• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Thursday, September 27, 2012


    Glacier Gets It Together
    just a bit of a pause
    .. Just think of the electrons involved in that video. Do we really need lead-lined underwear?
    .. Will Yellowstone National Park ever ignore commercial interests in favor of the preservation of native fish? Glacier National Park is!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012


    Wrong Bugs, Wrong Fish
    what's a fisher to do ??
    SIZE 20, 22, 24 - THAT'S SMALL !!!
    .. It happens. Experts may have a fancy explanation. The fish figure it out very quickly. Fishers often remain befuddled. We got lucky.
    .. Early morning is not our favorite time. The Firehole River and the Madison River have their compensations at this time of day. They are quiet, there are elk and otters, bears and moose, - AND - no tour buses.
    .. We weren't expecting the damn fish to ignore the early caddis hatch. We weren't expecting to have to strain the peepers to get flies on the tippet. We weren't expecting an explosion of Tricos to clog our ears. But it happened.
    .. Why would any self respecting trout ignore the perfect glut of caddis and BWO's? Why, given the smorgasbord of yummy morsels so dense that even we could see them, would they be sipping daintily on flies so small that they looked like dust in a maelstrom?
    .. When we finally figured it out there were tourists of the "Granny Set" chugging around the pull-outs. We had to hike back to the vehicle and grab the miniscule box of microscopic flies.
    .. Happily there were several flies that still had tippet tied to them by the kind and indulgent neighbor kids. We left the car. Galumphed back to the water. And wonder of wonders caught a 12" brook trout in a place that is currently being fished for 22" Brown Trout. That may just be better than a monster Brown! We'll take it.
    .. Took a nap at noon and dreamt about spots of a different color.
    P.S. A skosh more rain. Rivers up. Color in some. Big fish racing upstream with new flows. Sky becoming leaden. No snow below 7,000' asl. Get on the rivers now.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Grab The Groceries

    Big Fish Bail Out Of Holes
    estuary fish smell the bordellos
    .. Last night's gentle rain was scattered, mostly, throughout the Madison River drainage. It was just measurable in some areas and up to 2" in others. It was enough to raise the river level by as much as 10" or more and cool the flows to fish-stimulating temperatures.
    .. Discharge on the Madison River near West Yellowstone increased by a meager  45 cfs. That is, however, enough to carry the enticing aromas of the river to the estuaries of Hebgen Reservoir.
    .. There was a bit less rain in the upper Gallatin River drainage. The exposed point bars and segmented pools should continue to act as little hoosegows for the migrants - until a significant bit of rain bumps them out of their stupor.
    .. Resident fish in both drainages have been displaced by the runners and migrants.
    .. They are scattered in secondary hides throughout both systems. They are eating small scraps of fluff, anything that looks like a White Miller Caddis, or sundry nymphs of miniscule proportions and even little twigs.
    .. Some of these displaced residents, (in both drainages,) are up to 18" and surprisingly feisty right now, (is this displacement behavior?)
    .. What ever the reason, and whatever the situation it's a good time for catching.
    .. Big fish on little flies, giant fish on enormous flies, all fish on caddis of some sort - OR - a size 8 Parachute Adams, (brown variant if you have one.)
    .. Over the weekend we observed one hole on the Gallatin River and one on the Madison River where it was difficult to see the cobbles of the river bed for the density of fish.
    .. This is about to change. Yes they were, indeed, stacked in there like cord wood. They won't be there tomorrow.
    .. There are many techniques for taking the runners and migrants. There is one constant that seems to hold true: HIT THEM IN THE NOSE!! This means moving and casting to cover lots of water. It means exercise and more exercise. It does not mean planting your duff in one spot and flailing the water to a froth - although we see it done this way each time we visit the rivers.
    .. We hope the air clears. We hope the fires diminish. We hope there is a good crop of runners. We hope that everyone that wants one - gets one, (or a dozen.)
    .. We've been lucky. Our quota has been filled. Perhaps by the coming weekend they will be up by Gibbon Falls and there will be a bright overcast afternoon. It's an annual event for the neighbors. Maybe we'll catch a few more.

