• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Damn; The Sun !

    Firehole Bound

    .. There's a chance that winter will be on hold for a few days. We're headed to the Firehole River to see what the trout think.
    .. There's still scads of Fall Runners in the Madison River - far more fish than fishers this year. The rumor is that the water is now too cold. Hmmmmm, I guess fish don't eat for six months in some places. They are eating here now.
    .. More tomorrow or the next day. Right now is too good to pass up.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Fair Chase

    On Horses
    no fences
    (click to appreciate)

    .. Just a note about the neighbors. Get up early. Pick your spot. Ride quietly. Stalk correctly. Aim well. Shoot. 85 yards.
    .. Not a fence in sight. Not a fence for 10 miles. Just 35 miles from home. Should score near 400.
    .. Back to fishing tomorrow.


    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Pick Your Poison

    LITTLE FLIES or . . . etc.

    .. It's that time of year. The bug and fish tango has many beats; pick yours and enjoy the dances.
    .. Just about all rivers on the west side of Yellowstone National Park are seeing eager fishers and hearing exclamatory whoops of joy and exultation.
    .. You may not catch what you are fishing for - but you will catch fish. On the surface, in the film, high column, mid column, or down deep: the fish are eating up a storm.
    .. A stupid-silly way to pass a whole day on any of the the rivers would begin with a surface double of a midge cluster and a spent mayfly, (or dredge streamers for the submarines.)
    .. By mid morning nymphs, soft hackles, and streamers would bring action. A blooming of bugs will grace the waters shortly after noon, (did you eat lunch?)
    .. Midges by the billions and Baetis by the millions will keep the trout rising like popcorn. As the shadows turn to dark, fish some spent mayflies again and deep streamers, (with a Prince Nymph on point.)
    .. With just a little luck and perseverance you'll die exhausted and happily fished out. Your arms will ache, your eyes won't focus, (spectacles or not,) and your under things will be wet from the eager sweat and other bodily fluids.
    .. About the time you finally drag yourself away from the river, hunger will have turned to starvation that can't be stayed by a simple meal.
    .. If you didn't die from exhausted joy on the stream you will order the giant prime rib dinner, baked potato, and Caesar salad; preceded by a shrimp cocktail appetizer with a cold one, and followed by a double helping of cherry cheesecake and two snifters of Kahlua. Coffee and Ice Cream should put the finishing touches on the perfect day.
    .. For day number two, (if you live through day number one,) pick a different spot on the river. The results will be the same.
    .. From Baker's Hole to the junction pools on the Madison River there are rises going wanting.
    .. For some unknown reason the late Autumn fishers are fewer this year than in recent memory, (just an observation - not a complaint.)
    .. The persistent rain (and bits of sleet and snow,) on Sunday was truly a blessing for the trees that are dying of thirst - fishers rejoiced too because the sacred Baetis clouds should continue to allow those that must see their fly fish on the top.
    .. The willows below Baker's Hole still hold bears, elk, moose, hunters and very large fish. Only the neighbors dare fish here.
    .. Even with the campground gate closed and locked Baker's Hole is a big magnet for fishers this year.
    .. The catching has been consistent and the fish are not just long but plump as well. Purple and/or Black Woolly Buggers along with giant soft hackles are the choice here - it's working well.
    .. The Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park is yielding good fish. The low, cold water has concentrated the fish in many of the unusual places.
    .. Holes and hides are a bit different this year and it's going to take some 'water savvy' to dredge up the runners.
    .. Resident fish are thick as . . . well you know!
    .. One suggestion: please don't stand in the foam lines or the deep holes. It confuses the poor hungry fish and they have a hard time picking the chow from your mud plume and waders.
    .. Whether you know it or not - fish know that those rumpled pajamas that you're wearing are not tree trunks. Standing crotch deep in the Madison River means that you've found where the fish were - just before you got there.
    Saw these dimples. Spent 5 minutes taking pictures of the ones that were readily apparent. Baetis hatching everywhere. Fish moving from hide under the bank to the slick, and taking the bugs right at the shadow line. Was so fascinated that catching was put out of mind. (Click for big image of dimples & such.)  

