• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Saturday, October 29, 2016


    Just A Nine Footer
    t & t wins
    .. We often caution: "carry the bear spray." We're pleased to report that it works.
    .. Just two days ago a Bozeman, Montana fisher and his wife fended off a food guarding grizzly in the Lamar Valley.
    .. We need not expand the story. To read the whole story of the husband and wife defense - READ IT HERE. And HERE.
    .. We do suggest that the bear spray be carried in  hand.

    Monday, October 24, 2016

    Mom's Gift

    Fish Being Kind
    best last week ever ?
    .. A blessed gift from mother nature is forecast for the last week of fishing in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. It's not unheard of but a week of 50's for temperature at this time of year is certainly rare. Rain is common but it's been light and intermittent. Not enough to muck up the rivers too badly.
    .. Folks fishing on the far side of the park will have some color in the water and the Lamar River may be done for the year.
    .. Both the Madison River and The Firehole River are low, cold and in good shape. There is a bit of color in the water but it is reminiscent of the bladder discharge from a sick Labrador Retriveit. Nothing to put off the fish: visibility well over 5' in each river.
    .. Should you need to see your fly while fishing on the Firehole River you'll need to hunt for the noses in the air. The weather has been highly variable and both the fish and the bugs are a wee bit wary of the surface.
    .. Light rain and dimpled water about mid day can still produce nose numbers to make the guide books.
    .. Otherwise, back to the sure fish catchers: dry/dropper combos, soft hackles, green nymphs. (We're partial to the Flymph: #1.)
    .. The warm rains have dampened a few fair weather fisher folks. Visitor traffic is also down. The Madison River is still attracting the submarine hunters and the fish are cooperating with those that move around some.
    .. If you are determined to fish just one location; move through it and then give it a rest. If other folks are around get in line and take your turn - the stories get better on the bank.
    .. Fishing multiple locations is easily accomplished along the Madison River. Try several and your success will increase - the fish are there. In celebration of the season we've been fishing with the Halloween Leech by Marv Taylor: it works.
    .. Seldom fished is the big plunge pool at the base of Gibbon Falls. The pool itself and the gravels for at least 300 yards below hold some fine fish. It seems that they are bigger than most too.
    .. With the new turnaround and thick tree cover it's a bit daunting for the first time explorer. Once on the Gibbon River the catching can be spectacular. Big soft hackles and small dark streamers will gather up the moody trout if you hit them in the nose.
    .. We gathered up three pine trees and a 22" kype this morning. Speaking of morning: it comes late. Be on the water around 7:30 AM, or thereabouts. Take a good look and listen before you begin your folly. Many runners will jump several times at first light. Be alert. The thundering splash and slap of these big fish will wake you up for sure.
    .. We've been quiet about some very fine destinations for Autumn catching. So, here they are: Little Firehole River, Iron Spring Creek, Nez Perce Creek, Duck Creek Estuary - don't catch them all.
    .. Don't fish up on the Gallatin River or on Fan Creek. There are only a few fishers and a couple of bears.
    .. The "WAY UP THERE" river portion of the Gallatin River is full of spawning resident trout. It's too far to walk for counter help and social fishers. The fish don't mind their solitary existence.
    .. The estuary of the South Fork of the Madison River is beginning to pop. Access at the old power line road and at sandy point have produced some fine fish - bigger than the runners on the main stem Madison River. Cast as far as you can to the dark water. Dangle a black or dark purple leech under a bobber. Let the slack current slowly drift your fly. Hold on tight.
    REVERSE MIDGE (emerger) [#2]
    .. As an aside, (for the true masochist,) midges have been prolific during the bright interludes of the day.
    .. Some of the neighbors have picked up on a pattern shown by Roy Christie, (#2.) It's a midge of a different sort. Some young eyes can see it. Older eyes can see the nose and splash - seems the fish are pissed off by this pattern.
    .. The rain on the roof is mesmerizing and it is late. Even with the dark mornings it's tough to get up and make the morning bite.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    Runner Watch

