• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Saturday, September 26, 2015

    Y'all Come

    Elbow Knocking Expanded
    many hero photos and tales tails
    .. The congregation of faithful Fall fly fishers has finally convened at the holy places for social networking. Some fishing takes place and some catching is inevitable. Runners bring it about.
    The LONG long rod
    .. For the moment the catching is so good that even the counter help at the local feather merchants are bragging and showing hero photos on their cell phones.
    .. We've had a couple of days of postcard Autumn weather and we may get in one more before Fall returns to winnow out the fishers from the poseurs.
    .. Long and limber 2-handed rods are becoming de riguer in the Fall on the Madison River. Of course this guarantees that spacing in the conga line is extended to nearly sensible distances.
    .. The wind and gentle expertise of the fly flingers also guarantees  that the mating of fly lines is a regular occurrence. Just another opportunity to exchange cell phone numbers and ring tones.
    .. The fish density seems higher this year than in the last few years. Certainly the fisher density is up. The capricious fish refuse to conform to counter help expertise and continue to accept a very catholic assortment of flies and presentations.
    .. Pub chatter confirms that, despite the latest and greatest bin stuffers, the San Juan Worm and Partridge Soft Hackle are standout foolery for big fish. Part of this success may be due to fishers from afar feeling comfortable with their own fly boxes and assortments.
    .. In a purely unscientific conclusion we and the neighbors have concluded that the ages of the population of runner hunters has increased significantly over the past few years.
    .. Their dogs have gotten smaller and yappier. The dogs are frequently seen on the end of a tether, dragging sweet little old ladies into the bushes or oncoming traffic.
    .. All the famous and traditional waters are full of fishers. They are not necessarily full of fish. Despite the guide books and local lore, (perpetrated by experts that are not seen fishing,) our rivers change from day to day, month to month, year to year, and certainly decade to decade. You don't suppose that this affects the preferred parking places for tired, up-streaming, fish  --  do you??
    .. Of course eroded trails, degraded banks, dusty parking lots full of campers and BMW's, and hearsay information helps to extend the lore. All it takes is a single visiting head hunter touting how big the fish was in a legendary place on the rivers  --  bingo the mystique is enhanced.
    .. Our long term village residents have really enjoyed fostering the myths surrounding named runs and locations. Eventually the new deep spots and shadowy hides will filter through to the counter help. Eventually new names will become common jargon. As common, indeed, as Baker's Hole and Barns Holes, will be the whispers.
    .. Don't take this wrong: we took a hero fish at Barns #1. Then again, we were up in time to see Venus in the east. We were leaving just as the caravan of shiny cars was arriving.
    .. We took a giant trout, (Rainbow, no less,) at the old 9-Mile Hole. The parking lot was empty, the sun was way down behind the plateau and visiting fishers and guides were having a lovely prime rib dinner in town.
    ..We were privileged to fish with a neighbor that was born and raised here. We went to the Sucker Hole and the Local Hole. It was 12:30 PM and "squinty bright." We took a dozen or so fish at each location. We were home in time for a late lunch and work.
    .. The locations are not secret. There are trails to each one. Walking for 10 minutes was involved.  Over the last few years this water has gained currency with the neighbors because of the recently changed discharge patterns of the Madison River.
    .. We saw no one. We heard no vehicular traffic. We parked with ease. We exchanged no phone numbers, tall tales, or ring tones. We were between two crowded popular runs. We were in Yellowstone National Park. We only suggest that the fish are even where the fishers are not.
    ..A few things need to be mentioned should you seriously want to take home a hero photo: use hooks heavy enough for the hoped for fish, sharpen the hooks, check leaders and tippetts for scrapes and nicks.
    .. Wade softly, watch your shadow, present gently, avoid splashy line work, wear polarized glasses, think like a sex crazed fish and prospect accordingly.
    .. Venus is fading . . . . .

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015

    Sunday, September 20, 2015

    Find The Fish

    Try It, You'll Like It ?

    .. Remove the mystery. Is this the way you want to fish?

