• 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
  • Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    Plan Ahead

    .. The catastrophic intersection of normal people on vacation and rabid destination fly fishers is taking place in a remote corner of Yellowstone National Park.
    .. This is a corner of the world where a new kind of fish is rapidly evolving: "THE SLOUGH CREEK RAINTHROAT."
    .. This not so rare trout is the byproduct of miscegenation by fish that do what fish do - in water that people drink. To the normal folks the fish is just another trout. To the fly fishers it is a highly sought after trophy. A trophy that is featured in hero photographs of conquering fishers in the wilds of Yellowstone.
    .. Despite regulations and suggestions, scofflaws lovingly release the trophies back into their home waters to continue their place in the origin of a new sub-species. Fish doing what fish do. The religiosity of the catch and release ethic is unbreakable in some folks.
    .. Right now there are bugs aplenty for the Rainthroat trout to eat. Around, and below, the campground at Slough Creek the morning fishing is tantamount to a simplistic endeavor. Teeny-Weeny PMD's are the breakfast fare. Drakes for lunch. Caddis for dinner. A few various stoneflies thrown in for snacks. This is the place to practice your midstream etiquette and socialize with kindred souls.
    .. Up the trail and into the big meadows is where the dedicated anglers will be found. Creeping and crawling is the preferred mode of locomotion in the lush grasses. No arthritic fishers need apply.
    .. Success comes to the practiced caster. Take your pocket binoculars and pick a target. Figure out what the fish are eating. These Rainthroats are frequently particular about what they eat, some of them are "one-cast-fish." Make it count.
    .. There are places on Slough Creek where the water is swift, full of boulder gravel, and highly oxygenated. Here and there are small populations of big and little stoneflies. Take some yellow ones.
    .. Of course there is always the lowly caddis fly. Take several of your favorite imitations. Be prepared to fish with nymphs, emergers, and adults in the late afternoon and evening.
    .. If you take a large enough selection it will be possible to spend many productive hours sharing the patterns with other fishers of a like mind. Be sure to have your vintage Wheatley Fly Box in a readily accessible pocket of your $300.00 Filson® Foul Weather Vest - after all it may rain.
    ..The best information about what to fish with and where to go is easily gathered from the feather merchants in the neighborhood. A few phone calls and a visitation on your way out will allow you to be fully prepared for the wild adventure of Rainthroat hunting. You might even be able to buy a new fly box and several dozen flies to cram into it.
    .. Some folks with less taste for social adventure will walk upstream from the campground at Pebble Creek. The creek holds thousands of Cutthroat Trout to be visited, (a few rainbow trout and some rainthroat trout too.) The Cutthroats are the typical brightly colored, very healthy specimens in the 10" to 14" range that are neglected in favor of the fish just down the road.
    .. The stream is small. The trail is gentle, (for a couple of miles). The scenery is overwhelming. The bugs are prolific. The mosquitoes are ravenous. The bears are frequent. and the elbows less dense than many of the more famous social waters.
    .. Forget the vest. Take a dozen flies and enjoy this fine little stream before it gains the grandiloquent status of a social fishery and the Rainthroat Trout take over.

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    The Lamar Five

    Stuff  'Em In An Altoids® Tin
    share them with friends
    .. Oh to have the legs and exuberance of youth. For us, that time is long gone. Some of the neighbor kids still have it all.
    .. They travel light and fast. They fish the best water at the best time and in the best way. They are on intimate terms with the lakes, rivers and streams in our neighborhood and in Yellowstone National Park. They cram a month's worth of fishing into each week and a year's worth into each month.
    .. For reasons unknown these kids have befriended us and treat us far more kindly than the cliquish establishment fly fraternity. They probably know more and fish more as well. They don't have to impress visitors. They don't have to sell the latest and greatest. They don't have to engage in hyperbole and fantasy by the day or hour. They are out there and doing it.
    .. One rule that permeates all of their catching endeavors is expedience and effectiveness. Their gear is good and effective. It is not limited to fly fishing stuff. It is catching oriented, not stylistic. It is pared to the bare minimum.
    .. Their flies are designed from what they see on the rivers and creeks. They will occasionally cruise the local feather merchant's aisles. Ideas are gathered from all points of the compass and then shared with each other over a brew or two. Experimentation is rampant. "Keepers" become legend and they eventually become standardized, (more or less.) The flies are tied at the kitchen table after the dishes are done.
    .. There are certain groups of flies that are used for specific times and places. These are loosely codified by river drainage and occasionally time of year. The assemblages are simple. They have no formal designations -- neither do the flies -- usually. Occasionally descriptive terms are applied to specific flies that have proven themselves. Terms like: The Footed Monster, The Spaghetti Muddler, The Green Floater, etc. Some are varieties of well known flies. Right now the Red Humpy is in ascendancy.
    .. The kids currently are expending enormous amounts of energy and gasoline traveling to the hinterland of the northeast corner of the park. Only a few flies are used. They  can be made to cover all situations. Sizes are situational. They work: only one has a familiar name.
    .. The names are: Dark Floater, Light Floater, Winged PT, Spaghetti Muddler, Red Humpy. The kids have allowed me to make some pictures of the Lamar Five. You should not have any trouble matching the names to the faces.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Unmentionables ?