    Of Bends & Bedrock
    observe the waters
    "And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet."
    .. We seldom mention "The Beaver Meadows." We only visit once or twice each year: never in the Autumn.
    .. Submarines berth at various ports along the river in the meadows. Berthing strategies vary by the hour, day, month, year, decade and more.
    .. Time was that we made the trek to the river on a regular basis. Time was we could drive in very close to the Madison River. Time was that the beavers were more congenial. Fish, indeed, were in the beaver ponds and meander cutoffs. Like in a barrel!
    .. Times change. Rivers change. There has been an enormous proliferation of elbows in the Beaver Meadows over the past 50 years or so.
    .. Today there is a genuine traffic hazard with the inadequate parking and traffic on the highway.
    .. Above the Barns Holes the Madison River is downcutting. From the Barns Holes to the Beaver Meadows the Madison River transitions to a river that is at grade.
    .. By the time the Madison River crosses the highway below Baker's Hole it is at grade. The pool of Hebgen Reservoir has greatly influenced the lower segment of the current river.
    .. The psychology of rivers, (and lakes,) determines their personalities. Rivers want to be straight. Lakes want to be round.
    .. Fish have no idea about this. Fish do, on the other hand, take advantage of the morphology of the river: especially deep water fish in a shallow water environment.
    .. Despite the dynamic nature of flowing water, there are some elements that greatly influence the personalities of major river segments.
    .. From near the western entrance of Yellowstone National Park to the Firehole Falls and the Gibbon Falls There are terminal and lateral moraines from the last glaciation. From about National Park Meadows to Cabin Creek The outwash sands and gravels are sorted both horizontally and vertically.
    .. Their distribution and character are strongly influenced by the bedrock of Hebgen Basin.
    .. Just downstream from Barns #3 there is a recent washout, (about 9 years ago.) It took out part of the old stage road. The river scoured out all the sands and gravels. It left a high cut bank and bedrock bottom. The hole is deep, clear, cold and in the sun for the first 2/3 of the day.
    .. It should be fished at dusk. It's too often ignored because it's what it is. There will be a submarine berthed there tomorrow around 3:30 or 4:00 PM. Take your bear spray.
    .. There are several submarine berths that have persisted through the years. They are all associated with bedrock control features along the river.
    .. The "real Baker's Hole" is controlled by a bedrock headland and is full of fish right now. But they move slightly through the day depending on the shadows. Ask the counter help at your favorite feather merchant about headlands, bedrock, and shadow migration. They will let you know!
    .. Stable river morphology, (bends and meanders,) related to bedrock control will hold fish more consistently than ephemeral bends and meanders. This is the only hint we'll parcel out.
    .. There is a genuine pod of runners in the shadows, (on the inside of the bend,) up stream from Barns Hole #1. Took some on a white feather.
    .. You'll have to cross the river. You'll have to be there early. You can see the fish from your casting position above them. They will dodge your fly unless it's overcast. (Try fishing the fly on a loose downstream cast.)
    .. It's nap time and then off to Buttermilk.
    Wallpaper: APPLE TURNOVERS - Almond/Cherry Drizzle

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    River Report - plus

    A Retail Report
    the laureate knows
    .. The snow may melt off one more time. It will only affect the catching for the better. All three of our major west side rivers are in great shape and full of fish.
    .. Before we get to the fishing and catching of it all we digress into the social morass of contemporary America. It's only fit given the contemporary tenor of the season.
    .. With our nation rushing to follow the trend, set by Russia, toward oligarchy we have observed the same in the fly fishing world as well as in the political campaigns. More moneyed folks and fewer poor folks participate. Few would deny this in the political arena.
    ..  Hardly any would admit of it in the small world of fly fishing. Yet the designs, trends, styles, mores, behaviors, dress, vocabulary, and so many other elements within the pastime are dictated more and more by fewer and fewer people and companies.
    .. Euro-Anglo-American fly fishing, per se, has it's roots in elitist and exclusive behavior. Initially this was overt and acknowledged. It was in no way a democratic pastime. The whole fly fishing milieu was set by the premier tackle makers and the plutocrats that patronized them.
    .. The beginnings of popularization was noted in the early twentieth century. Tackle from around the world and from manufacturers in the good ol' U.S.A. enjoyed a boom in gear sales to the common man.
    .. But by the late 1960's and early 1970's gear got more expensive with the advent of new materials and manufacturing techniques. Today we are approaching the the same situation that the 19th century enjoyed.
    .. This plays out locally as well as nationally. Just as some folks bemoaned the passing of the 'family farm' so too did some folks bemoan the passing of the 'local fly shop.'
    ..Plutocracy leads to oligarchy. It's acknowledged by various names such as: progress, job creation, economic growth, competition, the capitalist way, etc.
    .. We are a bit different here in West Yellowstone. This little village thrives on the plutocratic mentality. As a destination village, folks come predisposed to spending money.
    .. Our local feather merchants are highly specialized in exploiting that mentality. They are also stricken with tunnel vision when it comes to fishing in general and trout fishing elsewhere. After all this is "Yellowstone Country."
    .. They have slipped into the mold of the earliest fishers in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Rich easterners saw all that lovely water with no fish in it. "Hell man, we'll just put some proper fish in the water." Being good anglophiles it was just natural that the trouts of Europe should be planted in the water. Being good plutocrats from the eastern seaboard it was only fitting that the Brook Trout should come west too. The history is there to read; should you care to.
    .. Today we have elitist has-been movie actors on the radio touting the local fishing. We have exclusive lodges and outfitters cajoling customers with the possibility of fishing with entertainment celebrity's. We have plutocrats celebrating their association with other plutocrats.
    .. Of course would be elitists are sucked in by the potential opportunity to rub elbows with such celebrity. Even if a sighting isn't actualized there is the status of shopping where the plutocrats have shopped. Or, being guided by guides to the stars. Or, fishing with gear sold to the feather merchants by plutocrats.
    .. We are greatly amused by the trends in our society: the trend from a republic to populism, to democratic socialism, to oligarchy. The pendulum swing in fly fishing from plutocratic oligarchy through populism and back to plutocratic oligarchy.
    .. We do glance askance as a Perkins dictates styles in gear and behavior. We wonder at the awe created by a Chouinard and labor abuse in third world countries.
    .. It is a niggling bother. It's nothing we can do much about. The rank and file fly fisher is so trapped in a march toward elitist conformity that the rush is overwhelming. We do wonder, however about needing to enter a trout stream with $5,000 worth of gear and a celebrity guide at $600/day
    >> America is an Oligarchy
    >> America devolving to Plutocracy
    >> Message from a rich Plutocrat to little people
    >> Exploited labor and labor abuse

