• Visit: The Trout Underground
  • Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: Buster Wants To Fish
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Little Sun - Little Snow - Little Warm - Not Cold

    Dusting Continues
    park opens to tires
    .. This is not the warmest mid December on record. It's getting close.
    .. Around town there may be six inches of snow on the ground. The plow piles are not too deep and there is some bare pavement on some streets and sidewalks. The neighbors are not planting tomatoes just yet. Overnight lows are in the mid teens and daytime highs nudge the low 30's on occasion.
    .. Fishing has been easy during this mini meltdown. Catching has been problematic as the sun and clouds have alternated in intensity.
    .. The early trails pounded through the snow have become icy and muddy and elbows have proliferated at an alarming rate on the Madison River between the lakes.
    .. Midges have made their appearance on a couple of occasions in the past weeks and the fish have discovered them. Little fish seem to be the order of the day when midge fishing. Nothing over 14" has yet been taken on a midge - it's early though.
    .. Just about any small bit of dark fluff will suffice for the current midge fishing activity. We've been using our supply of small ants from the invasion of tiny ants along the shores of Hebgen Reservoir last summer. They work just as good as anything: size 16 is what we have.
    .. Around our village winter activities are proceeding in their normal fashion as the neighbors pray for some substantial snowfall. We are getting intermittent  dustings of an inch or two when the moisture content of the air is adequate - nothing to write home about.
    .. Tomorrow Yellowstone National Park will open for over-the-snow-travel and visitation. Obsolete vehicles with skis or metal tracks will have to wait for additional snow before they enter. Snowmobile traffic will be limited and dependent on this evening's snowfall - if any.
    .. The ski festival was lucky to have some snow and managed to complete all events including the long races, ski camp, and biathlon courses.
    .. Our first sled dog race will be on the 18th and the dogs will run no matter what the conditions. The trails through the trees are snow covered and packed. There are a few patches of mud and slush in a couple of short open stretches but the dogs can handle it. Snow is predicted for the coming week and if it all comes true there could be 6 to 8 inches of dry powder by Friday, next. We'll see.
    .. On a related note: there is a quiet revolution taking place with winter travel in Yellowstone National Park. This is the second year of a trial for innovative vehicles with large low pressure tires for over-the-snow-travel. Large vans and small buses are being equipped with tires up to 48" in diameter with bead lock rims and air pressures of 4 to 8 pounds.
    .. Last year the trials were a success beyond any anticipated outcome. The snow covered roads were not badly rutted by the tires, as they are by other vehicles. The visitors experienced a quieter and smoother ride in the park. The vehicles are warm and well insulated, higher than others, and visibility is excellent.
    .. Winter use environmental standards for noise and emissions have been met or exceeded by the trial vehicles and the current Best Available Technology, (BAT,) standards for winter use are undergoing scrutiny in light of this trial program.
    .. The current BAT standards were developed over the last 15 years and depended on the previously available vehicles that were used in the winter in the park.
    .. As a result of the current standards the snowmobile manufacturers have produced sleds that are cleaner and quieter per passenger mile than any of the other modes of transportation. The trial vehicles with tires may result in a better solution for winter travel than all the other vehicles currently in use.
    .. There is also some talk of allowing sled dogs for limited travel in Yellowstone. And, of course, there is always a small but persistent cry for plowing and greater public access during the winter.

