• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Monday, October 26, 2015

    It's A Seasonal Thing

    Novelty Flies That Work
    the lowland madison river
    .. The neighbors have finally abandoned their baggy shorts and donned their leaky waders. It looks like Autumn is here to stay.
    .. After our brief spate of warm days the fish and fishers have returned  to seasonal behaviors. Fishers on the Firehole River have returned to the gentleman's trout fishing by enjoying a late wake-up call and a third cup of coffee.
    .. The little baetids are late risers, (oops a pun,) too. Be on the water of the friendly little stream by about 10:00 AM and pick your spot if you need to watch your fly being gobbled by the fish.
    .. There are a lot of 10" fish eager to accommodate you on the Firehole River. Surface flies in the size 18 - 22 range will give you and the fish some entertaining moments.
     .. We have overheard a good deal of Latin being spouted along the river and are befuddled, as usual, when any foreign language is being used with such fluency.
    .. We're reminded about a piece by Jason Neuswanger, (Trout Nut,) about the identification of BWO's & Baetis:
    ... "Baetis is probably the most misidentified genus in the angler's mayfly world. Many fly anglers see anything too small to imitate with a size 16 Adams and call it Baetis. In reality, Baetis is the most prominent of several very similar abundant genera in the family Baetidae.
    ... It seems every species in the family is perpetually being reclassified, and identifying any of them, even to genus level, is difficult. The angler who wants to be accurate has two choices. Most people call these flies "Blue-Winged Olives," a name which has lost all meaning because people apply it to several dozen species which mostly have neither blue wings nor olive bodies.
    ... It's better to just call them "little (whatever color they are) mayflies." The other good choice is to call them "Baetids," the general Latin name for members of the Baetidae family, unless you've had them scrutinized under a microscope. Most of the specimens on this site can't be keyed below the family level from the pictures. So the next time a fishing buddy identifies a little greenish mayfly from a distance as Baetis vagans, just smile and nod..."
    .. We do a lot of smiling and nodding.
    .. The crowds are still dense along the Madison River. Guides and counter help are getting hoarse with their favorite "GOOD FISH" phrase. We've often wondered what a "BAD FISH" would look like.
    .. The catching has been excellent this Autumn, (we've said that before.) Streamer fishing has picked up a bit but the giant soft hackle is still king for the runner fishers.
    .. The neighbors have fun with this time of year and fish the Halloween flies as a lark - catch fish too. Last year we posted a summary of seasonal flies. It generated hits that skewed our meager statistics. We re-post it below in the vain attempt to do it again.
    These Things Really Work
    indulge the ephemeral
    HALLOWEEN LEECH by Marv  Taylor
    .. At one time in the distant past the Celtic peoples traveled and lived across most of what we call today, Europe.
    .. They were far more attuned to the world around them than we are today. They celebrated seasons with festivals and ascribed social behaviors to the festivals - some were pretty juicy.
    .. In the modern popular mind Celtic and Gaelic are synonyms and limited to contemporary Irish peoples. This is far from the reality: one is a language dialect the other is widespread cultural tradition embracing large populations of prehistoric Europe.
    .. The Celts observed the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter with a grand festival: Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween in Gaelic) = the dead among us, (loosely derived.)
    .. Since the Celtic tribes reckoned time by counting nights rather than days this is the approximate equivalent of our New Year's Eve. Pretty big stuff indeed as the year became darker than lighter.
    .. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory The First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert, (applied in both the 'New' and 'Old' World.)
    .. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples' customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshiped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.
    .. Quickly Samhain became the church holiday of All Hallows' Eve. Not a bad job of interpolation by the early Christian missionaries.
    .. Many great events happen during the transition from Summer to Winter: the harvest is gathered, firewood is gathered, fields are prepared and fertilized for the fallow winter, laying bye winter stores, repairing dwellings, and of course pregnancy origination so that birthing could be accompanied by plenty during the light and warm part of the year.
    .. Just imagine the rituals that could accompany these situations - boy were they fine and full of fundamental essentials.
    .. And for the fly fisher?  Here it signals the end of fishing in Yellowstone National Park. The days are very short, the fishing map will die, trout will be left to spawn in peace, and the fish caught during this past year will grow with each retelling of the tales.
    .. The catching of fertile trout at this time of year is something we all do. Some of us are reminded of ancient traditions and symbologies. Some of us just catch the fish and call it good. There is, today, a growing group of fishers and fly tiers who consciously make the effort to create and fish "Halloween Flies."
    .. Happily these offerings capture fish as good as, or better than the staid exotics offered by feather merchants and whip-finish gurus.
    .. Tie them now and fish them on the appropriate days and a certain magic will ensue. At least you will feel part of something ancient. Not as ancient as trout but more ancient than the modern pretenders to the traditions of Halloween.
    .. The Halloween Muddler appears quite often in the writings of sensitive iconoclasts of the season. One of the finest examples was pictured last year by Home Waters: A fly Fishing Life. Drop by for both insight and inspiration.
    .. One of the many favorites that we drag out each year is the Speckled Girdle Bug - Halloween. It fits our mindset for what a trout should like to eat this time of year. It employs wiggly things, contrasting colors, and has size enough to be attractive or threatening - both either good or bad. It is well illustrated by the Frying Pan Anglers site: a site with both exquisite traditional patterns and innovative fish foolers.
    . Both ourselves and many of the neighbors will stick with a rubber legs fly for much of the fall runner fishing in the Madison River.
