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  • Thursday, September 28, 2017

    What's It All About ?

    Roll In The Rocks
    get poked in the mouth
    .. Full bore until November 6, (or thereabout!) Hie thee hither and join the fun frustration elation disappointment joy satisfaction that derives from poking a slimy fish with a sharp instrument.
    .. For the moment the rivers on the west side of Yellowstone National Park are living up to their fabled glory.
    .. This is the yesterday you should have been here for.
    .. Neither the recent warm weather nor the rise in both temperature and discharge has deterred the fish from biting or even the fishers from flinging.
    .. These few days of so called "Indian Summer" have brought the casual and the committed together in a nudging of elbows. Post card views abound and are wasted on the small sensors of cell phones: the result of learning to converse with one's thumbs.
    .. Right now it's streamer heaven.
    .. Streamers are the preferred sort of fly for most of the hard striding headhunters. Soft hackles reign for the fishers of fish.
    .. There was an eruption of small caddis on the Madison River near the Barns Holes this afternoon.
    .. There were noses everywhere and not a single streamer could match the hatch.
    .. Green legged Woolly Buggers were used by a couple of the neighbors to take some "decent sized" runners. Visitors were using the ever popular Baker's Hole Bugger.
    .. This fly is not limited to the water around Baker's Hole. It is mostly confined to the dusty bins of some local feather merchants.
    .. One or two of the neighbors, (those with memories as long as their beards,) continue to use the old Pheasant and Blue Streamer.
    .. It has an obscure history in these parts and is only used by the most grumpy of the most successful fishers on our block. 
    .. Many of the more normal of our neighbors have resorted to conventional wisdom, (highly unusual,) and tied on flies from their 'softie' box.
    .. One of the favorites for getting stuck in a rock is the Soft Hackle Bead Head Caddis Nymph. We're not sure if this is offered by the local feather merchants or not.
    .. Right now, (the last few days,) this aberration is dredging up some bragging sized fish on the Firehole River near Biscuit Basin and in the water below the confluence with Nez Perce Creek.
    .. We've not mentioned Nez Perce Creek much this season, (probably because we've been fishing it and enjoyed the lack of visitors on the Mary Mountain Trail.)
    .. This unloved little sister of its master stream is spewing out fish by the apron full.
    .. Olive or, green or. brown traditional soft hackles with just a bit of twinkle will prove the point.
    .. Even the most cantankerous of our local curmudgeons have fallen into lock step behind the visitors using these classic bits of fluff.
    ..The fling'em'n'float'em crowd is still getting their kicks with BWO's, (when the clouds are right,) and with the steady afternoon caddis hatch on most days and places.
    ..We can only report some of the pub chatter about the mayflies that are currently hatching: "they are more green, more bright, and bigger than usual." We wouldn't know.
    .. It's getting late and tomorrow promises to be another bluebird day, (until late afternoon.)
    .. When the clouds come scudding over the divide about 4:00 PM it should be gang busters on the Firehole River, Nez Perce Creek, and the Gallatin River, (above the Bighorn trail head.)
    .. There are reports of big bears in the willows along this part of the Gallatin River. There are also reports of moose, wolves, and giant fish running up from the roadside meadows around the Fan Creek confluence.
    .. In no way shape, sign, or show should you fish this area with out some other fishers that know how to make noise. Neither should you venture forth without a large canister of bear spray in your hand - NOT ON YOUR BELT!
    .. Time now for a bedtime story and some sustenance. Tomorrow promises to be spectacular for both fish and fishers.

