Stalking trout with dry flies. Floating, wading, and camping along the rivers. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Winter trips to Mexico.

Aug 28, 2016

Shoulda stayed home?

Top ten reasons I should have just stayed home.
10.  I hit a long traffic jam on I-80 an hour from home due to a fatal accident.  Bad omen.
9.    Upon arriving at the first creek, I see only one riser (nice one!), "wader-up", make one cast, fish eats, miss it bigger than shit, then wind comes up hard.  No biggie, I've got 3 more days.
8.  Get to Driggs late, stop into Broulim's great deli for a late dinner, and they've just put it all away.  Settle for a pre-packaged pasta salad that wasn't that good.  No biggie, Henry's Fork is an hour away.
7.  Wake up on Henry's Fork to howling north wind.
6.  All the "regulars" in the Ranch parking lot are standing around behind the trees drinking coffee, telling lies, washing dishes, and doing things besides stringing rods and putting on waders.
5.  Arrive in West Yellowstone to fish the Madison in the park.  Upon going into a fly shop for a park license, I'm told "It's on fire!"  Great, right?  No, literally.  "On both sides of the river above 7-mile bridge."
4.  Get to Madison between the lakes to find a fisherman every 100 yards.
3.  Evening bite on Henry's blown out.
2.  Next morning on Henry's.  Smokey and calm.  Tricos all over the water.  Only 4-12 inchers rising.  Did see one head working nicely.  Two casts later, never to be seen again.  10:00-Raging south wind.  Red-Flag warning for remainder of  weekend.  Time to just go home a day early.
1.  And the number one reason I should have just stayed home . . . Despite all the idle time I had for 2 1/2 days, I didn't snap one a picture of the wind, the smoke, the wreck, or the rise-less waters so that this post could match the layout of the others.  I drove 740 miles and could have bought a new Hardy for the $130 I spent in gas alone.  Never touched a fish.

But at least I didn't fry a wheel bearing, hit a deer, break a rod, rip a hole in my waders, lose a fly box, or have any great mishaps.  In discussing what I think of as the "overrated" honey ant hatch on the ranch with one of the regulars, he said "sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time."  I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time from start to finish.

Aug 7, 2016

Two Flat Creeks (50 cfs)

A quick weekend run.  One just opened.  The other is the required stop on the way home.  Pure Snake River Fine Spotted on one side, and pure Colorado Cutts on the home side.  Both were found.  I was beat by the first three using the cut banks to dislodge the flies, but then Flat Creek was tamed with any reasonable fly.  The other place, well, I managed one to hand and was taken to the cleaners by the rest.  It happens there.  Big fish, and weeds that have really grown lately.  The last gasp of PMD's and first glimpse of baetis.  Ah, feed 'em a beetle.
Lost a couple here

Hooked one here

Fish of the Morning

Afternoon breeze, and time to walk out
Colorado side.  Lost one in the fence, and another in the weeds

A gift

Shredded beetle from yesterday, now tied to 4X

"Mossed" by the big one here

A nice 'bow on the bend here--See ya!

Ended up seeing 5 risers, getting all 5 to eat, and touching one.  4X on a spring creek, and still outmatched.  Got weeds?