    .. Catching has slowed on the Madison River. It's not the fault of the fish. Fishers have avoided the perfect fishing weather. It snowed last night and will snow off and on for the rest of the year.
    .. There are grotesque numbers of fish in the river. Both the residents and the runners are sex crazed, territorial, and hungry. If you explore the water you will catch fish: maybe many fish.
    .. There are no secrets. Fish the obvious 'fishy' water, keep the offerings down low, watch for dark water, watch for slick windows, watch for undercut banks in the shade.
    .. We took a healthy kype yesterday on a giant spider left over from Scotland, We're indebted to Yorkshire farmer John Swarbrick for the design.
    .. The Firehole River has some intermittent hatches for those fishers that enjoy the top of the water. Both baetids and caddis infrequently pop to the top.
    .. Every feather merchant in our village has a recommendation for the hatches: pick one or two. We use the copper tail caddis. We can sink it or float it. The whimsy of the fish can be just as easily matched by the fisher.
    .. We struck out this morning and only caught some feisty 16" residents and even a small flying fish - not really our fault. Time for some lunch.

    Friday, October 07, 2016

    Other Places

    Avoiding The Elbows
    weather's encouraging
    .. As our weather sinks deeper into the Autumn/Winter transition the runner rush is still in full stride.
    .. Good numbers of trout from Hebgen Reservoir are decorating cell phone screens. Everyone is doing it. The Madison River is sprouting elbows at a record pace. 
    .. The weather has much to do with it. Gray days with splattered gobs of wet snow can attract the fishers. We're not sure what the fish think. Join the crowd, it's a good year for catching and the weather is delightful.
    .. We've caught more than our fair share of the submarines of Autumn. We now seek those other places where fewer elbows sprout.
    .. One of those other places is the Firehole River. The traditional runs and riffles still have a good crop of elbows.
    .. But not far from the fisher concentrations is excellent water. We've been exploring the bits and pieces of Pocket Basin. Oh my, there's fish!
    .. There is also some quiksand, a few thermal springs, slippery bedrock stretches, and a couple of surprisingly deep pools. It's seldom explored because of the normally warm waters. Right now the weather cools the water. Yum !
    .. These fish are currently taking up their "winter positions" and are staking out their territory.
    .. They are feisty, still sex crazed, and hungry. Toss them a bit of a snack and they will happily dance with you.
    .. The hardest part of the catching is getting into position to present your fly. The water is very clear and the bottom ranges from very shallow to fairly deep over short stretches. The bank is fragile and the sun is never your friend.
    .. Creeping, duck walking, crawling, and slithering is possible in a few areas. Then again with our knees and back it's just slow crouch walking. Ugh; the price of fish.
    .. This is the time of year that the neighbors relish. Very few visitors clog the roads and pull outs. The fish are at their cooperative best. Feeding activity transcends the guide book wisdom. The whole water column is fair game - simultaneously.
    ..There is still a month of fishing left in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. With a dry/dropper combination it's possible to take fish on either fly or, occasionally both at once. We like a fairly large, (8 or 10,) on top and a bit of bead head below, (14 or 16.) Your favorite feather merchant can provide recommendations - it's the end of the season.
    .. There is yet another, other place, that we've been sampling. Up the road is Buttermilk Gorge and Buttermilk Creek. It's not in the guide books. It's unnamed on the maps. It's a dinky tributary to some very famous water. It's short and steep, (sort of like a miniature coastal steelhead stream.)
    .. There's a small population of rambunctious trout that spawn in the little creek. If you isolate an older fisher in a dusty corner of some feather merchant's shop you may find out about the buttermilk secret. Whispers are appropriate.
    .. Don't bother with the folks under 40. They're too busy with their 7-league boots to pause at the Buttermilk. They probably just step over it - if they even see it.
    .. Very small flies are the ticket on Buttermilk Creek. We usually use some form of midge imitation. Clusters are good. Sink 'em or float 'em - it really matters not.
    .. Long rods, short lines, shorter leaders, and stealth give the best results. Casting is optional. The fish are under the long grass that dangles from the bank.
    .. It's dark at 5:00 AM but the coffee is hot and there's just time for some vittles and a gentle run through the skiff of snow to some lonely fish.
    WALLPAPER: WHITE BREAD, (with milk, eggs, lard)

