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  • Friday, July 31, 2015

    The Other Park

    THE RIVERS ARE DIFFERENT
    There's Different Scenery
    the fish are similar
    WALLPAPER:  LAMAR POCKET
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    .. Expect the Lamar River to be smaller than you remember it. It's still plenty big but, the sparse snow pack, capricious rainfall patterns and warm, (except for the last two weeks,) weather have conspired to keep the flows down low.
    ..  In fact all the famous waters of the great northeast of Yellowstone National Park are down just a bit. The fishing ranges from good to very good. And as usual, in this corner of Yellowstone National Park, the fishing is every bit as good as the fisher.
    .. The ground-dwelling bugs are further along than in the west side river valleys. Hoppers are a skosh larger and have wings. Ants are on your feet and little black beetles are easy to see in the dust.
    Clearing Lamar waters demand probing the structure and covering lots of water.
    .. Temperatures in the high 70's through the mid 80's will persist through the middle of next week and the waters should be clear and cool. This is an open  secret. The fishers are as thick as the buffalo and it's strange to have to plan for alternate parking spots.
    .. There are some "No Stopping" zones and the bison are active in the morning and evening - they usually take a mid-day nap. Watch for them.
    No Room At The Inn.
    .. The campgrounds are fully booked and this has caused additional crowding, both on the road and on the rivers.
    .. The mayfly hatches have been adequate and sporadic. Be prepared with the surface box but exercise the terrestrial box if the little fliers are not readily visible. A hopper dropper combination is what those in-the-know fishers start with. Use small hoppers, (or even a stimulator as the top fly.) The point fly can be an ant or beetle or even a bead head something - keep it on the small side too.
    Fish where the fish are - just find them.
    .. The braided stream channels at the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek look like gravel pits. There are, (indeed,) fishy nooks and crannies in this low water wasteland. There are even fish here.
    .. Look for little streams of quick water dumping into - or - skirting around dark mini-pools, The shadows are friends of fishes in this section of the valley. Mid day is tough but, still crowded. Carry and use sun block.
    .. Soda Butte Creek is both on fire and a popular elbow watching venue. The famous water, (from Trout Lake to the confluence meadows,) is a display of gear and license plates from near and far. This is for good reason. The creek has moved away from it's banks and is providing novel catching opportunities.
    Welcome to Slough Creek.
    .. Use your best small hoppers with beetles or ants. The caddis have been kind of shy but, a small caddis imitation will bring noses to the hook - if you see the noses first.
    .. If you have the right fishing license you can gather up some dance partners in beautiful downtown Silver Gate. There are even occasionally available rooms to let in both Silver Gate and Cooke City.
    .. The welcome sign is out on the road to Slough Creek. The celebrity  and spooky trout are beginning to be closed mouth when it comes to artificial flies. Catching, from the sagebrush through the second meadow, requires hunting skills as well as fishing skills.
    Damsel
    .. Gentle strolling along the bank and keen observation are keys to galling a fish. This is one place where it is most important to fish the fish rather than the water. The trout don't have lock jaw yet but it's getting to be that time of year. Fish wise and fish slow.
    Grunt in - Slide out.
    .. Even little  Trout Lake, (with trout the size of watermelons,) is crowded. This little destination requires a small grunt to get to.
    .. Coming out, down the hill, should be a breeze - unless you are exhausted from catching all those willing, yet shy fish.
    .. There is an abundance of damsel flies on the water right now. Don't forget the weeds - use your best larval imitation.
    Pebble Creek classroom.
    .. Pebble Creek, from the camp ground to the Soda Butte Creek confluence has some fish of the willing variety. Practice your stalking skills in the brambles that the other fishers avoid and walk around.
    .. There are some gently undercut banks that hold large and lazy fish. These critters can feel you coming. They are just hangin' out and waiting for some groceries. Don't telegraph your presence and you will fill your dance card. Try a pair of nymphs with a bobber. You shouldn't have to cast far.
    .. If you are brave enough to negotiate the campground at Pebble Creek, (avoiding the educational seminars, creative parking, and family fun,) you will find some excellent catching opportunities in the willow meadows.
    .. This is one of those places that has few fishers: lots of hikers, photographers, and families, but few fishers.
    .. What's happening on the Gardner River? How about Obsidian Creek or Winter Creek? Could there be fish in the Yellowstone River?
    .. What a place !!
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    WALLPAPER: THE SODA SIGN

    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    Are You Ready ?

