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  • Friday, July 15, 2011

    The Ides Of July

    But Much Of It Is
    seek and ye shall find
    .. It's impossible to see the fish under Fishing Bridge. We're not even sure that they are under the bridge. Boaters on the lake report that there is a silt plume that describes a river course through much of the lake. Pelican Island looks like several clumps of trees in the water.
    .. This is the time to NOT FISH the Yellowstone River. But folks will!
    .. The discharge from Yellowstone Lake is leveling at about 9,300 cfs. That's right at 5,000 cfs above the seasonal norm. It's nearly 2,000 cfs above historically record rates for the last week. That's a lot of water!
    .. Discharge on the Firehole River is descending toward it's seasonal flow. Temperatures are ascending toward their seasonal highs.  Mid day spikes are already at 74° F.
    .. The Gibbon River is a mere 120 cfs above seasonal rates and is clearing rapidly. There are still some large bugs around and some mid day caddis. The big meadows are drying, the bison are grazing, and the mosquitoes are buzzing. Stalking and crawling is better than wading --  but only if you want to catch fish.
    .. The Lamar River is at it's seasonal high and is continuing it's Jekyll & Hyde phase by responding to local thunderstorms with lovely colors of brown and puce mud. Soda Butte Creek is slowing just a tad but is still best fished above Ice Box Canyon.
    .. The Madison River is high, quick, and clear. 300 cfs above seasonal discharge is easily handled by the moderately incised channel of the river and fishing is good and some fishers report that it's as good as it gets.
    .. The Gallatin River is still a rampaging storm of water but is clearing. Some of the higher tributaries that we usually look to this time of year are still muddy - or worse. Above the Bighorn Trailhead there are some "Ant-Eating Fish." Bacon Rind Creek is still high and colored, but the first meadow is holding some hold-over spawners. We have it on good authority that it's a good seven mile walk to get out of the chocolate milk on Fan Creek.
    .. The Gardner River is high, roiling, & surprisingly clear below Boiling River: the catching is good. There are big bugs and hearty souls that fish among the boulders.
    .. Grebe Lake is doing nicely, thank you. Take a leech and find some Grayling. These pretty little fish are very willing right now. The mosquitoes are not too bad. If you weigh more than about 200 pounds they won't be able to carry you home to the kids for a snack.
    .. The Lewis River can be had. It's still big for this time of year but the bank-holding fish right at the plunge pool are starved for attention and for food. Help them out. Just above the falls is doing pretty well too.
    .. So, on the Ides of July, where's a fisher to go? What's a fisher to use? Fish the Madison River all day. Slow water and foam-line drift a spinner in the morning, fish big and ugly down deep in the noon day sun. Carry your caddis / miller / hopper-box for late afternoon and evening. The little hoppers have entered their second molt and don't fly real good yet.
    .. Fish the Firehole River from sun up 'til 11:00 AM, if you must. A double nymph rig with the upper floating and fuzzy will be all you need. In the evening the caddis are becoming overwhelming. You can get on the river about 5:00 PM and wander around. Watch the banks and sink one too.
    .. There's bears and moose all over Duck Creek. If they don't get you the mosquitoes will. There are fish. There are willing fish. There are easily caught fish. There are hazards. You should have two canisters of bear spray and sharp eyes. Please obey the closure rules if you try this.
    .. The bodacious and willing Brook Trout of the upper Firehole River have come alive. The are "getting air" as would a 14-year-old skateboard champ. They eat anything and everything that will fit in their mouth. They will strike at much bigger offerings. This section of the river should be banned for fishing - it's too easy. Just above the southern closure bridge, down in that little canyon that you said you'd fish someday, is a population of unmolested logs. Its only a 1/4 mile down to the fish. It's about 3 miles back up the steep sides. Legs are required to score here.
    .. We say this quietly: Nez Perce Creek is full of fish that have run away from the high water in the Firehole River. Walk just a bit, beware of bears, wolves, moose and mosquitoes. Stay on the trails and don't fall through the thin crust of the thermal areas. Catch a few fish on anything that floats, or sinks.
    .. The Little Firehole River, Iron Spring Creek, and the plunge pool at Fairy Falls all have fish waiting for your visitation. Treat them gently in this time of stress.