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  • Monday, July 26, 2010

    Summer Hides

    It Only Took 20 Minutes
    the ants were everywhere
    even down there !

    (click on image for larger view)
    .. We often hear that this is the time of the year to leave the Madison River alone.
    .. It's way too hot, chant the gurus of fishing. It'll kill the fish scream the sages of submersibles. The fish will die from lactic acid build-up, even if you release them. And there's no mid-day hatch so why bother?
    .. We've heard it all, and then some. And, there's a bit of truth in every bit of it. And we certainly don't advocate killing fish on purpose. And further, even in the best of scenarios more than 10% of released trout die. Those held for pictures, at any time, are in far greater peril than many summer caught fish.
    .. There are many places on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park where a set of conditions combine to favor both the fish and the catching of them.
    .. It's not a complex equation and certainly not unknown to quite a few of our neighbors that regularly fish this river all summer - and catch fish - and feel no remorse - and don't take pictures of the fish.
    .. It goes something like this: 1] the topography of the bedrock is irregular and provides for cold water springs and seeps in the river and near the bank, 2] There are deep holes in the river and along the bank that frequently co-occur with these springs, 3] Some undercut banks provide shade all day long, (no matter where the sun is,) 4] Food streams and foam lines frequently coincide with all the above conditions, 5] Snags and sweepers enhance the equation.
    .. One such location is shown at the top of this post. It seldom holds fishers at anytime of the year. It's not visible from the road. You must walk at least 200 feet to see it and another 100 feet to properly approach it for catching.
    .. On Sunday there were at least 8 fish in this 50' section of the bank. We counted them. Laying on our belly in close concert with the ants. Peering through our polarized glasses, and using some small binoculars, we watched the fish hanging out in the dark water just below or adjacent to the foam line.
    .. We had a friend use PhotoShop to put the fish in their approximate locations, (and the sparkles on the bits of foam.) Everyone of them came up to the surface during that twenty minute stint. Most several times.
    .. There was no hatch that we could see. After rising to scraps of food the fish usually returned to their original hides, but occasionally moved to darker holes or even to the shade under the bank. The photo was taken at 1:12 PM Mountain Daylight Time.
    .. When we could take the ants no longer, we moved into fishing position and caught one fish, on the third cast, (a tribute to our phenomenal skill as a catcher.)
    .. It took us a mere 7 minutes more to put down all the fish and we noticed only three refusals in this time. That probably represents some kind of record.
    .. The fish we caught was a 12" class Rainbow Trout. We landed it in about 40 seconds and released it immediately.
    .. Technical details: 7' 4x leader, no slip drag setting, Orvis Rocky Mountain 9' 6-weight, weight forward 7-weight 444 line, 14 foot cast including leader, wet wading crouch in knee deep water with butt in water, Parachute Adams-size 12, water temperature under log in foreground 67° F, water temperature at butt level in river 74° F. The fish left the water once of it's own accord.
    .. There are many of these places on the river. They are not secret. They hold fish year round. They are seldom fished and the fish like it that way.