    ABOUT 95% PROBABILITY
    Long Or Short Term Results ?
    weather affects most of us

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    .. El NiƱo is upon us. With just a little kick in the pants from the jet stream and some help from the Pacific Trade Winds the event could become giant. We'll let you know come next May.
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    .. There's a Blue Moon tomorrow night. It may or may not be consequential for most folks but keep in mind that it is in Aquarius with Venus in retrograde.
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    .. Weekend fishing report first thing tomorrow morning.
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    WALLPAPER:  BUTTERED BEEF EGG NOODLES + HEAT

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    Continuing Discussion

    WHAT DOES IT DO ?
    Get The Facts Straight
    ted williams weighs in

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    .. In our contentious and litigious society facts and reasoned arguments rapidly fall by the wayside when vested interests take precedence.
    .. It seems that we now operate on the basis of "pick your point of view and damn the opposition." Just watch the political circus playing out across the nation at this moment.
    .. The vested interests of individual fishers and groups of fishers, of environmental organizations and environmentalists allow breast beating and post pissing to rule discussions.
    .. We've been alerted to a lengthy discussion thread in response to the use of Rotenone. And yes, Soda Butte Creek is included.
    .. We encourage you to read the whole discourse and incorporate the facts you choose to believe in your next discussion of the matter.
    .. Perhaps even seek out your favorite scientific authority and do a bit of research for yourself. [[Thanks  for the tip J.B.]]
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    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Beware Of Yellowstone

    MAN LOST IN RIVER
    West Entrance Traffic
    gallatin still best bet
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    SOFT AND GENTLE

    .. As the shorter and hotter days of Summer engulf the two million acres to our east the visitors continue to forget just where it is that they are.
    .. A seasonal employee has been lost in the Yellowstone River while swimming with friends. Search and rescue is on the job as you read this, (LINK-1.)
    .. Traffic continues to be a genuine nuisance through West Yellowstone. During the morning rush hour the single left turn lane on Canyon Street moves at a snails pace. The traffic pattern and speed of movement is complicated by motorists attempting to take shortcuts through town. This tactic confuses the traffic light at the intersection of Yellowstone Avenue and Canyon Street.
    .. Should you enjoy frustrated tourists, road-hogging motor homes, driving tactics from around the world, and rental car familiarization: this is the place to be.
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    WORKS GOOD
    .. In our neighborhood, unless you choose to avoid the crowded Gallatin River beats,  your fate is sealed. It's not all bad.
    .. The ants are still moving around and the beetles have finally started to make a significant appearance.
    .. The caddis are a sure bet for all day fishing and catching.  A dry/dropper combination is what the neighbors are using. They are fishing hard and walking some. Seems to work.
    HOLY GRAIL
    .. Many "fly pros" and their counter help minions are sending the visitors to the Madison River below Quake Lake or to the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park.
    .. We hope that they told you that starting tonight the road between Mammoth and Norris will suffer nightly closures, (seven days a week,) 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM. Keep that in mind, (LINK-2.)
    .. The words that trickle off their silver tongues blast a litany of guide book rivers: Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, Lamar River, etc. It may come as a surprise to many that there are less crowded bits of water that yield willing fish of many varieties and sizes.
    .. With scorn you hear about "Beginner's Streams," "Children's Water," or "Brookie Streams." The scorn seldom is aimed at crowded fishing, poor parking availability, or traffic noise. So be it!
    .. We suggest that you follow the maddening crowd and take the advice of these pros and their worshipers. You may even catch a fish and you certainly will have bought some flies.
    A FRIENDLY AND VACANT  CREEK
    .. At the risk of banishment from the local clique of avoidance fishers we might suggest that Pebble Creek or Obsidian Creek or Indian Creek or Winter Creek, will provide fish, solitude, easy parking, glorious scenery, and maybe a bear or moose, or some small furry wildlife as company.
    SAVE A TREE
    .. We were denied beer and congenial conversation a few years back because of a post about Pebble creek, (LINK-3.) Enjoy the Pebble Plateau.
    .. The little creeks do not yield many hero snapshots. They won't demand that you cast into the next zip code. They will, by the way,  test your skill as a stealth fisher and precision caster.
    .. Rare indeed.
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    WALLPAPER:  DAILY DRIVER

