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  • Monday, September 06, 2010

    The Firehole Yo-Yo

    Madison Not Too Bad
    Gallatin Pretty Good
    all uppers a go
    .. 'Tis the season. Any moderately warm day will put the Firehole River into a temperature range that is not only stressful for the fish, but the fishers as well. The bugs won't be around, the absentee clouds won't cool you off, and the stories you gather up will be of doom and gloom.
    .. Right now good surface fishing can generally be had by 7:30 AM and may last until 10:30 or 11:00 AM.
    .. Mid-day fishing in the spring holes with a nymph or small bugger is possible.
    .. By 3:30 PM, or so the hoppers in the grassy meadows are in full flight and by 4:30 PM both hoppers and caddis will take fish on the surface.
    .. As Summer turns to Fall, air masses in our part of the world mix and produce unsettled and frequently unpredictable weather. We can have days of 80° F followed by snow, rain, sleet, and freezing temperatures. If a couple of days get warm the river temperatures will follow. A few cold days and the obverse occurs.
    .. This temperature yo-yo is most noticeable in the Firehole River, but, to a lessor degree, the Madison River is also affected in a similar fashion. Watch the weather, watch the U.S.G.S. river data, and give a local fly shop a quick call for current conditions. It will pay off with a better catching experience.
    .. The ameliorating influence of the Gibbon River flows on the Firehole River temperature means that the Madison River is a bit more fishable from here on in. It will only get better for the next month.
    .. A full box is needed to fish the Madison River right now. Early mornings can see dense but widely separated Tricos hatching, along with Baetis on our cloudy days. Days that are partly cloudy and bright will find fishers doing better with ants or beetles or nymphs.
    .. Evenings are providing a few good hours of caddis fishing but the flies and hatches are both mercurial and mutable in their appearance. If you find them in the evenings the fish will chase them with a fervor like unto a bull elk in rut. [Speaking of which; Firehole Canyon was closed last Friday because of a bull elk that was tearing up trees and attacking cars. Be very careful from now on. There's bears & elk & deer & bison to avoid.]
    .. Reports of the occasional big fish continue. The spawning run is on but it's only a few of the earliest fish that are making an appearance. The conformists will need a lot more cooling of the waters in our neighborhood to entice them from Hebgen Lake. If you decide to target the runners be sure to have large soft hackles and rubber legs in the box as well as the traditional streamers.
    .. The hoppers are not as dense along the Madison River as they are on the Firehole River - BUT - the final molt is still in progress. Keep a few of the little darlings handy just in case.
    .. Baetis are surprisingly regular this year on the Gallatin River in the park. Hoppers are present, as are the few remaining spruce moths. Beetles and ants are strong performers, particularly on warm days. There have also been several flights of cinnamon ants reported around Black Butte and Specimen Creek.
    .. When they hatch, the small caddis are preferred munchies in the evenings. Attractor fishing is a local tradition on the Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park. This has been the mid-day pastime for a few generations and it persists today.
    .. Typically a dry/dropper, (or when appropriate a hopper/dropper,) combination is used. Surface flies range from Goofus Bugs, (or Humpies,) through Royal Coachman, to giant Adams renditions. The trailing fly is usually a Prince, Feather Duster, Hare's Ear, nymph - or a soft hackle of some sort.
    .. The upper reaches of our popular river destinations are better fishing than famous parts right now.
    .. The Brook Trout water on the Gibbon River, and the Firehole River can provide relative solitude and excellent catching during the warm spells of the temperature yo-yo.
    .. The Gallatin River along the Bighorn Trail has some fine fish right now, (after all, even the fish in the Gallatin River move upstream to spawn. Taylor Fork, just north of the park boundary, and Bacon Rind Creek in the park are both fishing very well with the out-sized visitors migrating in from downstream.
    .. These fish see few anglers this time of year and are generally very willing dance partners for the fisher folk willing to take a short walk, and approach carefully.