• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Friday, September 26, 2014

    Sunny Shore Lunch

    Summer's Last Hurrah
    it'll hold us through the winter
    .. As seasonal weather approaches we can look back on the soft and salubrious days of Summer when the willows had only a hint of yellow. Of course the days ahead have their own charm - if not much warmth.
    .. Our village is experiencing an exodus - of sorts. Hard core headhunters are streaming in while the majority of visitors are headed to more gentle weather in the southern parts of our country. They will miss the beautiful bluster of the impending FALL. Their loss.
    .. The snow will put down the ragweed and bring the submarines home. See you in the conga line.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    A Couple More Days

    Local Diversions Beckon
    fish down low or climb stairs
    .. For those with a penchant for "nice" weather there's still a few days left before it becomes "seasonal" again.
    .. If you must fish in the neighborhood, the possibilities are endless. Stay close and enjoy the sun along the Firehole River, Madison River, Gallatin River, Duck Creek, or the South Fork of the Madison River. Where else is there that much good fishing within a half hour?
    .. With a short drive you can fish the lowland Madison River or climb some stairs and visit the lower falls of the Yellowstone River. So many choices it befuddles the brain.
    ..We may visit SCENIC BUTTE.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Head Hunter's Secret

    You Really Need Both
    the fish do park variously
    .. Although the Barns Holes are justly famous and easily accessible to park and catch the submarines that run up from Hebgen Reservoir, there's a short walk to glory nearby. Of course you must leave sight of your car and fish for real.
    .. Just pull in any parking spot near Baker's Hole on the Madison River. Walk a little way to the sinuous meanders that straddle the park line and catch the monsters that rest in the dark holes and under the shady banks.
    .. You'll need a Montana Fishing License and a Yellowstone National Park Fishing Permit. Watch the sun because the migrants move from shade to shade in this wiggly stretch of water.
    .. The holes are deep, the fish are fresh, the elbows disappear with distance to the car. These fish are far less wary than those fish further up the stream.
    .. Enjoy the day - rain is best.

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Of Wayward Moths

    NOT HOPPERS  . . .  BUT
    In The Trees & In The Water
    wise fishers know the difference

    .. Now that the hoards of heroes and headhunters are in conclave along the Madison River it's time to gather up the friendly fish of the Gallatin River.
    .. The Western Spruce Budworm gives birth to the Spruce Moth. Fly fishers call it a hatch. Silviculturists call it a blight. Our recent spate of warm winters and infrequent Fall "Hard Frosts" have combined to allow the worms to proliferate and so too the moths.
    -- 'Fire exclusion' and "natural management" of forests encourage woody debris and duff along the forest floor - the perfect habitat for the little wigglers. They are on the rise.
    .. Along the rivers of our neighborhood there are many stands of host trees and dense duff on the forest's floor. Fish eat the critters - both the bud worm and the winged form.
    .. The bud worm is not in the vocabulary of many fly fishers: the moth is increasingly a topic of conversation. The fishers and feather merchants today are scurrying about in search of the perfect pattern to imitate the fluttering pest.
    .. There are numerous varieties of bud worms and moths. There are nearly forty Choristoneura species, and even more subspecies, or forms across the United states. They love conifers. They eat conifers and breed in and around them.They eat the flowers and pollen of this years growth. They eat the tender needles as they emerge. They will even eat last years needles on occasion.
    .. They can ruin the appearance of the perfect Christmas tree that you have watched for two years. Fish eat them.
    .. The life cycle of the critter is an annual event. From it's egg to the moth it traverses several stages, (6 instars,) then a pupae, then a moth. Caterpillars weave a cocoon-like shelter composed of their own excrement and needle debris mixed with silk threads. They travel by air at the ends of silk strands. Fish eat them.
    .. The moths appear over a long period from late July to early September for their egg-laying tasks. They then persist until they run out of gas at the end of their life cycle. They are running out of gas right now. Fish are eating them.
    .. Despite the common name, the critter is hosted primarily by Douglas-fir, with other tree species such as the true firs, larch and to a lesser degree, spruce, also impacted by the western spruce budworm.
    .. The moths are not good aviators. They have erratic and brief flight paths. When they run out of gas they plummet to the earth in a death spiral. Fish eat them. Infestations can reach over 400,000 per acre. That's a lot of trout food.
    .. If the river you fish flows thorough a blighted forest - fish a moth right now. There are a few blighted trees on the Firehole River. There are isolated stands along the Madison River. There are brown trees all along the Gallatin River.
    .. Death spirals occur in the warm part of the day: over water if the hungry fish are lucky. Fish eat them. They float for a long time. Fish eat them.
    .. A white caddis pattern will work just fine. A normal caddis or stimulator will also work. The lighter the better. Mash them up and splay the wings. Ruin the beauty that came from the vise and you'll do better in the catching department. Better yet, have the neighbors kids tie a few.
    .. Damn the runners  --  full moth ahead.

