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  • Friday, July 30, 2010

    This Weekend's Fly Box

    WE'RE DRAWN TO
    THE GALLATIN
    Lost Days & Nights
    the light is fading

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    .. As August and the terrestrial season approaches we're going to give it one last go with the less clumpy flies. Flies that even look like flies.
    .. We've poked a few local favorites into a mini-box and we're headed to the Gallatin River to exercise the more tastefully constructed flies available to us.
    .. The big, ugly, atrocious, effective creations of foam, plastic, and other synthetic extravagances will have to wait until next weekend, (or beyond.)
    .. For now we're using some stuff that would be recognizable as flies to even the most effete among us.
    .. These are neighborhood flies and most are variations on classic or well known patterns.
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    .. We've never been sharp enough to pick the "correct" pattern for the hatch. We've never been skilled enough to to deliver a perfect cast to the perfect spot for the perfect drift with that correct pattern. And our eyes just can't see a fly that's less than a quarter inch long in a thick foam line moving at over 10 mph.
    .. So, flailing away, we use a Zelon Royal Coachman. Usually it's a size 8 - 14. It bobs merrily along it's way flying a white wing and floating as high as a cork, (well, nearly!)
    .. It takes fish when the pros are spending precious minutes trying to get their tippet through the eye of very dinky hooks.
    .. The only non-Zelon parts are the peacock herl, gold Mylar rib, and furnace, (or badger hackle.) The damn thing is nearly indestructible. We like it very much.
    .. Underneath the water's surface, right now, it's hard to beat a woven Antron and hare's ear rubber legs fly
    .. We've seen a dozen names for this fly, (tied a dozen different ways.) The neighbors introduced it to us as the Woven Sally.
    .. It works as a Yellow Sally Nymph. Or Stonefly nymph, or any other sort of big wiggly nymph in streams with heavily-cobbled beds. The sizes we use are 8 - 12.
    .. Should you not care to fiddle with a simple woven body there is another nymph that will serve just as well. The Yellowstone Sally is always in reach and available to us.
    .. It ties quickly and seems to attract quite a lot of trout. It works good on the lakes as well. Sizes we find most useful are 6-8, & 14.
    .. For 40 years, or so, we've carried a Sierra Bright Dot.
    .. The classic pattern is reminiscent of an anorexic Royal Coachman. The original pattern is less visible to us now than the chartreuse variant.
    .. Sizes from 4 to 18 are in our box but we usually gravitate toward sizes 12 - 16.
    .. This little darling, on a long, fine tippet, with a 10' rod can be used for dapping along the edge of the stream where the dark and deep undercut banks hold shy but hungry fish.
    .. The generous amount of hackle allows the wind to skitter the fly delicately into position. Many of the largest fish on the Gallatin River are introverts and need a dancing morsel to entice them to the surface. This one does the trick very nicely.
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    .. When we suffer the slings and arrows from the neighbors for being just too idiosyncratic in our fly selection we tie on a Fuzzy Adams that was introduced to us as the Silver Adams.
    .. It's nothing special to look at, but the Zelon body twinkles nicely and gets the hecklers off of our back for a short period of time. It catches fish too.
    .. Tied in traditional sizes this fly has always seemed to mimic the current hatch, (even caddis.) By using appropriate sizes for the bug on the water this fly can masquerade as any of several different mayflies as well as mosquitoes.
    .. If the neighbors refuse to allow us to stick with the Silver Adams when the mosquitoes are sucking the life from us all, we then use the Quill Bodied Mosquito or a Quill Bodied Adams.
    .. This version can be used as a searching fly in the larger sizes and when a hatch can be identified on the Gallatin River the right size will suffice to poke a few trout in the nose.
    .. We often start our prospecting with one of these in a size 10. During mid day on the Gallatin River the body contrasts nicely with the slightly greenish cast of the river.
    .. It's a fly we can see. It's a fly that is often refused in a spectacular fashion. We like that.
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    .. As the days heat up and sun gets lower in the sky we find ourselves fishing the shadows of morning and evening with the Simple Silver.
    .. This heavy streamer casts like a lead turd but swims nicely on long swings through the sinuous bends of the Gallatin River.
    .. Given the right shadows, deep undercut banks, and a 7 foot leader this fly will wake up both the fish and fisher.
    .. The heavy hook, tinsel and twist body, and sparse dressing allow the fly to get down quickly. The silver hackle wing, red throat, and peacock topping catch whatever color light is available. The wood duck tail is a perfect target for trout in dim light, (so we've been told.)
    .. Our concession to the currently proliferating population of land dwellers is a CDC Ant and, perhaps surprising to some, a large Griffith's Gnat.
    .. The CDC Ant is a straightforward pattern with CDC substituted for the traditional wing. We use sizes in the 10 - 14 range and apply no flotant. We fish the ant near the bank and dry it often. Ants are prolific right now and we certainly ain't going to pass up the opportunity to use them.
    .. The Griffith's Gnat, (tied very tightly with dark hackle,) can be greased and massaged to the point that it makes a more than passable beetle, (or something,) imitation.
    .. It's a fine small dry in sizes 16 - 20, and an excellent "terrestrial" in sizes 6 - 12.
    .. Of course we have 'real' beetles: green ones, black ones, hair ones, foam ones, cork ones, and most of the others.
    .. Over the last few years we've taken a liking to forming these little gnats into the beetles that our imagination tells us that the fish will take. Sometimes we're right.
    .. The hoppers are visible. They are beginning to get their wings. Soon we will all be driven to "HOPPER MADNESS." It will become a genuine madhouse if the predicted blight arrives in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. But for the next few days we will exercise flies that look like flies, (mostly.) We will usher in the terrestrial season with one last flurry of floaters and sinkers that seem to be copacetic. We will succumb to the pressure of the neighbors and "fish the way we ought to." But not for too much longer.
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    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Love Me Tender