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Up A Lazy River

    Pleasantly Cool
    dance card filled

    .. Took a ride in Yellowstone Park Saturday. It was leisurely and enjoyable. The girls were out enjoying the sunny spots as the sunlight rained down between the dark heavy clouds hanging low in the sky.
    ..The ride to Norris Junction was pleasantly uneventful. No construction delays and no crowds. Fall's gift to the Autumn visitor is a gentility of pace and place.
    .. Above Virginia Cascades, along the scary one-way road, the Gibbon River was clear, cold, and full of eager Brook Trout.
    .. We fished 'Da Chutes' and in the meadow. By the time we arrived the clouds had thickened and the imminent rain was a very real presence. The heavy air demanded notice.
    .. Small holes between the clouds let enough yellow sunlight through to make the woods and meadows look like the butt of some sort of grotesque Appaloosa stallion. It was nice.
    .. Fish of the small and twinkling variety could be seen ghosting between weed beds and debris piles.
    .. Nothing so large as 8" was apparent on our first saunter down river among the downfall and rusty grasses. Both soft and splashy rises were everywhere and we were blessed with solitude.
    .. Elk squeaks and mewls from above us went unanswered and we wondered why the bulls in this part of the forest were ignoring the girls
    .. Not three cars went by us in the two hours we spent exploring the hides in the shallow and clear water. Fall is oh so different from summer when dogs, kids, strollers, constant traffic, and other bits of noise permeated the narrow canyon.
    .. After more dances than was seemly we fished back up river toward the meadow, still accompanied by mewls and rustling of unseen elk. A couple of the same fish graced us with a dance for a second time as we probed different and darker spots as well as the familiar ones.
    .. The meadow at the end of the road is as pretty as any in Yellowstone National Park. It's small enough that you can see from side to side and end to end. It's large enough that the willow clumps hide mysterious views from site.
    .. Right now the meadow is a golden color that belies the impending winter and it's rush toward white. Soon the grass will be dull brown and mashed flat. But right now, it's upright, golden, and wispy like a carpet with too long a nap.
    .. There are bigger fish in the meadow. Some giants have been known to reach 14". The midges and caddis were in the air and on the water. Occasionally a swirling zephyr ruffled the long grass, but it was mostly a still afternoon.
    .. We fished the lazy bends and undercut banks with a nonchalance unbefitting the stream, we apologize. There was no need to hurry. There was no rush to avoid the fishers up or down stream - there were none.
    .. We sang loudly to the unseen bears and periodically fingered the heavy canister at our hip. They are out there. They hear us. They want the berries that failed this year. They want the Whitebark Pine nuts that also failed.
    .. They are eating grass, occasional bits of carrion, roots, ants, and other meager fare. No matter how soft the winter it's going to be hard on the bears.
    .. It really shouldn't be called rain. The small drops so widely spaced and infrequent that they went unnoticed at first began about five O'clock. The fish all came to the surface at once. We could not decipher what they were after - but, after it they were.
    .. The amount of dimples on the surface surprised us. All those fish; most of which had ignored our offerings, were down there just waiting to embarrass with a carnival show. Oh well, we'd fooled the idiots and there were many of them as well.
    .. It really shouldn't be called snow. A few minuscule ice crystals followed us as we fished our way back to our trusty steed. The ephemeral zephyrs had disappeared from the meadow. The bears were silent as ever and the elk were quiet too. It would be dark before we got to the new bridge. We were pleased. There would be no wait and it's less than an hour's drive to the barn.

    P.S. most images are large enough for wallpaper - just click.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Drive By Shooting In Yellowstone

    It's an all too common occurrence in our nation's first national park. Unsuspecting residents are preyed upon by gangs of interlopers in large black sedans wielding high-tech weapons. The busy summer season is the worst and many, if not most of the residents avoid the roads at that time.
    It's the early springtime days and the gentle Autumn afternoons that pose the greatest threat. Residents return to their lowland gardens to find the ambuscadoes around every turn. What's a mother to do?