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    Sands Of Time

    Hoppers Diminishing
    hormones in ascendancy

    .. First there needs to be a bit of "Air Clearing." There are big fish in almost all of the waters of Yellowstone National Park. It happens. Accept it. This is the time of year when hormones and instincts trump simple conventional wisedom.
    .. If a large, (for the neighborhood,) trout is 22" or more, then there was a large trout, (two actually,) taken at the confluence of the Gibbon River and Solfatara Creek . . .  TRUE!
    .. There have been several very large fish taken near the confluence of the Gallatin River and Specimen Creek. A couple of giant fish have been taken in the very thin water of Bacon Rind Creek. just west of the highway, (bet you drove right past them.) Of course there have been bucket-loads of large fish taken in the park-line-pools at Bakers Hole on the Madison River.
    .. The simple fact is that mature trout migrate instinctively upstream to gravels suitable for spawning. That's going on right now and the surprises are wondrous to behold.
    .. Recent fishing along the park reaches of the Gallatin River has been delightful, (save for the smoke in the air and air temperatures in the low 80's.) There are still some hoppers and spruce moths and beetles and flying ants attempting to swim in the river.
    .. Fall catching on the Gallatin River is enhanced by finding the optimum conjunction of terrestrial and aquatic circumstances. No giant insight here.
    .. The most successful neighbors count at least five factors that must come together in very extremely close proximity for optimum catching: Sagebrush Flats, Willow Bottoms, Lodgepole Pines, Riffles punctuated by Dark Water Pools, and Undercut Banks. The diversity and availability of foodstuffs in these areas accounts for both trout and bear density. Keep that in mind!
    .. The weather is often less of a factor than conventional wisdom would dictate. Right now we're in a similar weather pattern that we experienced two years ago when temperatures of 85°F were seen in October. It could happen again.
    .. Fish are still migrating and spawning. Photoperiod and water temperature are key triggers for the current sort of sexual shenanigans that the trout are enjoying.
    .. The near-term weather forecast calls for unseasonably warm and dry periods for up to the next two weeks.
    .. Evenings, of late, have been in the 20's but promise to rise into the 40's. Some clouds and some widely scattered showers may grace parts of the neighborhood but they will not significantly alter the trend - or the trout and bear behavior. Keep in mind that the berry crop is low and the bruins are ranging widely.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    As You Like It

