Summer Newsletter

July 2010 - August 2010

10/09/2010

 
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Be sure to check the current fishing report for frequent updates on our conditions and latest fishing excursions.

August 28th

My friend Mike Devries out in Clark tends to harbor wayward physicians every summer. These guys work very hard all year in very demanding jobs and with families and other responsibilities, have little time to get away and relax in the wilderness of Wyoming. Mike and Steve, both orthopedist's from California, came for day day of relaxation to fly fish in Cody.

The weather threw some challenges at us. I had intended to take them to the Greybull but with the recent thunderstorm we really weren't sure the river would be clear enough to fish. There was a spike in the flows but it remained steady so we took a chance and assumed that it was just an increase in water coming out of the dam. We were exactly right!

The water was perfect when we got to the stream. Low, cool, and clear. There were many little tan caddis in the bushes. It was about 8 a.m. when we hit the water so we started with a midge below a big dry. Mike nailed a couple little guys right off. Steve had never fly fished before so we left Mike to relax and fish and went to work getting Steve casting and mending. We found a little side channel where the water was very low but had no obstructions and was a great place to get started casting. While we were talking, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a couple fish taking emergers in the ridiculously shallow run. We switch flies and within  a couple minutes Steve had his first fish on a fly!

Steve caught on surprisingly fast and hooked probably a dozen fish in the first hour or so, landing 7 or 8 all on a little tan sparkle dun. The river was in great shape. We caught fish of all sizes attesting to the health of the system. Seeing this many age classes of fish is very reassuring because in the past couple years all we had been seeing were bigger fish. Under the rocks life was good with plenty of caddis, mayflies and stone flies. I picked up a branch of fresh willow, probably deposited by a beaver, and it was covered in little green midges.

Meanwhile Mike was working over the fish up above. He was still fishing a dry dropper getting most of the fish on a zebra midge on the seams at the tops of the runs. We worked our way up stream coming to a nice deep pool and saw several fish feeding just below the surface. Mike hooked a couple nice ones and then they were on to us. We decided to take a break for lunch and rest the spot. We knew there were many more fish to be caught in that hole.

While we were eating we started seeing fish taking bugs off the surface. A nice little PMD hatch was now in progress. It was on. We changed flies and both guys went after the rising fish. The fish weren't committing suicide. You had to put the fly in the right spot and get a good drift but if you did, fish on! It was challenging but that's what keeps us coming back! Both guys did a great job with Steve landing what was to be the big fish of the day. Good cast, perfect hook set, great job of playing a big fish on light tippet. Not bad for the first day!

The fishing began to slow around 3 and buy 4:30 it was pretty much over. We did have the privilege of running into a cow moose and her calf on the way out. All in all a pretty good day.  We stopped off in Meeteetse for the traditional after fishing Klondike bar and by the time we got to Cody it was pouring rain. We had hit the window and the fishing gods had smiled upon us once again!  Enjoy the pictures!

August 23rd

The Lower Shoshone Fall of 2010

The Lower Shoshone is back as of the fall of 2010! The river is as healthy as I've seen it and the fish are back up to a respectable size from the fish kill of 2008.  I never would have though a river could recover as quickly as this one seems to have done. Many factors have contributed to it's return as one of the best streamer fisheries in the state.

 

The fish kill of 08 occurred due to running the flows to high for to long after an unexpectedly large amount of run off came down very quickly during the summer. Who would have thought that to much water can have worse consequences than to little water to a fish population. The fish couldn't get out of the current and with their food displaced , simply swam until they starved to death.

 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. stepped right in with an aggressive stocking program, releasing 60,00 cutthroats a year. The river bottom was totally cleaned of spawn choking sediment by the high water and the remaining brown trout took full advantage of this with very successful spawns in the fall when the water is low and clear. The remaining rainbows had some success even though the flows rise dramatically in the spring, washing away a lot of their effort. It was as if we had a second chance. One other factor that I believe has has a positive effect on the fishery is the fire of 08 on the north side of the North Fork. Heavy summer rains dumped tons of nutrients into the reservoir. These  nutrients continued coming out of the dam all year acting like a huge nutrient shake for the river. Insects and fish rebounded at an astonishing rate.

 

Now, in the fall of 2010 we have a viable fishery back. The average size fish is 13" to 16" with many fish pushing the 17" to 18" mark. A few even a bit bigger. The fish are in extremely good shape. They have had almost no fishing pressure and have been eating well for 2 years. The river may even continue on this upward trend for a couple more years before it finally finds its ceiling.

 

The Lower Shoshone is not your average tail water fish factory like the San Juan, the Green, or the Bighorn. It doesn't support  ridicules numbers of fish that are crammed into every hole making it easy for any chuckling angler to catch 40 fish a day. You have to have some fishing skill and it really helps if you have an advanced feel for tossing streamers. Hitting the right spots and controlling your flies is the name of the game. There can be incredible dry fly fishing at times, especially in the spring, but the best fish are almost always caught sub surface. Floating is the way to go until the flows drop at the end of irrigation season in October.