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    The Game Is Afoot

    Fish Density Near Optimum
    social fishing is extreme

    ..As the years slide along the population of the "Fall Faithful" increases. Word spreads and worship at the alter of Salmo trutta becomes ritualized. Even some of the neighbors become entangled in the goings-on.
    .. Throats become tight, whispers become hoarse, gesticulations become wild, anxiety peaks, and elbows bump in favorite places on the river and in the pubs.
    .. A whole new lexicon has developed around the spawning runs of Brown Trout as they leave Hebgen Reservoir and ascend the tributaries of the upper Madison River Drainage.
    .. The lore is sprinkled with so many mystical secrets and so much misinformation that it rivals the great religions of the world.
    .. There is a calendrical date for the beginning and end of the event, (despite the weather and what the fish do.)
    .. There are myths and legends surrounding the icons and fetishes. There are sanctified behaviors for holy places like named waters or dark sanctuaries where tokens for worship may be procured.
    .. Special meals and libations are prepared and dispatched with solemnity that approaches the absurd.
    .. Orthodoxy is maintained by the junior and senior priesthood as they stand behind their various alters, in various temples and, (for a price,) dispense the holy icons to entice the deity to make an appearance at the end of the gossamer thread that links this world with the other.
    .. Non conformists are those that do not worship at the approved temples. Various sects and cults have grown up during the inflorescence of Trutta Worship. Each cult has it's own adherents and believers.
    .. There are those that adhere to swinging fluffy bits of feathers in the sacred pools. As if erectile hairs and feathers have mystical powers of attraction.
    .. Some penitents clutch their magic staffs with two hands and flail the waters to a boiling froth in the hopes of attracting the deity to hand.
    .. A sizable congregation has gathered assortments of effigies that poorly represent small life forms and present these as offerings to the scaly gods.
    .. We could go on but there's no need. Beliefs and rituals defy rational exploration. Mumbo jumbo is important in the fall ritual.
    .. Observation, however, has documented that not just the Brown but, the Rainbow run up the tributaries.
    .. They spawn in more streams than just the upper reaches of the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. The fish seem to be less selective than publicized and take whatever flies that hit them in the nose.
    .. They rest in many locations that are never fished but always in protected places. Often places that are outside of the liturgy of the faithful.
    .. Like all religious dogma; that of the "Fall Faithful" only addresses the popular and traditional wisdom. Certainly the dogma would avoid the unknown and unexplored.
    .. Prophets crying in the wilderness are often ignored while priests in solemnized spaces pontificate the orthodoxy that brings the congregations back time and again.
    .. Some of our neighbors ignore the wailing and moaning of the choir. Their lack of orthodoxy has cast them out of the congregations. They scramble through thick willows. They tumble down steep banks. They wade where none has waded before. They catch many fish and don't bother to praise themselves or their totems or fetishes. Bless them all.
    .. There are many spawning, pre-spawning, and precocious fish throughout the Madison River Drainage. Some are even in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. It getting late and we've got to get to church. Perhaps the elbows will be padded even if the pews are not.

    Monday, September 14, 2015

    By Any Other Name

    it's a damn budworm
    WALLPAPER:   Choristoneura
    .. We chuckle to hear the affected erudition of the fisher folks that spout Latin nomenclature for mayflies and caddisfles and then call these critters "Spruce Moths."
    .. This is the Western Spruce Budworm.  There are nearly forty Choristoneura species, and even more subspecies, or forms, with an enormous complexity of variation among populations, found throughout much of the United States and Canada. There are at least that many more in Europe and Asia.
    .. The Western Spruce Budworm has a 1-year life cycle. In most regions moths usually emerge from late July to early August.
    .. Eggs are laid on the underside of conifer needles and hatch in about 10 days. Young larvae seek a sheltered place and overwinter in a silken casing called a hibernaculum.
    .. From early May to late June, larvae begin to feed within closed buds, 1-year-old needles, and new foliage.
    .. New foliage is preferred, followed by older needles. Larvae mature in 30-40 days and pupate in early July, (or late July around here.) Pupation usually lasts 10 days and is followed by adult moth emergence.
    ..  From our neighborhood down to about Big Sky, Montana emergence is just a little  later. Right now our population has peaked and eggs have been laid - mostly.
    .. The exhausted adult moths find our rivers and streams with a regularity that pleases the resident fish, (yes, Murgatroyd, the Mountain Whitefish will rise to these too.)
    .. It seems that we have a couple of subspecies, (or forms,) flittering around here.
    .. Choristoneura occidentalis is the species. The large form is a whopping 1 1/2" long and tends to be a dark dusty gray color. The smaller, more common,  subspecies is 3/4 to 1" long and tends to be more brownish orange mixed with dark gray.
    .. We wonder why these little bits of trout food don't rate the exalted status of Latin nomenclature in the dry fly fishers vocabulary. Perhaps it's just not fashionable to spout Latin unless it is in reference to the bugs that we know and you don't!
    .. Whatever that case may be, right now the fish on the Gallatin River are eating these budworm adults throughout the whole section of river in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. We usually smash the wing on a large caddis or stimulator and float it with a small shop vac dropper. It's amusing to us.
    .. The real fishers in the neighborhood use a purpose-tied pattern and seem to do more catching than we do. Go figure.