    Saturday, September 23, 2017

    The Brick Has Landed

    Fish In A Frenzy
    anglers are too

    .. Even the faithful have donned slickers and ponchos and expensive rain wear. These bits of raiment serve to protect their waterproof waders and waterproof hats and vests and jackets. A sight indeed!
    .. We've had a bit of snow and the experts have decided that Fall is here to stay. Could be. The garden is still green and so are most of the deciduous trees.
    .. The west side waters have cooled and discharge has increased. This is a skosh unusual; more so if it lasts.
    .. Fishers have a choice, (at the moment.) Should they rise to the flies with the fish or should they slash and strip to the submarines? Both are viable approaches. Both are reasonably successful.
    .. The Firehole River has finally broken through the 60°F barrier. Fish are rising to BWO's with such gay abandon that the pubs are not even full of whispers.
    .. Raucous giggles and wild arm extensions are easily visible to any who care to see and hear. Yes Murgatroyd, the BWO's are thick enough to blot out the sun.
    ..  The Firehole River is currently approaching record flows and is about 100 cfs above seasonal norms. Anglers should carefully pick the water for catching. Often we hear that "there were bugs all over the water but no fish rising!"
    .. Trout are not dumb. If there is a slow slick or back eddy that concentrates the little flies they will be there. Watch for a spell and use some binoculars - it helps.
    .. There are some BWO hatches on the Madison River as well. A story similar to that on the Firehole River is being written on the MADISON RIVER.
    .. At about 700 cfs the river is also approaching record discharge. The temperatures have been in the 50's for a couple of weeks. This has finally enticed the sex crazed trout to leave Hebgen Reservoir.
    .. With the runners in the rivers it's possible to fish soft hackles, big ugly nymphs, streamers, and dry flies.
    .. Take the whole box and try 'em all. Something's bound to work: especially if you walk a short way and look for the dark smooth spots.
    .. The sun is out and it's now at 40°F: it's obviously time for a snack and a nap. The low sun of the evening will bring more fish to hand.

    Friday, September 22, 2017

    Saturday, September 16, 2017

    Reposted-Use Them

    These Flies Entice Runners
    (this post recycled and annotated)
    They Work Wonders

    .. Just a note to remind you that the Madison River will soon be just chucky-jam-full of fresh fish from Hebgen Reservoir.
    .. The combination of impending winter, (less food,) and the urgency of procreation, (more energy used,) join forces to make the following flies worthwhile.
    .. Below is a recap of the flies that the neighbors have in their boxes. Many of these flies are so mundane and pedestrian that the "pros" and feather merchants don't even talk about them. Those folks would not seem to be experts if they didn't have something "new and different." Many of these old flies are still around because the just plain work.
    .. We direct your attention to the Baker's Hole Bugger at the bottom of the post. This is as close as it comes to a guaranteed catcher of fish in the early portion of "runner madness" - which is now. This fly has really caught on with a select bunch of hard core fishers that start early and continue to the end of the Fall run.