    Submarines Arriving Daily
    or, try a beaver dam

    .. This has to be quick. The big fish, running up the Madison River from Hebgen Reservoir, are coming in waves and running fast and far. The Gibbon River in National Park Meadows even has a couple of the monsters - ALREADY!
    .. Follow the neighbors. Walk miles and miles. Cover acres and acres of water. You shall be rewarded.
    .. The folks that are catching fish are moving around. Moving around as much as fishing.
    .. They are behaving like the steelhead fishers of the Pacific Coast. 
    .. Try this: CAST - SWING - SHORT JERK RETRIEVE - THREE STEPS - REPEAT. Get in line. Do the conga. Exercise the pool and your arm. Then, (very important,) move on. Move to another pool. Move to another location. Move to another state, (it's easy to do along the park line.)
    .. Fish will eat your fly if they choose to. Switch flies if they aren't on it. It is happening right now. Get here and stay for the next month or so.
    ..If you're not a headhunter there is great fishing all around us. Hebgen Lake still has some gulpers working to the continuing hatches. Try it, you'll like it.
    .. The Gallatin River is in perfect shape and the elbows have left the room. Spruce moths continue to swim near the wooded areas. There are morning, (or all day,) hatches on our blessedly cloudy days. Mostly it's BWO's in the forenoon and a few caddis and, yes Betty, hoppers wake up when it gets a bit warmer.
    .. You can fish the Gallatin River all day with an Adams followed by a Prince Nymph and do just fine. Fish with a friend and be very bear aware in the northern reachers of the park water. Hell's Bells - be bear aware along the whole valley. There was just a mauling over the hills. An elk hunter called in a sow griz.
    .. A couple of the neighbor kids visited the Firehole River. It's still a bit too warm by mid-day. They sampled the Little Firehole River and Nez Perce Creek. They found both bears and fish. They avoided the bears and stuck the fish with soft hackles.
    .. All this kind of exuberant activity drains what little energy we have.
    .. There are some nice, well hidden, beaver ponds in, and around the neighborhood.
    .. They don't get much press. That's fine with us. A leisurely stroll around them will produce as many fish as mosquito bites in July.
    .. We like to watch the noses as they slide up beneath the unsuspecting bugs and bits. Brook Trout reign supreme in these little pools of water.
    .. There is, on occasion, a surprise in the form of a 14" - 16" monster. We don't expect much in the way of size - the solitude and gentility are compensation enough.
    .. Adventurous neighbors have probed the bear closure boundaries of Duck Creek. There are many fish willing to eat anything that comes their way.
    ..  Campanula Creek has been neglected by most of the neighbors this year - much to the joy of one youngster that can walk that far. The fish rise freely to anything in the size 12 - 16 range. Sparsely tied caddis seem to be the favorite of the hikers. A Royal Wulff is also a good choice. BEAR SPRAY and an alert friend are mandatory. Singing and joking are requisite behaviors also.
    .. That's enough for now - got to go visit some kits we know of.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Autumn Intermezzo

    Waxing Poetic ?
    just do it all
    .. Trapped between blistering Summer Days and pipe-bursting Winter Nights is the season of celebration here in the high country. You will hear it time and again "IT'S MY FAVORITE SEASON!"
    .. Could be. This is the time for the media to sink into praise of the natural world. Beauty seems to be the theme of most poesy.
    .. We're not good at spinning the glories of the season. We do, however, participate in the offerings of the moment.
    .. There's grouse to pluck, (and eat.) There's deer and elk to gut, and dress, and freeze, and eat. There's fish to torture with a relish and abandon not seen in the previous few months. There's gawking, walking, hiking, birding, and hunting.
    .. Honking from the sky is a sure signal. Quacking over the marshes and willow flats is a signal. Diminished traffic and fewer school-aged hooligans in the village is a sign. Crusty farts in rubber pants in the dim pubs is a sign. Fall is upon us and the colors will fade as quickly as they have come.
    .. We are drawn to the rivers, (but not to the exclusion of other bits of the neighborhood.)
    .. We clog the air filter of our trusty horse along the dusty forest roads, (those that are still open.)
    .. We ascend to the berry patches for a quart or two of blue gold, (sparse as they are in this dry year.) We sing to the bears and hope that they move on.
    .. This is the season to cram it all in. Football looms large, (homecoming in another week.) BBQ's become focal as the chilly air threatens to limit the opportunity in the near future.
    .. Smokers are cleaned and the slime of the Mountain Whitefish becomes a sought after treasure. There are, indeed, Whitefish hoarders.
    .. Coolant, battery blankets, block heaters, and tires become a bit of concern as the sky lowers and darkens it's clouds. Calking, heat tape, and snow blowers vie for our attention, along with shovels, shoes, coats, and skates. Where did we put the ski boots?
    .. The autumnal equinox is on September 22, this year. That will leave just 100 days until 2013 and we will have escaped the end of the world one more time. Don't hold your breath.
    .. Feather merchants are in the final push for sales, and guides are already leaving the scene for more salubrious climes. Fishing is winding down and up. The Fall Fishing Frenzy will hit hard in the next three weeks. The summer fishers will seek solace elsewhere. And, so it goes.
    .. We need to post this now. Resident fish are eating small nymphs, size 22 Tricos, and chasing stripped Matuka flies.
    .. Migrating runners are eating anything big and ugly as they move into the sex rooms of proper gravel and flow.
    .. There's a lot to do and, as usual, not enough time to do it in!
    .. And, yes, it's mouse time again.