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Inspection On Wednesday

    The Bridge Is Beautiful
    many perfect pull-outs
    we're a bit sad
    Just 60 Feet To A Beautiful Riffle And Run Stretch
    On The Gibbon River: We Can Handle It!
    .. Final approval from the Division Of Federal Highways is expected on Wednesday - or so. The Gibbon River Bridge Project is about finished. It looks like a picture book.
    New Picnic Area.
    .. Rock work along the roadway blends with the native stone and is artistically done. The bright yellow and white paint on the roadway sets off the road like nothing else can. It won't be beautiful for long, but it will be ohhh sooo much nicer to travel.
    .. The volcanic potholes are gone. The off-camber diminishing radius curves are a thing of the past. The abrupt shoulders are just a bad memory.
    .. The lack of parking or pull-outs along the road between Gibbon Falls and Tuff Cliff has been remedied by the addition of at least 15 new, (and very spacious,) wide spots.
    .. It's been over a decade in planning and construction. It's hard to describe the change. Simply put; it's a modern road, well designed and competently constructed.
    .. There is no more fear for the impending disaster of an approaching motor home. Room for the contemporary condominiums on wheels was adequately provided for: now then, about the dotards behind their steering wheels.
    .. We were treated to a brief tour of some of the improvements, (thanks guys,) and have a pile of images to show you.
    .. We suspect that the fishing pressure along the Gibbon River, (below the falls,) will increase mightily because of the wonderfully placed parking areas. The neighbors are already planning where and how!
    Wide Access & Stop Signs.
    .. The old picnic area at the base of the falls is now a scenic pull-out with small hills and a twisty one way road, (paved just yesterday.)
    .. There is a new picnic area up-grade from Gibbon Falls at Iron Springs. We haven't had the legs to climb to this area in over 30 years - nice to visit old friends.
    .. There is now a monstrous parking area for vehicles above the falls and a nicely paved walking and viewing area with powder-coated handrails and giant boulders for sitting and decoration.
    .. The overlook is just as spectacular and far safer than the old disaster area. There are traffic separators and the congestion that was so common in this area should be greatly reduced.
    .. We're going to miss the easy access to the narrow canyon riffles above the falls. However, the person in charge of restoration of this section understands the needs of crippled old farts and has assured us that the walk along our favorite riffles will not be too strenuous.
    .. We did have time to visit with the river about sundown, (just a pleasant 60 feet from our trusty horse,) and danced with a small Brown Trout. We are going to save full exploration of the new access points for next season, (it'll get us through the winter with sneaky planning.)
    .. Enjoy the images below. They are fairly sizable and a click will fill your screen.
    Brand New & Pretty As A Picture.
    Beautiful, Strong, Unobtrusive Rock Work - CCC? WPA?
    We Get To Inspect A New Fishing Access
    At The Revamped Picnic Area Below Gibbon Falls - Woot, Woot!
    Beautiful, Unobtrusive & Dead Straight - SAFE!
    Plenty Of Room For "Hippos Of The Highway."
    Lots OF Room & Good Visibility.
    Note Silt Dam Along The River's Edge.
    Just An Easy Cast From The Road.
    Does It Get Any Better?
    .. If you survived the slide show, we've a secret for you. The Yellowstone River around Sulfur Cauldron is fishing so good that it's worth the trip from West Yellowstone.
    .. Also, the deep riffles and runs above Buffalo Ford are full of fat and feisty 20" fish. These are Cutthroat Trout so eager to dance that they will jump in your vest and pick the correct fly for you.
    .. What Fly? Nothing exotic. A nice, (not too bushy,) Woolly Bugger in the size range of 2 or 4, (xl long hooks are good.)
    .. Black, of course and a bit of flash in the tail is helpful. Yellow bodies are a near sure bet as well.
    .. Drift the pools, or strip the edges, the fish are just waiting for you. Fish hard, fish long, cover water. Now you know - don't catch them all.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    The Perfect Weekend

    GOT GEAR ?
    Use It

    " . . . Take Warning."

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    The Bridge Holes

    The Worms Have It
    flies work too
    .. The neighbors catch their dinner here. They measure their fish in pounds not inches. They often cast from one side to the other in the Upper and Lower Pools. The stories are legion and legend.
    .. Few fishers of the fly stop here; it's a shame. There are fish to be had and they will take flies with enthusiasm. It's almost too easy.
    .. There are three enormous pools right at the bridge, (Highway 191, just north of West Yellowstone.) One is upstream, one is downstream, and the least fished pool is underneath the bridge itself.
    .. This Middle Pool is accessible by walking down to the water between the highway bridge and the snowmachine bridge. Roll casting is lifted to a fine art by those that fish the middle pool, (including - but not limited to - the sidearm underhand surface roller.)
    .. Most fish in the Middle Pool hold at it's tail. Takes by these fish are often at the head of the Lower Pool as the fish follows the offering and the streams fan out to fill the deeper water.
    .. Some worm fishers use a five-foot long ultralight spinning rod with 4# test and fly-line a worm with no weight to the main stream of the current.
    .. Worms sink slowly when presented this way. Fish follow the offering, (the bail on the spinning reel is open,) until the current slows down and fans out - then a splashy grab follows. The astute spin fisher rapidly takes a turn on the reel and then gently lifts the line - sound familiar?
    .. Some of the neighbors carry both an ultralight spinning rod and a very long 5-weight fly rod, over-lined by one - with a level line. Their technique is very similar with either rig. They cast upstream, (under the snowmachine bridge,) nearly to the tail of the Upper Pool. Then they mend and/or strip as necessary to allow the offering to follow the tricky currents affected by the pilings and the irregular bottom. As the fly/worm reaches mid-way in the pool they lift to remove slack and drag.
    We'll return 'em if you claim 'em
    .. Then on to the tail! The finger action is a bit of legerdemain as the fly line must be rapidly retrieved & released, (" . . . remember the figure 8 twist?") or, the bail must be closed and then re-opened. It's not something that we've mastered with either rig, but many of the neighbors do it well with both rigs. Fish get caught!
    .. If the worms don't do it a bright monster Stimulator or a local Bugger are used.
    .. Although there are many 'DINKS' holding under the bridges, there are fish to 20" regularly taken here. This is also one of the favorite parking places for runners from Hebgen Lake.
    Fish Take,
    (note foam line - click for larger.)
    .. The shelter of the bridges, the well defined streams and currents, and the concentration of foodstuffs is mightily attractive to submarines of the Madison River variety.
    .. The Lower Pool is usually the most popular with the neighbors. It's longer, wider and deeper. It has two main arms with a shallow bar in mid-stream just below the bridge.
    .. Either arm can be, and usually is, fished from either side by the gear folks. Visiting fly fishers often wade into the depths and kick mud in the face of the fish.
    .. The resident fish are pretty uniformly distributed throughout the Lower Pool. Gear folks make repeated casts and cover the depths with studied regularity. The big fish, (runners right now,) are concentrated in the deepest portions and near the head in deep water.
    .. It's not really possible to pinpoint the exact locations because changes in flow rearrange the bottom as the water fans out from the constricted venturi of the bridge crossing. Here today, there tomorrow, don'tcha' know?
    .. These three pools are heavily fished: 'pounded' is the technical term! They are on the road, easily accessible, and frequented by both neighbors and visitors.
    .. The fish don't get much chance to rest and many are taken home as guests for dinner. This is a gauntlet that the Fall runners from Hebgen Lake must face before even getting to the park water.
    .. Of course, the other easily accessible water is at Baker's Hole. The campground road is now closed for the season - BUT, it's not a far trek to the good holding water. There are several access points that are well known to visitors and neighbors alike.
    .. Happily, Hebgen Lake is an excellent environment for growing fish. The population is healthy, and many submarines make it past the eager bridge-fishers and into Yellowstone National Park.
    'GEAR GAL' on Lower Pool.
    Takes a few home for the neighbors.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Long Park Season