    Sunday, December 07, 2014

    No Gut -- No Glory

    Strange Patterns In The Water
    they work now as they did then

    .. It's as arcane as it can be. Playing with caterpillar guts during a Winter evening and assembling some galling devices to prick a critter with a brain the size of a split pea.
    .. Perhaps the device should have some bird and mammal parts as well as larval intestine. Pheasant tail cries out to be used at the aft end. Simple golden silk thread from mom's embroidery basket can work for the body and a bit of red wool from that old  Persian Balouch Rug will fit right in at the throat.
    .. Black hackle that is way too big for any self respecting trout fly ought to be densely palmered forward to hide mom's silk thread. A wee bit of elk fuzz from the inner hind leg of a small cow should make an excellent head and a pair of two-toned turkey feather segments will be a decent wing over it all.
    .. No cute and fancy loop eye for this device. The gut is tightly twisted in a solution of glycerine and warm water and tied with secret knots and incantations to the hook shank. It's sometimes called a self-leader. It gets coiled up while still damp and pliable. It'll take some warm water and some spit to bring it back to life when it comes time to use it. Usually forward thinking is necessary on the night before a winter adventure is anticipated. Soak 'em good.
    .. We didn't invent this configuration of dead fluff and feathers. It was devised even before Queen Victoria plunked her bottom down upon the throne. This is an old standard fly that has taken many a fish. Seldom do you see it listed as a "Classic Salmon Fly"  --  but it truly is: works for sea run Brown Trout and hold-over submarines in our neighborhood too.
    .. We like the old flies. They are simple, colorful, sturdy, and more effective than a double handful of offerings from the bins at the musty and popular stores in town.
    .. Many of the local feather merchants employ winter help that extol the virtues of a "run-n-gun gonzo approach"  to our neighborhood streams.
    .. Pound 'em with one and then another and then another and yet another fly. Cover a lot of water. Bust through the snow. Try three or four nymph patterns that we couldn't sell during the summer. If the nymphs don't work try our leftover streamers they might work if you have five or six patterns.
    .. Try all the places possible. Catch every fish in the stream and retire to the pub to tell some lies. Great exercise.
    .. From a relaxation point of view - it ain't our schtick. We gather up a slow buggy whip, a few seldom seen patterns and stroll between a couple of holes and hides and tickle a fish or two. Certainly not in keeping with most contemporary fishing behavior. But, that's just us.
    .. You will not find these flies in the spiffy synthetic fly boxes advertised in magazines, catalogs or blogs. A few will do just fine on a Winter's afternoon. Stick them in your hat or just stuff them in your pocket. They are made to be abused, (by fish and fishers.) They work just as good now as they ever have.
    .. These flies descend to us from a time  -- long gone  -- that needed less of just about everything. By the time Kelson published his tomb it was apparent that diversity and artifice were soaring. By 1895 fly fishing had finally reached a modern mentality.
    .. It had become elitist, (like today,) it had begun to glorify gear, (like today,) it emphasized both numbers and size of fish as part of a successful experience, (like today.) Hero photos were de rigueur, (like today,) territoriality and secrecy were employed to enhance one's supposed expertise, (like today.)
    .. We prefer gentility and relaxation to braggadocio and gear worship. We prefer intimate immersion in a few select places to sweeping visitations and mere casual acquaintanceship. We prefer a few old flies and other well worn gear to the latest and greatest of whatever the industry has to offer right now.
    .. We're out-of-step with contemporary fly fishing. We like it that way. For gonzo fishing and exuberant, albeit it brief, visitations check the blogs and feather merchants listed in the sidebar.
    .. We'll be sauntering - may fish a little too.

    Saturday, December 06, 2014

    It's Getting Sticky

    Cell Phone Or Otherwise ?
    and, just how are they used ?
    .. Dozens of images from this blog have been used across the web and in print media of various sorts. Each image is non-commercial and carries a Creative Commons License, (see bottom of sidebar.) Some have even been purloined by unscrupulous shagnasties in their pursuit of filthy lucre to line their pockets. It's in the nature of marketing and marketeers to do what ever they can to make a buck.
    .. Recently public lands managers have jumped on the permit process to enhance their revenue streams and regulate the use of images taken on public lands. A few years ago Yellowstone National Park implemented a permitting process for "Film, Photography, and Sound Recording."  We've mentioned it in passing a couple of times.
    .. Now, the United States Forest Service has initiated a rule-making process about commercial photography in wilderness areas of National Forests. It may seem like an insignificant bit of bureaucratic nonsense but; it could affect just about anyone that takes a snapshot on public lands of the National Park Service or the United States Forest Service.
    .. We've been informed that the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation are also considering rule-making and permitting procedures.
    .. Hatch Magazine recently ran a piece about the impending USFS rule-making procedure.
    .. Action was taken by the Outdoor Writers Association of America and Hatch Magazine to clarify the proposed rule and it's implications for photography and photographers.
    .. If you've read this far you probably think that this is just stuff and nonsense. It certainly can't affect your standard hero shot that you take of a gasping fish that is oxygen starved out of the water in the park or in the forest. That's true unless it's used in a commercial publication.
    .. That commercial publication can be a motion picture, a published print book, on-line-magazine, or blog that is monetized with advertising from commercial ventures such as tackle makers, apparel purveyors, or feather merchants, etc. Advertising posters, product catalogs, mailers, and leaflets are not exempt from the commercial standard.
    .. This is where the law gets as sticky as flypaper. It's going to take some court cases to sort it all out. Resolution may eventually center on the original intent and circumstances of the original image and it's original purpose. Lawyers are about to have a field day.
    .. Recent events in Missouri have shown how ignorant of the law some police officers appear to be. Photographers have rights that are constitutionally protected in the taking of pictures. It's the use of those pictures that bothers officials of all stripes. It is incumbent upon anyone that snaps a picture to understand the law regarding their actions and the use of the resulting image.
    .. A couple of interesting definitions come into play in this legal morass: Is the use of the image in the service of "NEWS" and the precept that "THE EYE CAN COMMIT NO TRESPASS."
    .. For example is it "news" when a monetized blog illustrates and extolls the virtues of an advertisers' new product? Is it news when an outdoor writer in the "newspaper" praises a travel trip to an exotic destination and uses images from the trip of a lifetime ??
    .. So then: where was it taken, for what purpose was it taken, how is it used?

    Some resources that you may find useful:
    >> Yellowstone National Park Permit and Process,
    >> Hatch Magazine Article,
    >> Smokey Says, Get A Permit, Shutterbugs,
    >> Know Your Rights: Photographers,
    >> You Have Every Right To Photograph That Cop,
    >> Go To Jail In Arizona For Linking To Photos,
    >> Photographers Rights,
    >> Discussion Of Cops, Rights, and Homeland Security.