    ELBOWS FLOODING
    TO THE GALLATIN

    Some Stretches Still Available
    take a number or a tributary

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    .. Our neighbors are there every day. The visiting license plates are proliferating.
    .. Feather merchants are beginning to shift their vocabulary.
    .. Guides are re-learning the pull-outs and parking spots.
    .. Love abounds on the Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. The ever faithful caddis are making their daily appearances. Sometimes it seems like all day. Some days there is a curtain call about 7:30 PM. Love of caddis fishing is one of the staples of the Gallatin River... Floaters, sinkers, film fanciers, bottom bouncers, and skitterers are all useful techniques and all are successful - at various times. Elk hair, deer hair, light, dark, green, brown, big and little flies have devotees along this river.
    .. Of course there are other flies and other hatches. Of course there are people who wait for hours on end until they see a nose in the air. Of course there are fisher folk that must be able to see their fly in order to catch a fish. But - there is always some sort of caddis fishing available.
    .. Currently there are PMD's, a few Flavs, (and or drakes,) small, (mostly yellow,) stoneflies, and other assorted fluvial bugs. The terrestrial hatch is well underway and ants, beetles, bees, spruce moths, and hoppers are increasing their populations by the day
    .. As the elbows crowd the easily accessible water near the highway it behooves the fisher with good legs, good lungs, and an appreciation of the remote to seek out the tributaries... Already love is being spread up Specimen Creek (by both bears and fishers.) Gentle fondling is taking place along Fan Creek, (especially the lower reaches.) Penetration into the willow meadows of Bacon Rind Creek has been discovered.
    .. Invasions up the Big Horn Trail are becoming nearly commonplace.
    .. This foreplay is leading up to the climax of hatches on the Gallatin River. It should occur in the next two weeks, (give or take a few days.) The hopper nymphs are in their final stages and wings have appeared on some early bloomers.
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    .. As you know, the river trends north/ south; this means that the fish switch hides periodically during the day. The sun & the shifting shadows play a big part in fish location. It's important to keep this in mind as you caress the banks with your gentle strides.
    .. Should you bother to notice it, the fisher's trail is way too close to the bank. Your footfalls and shadow will telegraph your loving intent far before you get to where the fish were.
    .. Stealth techniques will reward the fisher, even on this most forgiving of our neighborhood streams.
    .. Remember that beneath the surface these high valleys are covered with glacial detritus of one sort or another... The Gallatin River cuts through a terminal moraine along the Big Horn Trail. Outwash gravels and boulders predominate in the subsurface strata for most of the park section of this river.
    .. These tightly compacted stones are amazingly efficient conductors of sound and vibration. Galumphing and brush busting will get you there quicker, but the fish may know it long before you arrive.
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    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Summer Hides