    .. Thunder Creek. When was the last time you heard someone recommend that old fossil? Who do you know that fishes it? They are either very good liars or just plain secretive.
    .. The trout in the Madison River haven't seen many of these. They usually eat the ones that they see. Fish it on the swing. Let it straighten out. Wait a little while then strip it in real fast. Old ways. This specimen, (rust, dead head cement and all took a very nice fish below 7-mile bridge a couple of years ago. A fresh one scored again last Sunday at the Duck Creek Tailwater.)
    .. Original Olive Matuka. These are tied commercially but their sales are way off. Although infrequently used these days, there is probably one in your fly box. There may be several tucked away in the corners. They most probably are unused and forgotten. Drag one out and give it an honest try. The early morning is a good time for the darker ones. Dead drifted or rapidly stripped downstream in the undercuts, it may just surprise you.
    .. Chenille Matuka. Bright and boisterous, this variant is also tied commercially. It looks too gaudy for most "serious" fishers. It is a visual disaster in just about any fly box. It's not on the lips of the romantic poets of Yellowstone lore. Yet this variety is as good as or better than the original. The tail is splayed and provides nice action in the depths of dark pools. Sizes up to #4 and 4XL are not uncommonly found stuck in the noses of eager trout in the willows below the Highway 191 bridge, (you will have to walk to get these skulking monsters.)
    .. Bead Head Rubber Legs. There are a bazillion rubber legs flies. They have secret names as well as commercial names.
    .. They can be "Silli" - "Spooky" - "Madisoned" - "Fireholed" - and "Henry's Forked."
    .. We use several of them this time of year and all are just grand. This one may be the grandest of all. It gets down quick and is good for 'snap-casting' right above the big roll that ended with a baby splash just over your left shoulder. The combination of long hackle, wiggly legs, copper wire. and a prickly body are often irresistible when slow-drifted across the bottom of a dark pool at sunset.
    .. Guide's Secret Rubber Legs. Not a secret any more. Seven or eight years ago this pattern was hidden in dark places and fondled frequently in anticipation of Fall fishing.
    .. There are many variations of this fly: the chenille, the number of legs, the head and tail treatment, the size and hook. All seem to work just fine. There are now many commercial versions. Some of the local, (Cameron, Ennis, West Yellowstone,) versions are still proprietary. Secret sources for components seem to be the key factor in the proprietary hodge podge. So be it.
    .. Hackle & Legs. Here's another rubber legs pattern that has been embellished with long widely spaced palmered hackle. This one can be made to float with enough goo, or what ever is your favorite flotant. The many dimples create little lenses that allow the light to be seen. Strikes can be explosive - especially after a slight twitch.
    .. The fly can also be drowned or fished on the swing in the film or down deep. It reminds us of an augmented Wooly Worm. It's good for a change of pace and is an excellent conversation piece.
    .. Woolly Worm. The poor thing: fallen into disuse and disgrace. Often mentioned in the same sentence as the San Juan Worm. The Fall sizes and variations are not within the traditional range for this old sweetheart, (how many do you have?) Sizes in the 2 - 6 range are not uncommon. Long hooks are used by the neighbors. Red buck-tail is used for an afterburner. Very long, (for hook size,) hackle is the norm for this time of year. Traditional yellow and black are frequently the choice for the area around the Barns Holes and the Local Hole #1. More often, the last couple of years has seen hot orange or bright rust being chosen for the big water just above the estuary.
    .. Pheasant & Blue. This streamer is a staple along the Washougal River in Washington and on the upper Clearwater River in Idaho. The pheasant rump feathers are popular in both steelhead and salmon fly patterns. Fishers on the South Fork of the Snake River in both Idaho and Wyoming have used this pattern for a couple of decades to take large migratory cutthroat trout. This pattern is now finding it's way into secret stashes of some of our neighbors. We've not used it but they swear by it - and at it.
    .. Brindle & Hen. This popular fly from Northern California locations around Hoopa, Eureka, and Salyer has been modernized by the recent explosion of color in chenille. Similar in form and function to the classic Brindle Bug this fly is not just another pretty face. Tied with a heavy wire under-body it bounces through deep riffles with undulating sex appeal and is hard to resist by submarines parked in the dark spots during mid-day. This is a useful probing fly when tied with no underwire support and the action is leech or eel like. Just the groceries a fresh-run fish is looking for.
    .. Bead Head Glitter Nymph. This monstrous cousin to the standard pheasant tail nymph is persistent in the repertory of the big-fish catchers in the neighborhood. It's easy to tie in sizes 4 - 8 and makes an excellent fly for the low clouds and bright overcast days of late September and October. It has nearly replaced the Casual Dress in our box and we don't regret it. Bleached goose biots are becoming rare these days. White will work just fine - or do some yourself.
    .. Sinking Hopper. It's nearly  time for the sheep to call it quits on their hopper box. The feather merchants have run low on their stash and are touting the flies of fall. Grasshoppers in the high country continue to grow and molt through the first couple of weeks in October. A hard frost will "knock 'em down" for a while.
    .. A couple of warm days, (even after snow,) will kick some life into them. Drowned, this fly is a nearly irresistible morsel for the big resident trout and a rare treat for the lake run fish of the Madison River.
    .. Many of our strangest neighbors use this as a dropper behind a big streamer such as a Woolly Bugger, Egg-sucking Leech, Chamois Leech, or a Brindle & Hen. Common practice is to soak the little dickens in water for a day or two and let the river do your shopping for you.
    .. Dark Spruce Fly. This classic has persisted despite the hawking of "more modern" flies. There are many variants and they seem to be quietly proliferating. We prefer ours tied a bit on the sparse side and choose to use a barred furnace hackle tip of a mahogany color rather than the traditional golden badger hackle.
    .. This pattern is old, (1918 - 1919,) and was originally called the Godfrey Special. It was a premier sea-run cutthroat pattern for over half a century. It is still seen along the Madison River, and steelhead streams most everywhere. This is just the tonic for jaded trout around Baker's Hole and the Barns Holes.
    .. As always the Light Spruce Fly is doing it's share of catching as well. Many of the neighbors fish it as a matter of course. With a short leader and a herky-jerky strip in a deep dark pool it will allow you to see the fly and the take. It seems to work best at mid-depths - but will take fish throughout the water column.
    .. The very adventurous casters in the neighborhood run this in tandem with the Dark Spruce Fly or a Little Brown Trout. If your casting action is powerful, smooth, and practiced this is a killer combination.
    .. Furnace & Red. This fly has been a staple for our Fall and Winter fishing since sometime in the late 60's. A couple of dozen were a gift from a fly fisher in Pocatello, Idaho. He may have "invented" it.
    .. The name was roughly translated as "BOB'S FLY" - Google shows nothing quite like it by that name. It's a dark fly that is sometimes stripped cross-current at night or in the twilight. It's caught a few big fish. A few of the ancient neighbors here and in I.F. use a similar fly - with different names. (The eyes are Herter's NOS. We have zillions of them and previously thought they were important - works just as good without them.)
    .. The Little Brown Trout. Dear to the hearts of Montanan's that love our cutthroats. There is a satisfying surge of glee, (it arises somewhere between the epitome and id,) when one of these little flies gets eaten. This old pattern is seen in most fly boxes and is only occasionally used. It is special only in the hearts and minds of ancient neighbors that remember what a glorious bit of water the Snake River was without the scourge of the invasive Brown's. Fish it like the little streamer that it is. Shallow riffles, deep undercut banks, and deep slicks are it's prime hunting ground. Even the Browns will eat it.
    .. Stonefly Nymph. They live here. They get dislodged. They float around in the water column and get eaten all year long. Of course they are a Springtime religion, but the trout will eat one that's floating by any time of year. Often the older neighbors tell us to "hit 'em in the nose." That's good advice if you know where the noses are.
    .. The mundane task of systematically covering a run in the Fall is a bit tedious. It is also rewarding when using any of the many stonefly imitations. Like a dog with a bone, the fish grab it, shake it, and hold onto it with a fierceness like unto a virgin prom queen in the back of an S.U.V.
    .. Baker's Hole Bugger. Straight from Blue Ribbon Flies & Whiskey Creek Fishing comes a fly designed specifically for the water around Baker's Hole. It's a fly that has been "making the rounds" for a few years and shows some staying power. Although supposedly designed "for Brown Trout" the fly is just fine for pricking hungry trout of any stripe.
    .. Quite a few of the neighbors are aficionados of this fly and have already shortened it's name to "Baker's Bugger." They fish it all year long. The fly uses standard Brindle Bug chenille and a two toned tail similar to the Brindle and Hen. All of these long-tailed buggers have been getting more attention during the last decade. Probably a good reason for that.
    .. Here's a view of the Junction Pool. It will help you navigate through the elbows.