    Friday, November 28, 2014


    To Bed Early
    up and gone - the bite is on
    .. Not wanting to be an antitraditionalist yesterday, we had a wee bite of ham and a taste of turkey and a spoonful of smashed potatoes dampened with butter and gravy. We drank some cider and had a sip of tea with a small slice of sweet tater pie. Then to bed.
    .. Morning came way too early and the kids down the block had breakfast ready long before daylight, (they have understanding wives.)
    .. As many sourdough pancakes as could be wolfed down were laid on the bottom of the old oil drum in the garage. Bacon, eggs, and other vittles were available.
    .. The cast iron skillets and griddles work real fine on the old wood burner. We ate too quickly and crammed our self into the jump seat of a modern pickemup. The Z's came quickly.
    .. The nice thing about Black Friday is that the roads are lightly populated and most of the "Join-all-anglers" are at the mall or various feather merchants scarfing up sooooper deals. Bless them all.
    .. Bumpy ruts and crazy curves disturbed our rest as we approached Farfromhere, Montana. The sky is not so small in the lowlands and it's  heavy gray color said that we'd made good time. We buzzed over the cattle guard and stopped between the barn and the front porch.
    .. The doors opened and the kids went different ways as we tried to disentangle ourselves from the gear. Just as some order had come to the jump seat the doors slammed and off we went down the pasture road toward the heavy willows in the bottoms.
    .. There's not many folks that live near the bottoms along COMEANFISH SPRING CREEK. One of the kids has some ex-outlaw cousins that welcome us mountain folk if we're in the neighborhood. We're the butt of jokes and such. Entertainment provided by the highlanders - at our expense.
    .. There are open spaces in the willows. Gravel bars and shallow fords invite parking and fishing. Catching comes quickly and easily in the lightly fished creek. It's still the tail end of fall in the lowlands and the sun can warm a fisher if the willows block the heavy breeze from the snow clad mountains.
    .. We fished the day away and called it Spectrum Friday for the various fish we caught and released. Many gravel bars and many fords provided sheltered sunshine and fishing progressed at a lazy pace as we watched the continents of clouds that were scudding across the big sky.
    .. We nibbled on cold fry bread and sipped various libations between bites and the occasional cigar and tall tale.
    .. It's a rare joy, this time of year, to get in one more day of warm fishing. The warm was as much the quarry as the fish. We were delighted with both. We'll spend one more day down here before heading back to the high country.
    .. There's a little pub not far from the creek where the ex-relatives live and we're meeting up just after sundown, (about a half hour from now.)
    .. Service is good. The burgers are great. They present a fantastic twice baked potato and have the best local information around. Dinner and a few more stories should prime the pump for another bit of warm relaxation before the snows fly in earnest.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    Upcoming Attractions

    WHAT A DAY !!

    Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twenty minutes. Half-times take twenty minutes. This is not coincidence.
    .."Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments."
    - Mark Twain.
    .."Got no check books, got no banks. Still I'd like to express my thanks - I got the sun in the mornin' and the moon at night."
    - Irving Berlin.


    Sunday, November 23, 2014

    Food For Thought

    Synopses For The Moment
    in case you're surfing

    .. There is a plume of smoke in the grass that needs addressing. It is smoke that will soon be on the radar screens of rabid activists and concerned citizens of all stripes. It might be worthwhile to get a jump on these upcoming hot button issues.
    1. A house bill that forbids scientists from advising the EPA on their own research.
    2. Maximum Sustained Harvest, (MSH,) just don't work on the Olympic Peninsula.
    3. Just who does contribute most to wildlife?
    4. The Keystone XL Pipeline game of ping pong.
    .. We know you don't care about our opinion but you best formulate one of your own as these issues are going to become the foundation of conversation and argumentation for the foreseeable future.
    .. Just sayin'.

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Gentility Reigns

    Don't Get Used To It
    notellum yields a winter dancer
    .. This year's introduction to Winter has been gentle so far. Just a couple of days of basement temperatures to keep us in the loop.
    ..There is a cultural malaise settling over the neighborhood as the winter aficionados await the snows and the fishers retreat to the tying bench. Merchants are bemoaning having to heat empty buildings and take inventory for the tax man.
    .. We grabbed a few hours on Notellum Creek with a group of neighbors, (they tolerate our geriatric gait and poor attitude.)
    .. The midges failed to make the curtain call but dance partners were willing to take some drowned flies of various sorts and sizes.  Dancing persisted for our whole visit and we even made a small fire to celebrate the mid day cotillion.
    ..It seems that dance cards are most easily filled with submerged,  nondescript bits of fluff. This is the time of year, (and through early Spring,) when the grungy rejects from the tying bench are most effective. We usually have an ample supply, given the ham-fisted nature of our efforts. For a change, the neighbors appreciate our efforts,
     ..Just a note: there are some invading submarines in Taylor Fork Creek. The water is low and the redds are easily visible - leave 'em be.
    .. Back to the bench.