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

    (click on image for larger view)
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    .. 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.
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    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Speakers Announced



    WILD TROUT X
    Sept. 28-30, 2010 / West Yellowstone
    three headliners
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    .. The 3 plenary speakers, and their topics for Wild Trout X will be:

    Dr. Barbara Knuth of Cornell University
    People and Trout: Implications of Social and Economic Trends for Wild Trout and Associated Habitats.

    Dr. Steve McMullin of Virginia Tech
    Truth, lies and myths in the age of instantaneous information: redefining the roles of anglers and fisheries professionals in wild trout management.

    Dr. Bruce Rieman of the USDA Forest Service
    Climate Change and Wild Trout: What Can or Should We Do About It?
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    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    A Midsummer Night's Report

    EGAD - IS JULY ENDING ?
    All Open Park Waters Now Open
    all fish now targets
    (monster map at end of post)

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    .. In the blink of an eye we've gone from anticipating opening day to the summer doldrums. Fishing and catching, however, are anything but dull or depressed.
    .. We've gathered up the best information, juiciest rumors, and most rampant speculation about the fishing in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. We even went out of our way to fish several of the best places to examine the information for this fishing report, to wit:
    ==> Arnica Creek: Getting low, still cold, avoid the fire, attractors and small ants.
    ==> Bacon Rind Creek: In prime shape, beetles, ants, caddis, stalk the banks and cover a lot of territory, carry bear spray.
    ==> Beaver Creek: Long walk - small fish, bears, but great camping and exploring, anything in the box will work, only fish it if you're young and adventurous, two reports, (cell phone photos,) show fish to 14" taken on a "WHITE ROYAL COACHMAN" - never heard of such a thing!
    ==> Bechler River: The mosquitoes are not too bad yet, drakes as big as bombers are coming off in the meadows, anything will take the smaller fish on top, the large fish are there but you need all the stealth of a B2 to get within range, perfect skills will gather up some of the largest stream fish in Yellowstone.
    ==> Blacktail Deer Creek: Golden stoneflies right now, big soft hackles and bead head caddis underwater, caddis on top, sallies if you're lucky, as soon as the hoppers mature this will be very crowded.
    ==> Boundary Creek: Seems to be clearing early, without rain this creek and the Bechler River will be as good as it gets for the next 3 weeks, (or more,) use your full arsenal of 'ground bugs' here, beetles are especially good right now.
    ==> Cache Creek: Fishing better than the Lamar River or Soda Butte Creek right now, if you've got the legs this is the place to be for the next week, PMD's and Drakes are working now, reports of hoppers seem a bit suspicious, we believe the beetle and ant stories.
    ==> Cottonwood Creek: Long walk, good fishing, worth a day to go in and out, terrestrials soon, carry bear spray for all streams in the canyon, Royal Wullf, yellow Humpies, and Adams will do on top, Prince Nymphs and Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear down below.
    ==> Cougar Creek: Low again this year, fish outside the park near the confluence with Duck Creek, or right at the park line in the thick willows.
    ==> Duck Creek: There are some small winged hoppers here, first of the season, soft hackles and attractors too, please obey the bear closure.
    ==> Falls River: No good current information, however it should be just great with PMD's and small stoneflies.
    ==> Fan Creek: In perfect shape, carry bear spray and fish with a friend, some flavs and drakes, subsurface with soft hackles all day.
    ==> Firehole River: Fish the upper with attractors and soft hackles, dance with beautiful Brook Trout, go way up, camp, fish in pristine water, take bear spray.
    ==> Gallatin River: Water of choice for a couple of weeks, spruce moths starting, caddis clouds in evening, nymphs and soft hackles all day, a winged hopper was seen yesterday, see ya there - armed with bear spray.
    ==> Gardiner River: Fishing well with heavy pressure, caddis on top and Prince Nymphs below are the staple fish-getters.