    The 7th Is The First Sunday
    an extra six days this year

    .. The quirks of the Julian Calendar have blessed us with a late closing of the fishing season in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Catching promises to constantly improve for the next three weeks. Finish the coffee quickly and hit the roads early, fishing and catching will will be available all daylight hours.
    .. Fall's bluster will turn to early winter by the time the season ends. Fingers will be numb and the small flies will be well used and abused. Blue skies will be very dark when they make their appearance. The clouds will get gray and leaden as they sink toward the ground. And, the currently short days will begin getting shorter.
    .. The seasonal migration of weather and fish follows a pattern far older than the calendar and, hibernations will begin in earnest.
    .. The last wood has been cut and gathered. The squirrel nests have been fortified, nuts have been buried, and cuttings lay behind.
    .. Humans are already talking of the upcoming holidays. The pumpkins and corn and squash litter the aisles of the food stores. The summer "sale racks" are displayed in front of the storefronts. Orders for winter garb are being delivered.
    .. The snowmachine crates are stacked and ready for unpacking. Hearty souls are planning their brief excursions to our congenial icebox. And the already long shadows let us know that the deep freeze is about to engulf us for another long winter. We're pleased.
    .. As the seasons change, fishers adjust their psyche to the conditions. Some leave our mountain top basin for their "real" home. Some linger for the bitter end. Others live here and bail out periodically to warmer climes and more salubrious catching environments.
    .. A few of us, bless our hearts, enjoy the cold and deep snow and tourist visitations. We revel in the frozen nose hairs and tingling ears and runny noses. We pretend to enjoy it all; a bit of our forbearance is nourished by the thoughts of next season. Nourished, indeed, by the tons of flies we tie. Nourished, we are, by chores long put off for the fishing we had taken advantage of and enjoyed. Nourished, deeply - we are, by the re-visitation of books and stories gathering dust on our library shelves.
    .. Winter's not here yet. Fall lingers a bit longer this year and we're enjoying it. Yesterday's cold rain put the kibosh on fair weather fishers.
    ..The good holes and runs are accessible without a snowmachine. The fish are here and frisky. Bow hunting season just turned to rifle season and the elk are causing a real ruckus.
    .. We still have flies in the boxes. We still have nubbins on the boots. We still have time to catch a few. So, we will.
    .. We thinks that today the upper Firehole River trail will be devoid of bicyclists in bulging spandex shorts. We're pretty sure that there will be no pink poodles, frolicking adolescents, crying babes in backpacks, or old folks with walkers. We're also pretty sure that the fish will dance with us with not too much of a fuss on our part.
    .. The choice runs on the Madison River are sparsely populated - go figure! Some very good pools are plumb empty. The traffic has thinned out and the smog-belching buses are nearly a memory.
    .. Fall is a grand time to be in Yellowstone Country, especially when the last yellow leaves are dangling from the bare limbs of the aspens and willows.
    .. As the saying goes: "If it 'taint deep, it 'taint winter." And, It 'taint deep yet!