    So What ??

    Don't You Just Love It ?
    pretty fish, pretty fish
    Just one more highly desirable fish from the wilds of Montana -- SO?

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Early Runners

    Target Newbies
    damn the soft hackles

    .. Confirmed: a few big fish along the park line on the Madison River. If you're serious about the runners from Hebgen Reservoir use the big uglies and streamers.
    .. It'll spook some of the resident fish - so what! We're after heads here. Can't wait? Do it now and be prepared to cast an awful lot. Be prepared to walk and drive a lot. Revisit holes after moving on.
    .. Cover acres and acres of water. Use your wading staff. Probe every possible hiding place. Probe the improbable. Badger the feather merchants. Set up a cell phone network.
    .. Look for clusters of cars near rivers. Smell the waders. Breath deeply the smoke filled air. Dodge the mobile condominiums on the roads. Dash down dusty byways. Get the early fish.
    .. It's way too exhausting for us.

    Sunday, September 09, 2012

    All Messed Up

    Nose Running, Neck Swollen
    tongue hanging out

    .. Runner fever is competing with the elk rut. Interestingly, the elk have just barely started to mill around while the fisher folks are all pretending that there are runners to be had. Such a sorry state of affairs. Patience, in this case, is more than a virtue: it's a necessity.
    .. The giant elk are still in the high country. The giant runners are still podded-up in the estuary arms of Hebgen Reservoir. We've not even had a spit of snow, nor a really hard freeze, (31° F is not a hard one at all !!)
    .. For the time being there is great fishing to be had - both inside Yellowstone National Park & around the periphery. There are still gulpers on the lake, and the monster Trico hatches seem to just be starting.
    .. The Firehole River is beginning to behave like a Fall river. There is fog and mist in the cool mornings and surface fishers are competing with streamer fishers for the once again active fish. Many fishers are still wearing out the drag on big fish in the tribs. The concentration of fish moving out of Iron Spring Creek and the Little Firehole River is drawing a symphony of elbows in and around Biscuit Basin.
    .. Hoppers persist in the meadows of the Madison River. They are also all along the park line from The Barns Holes to Baker's Hole - and a bit beyond at the edge of the trees on The Flats.
    .. The muck and mire of the Grayling Creek estuary and the Duck Creek estuary show the post holes of knowledgeable fishers as they cast to the staging fish waiting to sniff their way home to a sexual frenzy.
    .. We've been on the Gallatin River of late. The purple San Juan Worm, little Purple Beetles, and Elk Hair Caddis with a Feather Duster Dropper are all excellent choices for catching.
    .. Some of the die-hard surface-fishing neighbors swear by a Royal Wulff or a Royal Coachman. Others fish a Humpy and call it a Goofus Bug, (oldsters they are, some even tie the Goofus Bug.)
    .. The bears seem to be everywhere. A sow grizzly and cub are around Specimen Creek - still! There is a giant cinnamon colored black bear near and around the confluence meadows of Fan Creek. Remember to fish with a friend, sing very loud ribald songs, and have your bear spray in your shooting hand.
    .. Finally, (for now,) Nez Perce Creek, above the thermal features has been producing some outsized fish to rather large soft hackles in hues of yellow and orange. The local fishers prefer to call the colors "Dark Mustard," and "Burnt Umber." We've seen them. They are yellow and orange. Certainly not available at any self-respecting feather merchant in this neck of the woods.