    ==> Gibbon River: Canyon has slowed, use soft hackles and attractor flies, below the falls is marginal - walk and prospect, above Norris Campground still fishing good, (eager Brook Trout in the shadows and undercut banks.)
    ==> Iron Spring Creek: Surprising number of fish in this still cold water, attractor dries, caddis, Prince and Hare's Ear, best hurry this water will warm up too.
    ==> Lamar River: clearing and fishable, streamers in the canyon, soft hackles in the riffles, match the hatch if it happens, small stonefly nymphs will serve in most places, PMD's and other surface activity getting good.
    ==> Little Firehole River: Not as many fish as expected, try Iron Spring Creek, in the late evening a mouse is a good bet near all the sweepers and downfall.
    ==> Madison River: Excellent evening caddis, terrestrials, (without hoppers - yet,) for the day, sparse mayflies about 10:00 AM, warming rapidly.
    ==> Nez Perce Creek: The water about a quarter mile above the Loop Road is teeming with fish just run up from the Firehole River, cover a lot of territory and swing soft hackles, make noise and carry bear spray.
    ==> Obsidian Creek: Just a delight, cars or no cars your choice, walk a bit and find Brookies so colorful you'll two pair of sun glasses to appreciate them, often scorned as a "kids fishery" this is one of the prettiest creeks in Yellowstone, and - DAMN if the catching aint as good as the fishing.
    ==> Pebble Creek: Often ignored, sadly, try the long glides right by the picnic tables, use large soft hackles and beetles.
    ==> Slough Creek: The drakes are starting, the water is clear, the evening has some caddis and folks are beginning to arrive by the busload.
    ==> Snake River: Caddis is king with the drakes scattered, if you bump into them hold on.
    ==> Soda Butte Creek: Clear cold and beautiful, meadow section has caddis and PMD's, lots of ants this year - big too.
    ==> Straight Creek: The green drakes are still hanging around, fish near the confluence with Winter Creek for the most eager of the Brookies, enjoy the heavy cover, lose some flies.
    ==> Tower Creek: Worth the walk to the bottom right now, small stones, caddis, soft hackles, and mice in the evening.
    ==> Trout Creek: Just too good to leave to the worm fishers and kids.
    ==> Winter Creek: What a glorious tangle! the fish are here and larger than they have any right to be, attractors of the most bizarre sort work here, so does everything else.
    ==> Yellowstone River: Still on the high side, clear, cruise the banks looking for noses, Stimulators may infuriate large fish.
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    ==> Grebe Lake: Crowded, fishing well, grayling on the small side.
    ==> Hebgen Lake: Gulpers-ho, callibaetis, drowned Adams, furious action.
    ==> Joffe Lake: Great place to meet new friends, have a picnic, let the kids fish, and catch a few yourself, evening is best if the mosquitoes don't suck you dry.
    ==> Lewis Lake: Camp here, explore in the day, drag a leech near the outlet for some real excitement.
    ==> Shoshone Lake: Same as above, the mosquitoes are larger and hungrier this year than in recent memory, pretty place.
    ==> Quake Lake: Streamers near inlet and Beaver Creek, some gulper activity near trees and outlet.
    ==> Yellowstone Lake: Shore fishing still productive in the West Thumb area. Float a soft hackle well ahead of cruisers.
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    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Fires Burning In Park

    DOAN, BEACH, SLOUGH CREEK
    Two Being Fought
    .. There are three fires burning in Yellowstone National Park:
    ==> Doan ,
    ==> Beach.
    .. The Slough Creek and Beach fires are being actively fought. The Doan fire is smoldering and being monitored.
    .. The Slough Creek Fire was reported about 4 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, July 20. It is located east of the Slough Creek Campground near the Slough Creek Trail and well north of the road linking Tower Junction and the park's Northeast Entrance.The fire was reported at one acre in size, and burning in sage and brush. No roads, campgrounds, or other facilities are closed. This fire poses no threat to park visitors, and has been contained.
    -- For complete information go to the InciWeb Yellowstone Page.
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    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Just Too Nice

    NO WIND? - C'MON!