    .. Long tailed streamers are in vogue right now; both across the fly fishing world and in our neighborhood. We use them and like them. They even take their fair share of fish.
    .. One that has burst upon the scene in the last year is the Halloween Bugger Leech from Fly Fish Food. It's an impressionistic style with colors that can vary from one tyer to another. Sometimes it's a sparsely tied fly and other times it's a full bodied bruiser. Pick your poison and fling away - you'll catch a few.
    .. The names of these derivative flies are usually indicative of the base origin of the flies for Halloween fishing.
    .. For instance it's not too hard to imagine what a Halloween Bugger looks like without even seeing it. The colors are automatic, (of course,) and the size is one that local knowledge will dictate.
    .. On the other hand a name like Autumn Splendor leaves the mind to run wild in the fields of imagination without an image to direct it's path
    ..  Happily Lance Egan has provided us with a fine image and tying instructions. We haven't used many cone head flies but this one is getting a workout this year for sure.
    B  R  L  B  T  F  H
    .. A Halloween fly that incorporates all the nifty and goofy tricks of large rubber legs and woolly bugger flies is offered for sale by the California Fly Shop: the Beldar Rubber Leg Bugger Trout Fly Halloween.
    .. A long two-toned tail is nailed to a multicolored Woolly Bugger. The Yellow, Orange, and black buggerness is augmented with some yellow rubber legs and just a bit of twinkle in the form of flash in the tail. It may look like a nightmare or it may look like trout food. The cone head should get it down to where the submarines are berthed.
    .. Those folks that choose to use a rod that is one third the width of the creek that they are fishing should complete their outfit with a spey style fly.
    .. Our language is dynamic and quirky. It is complicated and muddled by marketeers and glad handed sales forces across the nation. They have turned two handed rods in to spey rods and ignored spey casting. They have turned spey style flies into spey flies. Bless the contemporary fly fisher for encouraging this bit of retail legerdemain.
    .. The Halloween Spey is a modern derivative of an old style that is tied by using techniques from the Scottish and Dee patterns.
    .. This particular fly is found on a remaining fragment of the Speyfly Primer. The recipe is given on the page and there are other similar patterns for this time of year - or any time of year. It uses modern substitutes and traditional techniques that should send the psyche back in time.
    .. Certainly for those that demand the use of a two handed rod and believe that the rod makes the man on 40' wide streams; there is a Spey Fly to match the affectations of the big rod envious.
    .. Of course it's called the Jack O'Lantern Spey. It is a less formalized pattern than many others and allows for personal interpretation by the fisher as tying and materials allow.
    .. Jeff Kennedy rendered an image of that fly that is far finer than many being used today. This fly will collapse into a simple two-toned streamer when fished - if correctly tied.
    .. The name is justly famous on both the left and right coasts of North America. Tied in small sizes it is an excellent Brook Trout fly that is held in the dark and secret corners of fly vests and folded envelopes.
    .. Images of actual flies are available from real life specimens since the neighbors use this fly all year.
    .. For years, (a couple anyway,) we've fished a hybrid fly developed by Ralph Cutter for use on the East Walker River. It's a tough fly with a good silhouette and has both internal and external action.
    .. It's called simply: Goblin. The pattern may be found HERE. This is a tough fly that will stand up to many a jagged edge mouth if you find a pod of them in the dark depths of the Madison River.
    .. Unless you are the perfect streamer fisher there is an excellent and instructive note about streamer fishing by Ralph that can be found RIGHT HERE. We mere mortals read it periodically to refresh the gray matter about the vagaries of this kind of fly fishing.
    .. Just as waves of Celts washed over Europe from east to west so too do waves of trout move from west to east into Yellowstone National Park.
    .. They travel along the stream beds even as the Celts followed the river valleys. The fish have some primeval sexual rituals as did the Celts. The fish may be galled by bright and attractive charmers that wiggle and waggle their stuff across their field of vision.
    .. Bonfires often lit the night as the year entered it's dark period across Europe. All the better to see you my dear.
    .. One of the resident neighborhood guides had a day off and so did a local boat driver.
    .. We all trundled down to the lowland Madison River for a change of scenery and to keep our sea legs in shape.
    .. It was a very long day since we, first, parked the boats and zipped up the West Fork of the Madison River for  peek at some spots where submarines rest. Took a few.
    .. It seems that even river fish move upstream to good spawing gravels  --  don't tell the local feather merchants.
    .. Back at the 'put-in' we reattached the boats to the vehicles, dumped them in the water after the crowds had departed and parked the rigs for those dear, kind women that shuttle the trailers up and down the river.
    .. It was a decidedly streamer day: dark and brooding. So too the trout.
    .. The boat drivers worked hard to hold position as we cast to deep holes and snags. It's a rhythm that becomes rote: big cast, big mend, strip strip, pause; strip strip, pause; hold on.
    .. Properly aimed and executed it is as guaranteed as anything in fly fishing. We took quite a few. We parked and fished. We floated and fished.
    .. Floating after the crowd had left was pleasant and we saw very few boats. Shore anglers were dotted along the banks and dredging up the biggies too. Fall is in the air even in the lowlands.
    .. A couple of the neighbors brought along some classic salmon flies. The flies are exceptionally good for fishing and catching if not mounted in frames - surprise?
    .. Well, it's early. Venus is still visible out the front door. The broken low clouds are dripping a little. The counter help is still asleep. The coffee is ready. The thermos is full of hot water. Potato pancakes, sausage, eggs, and applesauce is on the table. We'll have some.