    Fish Here - - Now

    Try The Gallatin For Fun
    join the elbow parade for heads
    Try any ol' caddis.

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

    Autumn At Home


    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Afternoon Delights

    Elbow Density Increasing
    contrary neighbors look north

    .. So, as it happens, the local feather merchants are touting the park and catch locations along the Madison River and Firehole River. And thusly the elbow quotient is on the rise.
    ..The vehicle parking is more crowded than the fish parking along the Madison River. The Fall Run fish from Hebgen Reservoir are slowly entering the river system. These fish are eating both nymphs and streamers. Poke 'em in the nose and a fine fandango is yours.
    .. Right now double nymph rigs are scoring as many fish as are the streamers - just keep them on the big size. We're using a King Prince followed by a white thorax Feather Duster.
    .. The more successful neighbors are using a Flymph & Nymph combo, it adds some internal action to the rig. The flymphs being used are similar to the commercially available soft hackles in color. The difference is that the hackle is a bit stiffer and the body is a bit more fluffy. The local feather merchants have the standard run of the mill soft hackles for your edification.
    .. A few of the young'uns have stayed late and found submarines at both Barn's #1 and Baker's Hole with long tailed buggers. These have become quite the fad in the neighborhood of late. It just might have something to do with the catch rate of the flies - or the skill of the fishers.
    .. Some of us have the timerity to use a double floating rig: Caddis / Baetis. It's a gentler form of indulgence along the Madison River this time of year, and we don't need a 14' two handed rod to land the fish. Some do though.
    .. The Firehole River has come into it's own, (though the mid day warmth is a mite slow for lightning catching,) and the caddis are putting on quite a show. Along with the caddis are a few terrestrials, some baetids, an occasional spruce moth and even the stray damselfly. Ants and midge cluster are also working fine for all the faithful that need to see their flies.
    .. Just about any commercial soft hackle will entice the fish in the river right now. A rig with a small nymph behind a soft hackle will do wonders all day - every day. Use a bead head on the one that you want to be deep - let the other waggle along behind.
    .. Waders are becoming a fashion statement around town. Wet muddy tracks in the aisles of grocery stores can be followed directly to the cold beer displays. The more fashion conscious of the visiting fishers roll their bibs down to their waist. This allows a full reveal of the bulbous gut and the accompanying odoriferous emanations to be enjoyed by all of our genteel neighbors, their children, and their clerks in the checkout line. Bless the decorum of visitors in the Fall. Hunters are here too. [[Images too gross to publish.]]
    ..  While a few of the neighbors get sucked into runner frenzy, most of them, (contrarians that they are,) head north of town. Fall catching on the lesser known Gallatin River, Bacon Rind Creek, Specimen Creek, and other sweet rivers is just a delight right now. (Older Post.)
    .. We've been enjoying the lazy way to fish. Sleep in // arise and eat a simple breakfast // check the clock // shed the sweats // find the car keys // head north in the afternoon warmth // find a place to fish where the water is cool and the fish are willing // catch a few - head home for a pizza at the pub.
    .. The Gallatin River is conducive to genteel fishing. There are a few afternoon caddis. There are some remnant terrestrial critters finding the water, On rare occasions there is a late mayfly hatch. The fish are healthy, boisterous, and classical opportunists. They will grab any groceries that present themselves. No special flies are needed. Fling something simple and catch a fish. No stress and no underwear-ripping effort to fling it farther. It appeals to only a few of us.
    .. Many of the neighbors enjoy this form of fishing. They have learned to avoid the heroes of the park and the braggarts from the fly shops. They stroll instead of run. They pause and look around. They have not been sucked into the gonzo fishing of the fall frenzy. They hide in pubs with no restaurant attached and converse about Fall, the sky, the moose, the bear, the elk, and sometimes the fish.
    .. We've been adopted by these hard working stiffs. They view their fishing as a total outdoor experience. The fish have become an excuse. Most of them catch fish any time and any place that they go. They catch them big. They catch them small. They catch them all and don't much give it a second thought.
    .. So, for now, it's the Gallatin River for us. The colors are better.

