• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Sights & Sounds Of Spring

    Fish The Lowlands !
    travel to the south !

    .. The evacuation of West Yellowstone by fair water fishers is in full swing. Car doors are slamming, diesel engines racing, farewell's are being shouted. The sounds of Spring have reached our little town.
    .. For the faint of heart and leg it's time to extol the virtues of any place else.
    .. Good! Be gone and spend your carbon credits on av-gas, diesel, and unleaded gasoline.
    .. The truth of the matter is, (we can hear the neighbors moaning,) the best fishing and catching in the neighborhood is right now. It will continue for the next 3 or 4 weeks and you have to be here to appreciate it.
    .. We're not wealthy enough to travel to exotic locations like Craig, Montana or Last Chance, Idaho. We can't afford the gasoline to venture much past Moose Creek on the Gallatin River.
    .. It's nice to see that others have the chance to visit renowned fisheries and sing their virtues. Cell phone pictures, gorgeous digital images, commercial movies, glorious adventures of Spring fishing everywhere but here. More power to them.
    .. We've had over two feet of snow in the last few days and it's snowing right now.  The trees love the nitrogen rich snow. It's wet and heavy. It has the moisture needed to nourish the trout streams for months to come. Wealthy migrant fishers run from it and revel in the glories of lowland fishing. Bless their psyche's.
    .. There will be no better fishing or catching around here, at any time in the coming year, than right now, (Yellowstone Park included!)
    .. In fact, the best catching in all of Montana may be just two or three days away. But, you have to enjoy catching fish until your arms ache. You have to want to take fish bigger than your forearms. You have to be willing to find the sparse open water in the estuaries and spring holes on Hebgen Lake.
    .. This is not fishing for the inflated egos of glory water fame. This is not fishing for those that wish to fish in the footsteps of famous fishers. This is fishing for those that wish to make their own footsteps. This is neighborhood fishing of the finest kind. And it's catching better than anything within 500 miles, or more, right now!
    .. The rivers that feed Hebgen Lake have pushed into the ice and opened up the estuaries to the point that the fish are competing with each other for scraps of flotsam at the edges of the ice.
    .. Those dark shadows, fifty feet in diameter, in the bits of open water are hundreds of hungry fish. Fish that haven't seen open water for five long months. Fish that have eked out a living from the sparse benthic morsels of an ice covered world.
    .. It's not "ice-out" yet. However, Grayling Arm, Madison Arm, South Fork Arm, of the lake are all clear enough that it's legal to fish. And just today, Grayling Creek pushed past the lake shore into the ice.
    .. Many folks come to see and catch on Hebgen's shores during ice out. That's still a few weeks away. But right now, (with knowledge, good legs, a snowmobile, and a few flies,) fish will be hard to not catch. Certain local knowledge and a great deal of caution must be employed.
    .. Fishing must be done in the lake, not the streams or rivers. Thin ice and surface water demand that you know just where you are in relation to the lake shore and the lake bottom.
    .. Happily very little gear is necessary. A single fly box, a stout rod, a stout leader, and hooks that won't straighten out when the battle is joined.
    .. There are no secret flies. The neighbors are divided about the types. Most use bits of flashy fluff. Rock Worms or Fuzzy John's are in the majority right now. Small streamers and wet flies are in the minority. Both will catch fish. The argument is over which bunch and type of fly will catch the most  --  and biggest!
    .. Right now the bison are dropping calves, the first osprey's have arrived, there are midges on sunny days, and fish are stacked like cord-wood in the small bits of open water on Hebgen Lake. The neighbors are loving it, the others are streaming out of town in lock step with their companions: getting warm and telling stories. We're loving it here!
    “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
    . . . . . . .  Henry David Thoreau

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    A Pinhole Easter

    Image submitted
    .. Just submitted a pinhole photograph to WORLDWIDE PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY DAY gallery. Taken yesterday at about 3:30 PM during a light snow flurry at Old Faithful. The data for submission is:
    Canon 30D, short extension tube & black cardboard with electrical tape seal. Tin foil pinhole, f256, 1/3 sec. Snowing lightly.
    .. Snow has continued to bless us with it's presence and it's been wet and warm. About 12" during the last week. It is usually melted by mid-afternoon. Snow cover on the ground is down to about 3 - 4 feet and melting at a pace that will nourish trees and rivers alike.
    .. Fishing & catching continues to be between good and spectacular down canyon on the Gallatin River. Very few midges, but some brownish mayflies are showing up. Fish are eating nymphs and small streamers. There are only a few reports of exceptional surface catching: we're headed down canyon now.
    Hamilton's Store #101 & Light Pole