    Friday, July 24, 2015

    Signs 'O' Da Times

    BISON HAVING GOOD TIME
    Road Construction In Full Swing
    visitation near new record
    WALLPAPER: GO FAST-PASS BUS-YEE HAW !!
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    .. Yellowstone National Park is not a petting zoo. Nor is it set aside as a playground for fly fishers only.
    .. Visitors take selfies with their backs turned to the bison just 20' feet away. Fishers stop traffic as they struggle into their waders in the middle of parking lots and narrow roads.
    PRIMITIVE PARKING
    .. It could be truly entertaining to watch if it wasn't so dangerous. Vehicles pass each other on blind curves. Parking lots are so full that plans are being discussed to expand several of them. Tour buses are larger and more full than ever before. Only the brave venture into the park during "HIGH SEASON."
    .. A fifth visitor was gored and trampled by a bison yesterday. The park news service is busy with their standard press release - again, (LINK-1.)
    .. Statistics for visitation for the first half of the year show increases for every month. Rate of increase ranges from 4.90% to 48.61%, (LINK-2.)
    CIVILIZED PARKING
    .. Traffic jams are compounded by the increase in pedestrians and fishers in the road and the multiple construction projects around the park, (LINK-3 , LINK-4.)
    .. Parking lots are so full that cars and mobile condominiums are parked in the traffic lanes. Drivers circle the lots for lengthy periods just hoping for a safe place to park.
    .. It can take more than 25 minutes to travel the distance through town to the West Entrance Station of the park.
    FIREHOLE FUN
    .. The buzz and speculation is that the increase is due mostly to lower gasoline prices. That may be a factor.
    .. There are others: America's population boom, an affluent generation here just got rid of kids and enjoy the summer to themselves, the burgeoning middle class in China is discovering the world, tour operations present an easy opportunity for good money; AND - Global warming. The park is crowded and will remain that way for decades to come.
    MORE FIREHOLE FUN
    .. By the way: Disney is now conducting tours of Yellowstone National Park. How long before they run the place? Probably in 2019 or 2020 right after their new Shanghai attraction is finished, (LINK-5.)
    .. Injuries from wading and swimming in the Firehole River are on the rise. A woman died by drowning just a few years ago, (LINK-6.)
    .. Despite the common misconceptions that the rivers are only for fishing there are many visitors that enjoy playing in the water in the hot Summer.
    .. One response by the National Park Service to the increased visitation is an increase in park fees. As of June 1, 2015 the fees have jumped up a notch and are expected to provide an increase in revenue of $3,000,000.00, (LINK-7.) That would make the total take from entrance fees about $15,000,000.00/year.
    GREAT BIG SIGN - OFTEN IGNORED
    .. National parks are setting records across the country. NOAA has correlated this, (partially,) with warming trends in climate and "good" weather, (LINK-8.)
    .. We've been advised that a bellwether condition exists at Arches National Park and Cayonlands National Park, (LINK-9.) Parking is a problem. Bus loads of people are a problem. Congestion and the "visitor experience" are major topics of concern.
    .. In our neighborhood the state and the town are already responding. We have new traffic controls including lane assignments, signage, and road improvements.
    .. The National Park Service is taking baby steps to address these problems, (LINK-10.) These are small parks compared to Yellowstone National Park. They are feeling the pinch.
    .. Yosemite has responded. We can only hope that Yellowstone responds rapidly - right now would not be too soon. [[Thanks to J.C. for the heads up.]]
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    .. The fish are doing well in Grayling Creek, (LINK-11.) We've seen them and hope to catch a few in a year or two.
    .. These are not the adfluvial Grayling that were dumped in Grebe Lake and move down the Gibbon River. These are native Montana fluvial Grayling from the Big Hole River that are housed in the  refugium of Axolotl Lake near Ennis, Montana.
    TRY THIS
    .. Caddis are the star attraction on the Gallatin River right now. Even in the rain and during the overcast the little skinny ones are happening. Tie a blade of dead grass on a small hook and catch a dozen fish per hour. How good is that?
    .. The recent spate of cool weather has slowed down the ants and beetles. The hoppers are slower but still moving and swimming the backstroke. They should finish their molt in a week or two.
    .. Now might be a good time to catch the sunrise in the Lamar Valley.
    Then again . . . .
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    WALLPAPER: BRAISED SMOKED PORK SHANKS & CANNELLINI BEANS

