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  • Monday, May 16, 2011

    Overnight Surprise

    This is going to be quick
    do it now - right now
    Rapid retreat of ice leaves fishers running toward the dam
    .. It was going to be a gentle day probing the open spots along the shore of Hebgen Lake. Instead, it turned into a fishing frenzy until the zephyrs turned into howling banshees.
    .. Friday was nice, Saturday was beautiful, Sunday was glorious until about 5:30 PM. By now you should already be packed and headed toward the door. The last four days of sunshine and warm temperatures have brought an instantaneous ice out to Hebgen Lake.
    Clear open water in the Madison Arm
    ..It truly happened over night. Saturday morning there was fog and there was ice clinging to the shores of the Madison Arm.
    .. The Madison River is running at about 450 cfs above the seasonal averages and it's plenty warm. It has pushed it's estuary water into the lake proper.
    .. By Sunday morning the ice had receded from the shore all the way to the Happy Hour Bar.
    .. Fishing guides and neighbors, headed for the lowlands, saved enormous amounts of fuel money and halted their fishing trip at the edge of the lake.
    Osprey hovering at edge of ice
    .. It was not a total surprise, but the easterly winds pushed all the thin ice ahead of them and cleared the whole Madison Arm in a matter of hours.
    .. Catching was as good as the fishers were. The edge of the ice moved constantly under the persistent shove of the winds.
    .. The folks with boats had it almost as good as the birds. The ospreys hovered above the fishers, at the edge of the ice, all day.
    .. Shore bound fishers found themselves moving rapidly along the shoreline as the ice pulled away from its anchorage.
    Moving to stay in touch with the ice
    .. There were very few lawn chairs and even fewer ice chests. There was nothing leisurely about this weekend. The ice moved, the fish appeared, the fisher folk followed: fat trout met their demise, or were reprieved - depending on the sentiments of the angler.
    .. As many fish are released by gear goofs as by fly flingers in this ritual of Spring. Mom cooperated, water was available, and until late afternoon on Sunday the most perfect fishing in all the world was on the shores of Hebgen Lake.
    Some scuds do look like this
    .. Although fishing and catching will continue to be spectacular for the next week or two, the easiest catching at the edge of the ice will disappear rapidly over the coming few days. It's already hard to cast to the ice with a fly rod, (unless your name is Steve Rajeff.) The gear and bait fishers are also bemoaning the rapid recession although the lead-carried lures and baits are in the "fishy zone" more often than not.
    Pack it up and move on
    .. Fly fishers are using Scuds, Woolly Worms, San Juan Worms, Gob-O-Worms, and large double dropped Prince Nymphs.
    .. Over at Rainbow Point, (yes it's easily accessable now,) they are using Chamois Leech imitations. About 3" is the size on a #8 or even #6 2xl hook. Banging 'em dead they are!
    .. This is the first time in more than ten years that the thaw has hit with such rapidity. And this is the first time that we recommend that you re-cultivate you friendship with a boat owner this early in the season.
    All alone? Needs a friend!
    .. There will continue to be an ice edge to fish. The fishing and catching will be best at the edge of the ice. It will be farther from the shore than any time in recent memory and fishing in a boat will gather up way more fish than fishing from the shore.
    .. If you're mobile and have waited for this announcement - don't tarry. The celebration is on and the fish are glutenous. If you're not out the door by now you just may miss it!
    .. There is some good news and some bad news from Yellowstone National Park. Stay tuned and we'll let you know.
    .. Right now it's time to put some vinegar on the sunburn. It's also time for some Crêpes folded over Prosciutto, Brie, and thinly sliced Cantaloupe. It's the perfect midnight snack. We may even burn some rum on them and add powdered sugar.