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Obligatory Bison

    No Muddy Water - Yet
    very few visitors
    The Stroll
    (note injured horn)
    .. It's incumbent upon every visitor to Yellowstone National Park to photograph a bison in the road. So we did. They look less stressed from the continuing winter than was to be expected: the ones that survived.
    Gibbon River At National Park Meadows
    .. Our brief reconnoiter was just to Old Faithful for ice cream and then back to town for chores. We only stopped briefly to view the waters. We did see fish rising in Biscuit Basin. Must have been the phantom midge hatch.
    Firehole River Just Above The Falls
    .. The roads are mostly clear of snow but the continuing snowfall, (4" today,) will keep most visitors in their cars, (a fairly normal way to "see" Yellowstone - anyway.) There are only a few pull-outs that are navigable, while most have between 2 and 4 feet of snow blocking passage.
    Nez Perce Creek At Grand Loop Road Bridge
    .. The snow is wind polished and crusted; some of the 4 foot deep snow banks even held our considerable mass and girth as we ventured close to the waters for a better view. Persons of the rotund variety, (including us,) could easily find themselves chest deep in the white stuff if imprudence wins the day.
    Upper Gas Station At Old Faithful
    .. The river edges are still covered with overhanging cornices in many stretches. Too close a look and cold and wet awaits. The warm meadows and geyser basins are clearing nicely but not a trace of green grass is yet to be seen.
    Old Faithful Inn
    .. We did some dry-run photos for World Wide Pinhole Photography Day and have about mastered the digital techniques. The large format pieces are at the processor's right now. We'll see: aiming, exposure, reciprocity effects, and film choice are variables that we're not very conversant with yet.
    ..Time is precious right now and we'll continue to monitor the snow melt and grass greening inside Yellowstone National Park. But, the trip "down-canyon" to good fishing gets shorter every day and the gradual warming, punctuated with some spring snowfall, is making the trout crazy. We'll be there tomorrow.
    Opening Day Ice Cream
    Biscuit Basin Bridge - Digital
    Biscuit Basin Bridge - Digital Pinhole

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    There Is Hope

    Grass Is Growing
    .. And the fish are hungry! Just had to run down canyon to join the throngs of urbanites on a blustery but sunny day.
    .. The catching was nothing to write home about. Steady, nymphs, windy, and crowded.
    .. But then again it's a day away from the beautiful whiteness that is home.
    .. Yellowstone National Park opens tomorrow, not for fishing but for viewing. If the weather and the government cooperate we'll buzz in there and have a look around

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    The Rumor Of Spring

    The Snow Is Deep
    visitors are scarce

    .. There are fish to be had, (more about that in a moment.) Descending from our little village into the lowlands of western Montana gives one the feeling that Spring will indeed arrive.
    .. It's interesting for us to visit the giant megalopolis that is Bozeman, Montana. We do it once a year to visit our tax attorney. A double dose of reality!
    .. We enter a rat maze of elbows, autos, and hominids. The bustle is frightening. What can be so important that rushing about is mandatory?
    .. We've endured Boston and New York at Christmas time. We felt the same frenzy in Bozeman.
    .. The local residents thought that the 4" of fresh snow was intolerable and the dreary day made them grumpy. They were actually jostling each other in line as they rushed to pay money for their treasures.
    .. There are things at work in the city that we don't understand. We didn't wait around to investigate.
    .. The wonder of it all is that our whole village could fit in the parking lot of the Walmart store. In fact, the day we visited, there were more people in Walmart than live in our town.
    .. We enjoy the thought that the people who live in the maze can buy more of everything in Walmart than is for sale in our little town. There are even souvenirs of Yellowstone; they don't even have to visit us.
    .. We've received about 2 feet of snow over the past few days. It's rapidly melting and we can see the pavement of the streets in many places.
    .. The trout in the Gallatin River are suffering withdrawals. There have been so few fisher folk that they are feeling neglected. They are eating anything that floats by in the hope it has a hook in it: they need to sharpen their reflexes for the onslaught that will come with the sun.
    .. We'll say it just once: 53, 59, 66, 69, Taylor Fork! Fish near those mile markers and you will be surprised at your catching success.
    .. We saw a few midges but didn't bother to tie any on. We fished late in the afternoon through the intermittent snow and broken clouds.
    .. The fish were willing and were just where you would expect them to be.
    .. Drowned Adams dry flies and Prince Nymphs were our choice. They didn't disappoint. Fish were gobbling things throughout the water column. and seemed unafraid of the surface or the thin water. The water is, according to local lore, too cold to fish. It was cold!
    .. We've had our civilization-fix: thank you. But we'll be running down canyon over the next few weeks; at least until the good parking spots become crowded.
    .. Yellowstone National Park opens this coming Friday. We'll visit for a look-around. There may be indications of new holes or debris piles. We, however, will wait until the massive discharge abates before selecting any ripe locations.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    Pinhole Fly

    Subject Distance: 1 inch
    [brief report]

    .. Not art, not clear and sharp, but we like the novelty of it all.
    .. Got another 4" of wet snow last night.
    .. Snow pack is now 120% of historical snow water content.
    .. Gloomy weather leads to indoor entertainment.
    .. The whole damn house is getting documented with pinhole photography. We'll not bore you with details. This shot makes pretty good wallpaper.

    .. Midges and giant streamers sighted in the environs of Craig, Montana. Get thee to the "Mighty MO."
    .. Lower Gallatin River Canyon heating up like wildfire. No stonies reported but the fish are taking giant subsurface offerings.
    .. The Madison River in the lowlands, where open, is seeing the first of the mayflies and squadrons of snow flies are permeating fisher folk's orifices. Might be a good time to visit.

