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  • 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.