    Real Fishers

    THE WORLD EATS FISH
    Canned Tuna  #1 In U.S.A.
    salmon is #2, tilapia #3

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    WALLPAPER:  TUNA SANDWICH: HOMEMADE BREAD

    Thursday, July 23, 2015

    Mixed Bag

    RAIN DON'T BOTHER FISH
    It Do Bother Fishers
    try specimen creek
    WALLPAPER:  REMAINS OF SUMMER SHOWER
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    .. Depending on your selection of afternoon dawdling and strolling, you may have, or you may yet get some drips down the back of your neck.
    .. Those of us that fish in the dinky creeks - away from the maddening crowds - usually see less color and "out-of-shape" water than do the masses. The glory waters turn a beautiful shade of "BSB" following our summer rains. Even the small streams take on a bit of color but, they clear quickly.
    .. The Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park clears quicker than some after the rains. On the other hand, it's sparkling little tributaries are very attractive even during the rain.
    18" FISH JUST 40' FROM THE ROAD
    .. Streams with names that even some feather merchants have never heard are full of feisty fish.
    .. Most have heard of Specimen Creek; some have even fished it.  Itinerant counter help can tell you all about it.
    .. Ask them what fish are to be found in Bacon Rind Creek. Ask them where to fish it. Ask them how to fish it. Ask them when they last fished it.
    IS 100' TOO FAR TO WALK ?
    .. If you enjoy solitude, pristine streams, bear sign, willing fish, and an occasional moose sighting along with pigs on your hook you can hike up the Bighorn Pass Trail to a lovely meadow. You'll be surprised.
    .. Ask your favorite expert which fork of Fan Creek clears quicker after a thunder shower. Also ask them how far it is to the confluence of the east fork and north fork.
    .. Right now the Gallatin River is being loved to death. Even celebrity fishers are seeking safe parking spots. With the counter help and experts alike, steering folks away from the Madison River, the Firehole River, and even the Gibbon River the crowds are forming along the Gallatin River.
    THAT'S THE ROAD - WAY DOWN THERE
    .. They are missing a bet. They could be fishing Snowslide Creek. Yes, it's a real place and there are fish waiting for dance partners.
    .. Ask the feather merchants how to get there. Tell them about this map if they ask, (Super Mapbe sure to enlarge it and read the names of the rivers and streams.)
    .. If you peruse the map you may notice that there is a little blue line next to some letters like Black Butte Creek. The fish are too small and it's too hard to get to - so say the experts.
    .. We advise you to stay away from Daly Creek. Heck, you can step across it without even a spring in your gait. Pshaw, golly gee whiz, you don't even need to double haul your two-hander to catch 12" fish. Where's the joy in that?
    .. Whether they admit it or not, feather merchants encourage seeking big fish. Fishers for some reason believe that they are mightily enhanced by catching big fish. They are even more of a hero if they catch those big fish where the guide books say you should. Even more - if it's on highly touted waters where you really ought to fish. GOOD GAWD!
    .. If you think that big fish are only to be caught in big waters - check the video below. Of course, one must be an accomplished fisher to catch a 20" trout in a stream that is only 8" deep and not as wide as the fish is long.
    .. We're off to Sourdough Riffles on Notellum Creek, it's not far and it's not in the guide books.
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    WALLPAPER:  THIN WATER - THICK FISH