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011


    one of more than 300/year

    .. It's rare to feel them.
    ===>  http://quake.utah.edu/helicorder/ydc_webi.htm

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Bare Pavement

    Bottom Found
    .. We have glimmerings of impending Spring. The temperature hit 40° F, and the sun was readily apparent in the broken cloud cover. Things are looking up.

    Saturday, April 02, 2011


    Winter's Haze Enhanced
    not for everyone
    Digital Pinhole Image: 1/60, on camera flash, f256, distance 1".
    .. The winter is a bit on the long side up here. Fishing becomes a greater chore than usual. We tend to fish less and extemporize more. This winter was the perfect example.
    Mahogany Pinhole: 4x5, 79mm focal distance, f156.
    Shutter speeds by thumb.

    .. During one long evening we stumbled onto an old pinhole camera project in the corner of a long forgotten trunk. Hmmmmm? It sparked interest in this, the earliest of photographic techniques.
    .. We diverted our lachrymose moods of winter into useless busywork and puttered with the concept of, and application of pinholes to everything.
    .. One bit of silliness involved yards and yards of Duct Tape, black paper, and a hole in our window shade. Thus we turned our front room into a camera obscura.
    Canon EOS 30D pinhole.
    .. Sheeze, what winter does to the mind. We averted cabin fever with cabin obscura. And, it did pass the time. Given the irregular viewing wall in our 'cabin camera' it brought to mind the weltanschauung we held during the 60's.
    .. Lately we've adapted some of our large format gear into primitive hulks that we call cameras. We've also transformed a couple of digital cameras into digital pinhole devices, (the sensors needed cleaning anyway.) It's amazing what you can do with tin foil, electricians tape, a short extension tube, and black card stock.
    Indulgent friend.
    .. We've even adulterated the view camera with a pinhole. Now that is pure sacrilege! They all will make pictures. The images however, are not for everyone.
    .. Today, with post processing, photoshopping, and enhancements - both in and out of camera, images tend to be presented in a cookie cutter fashion: overly sharp, overly saturated, over the top. We call them good and go on down the road.
    Indulgent friend's dog.
    .. Pinhole images require a bit of engagement. They are not starkly identifiable in an instant. This means that the viewer takes a bit longer to decipher them. It's not what everybody wants or needs. It is fun though.
    .. We have badgered our friends and neighbors, (and neighbor's dogs,) into enduring our follies this winter. They endure and indulge us and admire the ethereal images that happen. We nod and accept their friendship.
    Back door.
    .. Done with panache and aplomb, the images can be quite charming or very disturbing. We've not reached either stage yet, but we're looking forward to opening day in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Our scouting trip this year will combine stream observation with vista observation. Not in the name of art, rather in the name of getting to the best places first.
    .. The big images are going to be challenging. Exposure times in the minutes, reciprocity failure, temperature corrections, apertures in the hundreds, and aiming with crude sighting devices should make the venture rewarding. In our case it's as much about observing as it is about the final image.
    .. We'll not be posting any fuzzy, ugly, indecipherable images during the season, (we make and break promises with ease,) but we shall take a fresh look at some of the iconic images in Yellowstone Park before the fishing starts.
    .. And, why mention this at all? Because Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is just around the corner. It happens on the last Sunday in April, (that's April 24, 2011 - Easter Sunday, this year.)
    .. Pinhole fanatics around the globe will take a picture and post it to the website. A snapshot in time that happens every year. We're sending them one from the high country and, meager as it is; it's our contribution.
    .. P.S. The fishing and catching, by the way, is now going great guns in the Gallatin River Canyon. After we've fished out all the good holes we'll let you know where it was best.

    Rumors Abound

    Boats On The Madison ?
    grass in the valley ?
    .. We've heard the rumors that it's Springtime in the Rockies. That may be. Just couldn't prove it by the conditions here.
    .. But then again, it's hard to convince us of anything. We noticed the lovely picture of sun and salubrity over at THE TROUT UNDERGROUND and have concluded that stream deprivation has addled the gray matter of the author. It just can't be that nice over there.
    ..Reports from neighbors that have visited the outside world have brought back stories of strange happenings: green-growing things sprouting from naked earth, boats bobbing on the Madison River, flip-flops on feet in Bozeman, and bare knees on bicyclists in shorts being flashed in Belgrade. We're going to investigate.
    .. Rumor has it that the catching is so good at "MILEPOST 59," that it's hard to find a parking spot on that stretch of the Gallatin River.
    .. There is also a rumor that it will be near 40° F today. We'll wait that one out. The snow pack is not of record depth, but it is of near record snow water content. With several little storms lined up for the near future we anticipate water in the rivers to stay at good levels well into July - hope springs eternal.
    .. Should we spy any of the strange phenomena reported from the lowlands we'll document them and report it here. Great snort; a bare deck on the Upper Sac, hardly believable. Must be Photoshop.
    Photos courtesy G.M. Craeg