    Thursday, September 06, 2012

    Forget Me Not

    Great For Searching
    pretty good bobber too


    .. We will, on more than an occasional basis, tie on a Stimulator for our early Fall fishing.
    .. We learned about this from one of the neighbors who fishes it year 'round. He ties them big for the Spring and calls them "STONIES." He ties them small and calls them "CADDIES." He ties them giant and calls them BOBBIES. Go figure!
    .. Big fish are already sniffing the cooler waters in the estuaries of Hebgen Reservoir. Fishers in boats are are piling up among the braided weed beds of the upper ends of the various "arms" of the lake. It's an annual event. It's early. It's way too early. But, hope springs eternal.
    .. The "NEIGHBORHOOD RIG" consists of a giant stimulator, (as big as #2, but usually a #4,) and a trailer 'de jour,' about  14" behind the bobber.
    .. The current trailing fly of choice is an Olive Matuka, (with a Little Brown Trout in a close second place.)
    .. In a couple of weeks, (maybe a month,) the trailing fly will become a standard local big fish streamer: Furnace and Red, Baker's Hole Bugger, Brindle & Hen, Pheasant and Blue, or, (our favorite,) Woolly Worm.
    .. These are not the flies that the clerks at the feather merchant counter will sell you. Buy theirs and catch some fish. Tie your own and catch more.
    .. Currently, those fishers that are still fishing in Yellowstone National Park are swinging soft hackles and doing a bang-up job on Nez Perce Creek. Beware of the bear!
    .. There are some rumored monster fish in the confluence meadow in Biscuit Basin and up the Little Firehole River. The same rumor persists for the bigger meadow just downstream from the parking lot as well. These are wary fish and they require a bit of stealth. If you don't see noses a perfect cast to the grass covered, undercut bank should produce a tussle if your drift is very long and very perfect.
    .. Hoppers are going crazy on the Madison River and beginning their annual dance along the Firehole River and the Gallatin River as well.
    .. You can use your favorite hopper imitation of the appropriate size and color if you choose, - OR - surprise, a stimulator!

    Monday, September 03, 2012

    Return Of The Faithful

    Too Warm For Our Taste
    but . . . if you got'ta
    .. Contrary to our best sensibilities we ventured into the visitor morass of Yellowstone National Park over the weekend. Shame on us!
    .. But we did catch some fish and, we got to sport our new gift of a peach-colored, tropical weight, fishing shirt with enough pockets and gussets, and dangles, and bangles to disguise us from the neighbors who were taking pictures of the chaos.
    .. The weekend rains caused a spike in runoff and a slight drop in temperature of the recently re-opened rivers. Not much really, but enough for the powers-that-be to allow visitors to play in the water.
    .. You shan't be bored here with the lurid descriptions of traffic tangles, buffalo petting, bear baiting, moose ogling, or centerline parking. You just need to imagine Manhattan, NY with no taxi's and every driver an impaired teenager, (OR - all taxi's with impaired drivers!)
    .. Fish were caught. Fish were played to exhaustion. Brand new waders got baptized. Beginners flailed the waters to a froth. Experts waded through dark holes like an adolescent at the beach. It was a sight to behold - indeed.
    .. There were noses in every stretch of likely water; even at mid-day. The midges started erupting as the fog lifted at 9:30 AM. The little yellow grasshoppers of the Madison River meadows hopped well into the evening. There were mayflies in the mists of morning along the Firehole River - and not a fisher to be seen. Probably digesting a "Western Breakfast" and the ensuing quart of coffee.
    .. By late afternoon we had discovered the dedicated flymph fishers of the Gibbon River canyon. A little later we discovered a professional guide beating the shit out of the Brook Trout in the meadows above Virginia Cascade.
    .. We drove home in the parade of mobile condominiums that exits the park at dark. We chuckled at the traffic snarls at the synchronized stop light in West Yellowstone: perhaps the most poorly controlled major traffic intersection in all of North America.
    .. Yes, the waters of the Madison River drainage are open to fishing after a very early and long closure. Yes, the faithful have returned to the elbow-bumping joys of standing where the fish were. Yes, Labor Day was crowded. Yes it's still crowded.
    Is it October yet?