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    .. Took a rare float down the Madison River with one of the neighbors over the weekend.
    .. Three old friends in the same boat: ourselves, the neighbor of course, and an old FF755, (for those in the know.)
    .. As days go, it couldn't have been nicer. As for the fishing, it was perfect. As for catching, kinda slow.
    .. Obviously too much perfection just will not be tolerated by the fly fishing gods. After all, how many days in a year will mom let you comfortably throw a small 5wt. on the Madison River?
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    .. Early on at the boat ramp there were so many swallows eating bugs that the sky darkened as they flew overhead.
    .. There were way too many kinds of bugs to count. Several kinds of Caddis, Yellow Sallies, PMD's, Drakes, Crane Flies, and others absolutely unknown to us. The promise was stupendous.
    .. Flat out of the gate, (not five minutes on the river,) a pudgy 15" Rainbow Trout ate a Caddis Cripple.
    .. The bugs were everywhere. The water looked like an entomology exam. The air was dotted with flashes and glints. The swallow poop rained down on us like spent shot rattling off a honkers wings. GADZOOKS, this was as buggy as the Madison River can be.
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    .. Well, as it turned out, the catching was tough. Different flies for different river segments. Deer Hair Caddis, then emergers, then down with a nymph, then back up with a dry Parachute Adams.
    .. The anchor got a lot of exercise as flies were changed. Our neighbor exhibited rapid and superlative knot-tying skills. Rigging and re-rigging and re-re-rigging kept us both busy.
    .. Bobber or no bobber? Strike indicator or no strike indicator? Single fly or dropper rig? Giant nymphs or very small nymphs? How about a double dry rig? The mental exercise outstripped the physical exercise by a considerable margin.
    .. Little fish predominated in the catch. Most of the river's giant fish, those with sophisticated refusal techniques, gave everything a close look and definitive rejection.
    .. Some days it's a one fly proposition and all the fish just love it. Other days, (like this one,) a bit of river watching is more in the order of things.
    .. Well, the hinges on the fly boxes proved their mettle as we opened and closed them far more than usual.
    .. One surprising development was the lack of Mountain Whitefish in our catch. We just may not have gotten deep enough in the water column on our nymphing runs.
    .. All this by way of saying that, just because there are many bugs, the assurance of many and easy fish is not guaranteed.
    .. But, the day was beautiful. Catching was plenty good enough. And the wind waited until we were well off of the water to pay us a visit.
    .. At a couple of our parking places we visited with some enormous honkers. These guys really know how to pack it on.
    .. They were not too bothered as we cast amongst their feet. This is complacency of a new order. A dime will get a dollar it ain't that way come October.
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    .. River traffic was typical for this time of year. Not too few, and not too many boats bobbed along the hundred mile riffle. No one was skunked. No high counts were recorded.
    .. Of course all this was subject to modification in the darkened corners of the local pubs.
    .. Our conversation was about anything and everything but fish. We don't get to visit with our fishy neighbors much during this time of year. They fish we work; their fishing is work, our working is fishy.
    .. It was a very pleasant way for two of us to pass the time. The neighbor doesn't have to dispense fishy truth all day long & we can be as cranky and crabby as is our normal nature. And; local gossip, problems of the universe, politics and the weather could be freely and honestly addressed as we bobbed along. The old Fenwick did it's job in silence.
    .. Our conversations were amply punctuated by the occasional fish and all the problems of the universe got solved - not a bad day on the water.
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