    Friday, September 15, 2017


    Wet Mush Arrives
    grab it now
    .. Briefly: all waters in fine shape, all fish in gobbling mood, still a few surface midget bugs, streamers producing in the undercuts.
    .. Unverified rumors of submarines in the tributaries. Crowds in the rain at Barns Holes. Must be Fall, (for a few days.) It's still shirtsleeve weather, (sort of.)

    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    Sewage Surfer

    .. Fish now  --  before it's too late. The rain is here and the fish are exuberant. 

    Thursday, September 07, 2017


    Unsafe Stuff
    don't exert yourself
    .. Here in West Yellowstone the smoke from over 45 fires is more than apparent.
    .. The Hebgen Basin traps the smoke and concentrates it.
    .. Parts of Yellowstone National Park are worse. Parts of the park are better. It's not fun but at least the fires are distant  --  for now.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2017

    River Watch

    Temps Coming Down
    faithful anxious
    .. The faithful are gathering early this year in the hopes that the late season on the Firehole River will reward them with a few extra days of catching.
    .. In the most general sense all the west side rivers have shown some sporadic but excellent catching opportunities.
    .. On the Firehole River, above Old Faithful the water is in great shape and the Brook Trout are beginning to show some interesting, (not flamboyant yet,) colors.
    .. They are, however, voracious and highly entertaining. Throw the whole box at them - they love it.
    .. We've had a couple of quick and dirty cloudbursts during this warm weather and the fish have enjoyed them more than the fishers. By this time next week we should be in a genuine Fall weather pattern and real rain should grace the neighborhood.
    .. Until then, there are still ants, beetles and hoppers present along with widely dispersed sparse hatches of small winged bugs. Right now is the best time to use large and dark soft hackles on the Firehole River.
    .. There are rumors, (persistent  but unverified,) that the fish are moving into the tributaries feeding Hebgen Reservoir. Whatever the truth of the matter; it's not a FALL RUN yet!
    .. Gulpers continue to be the target in all the usual places and there is some pretty good shoreside action on these recent still mornings. Verified reports of exceptional catching come from the neighbors who are fishing streamers in the estuary of the South Fork of the Madison River. The same is true of folks thrashing the Madison River near Baker's Hole. No decent cell phone pictures from the congregation at the Barns Holes.
    .. Right after the next glass of orange juice we're headed up to the Gallatin River. The sun is burning through the smoke and we know where there are a couple of ant colonies. They are very near where both caddis and spruce moths dwell. Maybe a full day wasted - not too bad for this time of year.