• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Monday, June 30, 2014

    The (west) Yellowstone Experience

    $50.00 For Three Hours
    not for the faint of wallet

    Sunday, June 29, 2014

    Brief Respite

    It's About To End
    here comes the fourth - already
     .. The rivers on the west side of Yellowstone National Park are still running above seasonal discharge rates.
    .. The fish are frisky, willing, and plentiful. Gentle winters seem to have been good for recruitment.
    .. After last week's water temperature spikes to 76° F on the Firehole River we've seen some welcome clouds, cool air temperatures, cold rains and a flurry or two over the last few days. Temperatures on the Firehole River have plunged to a cool 60°F at night and the diurnal marks have held near 68°. It's been good.
    .. There have been occasional good hatches clouds of PMD's bringing reminiscences of days of yore.
    .. The caddis have even bothered to emerge during bright overcast drizzles and it's possible to fish the river all day.
    .. The bugs have been regular and mostly predictable and, for a change, the seasonal hatch charts can be relied upon to guide the visiting fisher.
    .. The Madison River is providing extended catching opportunities for the streamer fisher. Both BWO's and PMD's have hit there stride and the soft hackle is still holding on strong. There have been a few nice caddis hatches around 9-mile Hole and at the park line.
    .. The Gibbon River has settled down and is providing great fun in the lower canyon sections and, not too surprisingly, in the riffles below the falls. The little meadows above Norris Campground still have some nice fish and even Da Chutes along the upper canyon have some nice fish. This is all picturesque water with friendly and not too particular fish.
     .. We've heard rumors that the big meadows, (Gibbon and Elk,) of the Gibbon River are showing some enormous noses in the twilight. Should you venture into the meadows where the banks are undercut and the monsters sip daintily please fish with a buddy and carry some bear spray.
    .. Just a pertinent side note: bear populations are up and the grass is still green and tender.
     .. There are also reports of some monsters in the quicksand and bramble section of the river to the north side of Norris Geyser Basin. Few fishers enter this area and the access can be precarious. Most fishers stop where the meadow ends just a little way below Norris Campground - however, the catching is very good in the mucky and stinky stretch at the moment.
    .. The near term weather forecast holds for a return to seasonal temperatures. This means that any day now the Firehole River will become an evening and morning fishery as both air and water temperatures begin their Summer climb..
    .. The Madison River should hold on for a couple of weeks more for the spinner fall and caddis hatches.
    .. Big surface poppers about nightfall are already producing grabs in the snags and sweepers of the broad slicks below 7-Mile Bridge.
    .. Look for all of the parking spots to fill up with visiting park and catch fishers as we approach the long  4th of July weekend.
    .. We won't worry much about that.

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

    Foggy Fishing

    Time Is Getting Short
    firehole water near 75°

    .. Full blown summer is nearly upon us. Visitors are jam-packed into the narrow two lane roads in Yellowstone National Park. Sleeping weather with cool nights is fast disappearing. The morning fogs along the Firehole River are also becoming scarce. Fish them now or be done with it.
    .. Getting up in the wee small hours of the day can be a real chore when the days are long and bright. Should you be so inclined there are rewards to be gathered. Spinners fall. Cripples float. Trout look up and have an early breakfast. Try it you'll like it - or not.
    .. We can handle the morning yawns and aches a couple of times each year. We fish the attractor fly: Yellowstone Morning Glory, (recipe HERE.)
    .. It takes a few fish. We wonder why we left the comfort of the bed and return for a real breakfast and some coffee. The day is over by 7:30 AM - or thereabout.
    .. There may a few of the faithful with strength enough left to handle the exercise. It's technical fishing, (except for the fly,) and the fish are groggy, flighty, spooky, and genuinely hungry.
    .. Just sayin'.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    Red Headed Stepchild