    Thursday, September 18, 2014


    Warrior Of The Madison
    it's not plastic - it's holy
    .. Our heart sings as we float past the hulls of the newer cookie-cutter plastic boats on the river.
    .. Try it, you'll like it.


    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Sunny Daze

    SO FAR
    A Gentle September
    hoppers last stand
    .. Another 10 days for mostly sunny weather will allow any remaining hoppers and beetles to find the water.
    .. Evenings in the 50's and overnight soft freezes will slow the morning terrestrial bite for most of the neighborhood rivers.
    .. The last of the flying ants are splatting on the water as well. Compensation in the form of a sparse spinner fall is not enough to drag most of the neighbors out of bed before 10:00 AM.
    .. The Madison River just down the road is yielding some large fish that have probably run up from Hebgen Reservoir. It's not too early to strip a streamer - just for fun.
    .. The Firehole River has perked up nicely over the last week with a genuine dump of caddis flies. The white ones, the brown ones, the big ones and the little ones are around for most of the day. Should you be lucky enough to bump into a Baetid hatch the surface action will justify carrying that box too.
    .. It looks like the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park is getting a break. The periodic torrential rains have diminished and flows in the rivers have stabilized to the point that the famous waters are attracting fishers again. Terrestrials are still active over there and beetles, hoppers and ants should provide good catching when the little flies are not hatching.
    .. It's not widely publicized but Slough Creek gathers up some monster spawners of the slashed throat variety, Third Meadow can yield some brutes if you are willing to forgo the dainty flies and swing or strip a streamer. The gravels are perfect - fishers forget this most of the time: the fish remember. By the way the big Fall Drakes are seemingly more prolific this year than usual - be prepared!
    .. The lowland Madison River is attracting a large flotilla of drifters as the sun warms the water and presents a smorgasbord of bugs for the edification of fish and fishers alike. Flying ants, caddis, beetles and hoppers are all in the offing. Nymphs are a go-to selection with big Rubber Legs and small Shop Vac a good combination.Stripping streamers will raise some of the brutal carnivores that inhabit the river. They are getting fidgety right now.
    .. Down low the morning bite is on the slow side and it is common to see drift boats parked and fishers dredging the deep runs with scrumptious offerings to entice the lethargic trout. Whitefish have been active and these iridescent beauties are very willing to take your nymphs as well.
    .. If you fish the wade section be prepared to cover lots of water and hold on tight the submarines are on the move.
    .. The big meadows on the Gibbon River and the small meadows around Norris Campground are already being fished for spawning fish. they traverse these sections and park and rest for a spell in the deep pockets, under the banks and in the dark water. Fish for them and quickly release them they are bright and beautiful and rare.
    .. Know the weeds on Hebgen Reservoir. Gulping has slowed to a sparse activity for the fish. The bugs are about done with their sexual escapades. Find and fish the edge of the deep weeds with a streamer or a soft hackle. Not too much action on the fly will gather up the big fish that haven't started toward the estuaries.
    .. Staging in the estuaries is now a fishy activity. As the Fall run of spawners begins to unfold the fish and fishers will be crowding both the shore and water around the mouths of rivers. Streamers and giant nymphs are the way that the neighbors prick these laggards.
    .. When the Gallatin River warms it is teeming with bug life and feeding fish. Hope not to see you there this afternoon.

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Faunal Identification

    This Will Help
    and that's the rest of the story
    .. This was sent in by an alert reader from the far reaches of the Atlantic Coast. It's what we've been needing out here as fall approaches. . . . eh?

    Tuesday, September 09, 2014

    Snow Tomorrow ??

