks in family sedans.)
    .. This is an opportunity that the neighbors relish. The moisture is a blessing, and the spotty sun dapples the critters and landscape alike. We're loving it. {Administrative travel includes visitation to park employees living in Yellowstone.}
    .. The rivers in the park are beautifully benign at the moment, (especially the Madison River,) just a hint of color, (if you can call it that,) bank full and bubbling, fish rising, and the girls hanging out in the rapidly greening meadows. The melt of warm snow coupled with rain should turn the west side rivers into chocolate soup within the week.
    .. With our temperatures sliding back down toward seasonally low numbers, and the bluster back in the forecast we felt that tourism was justified.
    .. In a month or so it will be different; always is, [[ opening day is May 29, 2010.]]
    .. When we got home there were a few caddis smashed on the windshield. There were some small mayflies too. Oh well.

    .. The fabled Mother's Day caddis hatch is seldom evident in this part of the world. There are caddis, for sure, but they are scattered, sporadic, and not too monstrous.
    .. We fish as if they were here anyway and gather up a few dances. Wet weather and overcast skies are not the preferred caddis emergent weather. But then, (on the other hand,) there is the pupating imperative. We've seen them in both the rain and the snow; (and who knows what sort of gluttony takes place under water with the delay in the hatching?)
    .. We're fond of using little green nymphs for the caddis. Usually we rig up with a two fly rig. A drowned caddis on the top and a bead-head something on the bottom.
    Jacklin's Rock Worm is currently in vogue around here, along with Soft Hackles, Stiff Hackles, and even Prince Nymphs and Yellow Feather Dusters.
    .. There are always rumors of a good caddis hatch on the East Gallatin River and this might be the year to investigate.
    .. We usually fish the Gallatin River between the park line and the Taylor Fork this time of year. The local fishing guru's feel that the Gallatin River is too cold this time of year, (probably for the fishers.)
    .. Then, again, they are trapped in the surface rut and spit the words 'bobber' and 'indicator' out of their mouths.
    .. We use a giant drowned caddis as a bobber and it catches it's fair share of the fish.
    .. One particularly useful fly for this purpose is Doug's Drowned Caddis from Parks' Fly Shop, (see it HERE.) We tie it a bit larger, (12-14,) but it works fine. The more beat up it gets the better it works.
    .. Speaking of Parks' Fly Shop, It looks like the video fly tying lessons are done for now. A total of 17 instructional videos are available for viewing, HERE.
    .. Breakfast time: S.O.S, quart of coffee, OJ, and a Twinkie. Good for both the waistline and the cholesterol!

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Back To The Chains


    Countdown To Ice Out

    Maggot & Meal Worm Supplies Exhausted
    lawn chairs at a premium
    the current rain & sleet & snow are just a bonus

    .. The drool level in town is palpable and escalating. Both the gear group and the fly fraternity speak the same language this time of year.
    .. Moms, dads, wives, husbands, boy & girl friends, and the kids had better fish or cut bait.
    .. The day could be today. It could be tomorrow. It might even wait a week, (but we doubt it.) There is open water on Hebgen Lake right now. More is appearing by the hour. It's beautiful.
    .. The Madison Arm Estuary is open all the way to Grayling Creek.
    Sunrise Cove is currently fishing like there's no ice at all. The ice shanties have been abandoned. It's Ice Out Time in the neighborhood.
    .. We're not sure whether "ice out" is a noun or a verb or adjective. If it's a verb, it's 'icing-out' now! If it's an adjective, the lake will be 'iced-out' in about 3 more weeks. If it's a noun, it's 'ice out'.
    .. The neighbors are already planning for next weekend, (since it's snowing again.) Portable grills, ice chests cleaned with baking soda, lawn chairs cleaned and rust removed, spare rods and reels, and of course extra beer for celebrations are on the 'to-do' lists.
    .. And, there will be plenty of celebrating to do. This is the time of year when the big fish of the lake are most accessible, and most easily caught.
    .. For the next couple of weeks there will be little parties of jubilation along the lake shore on every beach where the ice is within casting range. If we get a genuine cold spell the ice will recede slowly, and the gaiety could last for a month.
    .. Short strong leaders are the drill for most of the fly fishers. Nothing over 6' is necessary, (nor is it desirable.) Any thing in the box will do. Presentation and position are the keys for catching success.
    .. We continue to mention that the trout will eat anything that looks like food to them. How do we know this? The folks that eat these fish look at the stomach contents. What a varied and capricious bunch of crap-ola the trout do eat.
    .. Twigs, (some of gargantuan size,) constantly amaze us. Bits of leaves, grass, and moss, (or something similar???) are also cataloged. There's always sand and gravel, (a size distinction that is lost on us.) And of course the normally anticipated bugs and some others, not so apparently available.
    .. Last year at this time a big Brown Trout was gutted and the entrails dissected. Among the above mentioned debris was a nearly complete grasshopper, (minus one leg.) Use your imagination! The damn thing was nearly an inch long.
    .. In lakes and turbid streams epibenthic feeding is the norm. There is all manner of goop on the bottom of streams and lakes. Gobble it now and digest it later seems to be the strategy when drift feeding is not available.
    .. All the neighbors have their favorite and 'secret' weapons. We use Feather Dusters, Prince Nymphs, Gob-O-Worms, (HERE & HERE,) San Juan Worms, Yellowstone Badger and an occasional Shop Vac. They all seem to work or fail with equal aplomb.
    .. Presentation is usually with a slow sink-tip line; cast to the ice, and then pulled gently into the water. This is the most successful method for most of the neighbors.
    .. The contrarian method is just about the complete opposite. A high floating line with an extremely long, (12' is where they start,) leader is used. Scuff the leader so it sinks and place a double fly rig on it, (flies about 2' apart.) Cast this rig parallel to the ice and smoke a cigar until the take.