    It's A Gentle Walk To Angry Fish
    you won't be able to see the car
    .. We often wax poetic, (or some such,) about the forgotten splendors of Nez Perce Creek. Our praises carry little weight with the park and catch crowd.
    .. The little creek looks inviting around the picnic tables where it joins the Firehole River. It's a false invitation. The water is thin, fast and generally holds only fry and smaller fish. That's fine for those who need to watch the car.
    .. Above the Grand Loop Road and down a gentle trail there are the same wonders that the other river is famous for. Vistas of the surrounding mountains and high plateau are grand. There's a thermal hot spot with bubbles and steam and such, (stay on the trail - it's very unstable amongst the bubbles.) There's a picturesque old bridge that's seeing it's last days. It's a nice walk in a meadow surrounded by the woods.
    .. Early on in each warm season it's the haunt of bears and park rangers. By this time of year there are a few large bull bison,  just an occasional grizzly bear,  wildflowers,  ground squirrels,  and trout. It's worth the stroll.
    .. Our wheels are tired and creaky. We made it about a mile and a bit more this year and were pleased with ourselves. It's a little early for the fish to run up from the FIREHOLE RIVER. The resident fish haven't been visited much and are very willing dance partners.
    .. We caught a fish and smoked a stogie in the drizzle. it may be sunset for our trips to the little sister of the Firehole River. [[ For our previous exultation's see THIS. ]]
    .. We'll be back a couple of times this year. Out of sight of the car.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Temperature Rising

    Seventies Achieved
    fish early and late
    .. So the kids in the pubs have chided us unmercifully for failing to avail ourselves of the world famous "Park And Catch Fishery" of the Firehole River.
    .. The glowing reports of this year's catchery have not gone unnoticed by us. We just have an aversion to ring tones in the wild.
    ..We succumbed to the chiding and abandoned our hidden runs elsewhere and joined the parade of visitors along the condo clogged road to the promised land.
    .. We we're armed with the dynamic duo of local fame: a sweet little soft hackle and a mashed caddis imitation. We went to a place where the river runs away from the road and parking was problematic. We pretended that the soft saunter was an aerobic jaunt and consoled our self with the possible cardiac benefits of walking 300 yards to the river.
    .. This year the river has stayed above average discharge, (so far,) but the water temperature is climbing apace with the season anyway.
    .. Spikes to over 70° F have been a regular occurrence the past few days and, even with the bite still on there will be fewer and fewer good catching opportunities in the upcoming weeks.
    .. The afternoon showers arrived with a fury common in Yellowstone National Park. The billowy white clouds turned to angry gray and sank to the earth about 3:00 PM. The tops of trees were captured by the heavy air and drizzle turned to light rain.
    .. There were noses in the film. Catching was consistent. Both flies worked  their magic. They mesmerized so many fish that even the guide books would be embarrassed to report it.
    .. A few noses remained on the surface for a couple of dark and dreary hours but we switched from the caddis to the softie and floated it until it sank - good takes in the seams, slicks, riffles, back eddies, and dark water.
    .. Every fish in the river was lined up to gobble the flies. It happens sometimes. The rumors turned to truth and we suggest that this can't last much longer.
    .. Get thee to the Firehole River - ring tones and elbows be damned!

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

    Catch Up

    Catching Is Too
    off to the finny friends
    .. We've been captivated by the catching opportunities in Yellowstone National Park. We've spent too much time there and ignored the rest of the world. It's been that good.
    Raffia-backed Hare's Ear Nymph
    .. FIREHOLE RIVER: PMD's for the whole river. Some, (surprise to us,) Green Drakes, (big 'uns & little 'uns too.) White miller, and many other sorts of caddis are evening players as well. Watch the clouds and walk a little - perfect catching weather is gracing us.
    .. MADISON RIVER: Big And Ugly nymphs are still working for the subsurface fishers. Caddis and BWO's are beginning to appear in numbers too.
    .. GIBBON RIVER: The quick and pocket water of the canyon section is producing to large dry flies, (10 and 12 Royal Wulff flies are a good bet,) standard nymphs are catching fish too = Prince and Hare's ears. Spot and stalk gentility will gather up solitary surface feeders in the big meadows, (something small and floating = 16 Adams is O.K.)
    .. More soon.

