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  • 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