    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Big Bugs


    You Heard It Here Second

    .. The neighborhood is rife with anxiety and anticipation. We were surprised to hear that a photograph of the mythological SKWALA has been posted by Josh over at the TROUTBUG.
    .. Not only is it a BIG BUG, but it's close to home. Who'd 'a' thunk it? Should we move to Ennis, Montana? Should we notify National Geographic? What to do?
    .. Of course it was last week and they probably have flown the coop. Such is life.
    .. There is a suggestion that they are expanding their range and habitat. Hmmmmm!
    .. The last ones we saw were in California. See THE ECOLOGICAL ANGLER for that bit of fun.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Surprisingly Good

    Get Out The Spring Nymph Box
    fish 'em low and slow

    .. It's that time of year. Some streams are mud soup. Some streams have a bit of color. Some streams are high, cold, and clear. Some are even low, cold, and clear. It's all good and it's all in flux.
    .. Whatever the situation; now is the time for subsurface prospecting. The fish are getting energetic and are ravenous after the winter starvation.
    .. There are midges on the surface. There are little mayflies and there are a few caddis, - HOWEVER - the big action is below the surface.
    .. The catching has been better than expected; probably due to the bit of warmth we've experienced lately.
    .. You have to pick your poison for the situation - BUT it's nymphs for now. Streamers are for the masochistic head hunters, (like our neighbor Alvin.) They work, but it takes time, patience and skill beyond belief.
    .. For a bit of insight into some techniques for the current conditions just blip on over to the Fishing Blog at Madison River Outfitters.
    .. Everyone should have a SJ Worm. That's our tip of the hat. We got 'em, we use 'em, but they are really no better than the ones shown below.
    .. The flies shown below are as close as we come to recommending flies for fishing. There are even flies for the surface, but the others are the choice right now.
    .. We have used some of these fly patterns for 40 years or more - really - and they continue to work.
    .. They do not satisfy the need for experimentation, nor do they tickle the fancy of feather merchants, nor are they the latest and greatest; they just suit us.
    .. Other flies work fine, and other flies may even work better. One old local fly fisher was fond of asking and answering a question in the same breath: "Why are there so many flies? - Because they all work!" We agree.
    .. Spring fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park is weather and runoff dependent - no surprise there. The weather can be brutal well into June, and the runoff can keep you off of the water for days, (or weeks,) at a time.
    .. This year we're being teased with a bit of warmth early. We're not fooled. The last few days of sleet, snow, wind and rain, remind us that Spring is a capricious season.
    .. The flies shown here are designed to work well in a variety of conditions and in that sense are "generalized flies." There are some that could be considered 'imitative,' however most will fall into the 'attractor' class - that's O.K. with us. Gott'a attract a fish to catch it.