    Ignore This Post
    damn if you don't have to walk
    .. This is the time of year when fishers in Yellowstone National Park recite a litany of names familiar to all. Third Meadow, Second Meadow, Soda Butte Creek, Lamar River, Slough CreekSulphur Cauldron, Gardner River, Blacktail Deer Creek, etc.
    A HERD
    .. These are places where the social fishers gather to perpetuate the fiction that these are the best catching locations in the northeast portion of the park. More power to them.
    .. These are places where it's easy for the casual angler to gather in a bucket load of fish and enjoy the company of other fishers with a popular vocabulary and compatible ring tones.
    .. These are the places that seasonal shop rats can send visiting fishers and feel safe about their recommendations - even if they've never been there.
    .. Given that the typical destination fisher has only a few partial days to spend fishing in the park they need to maximize their catching opportunities: usually within sight of the car. Run and gun is the name of the game: just like every other casual visitor.
    A FLY
    .. On the other hand, shanks mare will bring a few fine opportunities to the angler who is not enamored of social fishing.
    .. Quietly whisper a few other, less mentioned,  names to any park habitue and you may get a quick, sly smile and some really interesting insights.
    .. What names, you say? Try Upper Lamar RiverMiller Creek, Cache Creek, or Calfee Creek. Ask about these at your favorite feather merchant's counter. Ask about the trails. Ask about each discharge eddy into the Lamar River.
    .. Ask about the first or second distributary gravel bars in the creeks, and the deep dark holes that can be reached with a simple easy cast. Ask about the flies to use and the times to go. Verify the answers with a simple test: when were you last there?
    A SIGN
    .. Should you be inclined to fish the finest catching localities in this section of the park be prepared to walk a long way. It's better to ride a horse. It's even better to spend more than a day - perhaps a week.
    .. But, then again, sad but true, you'll not be able to share stories with the typical casual park fisher. Your stories will be better and far from public knowledge.
    .. Keep this in mind if you'd rather be a social fisher.

    Saturday, July 19, 2014


    No Matter What
    even if the boat won't float

    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Go East Young Man

    It's All Good
    depending on rain and mud plugs
    .. The greatest variety of fishing topography in Yellowstone National Park is now ready to go. Opportunities abound.
    .. The Yellowstone River is open. The Lamar River is settling down. Slough Creek is pumping out bugs and fish. Indian Creek and Obsidian Creek already have armies of elbows. Virginia Creek is alive with fish and fishers. Trout Lake has willing trout, (a bit more selective than usual.) There are still cruisers along the shore of Yellowstone Lake. Grebe Lake is fully accessible and the grayling are more cooperative than usual, (not quite as easy at Wolf Lake.)
    .. Check in with the feather merchants up that way for complete up-2-da-minute reports.
    .. For most of these waters the evening is providing spectacular catching on caddis imitations. The hatches have clouded the water and the shoreline grasses. Ovapositing caddis can hide the water from view as little clouds of the critters dance along the water. The trout seem to understand this. Go figure.
    .. In the mornings there is a choice for fishers: chucking streamers for the submarines, or floating trico fluffies for the majority of the residents.
    .. Pick your favorite baetid imitation and fish the BWO hatch, or for that matter any of the hatches where the mayflies are popping. Right now the fish are doing their best to fill their dance cards.
    .. The cutthroat action has been very good on the Yellowstone River. The water is still very high and dangerous. It is running at about 1,000 cfs above seasonal norms - but it's nicely clear and catching, (like last year,) seems to have improved over the desertic conditions of the previous 5 or 6 years.
    .. Right now is the perfect opportunity for big fish on big streamers or ugly rubber legs - if you can resist the noses.
    .. Hatches, even in the high water are pretty strong. There really is no need, (for the moment,) to get in the water. Cruise the banks in your best stealth fashion and use your pocket binoculars to find the noses. As the water drops the fish will seek holding water on the subsurface gravel bars. For now they are finding plenty of cover and food along the bank. Have at it.
    .. Should you have the legs for it, a stroll down the hill at Tower Falls will provide exceptional catching opportunities both in Tower Creek and the Yellowstone River. This is an excellent place for the late evening fisher to sail a streamer into the haunts of giant fish. Do not go down the hill with a 4 weight and 6x tippet.
    .. As the thunderstorms in the Lamar Valley subside and the shimmering heat of full Summer spreads out, there will be plenty of biting flies to bother your fishing. Puddled water is pretty widespread right now and the mosquitoes are having great feasts of flesh in the Slough Creek campground and the Pebble Creek campground. Keep this in mind.
    .. There is still a bear, (or 3,) above the campground at Pebble Creek. We've some second hand reports that the fishing is worth the walk. Be loud and raucous once you hit the trees above the little canyon. Carry the bear spray in your gun hand.
    .. Soda Butte Creek is still a bit raucous but not too dirty. Right now is a good time to fish the confluence waters of this fine little stream. Either the confluence with Amphitheater Creek, Rose Creek, or with Pebble Creek will provide good catching in the current conditions. Fish in the windows and the seams. Hold on tight.