    Autumn Is In The Air
    it really is different up here
    .. We've waited a full three months for Summer to arrive in the neighborhood. We were teased with a few sporadic days of 80 degree temperatures.
    .. This has been a season of whining visitors. Too many clouds were in the sky. Too many days brought rain. Too many nights required heat that was not planned for. Too many roads were clogged with mobile condominiums creeping through the fog and rain and construction zones. Too many grumpy rangers and seasonal employees disappointed in the weather, the facilities, the animals, the erattic eruptions, and so forth.
    ..The last few days have been as close to  a real Summer as we've received this year. The neighbors are used to these kinds of years. They don't come very often but they are not unheard of either. Most of them rejoice. The trees get a good growth spurt. The rivers and streams get a good scouring and are rejuvenated. The critters have plenty to eat and get fat for the winter. Cars get washed without spending any time or money. Storm drains are flushed and need very little attention. It's a good thing for our neighborhood.
    .. Of course fishing is unusually good during these sorts of years. The bounty of the landscape is reflected in the bounty of the waterscape. Fry have more places to hide and more bits of flotsam to eat. juveniles have the same advantages and adult fish are stressed far less than in a "NORMAL YEAR," (whatever that is.)
    .. Snow will bring welcome water for next year. The nitrogen content of the snows is higher than the rains. The trees and other vegetation thrive on early snows that partially melt and invigorate them. Sap with sugars flows rapidly and is distributed throughout the conifers systems. The deciduous trees have their leaves crammed with sugars and a quick freeze will precipitate the colors of Fall that so many folks cherish.
    .. This anticipated snowwfall is just what the doctor ordered. It signals a new daily regimen for merchants, neighbors, visitors, critters and, in fact, the village as a whole.. The elk will whistle and bugle, the bears will range for the last forage, the photographers will grab cameras, the fishers will change fly boxes, and preparations for the winter ahead wil move into high gear.
    .. We anticipate a bright clear weekend with crisp mornings, 60 degree days and superlative fishing on the neighborhood streams. The snow should be completely melted by Thursday and neighborhood activity will pick up. Hunters will begin to stream into town. The grouse will become scarce. Scouting for elk herds will become frenzied for the early season. Fishers will rejoice at the cool weather that makes their waders more of a blessing than a curse.
    .. We've got to wax the car for the winter protection. We've got to check the coolant  and be sure it's good to 40 below. We need to increase the air pressure in the tires for the anticipated cold that deflates the tires. We need to sharpen the snow shovels and rakes. Cover bushes and drain external water pipes and all the other preparations that are needed. Wood for fires is being gathered at a more raapid pace than the last few weeks.
    .. Of course if the weekend pans out as anticipated we may visit the lowland Madison River for one last goodbye.

    Sunday, September 07, 2014

    Try The Madison

    Scenic Views & Hungry Fish
    even the hoppers are working
    .. We are now having a gentle episode of Fall weather. The nights have dipped into the low 20's and the days have climbed to the mid 70's. The rains have been absent and the clouds have been scarce. It's what the neighbors call "Tourist Weather."
    .. Along the Madison River the bugs with feet on the ground are scurrying in the near warmth and doing buggy things. They are also active enough to find the water of our streams. The trout enjoy this bit of buggy catastrophe. The bugs are rewarded with death by fish. It's all good.
    .. It's not too early to start swinging some streamers in the darker water: along the shady banks, in deep holes, under sweepers and snags.
    .. Try a mouse in the late afternoon. Try a caddis of your choice at the end of a sunny day. Or, by all means, ask at your favorite feather merchant just what and where to fish. Ask when they last fished the river and just where. Record the answer for posterity.
    .. You are going to need two fly boxes for the upcoming fishing at the end of this season in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. The standard FALL FLY BOX with fluff for all occasions and the BIG-N-UGLY FLY BOX with flies, (and other stuff,) for the headhunter.
    .. This is also a good time of year to pick up some pointers about fishing with a two-handed rod. These rods dragged out each Fall by folks that need two hands to cast and are impressive indeed. Some of the rods are longer than the rivers are wide where they are used.
    .. There has got to be a reason for this display, other than: style or fad or peer pressure. We wonder at the reasons when we see a gentle fisher landing a 16" trout with an 8',  5-weight rod standing just down stream from the whistling line from a 14', 11-weight rod. We're bewildered. Something about strokes and folks !!
    .. We're watching for the Tenkara fishers. They make their appearance this time of year as well. Wispy rods without reels and flies tied backwards are making their appearance next to the super macho double hander's.
    .. We may ask if one is more effective at catching and landing a fish than the other. We suspect that as soon as every fisher has been sold both of these sorts of rods that kites with fly rigging will make their appearance on the feather merchants must sell list. Maybe puttees and Seal Dry waders will come back.
    .. We're thinking that Fall must bring about a congenial madness in both fishers and fish in this part of the world. It's a small amount of entertainment for many of us.