    .. Montana Duster: We use piles of these all season long and start the Spring nymphing with it. This pattern, and the original Feather Duster are staples in our Spring assortment. The yellow color is most popular. However, about this time each year the pink makes an appearance - probably taken for an egg - who knows? Sizes: 6 - 18.
    .. Yellowstone Coachman: The occasional day in early Spring that allows a good hatch is an unanticipated joy. The fish are seldom very selective, (well - sort'a,) and this fly works wonders. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. The Yellowstone Cinch: This is our other choice for early Spring dry fly days. It is a local adaptation that floats like a cork, and can be quickly tied at home or on the water. Size is the key to this and other early season flies in Yellowstone. Later the fish become much more selective. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. Yellowstone Spruce Fly: This fly was developed by some neighbors that use a bubble on a spinning or casting rig for Fall fishing. It is an exceptional fly when cast with a fly rod in the spring. It's a bit gaudy for many of our purists, but with a nice slow presentation in the cold waters of the early Spring it looks like a big sack of groceries to hungry trout. Sizes: 4 - 12.
    .. Yellowstone Morning Glory: This is an all season fly that we like to keep handy for fishing in the film, or slightly submerged in the Spring. It is a traditional 'early morning' fly for those that find the right foggy morning after the rare early Spring hatch. In the Summer it's a useful attractor. There are many flies similar to this local variant and most will do - we use this one. Sizes: 10 - 16.
    .. Yellowstone Winter Grub: This looks like nothing other than something to sample - or some such. We fish this all Winter and carry it into the Spring. It's a heavy fly, though it casts well, and is useful for 'dredging' those big fish that you know are there. It's apparently an old fly from the Salmon & Challis area in Idaho. We usually have this in a variety of sizes for the desperation moments. Sizes: 4 - 10.
    .. Woolly Worm: Spit the words out of your mouth if you must - it's a great Spring fly in Yellowstone Country. Sometimes we use small ones on the surface when the snow flies are out. Black or yellow seem to be the colors of choice, we've got more yellow ones. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. Yellowstone Badger: This prickly little devil is one that serves a multitude of purposes. Float it, sink it, splash it, strip it, or just dap it - it is a winner. This fly is similar to the other nymphs that are popular around here - the Pheasant Tail, and the Hare's Ear. We use them all, but keep coming back to this one. Sizes: 12 - 18.
    .. Stiff Hackle Nymph: This variant of the soft hackle variety is not a favorite among many folks in the fly fishing community. It does work well and it is used by some of our 'more mature' neighbors. We've used it since the 80's and found it to be a useful resource - but we tend to forget it too. This is an all season fly that we just put in the fly box because we have them. Sizes 12 -18.
    .. Deer Hair Caddis: This little fly we borrowed from Jason Neuswanger over at The Trout Nut. We fished it all last year along with the local versions and it was a standout performer. It's a dark fly that is consistent with some of our early Caddis hatches and we like it very much. Sizes: 10 - 18.
    .. The Quick -N-Easy is one of those flies that makes many a fly fisher cringe. It is gaudy, flashy, big, and effective. It is famous for its spectacular refusals, and that's it's purpose. Tie it on early and then fish the fly that the fish are taking. This will show you that there are really fish in the water, and it may even catch one or two. Sizes: 8 - 14.
    .. Hellifiknow: This pattern is reminiscent of the Black Nose Dace and Micky Finn patterns. It is useful when the water is murky and you need to get a bit of twinkle down deep. It's a Spring staple and often a 'what if ?' kind of fly for prospecting. Sizes 4 - 12.
    .. Scarlet Ibis: We've carried this fly since the early 60's. Back then they came on a card and you got four for a dollar. They were imported from Japan and attracted the novice and expert alike. A bit of color never hurts the old fly boxes. This traditional wet fly is one that we fish for fun. It may be taken for an egg, a flying saucer, a cowboy's bandanna, or "who knows what?" - but it takes a few fish every year. Sizes: 8 - 14.
    .. Here's a note about the Shop Vac. It's proven its worth in subsurface fishing over the last few seasons. Tied a bit larger than the traditional sizes it is a fine upper fly in a tandem rig and can be seen on a slow shallow swing.
    .. We have an irrational fondness for the local Feather Dusters, (Original, Montana, Egg,) yet we always have a few Shop Vacs as well.
    .. For year-round success this pattern ranks very high. Most people use the bead head variety. Contrarians that we are, we stick with the fluff sans bead.
    .. The recipe lets you know why we're fond of these by the dozen.
    Recipe. Hook: size 12 - 18, Thread: black, Body: pheasant tail fiber, Rib: medium, (or fine,) copper wire, Wing: gold or white Zelon, (cul de canard works fine.)
    Instructions. Move thread to the rear of the hook, attach pheasant tail fibers and the wire, return thread and fibers to head, counter wrap the wire rib to the eye, tie off, attach zelon, (or cul de canard,) on top of the hook shank, whip finish a large clunky head.
    .. These can be greased up real heavy and floated if you choose. The smaller sizes float very well.
    .. Well, it's a bit sunny and bright overcast in the forecast. Then some more winter. We're headed to a short section of a famous creek that is clear nearly year round. Hope the trusty steed breaks down in the right neighborhood.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Hot Evening Sun

    Time To Shop

    .. Warm snow + warm rain + warm hail + some sun = increased river discharge. Such is the way of it during Spring in the high country.
    .. Yesterday morning the Gallatin River was at a murky 900 cfs near Gallatin Gateway and rising rapidly.

    .. The Madison River, Firehole River, & Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park are on a trajectory toward mud soup.
    .. A short section of the Gallatin River between Taylor Fork and the park line should remain cold, clear and fishable - particularly near the discharge of Snowflake Springs.
    . .