Jul 17, 2016


32 days, 11 waters, a few flies, two spools of tippet, and a broken leaf spring repaired in Livingston.  I caught trout in 8 of the 11.  Browns, 'bows, Yellowstone cutts, Colorado R. cutts.
This is my "big trip" of the year for trout fishing.  A whole month straight.  Opening of the Ranch, Drakes and other big bugs, PMD's on nearly every water, the longest days of the year, familiar waters, "the creeks," and a few side trips.  It has a totally different feel than the fall trip of similar origin and duration.  This one is more lively.  Its a weird feeling now, still buzzing from all the fun, but knowing its now an 11 month wait to do it again the same way.  I look forward to it from the minute it ends until the minute I leave again next June.  Sure, I have a lot of summer and fall fishing ahead, but this one, from mid-June to mid-July, is the one I remember and anticipate the most.  You could say I live for this 4-week period.  My 2017 reservations for the creeks are made.  My calendar is cleared.  I just hope I'm still here and can do it all again in 11 months.  I will be motivated by the anticipation in the meantime.
I took 10 rods, 4 glass, 6 graphite.  Used 7 of them, incl. all 4 glass. 
This spot always gets me.  Where SW Wyo. desert turns to NW Wyo. mountains. The trip starts at this second. 
Over the hill and around the bend, and there it is.  Nothing but green, trees, trout, and paradise in the distance
Then over the pass and on down into SE Idaho
And the first rising fish on the first evening on the 'Fork.
Things have changed in the last couple years for this trip.  I once fished the Beaverhead and Poindexter Slough for a week or more on this swing through the golden triangle, but this year it was only a couple brief stops that were mostly disappointing.  "They" have ruined Poindexter's for the most part with their stream "reconstruction," "enhancement" or whatever you call it.  I call it ditch digging and trashing.
The water quality in the Beaverhead is also not good lately.  Releases from Clark Canyon Dam are of cloudy, dirty water with low visibility that have reduced the number if rising fish greatly.  Some say its lower water, others don't seem to know, but it sucks.  I once really loved spending a week or two in Dillon, but a night or two is more than enough now.  The shops call it "Beaverhead clear."  Right.  It used to flow very clear.  Maybe the low flows of fall will bring some fish back to the top and some clearer water.
The same can be said for my favorite trout river on the planet, the Henry's Fork.  For some reason, the daytime hatches weren't that great during the first week of the Ranch opener.  Too many Franklin Gulls eating the bugs as they hatch over recent years?  One Foundation board member said he thought so.  The Brown Drake fishing in the evening was spectacular though.  On the way back home I stopped at the overlook at the top of the Ranch. The river roared at 1600 cfs, and visibility was about a foot.  I moved on.  Fly shop reports used words like "challenging," "sparse," and "terresterials."  That means it sucks.  The 'Fork suffered from high and dirty water last summer as well.  I don't remember this in recent years past.  Hopefully the fall Mahogany fishing is good.
However . . . The Missouri again showed why its the best dry fly river in the country.  Big hot fish that test your skills ("techy" the shops call it).  Fish that reward good flies and presentations, and scream well into the backing nearly every time.  Flows remained constant, grass/weeds weren't a problem, and bugs were just plentiful enough to keep the action going. 
Pretty much "there!" when you go around this turn, into the canyon.
Shady camp upstream from Wolf Creek
PHD Island, a favorite evening bite spot.
Not a bad view from the "bedroom" window
Number one spot, riverside, at the bridge.  Ready for launch.
Been fishing with this guy for 36 years!  Friends for life.
Our first big road trip was in 1984 to the Fork, in my little Toyota pickup with no A/C, no place to sleep, filled with stuff in labeled cardboard boxes.  We wore neoprene waders and used shitty flies we tied on the steering wheel.   Now its usually the MO and creeks.  But he still ties on the steering wheel, and sleeps in the back of his truck.  I've gone soft.
The Livingston creeks are always good in summer and fall, I just happened to hit them really good this year, and the cooler weather helped.
Camp on the banks of the Yellowstone, 8 mins. from the creeks.
Westlake Goes Glass on Armstrongs!
And Depuys
It works!
The Creek on the River.
And what about Silver Creek?  Hell, I never made it over there.  I had the week, but stayed in SW Montana instead of heading west.  It worked out great with the last 3 days of fishing I had.  Maybe next year I need 5 weeks though.

Coming Home (7-15)

What a perfect way to end my month-long trip.  Just a few hours from home, down the stretch.  Sometimes we tend to forget the greatness of closer waters.  This one's just far enough away to be a destination rather than a day trip, but I can do both.  Today is the best day I've ever had here.  PMD's and some yellow sallies kept the fish looking up on the first walk-through.  The big one got away after quite a show and rodeo.  They were all big though.  This spring creek is free, close, and I didn't see anyone.  Browns, Rainbows, and Cutthroats.