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    The Fleet Is In


    Monday, June 16, 2014

    Variations On A Theme

    Colors Come And Go
    must be the material
    .. George Edward Mackenzie Skues has a Facebook Page, HERE. It's worth a look. So is fishing with a fly that can't be seen.
    .. Although genteel conversations today reflect the controversy that erupted on the chalk streams of England over a century ago, there is a growing schism in the mindset of some fly fishers, (for a precis of the man and the controversy check THIS, OR THIS.) [[Should you need a copy of the book there is one for sale at AMAZON.]]
    .. We are partial to catching fish, no matter how, (within some limits.) Some folks are fixated on technique rather than the catching. More power to them, we like the catching.
    .. Most often, in the life of a trout, the fish is in the depths of the water. They forage and nibble and gulp up food where it is most reliably present. Most often that's where we place our flies.
    .. During this time in the early season we are partial to a local invention: the Feather Duster. We go through a hundred or so of these flies each year. We fish them where the fish are: down deep and in the snarls of weeds, twigs, logs, boulders, etc. They catch a lot of fish and more other stuff.
    .. With the feigned insight of our expert neighbors we select the color variation of the fly that suits our whimsical mood. Eventually we catch a fish or two.
    .. It probably has as much to do with the fly as with how we fish it - perhaps more. It might even have to do with the fact that we fish the fly more often than others.
    .. Color variations and bead heads have cropped up over the years. They all work eventually.
    .. Lately we've had our head stuck on a couple of colors: pink and yellow. There does not seem to be, to our feeble mind, much difference in the effectiveness of either color. Obviously we'll need more research in this area. More twigs, snarls, weeds and rocks are in our future.
    .. Right now we're fishing the yellow. We've just finished with the pink ones, for the moment. Soon we'll be using up our stash of originals. The merry go round never ceases.
    .. Some of our local feather merchants carry Feather Duster flies. Some shops have given them up for their own latest and greatest creations.
    .. The interesting thing about different fly varieties is that they all work and they all are gobbled up by visitors seeking something special.
    .. We've run out of money for the latest and greatest.
    .. This old fly gained surprising popularity soon after Bob Bates described it in the Outdoor Press, (August 26, 1993). It was developed in the early 70's and has garnered a following of dedicated nymph fishermen. The original article is hard to find, so we have reproduced it here.
    .. Eagle's Store in West Yellowstone, MT is just a block and a half from [the] Yellowstone National park west entrance. They stock a lot of things that you need but can't find in the gift-shop-type stores around West Yellowstone. As always it was the fly shop section that interested me most. Beside a normal collection of fishing paraphernalia and good information, they had a set of pictures showing how to build a Feather Duster.
    .. The name was bestowed because Wally Eagle, who developed it in the early 70's, used ostrich herl from a feather duster for early copies. (Please do not confuse it with similarly named flies, such as the English dry pattern.) Wally's Feather Duster catches a lot of fish around West Yellowstone and should prove equally successful elsewhere in our northwestern region. Wally provided additional tying details and fishing techniques and a sample fly to photograph.
    .. Wally recommends fishing it dead drift with a yarn strike indicator. Any strange movement of the indicator might mean a strike so tighten up a little. You'll know instantly if it is a fish or the bottom. To place an indicator, simply tie an overhand knot in the leader and put a piece of yarn inside the loop. Carry a safety pin to open the knot and change it's position.
    .. For fishing the Madison River, place your indicator about 3 - 4 feet above the fly and add a split shot, if needed. On spring creeks, place a sheep's wool indicator only 18 - 20 inches above the fly. The sheep's wool indicator should be as small as possible. Wally uses a chartreuse indicator for good light conditions, but finds it hard to see in some conditions. He recommends using pink or green indicators in bad light conditions.
    -- Hook: Mustad 9672, 10 - 18
    -- Thread: Burnt orange 3.0
    -- Weight: Lead wire
    -- Under body: Gray wool
    -- Tail: Pheasant tail fibers
    -- Rib: Copper wire
    -- Body and thorax: Ostrich herl, dark gray
    -- Wing case: Pheasant tail fibers
    .. Put about five wraps of lead wire around the shank where the thorax will be. Just keep it back from the eye three or four eye widths, so you will have plenty of room for other materials. Use a lead wire that is about equal to the hook wire diameter. Attach your tying thread and wrap over the the lead a couple of times to secure it. Bring the tying thread rearward and attach a strand of wool. Wrap the wool to make an under body for the ostrich herl and shape the thorax; the wool also makes a soft base for the pheasant tail fibers. As with the lead wire, leave plenty of room for a head. .
    . Use 6 or so pheasant tail fibers for the tail, attach them at the bend and make the tail about a gap width long. Also just in front of the bend secure a copper wire and 5 or 6 ostrich herls. Attach the herls by the tips if you want to taper the body and by the butts if you want a full body. Carry herls forward to mid shank or 2/5ths point depending on if you want a longer or shorter thorax, secure and trim. Counter wind copper wire ribbing, secure and trim.
    .. Then right in front of body, tie in 8 to 10 pheasant tail fibers with the butts forward. Leave about a shank length of tips facing rearward. Wrap over butts, bring thread back to tie in point, fold butts back and secure. Attach several ostrich herls for thorax, wrap thread forward, wrap herls forward, secure and trim. Be sure to leave plenty of space for the head. Bring pheasant tail butts forward. secure and trim. Pull tips forward, secure with one or two thread wraps and bend tips back on each side for legs. Legs should extend along the body, ending short of the point. If there are too many legs just trim off a few. Finish the head with a whip finish. Wally doesn't use thread cement because he feels that it lets the Turle knot slip.
    .. Pheasant tail is fairly delicate and breaks when big fish chew on it. Extra layers on Wally's Feather Duster wing case give you the opportunity to clip off broken fibers and still have a neat looking wing case. .. Note: on flies 16 and smaller, Wally's tiers might use partridge instead of pheasant tail for tail, wing case, and legs.