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015

    YIKES

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    Madison Sanctuary

    PERCHED WATER TABLES
    Cold Springs
    sociable fish

    WALLPAPER:  SELDOM SEEN MADISON RIVER OASIS
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    .. It's a simple and obvious formula. Critters, (humans, as well as fish,) have a "MOST COMFORTABLE" temperature range.
    .. Outside of that range metabolism does it's best to compensate and reduce stress to survivable levels. Humans have the advantage here: clothing, (more or less,) location, (shade or sun, - wind or wind shadow,) technology, (dwellings, air conditioning, heating, etc.)
    .. However, fish and humans have one thing in common: environmental mobility. Within (differing,) limits moving to more salubrious locations and conditions is often a first step in finding a temperature range that is desired.
    .. Over the last few weeks the fish in the Madison River, (and other rivers,) have migrated to waters cool enough to allow their survival. Fisher folks, too.
    .. Currently, the majority of the Madison River is running more than 100/cfs below it's median flow for the season. It is also spiking to 75 ° F and more for much of it's length in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. These temperature and flow data prompt advice to leave the fish alone because of the near lethal temperatures and the possibility of stressing the fish to death in the battle to bring them to hand. 
    FIREHOLE RIVER ABOVE OLD FAITHFUL
    .. That's generally good advice. It's especially excellent advice for visiting fishers and counter help that don't have intimate knowledge of the river.
    .. Leave the Madison River alone and fish in the cooler waters of the Gallatin River or the upper Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park's west side.
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    .. The bedrock topography of the Madison River Valley in Yellowstone National Park still exerts a major controlling influence on the river's course and behavior. This is unlike the lowland river that primarily runs in clastic sediments and meanders it's way through glacial outwash sands and gravels.
    .. There are places, along the river in the park where the river channel is mere feet or inches above, or on the bedrock. Some of these places have groundwater discharge into the river from the perched water table. These places, and directly downstream from them, have water much, much cooler than the main body of the river.
    GALLATIN RIVER AT FAWN PASS
    .. Fish know this: few fishers do. Fishers are provided with volumes of advice about how to evaluate water: speed, depth, cavitation, riffles, slicks, pools, runs, etc.
    .. They are advised to study the water from a good way off before plunging in with wand in hand to do battle or dance with their friends or foes.
    .. This is good advice - as far as it goes. It is sufficient for the typical fisher.
    .. Just where the in the water column fish may likely be, can be estimated - in the most general of terms. Noses on the surface are also a good indicator.
    .. Other factors are equally important and often overlooked. The stirring of the water column by winds is a seldom discussed factor in river observations - it's usually left for lakes and oceans - {think Hebgen Reservoir.}
    .. Temperature stratification is also a point to consider. Speed and course of the streams within streams is far too esoteric for the Galahads of the wand to even think about let alone contemplate.
    .. Perched water tables and subsurface cold springs seldom come up in discussions about where to find fish in a stream. But, they are very important indeed.
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    .. Down a dusty, rutted, and mightily bumpy road that terminates next to a lonely picnic bench there is a lush oasis on the Madison River. Tourists of the rubberneck variety find this spot more often than do fishers.
    .. The vegetation is lush, the water is cool, the stream is placid and scenic. It defies traditional definitions as a "fishy place."
    .. The river looks to be absolutely un-fishy. It is broad and shallow. The flow appears to be uniform across it's width. There are no deep pools. There is not much of an indication of riffles and runs. There are no boulders poking through the surface. Walk on by.
    .. There is also a nice stream side trail worn through the grass by photographers, bird watchers, and folks that like to stroll along the river. Not many fishers have contributed to the path.
    THE ANTS ARE ACTIVE
    .. There are deeply undercut banks. They are held in place by the lush vegetation that is nourished by the perched water table.
    .. The stream has forgotten it's meandering ways and runs very straight. It is disciplined by the underlying bedrock.
    .. The ground surface indications are easy to spot if the eyes of a fisher wander from the water. The cold spring discharges, as well, can be mapped with a simple thermometer.
    .. Just yesterday there were 50-yard segments of the stream where, just feet from the bank,  the temperature was a full 14°F cooler than it was in the main body of water. The water was even 10°F cooler than the "Cold Core" of the stream - we checked.
    .. Where do you suppose the fish were? Fingerlings nibbled at the thermometer. Dark shadows slowly drifted away. Splashes to rising caddis, (or what-not,) were frequent and not more than 10' feet from our pokings.
    .. We backed off and looked for the fish. We moved to get a view of the bottom with the low sun and some small binoculars as aids. In places the gravels were obscured by the density of the torpedo-shaped shadows. Yes, the fish know where it is comfortable.
    .. We trudged back, over the spongy ground,  to the car and rigged up a little stick. We returned to the spot with a fly that we brutally truncated at the bend and fooled a couple of dozen fish. They were willing. They were not sluggish. They could have been brought to hand - but weren't.
    .. By all means leave the Madison River alone until Fall.
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    WALLPAPER: SELDOM SEEN FISHING TOOLS