    Sunday, October 02, 2016

    Here It Comes

    Catching Picking Up
    elbows arrive en masse

    Courtesy Martin Joergensen
    .. The recent influx of anglers to this little village corresponds with an anticipated change in the weather. Even the fish seem to notice it.
    .. The rain and coolness is arriving with the regularity of a Winter pattern in the Gulf of Alaska.
    .. The big low off the coast is spinning off pulses that are suggesting that the snows in the forecast may be for real.
    .. The destination for most of the recent visitors is the Madison River. Runner fever is rampant in town and on the river. Rightly so!
    .. The fish are stacking up in all the traditional resting holes. The cars are crowded tightly in all the traditional parking spots. The stories range from child-like glee to morose blameshifting. Fish, by the way, are being caught.
    .. We  had a pleasant visit with a gentleman from Chicago.
    .. As he fished the Madison River he was taking a few good sized runners with regularity. We waited for him to take a break.
    .. Eventually, (not to be pushy or pry too much,) we asked about the strange bit of fluff wrapped on the hook that he was using.
    .. He chuckled and reminded us that we knew the name but not the fly. Of course it was a "Muddler" tied in the fashion of Don Gapen's original fly. The one that has transformed itself into the modern Muddler Minnow.
    .. The pertinence of this is a rather simple lesson about the variation of stylistic impositions of ego maniacal fly tiers. The flies in fly shops look little like the original. Even the one sold by Don's family is a later variation of the original.
    .. More interesting, however, is that the internal action of the original just beats the far out of the contemporary renditions. And the original is considered "too sloppy" and "too casual" for sale to the visiting sports that are on the water right now.
    .. Most interesting of all is that the one being used by the fellow from Chicago was catching fish at a rate far above that of the other three fishers, (crowded into the same run,) - two of whom were using Muddler Minnows dispensed by local counter help.  My, my.
    .. We admired the ragged, (rather large,) rendition from Chicago and as we were fondling the fly we asked a terribly impertinent question.
    .. Had the gentleman told the others what fly he was using?
    .. But of course he had! He just hadn't shown them the one that he was using. They didn't even ask.
    .. We've mentioned this before and do so again in the hope that this grand old fly will return to it's "buggy" roots and gather up fish the way it was intended to.
    .. Deeper into the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, all the pull-outs and paved parking lots are full of invasive license plates.
    .. Catching on the Firehole River is about as good as it gets.
    .. Were it not for the dogged insistence of the floating fly fraternity this could be termed "beginner water."
    .. Soft hackles and little nymphs, appropriately presented, are damn near guaranteed to weaken your wrist from cranking the reel to subdue the 10" monsters of the Fall Firehole River.
    .. For the persistent surface slingers there seems to be a trend toward flies  a bit larger that resemble the small patterns made so popular by the guide books.
    .. Way up the road the Gallatin River is still delighting a few of the neighbors. Some have even ventured out of the park and traveled as far as Big Sky, Montana.
    .. With a whisper we gently report that, in the biggest of meanders, streamer stripping is taking it's toll on the sullen fish of the darkest waters of the Gallatin River. For some folks it's worth the drive to avoid the elbow hatch around here.
    .. Other whispers, (that we will be soundly chastised for,) include: Bacon Rind Creek, Gibbon River - by the campground, West Fork Gallatin River, South Fork Madison River, and of course the Upper Firehole River, (not to mention Iron Spring Creek.)
    .. With all that whispering going on it must be Autumn in the neighborhood. The moon has become black and the evening turns to night way too early.
    .. Time for a breakfast cookie and some milk.