    Sunday, September 13, 2015

    Weather's Coming

    runners getting ready
    .. Around the neighborhood there are a few trees, and other signs that consistently signal the time to switch flies and fishing locations.
    .. The buzz in our visitors vocabulary is about the waters in Yellowstone National Park and  the presence of migrating Brown Trout on their annual run to sexual encounters.
    .. We encourage all of our visiting fishers to visit their favorite feather merchant and get some advice about where to fish during the early stages of the run.
    .. The absolute best rumors and stories will be found amongst their dusty aisles and from their counter help.
    .. Right now staging behavior is dominant among the trout migrants. They are sniffing and tasting the water for cues: temperature, turbidity, trace elements and volatile compounds, among others.
    .. This behavior concentrates pods of pre-spawn fish in the estuaries and mouths of the tributary rivers that feed the Madison River Drainage. Many of the neighborhood tributary streams are now truncated by the water in Hebgen Reservoir. The fish wait until the cues overwhelm their complacent lifestyle in the reservoir.
    .. A few fish start up the tributaries early. A few fish lag behind the general population, (a selective advantage or disadvantage that only time will reveal.)
    .. During the pre-spawn and 'early run' the fish are tentative when they enter the tributaries. They mill around and make false starts from the reservoir to the rivers and then back.
    .. They are hungry and hormone driven. The population density varies with time and distance up the various tributaries.
    .. Right now, as you read this, the fish density in the estuaries of Gryaling Creek, Duck Creek, South Fork Madison River, Madison River and others is increasing by the day  -- some more than others.
    -- Right now the pre-spawn population density is greater in the estuaries and lower reaches of the tributaries than in the upper reaches.
    -- Right now visitors are fishing the upper reaches of the various tributaries. Right now the neighbors are still fishing in the reservoir and the estuaries. Wonder why that is?
    .. The giant soft hackle fly seems to be in the forefront of our neighbor's selection for the estuarine fish.
    .. Streamers aimed at the dark holes near the banks in the lower river segments are a close second to the soft hackles.
    .. One key to finding the fish is to pay attention to the sun and shadows within each river segment.
    .. This is particularly true of the sinuous Madison River course as it parallels and transects the park line just prior to debauching into Hebgen Reservoir. The fish from the reservoir are in bright shallow water. It is a foreign environment for reservoir dwellers.
    .. The Firehole River is about right for early and late fishing. Through the coming week we will have nearly perfect catching weather. The temperatures will fall in the evening. Scattered clouds and showers will dot the west side of the park. The elbow density will not have reached epidemic proportions. The school-aged mobs will be mostly gone.
    .. Watch the noses for hints about the flies. The neighborhood faithful are using Scarlet Ibis wet flies, King Prince nymphs, and the usual assortment of flymphs and soft hackles with both regularity and success.
    .. If you need to see your fly as it floats the baetids are becoming more regular as are the caddis.
    .. Over yonder, the Lamar River has been blessed with only occasional mud plugs. Catching is good and the transition from terrestrials to floaters is in full bloom.
    .. It's not often mentioned but, fish run up the tributaries of the Lamar River in the Fall. They move back and forth through the winter and into the Spring.
    .. The confluences of the Lamar River with: Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, Cache Creek, Calfee Creek, and Miller Creek, are full of fish at this time of year.
    .. if, on the other hand,  you would like to have exceptional water to yourself right now get a back country guide to take you to  Mist Creek and the Little Lamar River. Be advised that head hunters and hero photographers will be disappointed with the size of the fish above Cache Creek. The beauty, solitude, and grandure however, could make you look more and fish less.
    .. This afternoon the fish are holding a convention along the shoreline near Spring Creek Campground. We'll head that way in an hour or two. With the anticipated weather coming in a day or two we'll wait until Wednesday to join the neighbors where the runners are thickest.