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

    The Classic Time

    Firehole Popping Bugs
    gibbon about ready
    .. This is the time of year that visitors aim for. This is the time of year that book writers and travel agents love. We're entering that fabled few weeks when the rivers on the west side of Yellowstone National Park are readily yielding fish to those that visit.
    Up top and beautiful
    .. The trout are frisky. The bugs are blooming. Fish the surface, fish the film, fish the seams, fish shallow, fish deep, all produce success in the catching department.
    ..Golden Stoneflies, big black Salmonflies, Caddis, PMD's, BWO's, and a few other sorts of bugs are presenting a smorgasbord of delights for the diet of the fish. The fish are loving it. The fishers too.
    .. The Firehole River is nearing it's peak for surface activity and for a couple of weeks, (weather depending,) will be the focus of glory water fishers. Elbows will proliferate like the bugs and parking spots will be hard to come by. The PMD's can fill the sky on just the right day and will always be present by noon or so. Caddis of a couple sorts can hatch all day and will enjoy both sex and egg laying in the afternoon and evening.
    .. The Salmonflies of the Firehole Canyon are moving into the Madison River and the trout seem interested in the biggies. Fish the mature imitations on the surface or neotenous forms deep and in the seams.
    .. Poke them into the soft pillows in front of large boulders and the slicks behind them. It's hard to miss with nymphs, it's even hard to miss with soft hackles and dry flies.
    .. If, however,  your casting is so poor that you miss the water, you may not catch too many fish.
    .. As the days warm, the waters of the Gibbon River are beginning to provide easier opportunities for catching both above and below the falls. Golden Stoneflies are working wonders below the falls. Above the falls in both the canyon section and in the riffled runs of the big meadows soft hackles and Pheasant Tail Nymphs are the ticket for subsurface action.
    .. The little meadows above Norris Campground have some surface action, some bison and a couple of bears. Catching is good to fair.
    .. Our Spring mix of weather continues but is moderating rapidly. The snow and graupel flurries are short, sporadic, and widely dispersed. The afternoons are blessed with cloudy to overcast skies, Wind has blown to 40 mph but not for long. All in all it's perfect fishing weather - catching weather is fisher folk dependent.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    To The Canyon