    Thursday, September 03, 2015


    Got Your Reservation ?
    good news  --  bad news
    .. Uniformly bad news: all west side rivers are running below seasonal discharge averages, (LINK-1.) They are also on the marginal side of temperatures for fish health.
    .. The Firehole River above Old Faithful on the trail to Lone Star Geyser is cold, clear, and low. The grass is still green and the fish are lonesome.
    .. The water temperature in Nez Perce Creek, (above the thermal features,) near the old bridge, is surprisingly cool. Guess where the fish are? Beware the Mary Mountain bear!
    .. The faithful are already fishing the Firehole River in the mornings. Even with the mid day temperatures still in the high 70's they are at it. Poor fish, (LINK-2.)
    .. A few prospectors are dashing around the too warm Madison River looking for heroic fish, (LINK-3.)
    .. The big ones are still in Hebgen Reservoir and staging in the Madison Arm.
    .. Below the dam the water is cold and the fish are anxious for dance partners. All you need to do is elbow your way in and fight for a beauty, (LINK-4.)
    .. Unbeknownst to so many experts is the giant willow thicket of Cougar Creek.
    .. Both above and below the highway the water is low and slow and cooler than most creeks in the neighborhood. The fish are few but sprightly and larger than this little bit of water would seem to warrant.
    .. The estuary and lower portions of Grayling Creek are being visited by a few of our neighbors. The fishing and catching must be pretty good because they are quite quiet about their adventures.
    .. The Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park is just where it ought to be for this time of year, (LINK-5.) The discharge is on the low side but, the water is cold and clear. All the usual suspects, (neighbors and bugs,) are present and accounted for.
    .. Finally, the Gibbon River, (LINK-6,) is in reasonable shape and the plunge pool below the falls has yielded some heroic fish of late. It's worth the scramble.
    .. The good news for the weekend is: enjoy the park. Attendance continues to climb and visitation should provide you with many opportunities to experience international driving habits and practices.
    .. Mobile condominium traffic is at an all time high and so too is tour bus travel.
    .. The available cool water will provide fish to catch. The warmer waters will provide stories, elbows, cell phone numbers and excellent photo opportunities.
    .. Sunrises and sunsets should be colorful if the drizzle abates long enough for the sun to peek through.
    .. It just may be 25° F on Saturday night and Sunday night, so the waters in the warm sections may finally drop into the safe zone.
    .. We're going to visit the mosquitoes down in Bechler country. It seems that it's been so dry that they are both few and  lonely and, the fish in Boundary Creek (around the park line,) are hosting a mosquito farewell party.

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015


    Lamar In Good Shape
    madison cooling
    .. According to the National Park Service the poison has been flushed from Soda Butte Creek.
    .. The 3,000 refugee Cutthroat Trout have been returned to the river. Should you be in that stretch above Ice Box Canyon we suggest that you say high to the fish and don't ask for a dance. Down low in the meadows and little prairies catching is progressing apace with the onslaught of Autumn.
    .. With our last bit of atmospheric stability the Lamar River has blossomed into a wonderful destination. Terrestrials are first choice, followed by your favorite small and large mayflies. Baetids of a couple of sorts are the ticket on cloudy days.
    .. The meadows above Virgina Cascades are attracting fishers to the colorful and willing Brook Trout. This segment of the Gibbon River is a catchers paradise and is entering the Fall with a good supply of ants, hoppers, and tromped down grass.
    .. The cooling atmosphere and lowering of the sun has cooled off the Gibbon River in the big meadows. It's not at it's peak Fall condition, (at this moment,) but should be in the next week or two.
    .. The Firehole River is cooling but not quickly enough for the neighborhood faithful. Patience is a virtue and the river should be ready in a few weeks. The fish should be well rested and ready for a Tango about September 23: solstice time.
    .. The Madison River has managed a week of lowering temperatures. Folks are fishing in the mid 60° water. There are better choices on the west side of Yellowstone National Park
    .. If you know where the cold springs are, and choose to fish the Madison River,  please use a short stout leader and horse the fish in and, release them quickly. No hero pictures necessary.
    .. Duck Creek from the Highway 191 bridge to Hebgen Reservoir is attracting the attention of more than a few of our neighbors. Access is a little difficult along this short stretch and it is often overlooked by visiting head hunters.
    .. Right now there are a few spruce moths swimming in the low and slow waters. Hoppers and beetles are enjoying the cool respite of a quick dip as well.
    .. The estuarine waters of Grayling Creek, and up through the willow jungle below the historic old Post Office site is getting some attention from mature trout coming out of Hebgen Reservoir. Of course the trout are getting some attention from fishers coming out of West Yellowstone.
    .. The catchers of fish are streaming to the Gallatin River. The ever cool water of this friendly little stream has an abundance of fish that are easy to find and will occasionally agree to dance with fishers.
    .. The waters of Yellowstone National Park beckon the Autumn fishers of the world. They have heard the call are arriving by the busload.
    .. We welcome them to our village. We direct them to the local feather merchants and tell them to heed the advice of the counter help.
    .. They will buy a handful of flies. They will fish the glory waters. They will catch a fish. Have at it.
    .. Motel rooms, for the Fall, are being reserved at a record pace. Hotels with international ownership are rising from the vacant lots around the village. Restaurants with honest international fare and chefs are making their presence felt. Goodbye to steak and eggs. Goodbye to biscuits and gravy. Hello to tapas with a Spanish owner. Hello to Tao's place. What an interesting time.
    .. Tomorrow morning we're going to have a plate of baozi, a bowl of congee, some chicken feet and a glass of soy milk with our tea.
    .. Then, after battling the willows of Notellum Creek, we're coming home to pulled pork and BBQ beans. Tradition will out.