    Quite A Few This Year
    not too selective yet

    .. We seldom bother with the big bugs in the Firehole River Canyon. Although it's a Spring pilgrimage for some, it often is a disappointment for many others, ourselves included.  The hatch is usually spotty and not too dense. It can come when we've other things to do.
    .. It is usually visited by so many elbows that the fish can hear three different ring tones at the same time.
    .. This year seems to be a non conformist sort of year. The bugs have been growing in numbers and are not shy about visiting the ears of fisher folk. There are only a few pairs of elbows that have figured it out.
    .. For whatever reason the hatch was a bit early this year. It seems to be a bit more dense and the density has increased over the last couple of days.
    .. You may pick your favorite bug imitation and catch some fish with little effort - at the moment.
    .. We had, on the other hand, several magnificent refusals on some glorious and famous big bug imitators so we switched to some golden stone fly sorts and took a few. Maybe the fish are just admiring the bigun's and eating the smallun's. Who knows these things?
    .. Anyhow, do it now or forever hold thy peace.

    Sunday, June 08, 2014

    The Up & Down Of It All

    Blogging Stutters
    choices are growing
    .. A little rain, a little sun, some fog, some clouds, some bugs, some fish; the catching season in Yellowstone National Park is well under way.
    .. The Madison River has cleared remarkably and there are even bugs decorating it's surface and the shoreline weeds. Flows have dropped to the norm for the season and even dipped a bit below. Rains have been a factor in the discharge rates but the clarity is very good.
    .. Fishers are turning into catchers with a variety of flies and both the big'uns and little'uns are taking fish with regularity. The neighborhood choice is still with the big'uns as they are groceries for the fish; and they are willing shoppers. The little'uns are usually served submerged and are taken gladly by the fish.
    .. The confluence meadow is still a bit spongy but navigable and the Madison River still holds some large fish this high up. The large flies of Fall will still grab a lip if placed in front of the laggards. Downstream stripping of large streamers will also prove productive if presentation is correct.
    .. The white millers have appeared along the upper portions of the Madison River and for most of the length of the Firehole River. These morsals are a good bet for those that choose to catch fish on both the surface and under the water. Fished wet or dry the imitations will draw fish to the hook.
    .. On the Firehole River the fishers seem to demand surface hatches even where they're are not happening and when they shouldn't be happening.
    .. Persistence in a pursuit does not guarantee success. Remember what grandma said: "Nothing will change if you don't change something."
    .. Of course, Grandpa said: "If the fish ain't up, they're down." It would seem that there is some strange behavior along the banks of the Firehole River.
    .. The neighbors are also invading the canyon stretches of the Gibbon River. The river is dancing along with quite a bit of energy and still has some color but the fish are grabbing subsurface offerings with enough regularity to make it interesting.
    .. A couple of brave souls took a walk in the big meadows along the upper portions of the Gibbon River and have reported that the squish underfoot is a delightful experience but that the catching sucks. Bless the explorers.
    .. The weather is offering up as big a smorgasbord of conditions as the rivers are bugs. PMD's. BWO's, Caddis, and the miscellaneous early surface beetle and ant. The daily rains vary in position and intensity so that the rivers' ups and downs are capricious at best.
    .. Fishers expecting any sort of catching success will have a full and extensive arsenal in their fly boxes - and consult them as often as necessary.