 

I am very encouraged by what I have seen of this rivers character since the water has begun to clear. It is still early and the water quality is not quite there yet but on the days I have spent on the water lately the fishing has been great. Healthy fat fish! I have averaged about 20 to 25 fish a day from 15" to almost 20".  Not huge numbers by some standards but beautiful challenging fish and not another soul on the water. Let's hope it stays this way. Enjoy the! pictures

 

August 17th

Big Little Creek

Took the day to do some more blue line exploring. I haven't fished this little stream in a couple of years so I decided to drop in and see how it is doing. It has a pretty good population of small rainbows and a few brookies. It is a deep canyon, doesn't get much light, and runs really fast most of the summer so the fish stay very small but are healthy. This particular strain of rainbows have adapted to this creek in a unique way. They have extra large eyes for their size. Is it because food goes by so fast, not much light, I don't know but they all have big eyes in proportion to their size.

The thing I like most about this creek is there are never any people. I didn't see one sign of man even this late in the season. It is absolutely beautiful in there. Very fast pocket water with a few nice pools. You would think these fish would be easy but ah contraire! Very few came to the dry and they required stealth and a perfect drift to get a bite. Fly selection was even an issue. Interesting! They appear to be flourishing as they were last time I fished here.

I fished for a couple hours and had my fill. Lots of old wolf sign around. Piles of old elk and goat bones all over. A couple of red tails were screaming at me, angry at my trespassing. I even ran into a couple mountain goats on the rim. They were as surprised to see me as I was them. They looked to be in excellent shape considering how sparse this terrain is. The dogs and I just hiked around checking things out for 5 or 6 hours. It was a lot of fun and even though we went quite a ways I felt rejuvenated when we got back to the truck.

Try a small stream some time. I truly believe this is the fly fishing adventure of the future. A real wilderness experience with beautiful wild fish. Enjoy the pictures!

 

August 15th

My friends Dan and Lynn Breck dropped by for their annual Cody trip. The weather was kind of iffy the first Day so we went else where and fish a high mountain stream. It almost snowed on us but we had a great time anyway. We did get into a little PMD hatch for a couple hours and it was fish after fish if you got the drift. When we got back to Cody the weather cleared and we hit the North Fork.

This was my first North Fork float of the year with clients. The river has had so much fishing pressure that we have just avoided it but it is Dan and Lynn's favorite river so even though it was Sunday we gave it a go. Our strategery was to get on the water by 6 a.m.  This turned out to be a very good move. We caught fish from the get go and avoided people for half the day.

We tried various rigs but the nymph rig was definitely the best producer. Our secret fly was the killer. We went through about 2 dozen over the course of the day. The fish are only in certain types of water this time of year. When you get one fish we would just row back up and make passes till we no longer caught fish. Usually we would get 5 or 6 out of each good spot.

Around 10 a.m. the trico spinner fall started and even though the fish didn't notice them, they seemed to really turn on for a couple hours. We started getting crowded by boats about 11a.m. but if you get a good spot and just let them zoom by the fishing was pretty darn good. Patience and persistence pay off.

We ate lunch at Wapiti and there were 7 other boats under the bridge! I've never seen this many boats on this river on one stretch! Several times we had people drop right in and fish the same hole we were fishing. We never saw them catch anything but this is simply not Wyoming manners and I hope this day was just exception and not the rule as to what our fishing is to become.

The quality of the fish seemed to improve after lunch. These fish took line like bonefish. You could actually hear the line hissing as it went by. We LDR'ed at least a dozen really nice fish just after lunch. There was simply nothing you could do with them. By the end of the day we had landed 30 or so and had at least 2 dozen come unbuttoned. Not a stellar day for this river but where else can you hook that many 16" to 20" fish in one day!

We were the first boat on the river and the last boat off. We caught fish all day all we all agreed we had a ball. Dan and Lynn have become great friends over the years and I look forward to their visits very much every year! Enjoy the pictures.

 

August 9th

Peanut Butter Bamboo and Bear Spray

This was a day that we all needed. Kirk, our emergency room doctor, has been dealing with motorcycle wrecks, bear attacks and buffalo goring. Fran had been teaching in Boston all year. I had been guiding steadily pretty much all summer. This was our first time to fish together freely as friends this summer.

 

Fran is the guy who gave me my first bamboo rod. Some friends gave him one a couple years ago and he wasn't really interested in them at the time so he passed it along to me. That was the beginning of the end as it has become a passion for me. Today I returned the favor by giving him a rod I had refinished a while back. It turned out to be a good idea. We rode in a couple miles in Kirk's Ranger and then fished our way up stream a couple more miles. We left all soulless graphite straws in the car and fish only the lovely reed.

 

We went to one of Kirks favorite blue line streams, Little Creek. It is a remote creek with lots of grizzly bears and almost no fishing pressure. We never saw a foot print that wasn't made by us. Usually by this time of year there isn't enough water to hold many fish but that was not the case this year. The flows where perfect. There were lots of medium brown stones hatching. We put on some big dries and it was on. Interestingly, the fish weren't as easy as you would expect in such a remote area. The cast and drift had to be perfect  and you only got one or two chances before the jig was up. The fish were perfect unmolested wild Yellowstone cutts. They are beautifully camouflaged. Even though the water was gin clear you couldn't see them till they moved on the fly.

 

My greatest joy of the day was Fran getting into the bamboo thing. So far in Cody there are only a few people that understand what bamboo has to offer the fly angler. Some people get it, others never will. I think Ed Engle said it best when he said, "Graphite is for shooting line and bamboo is for casting line." The light bulb went on for Fran! After a few casts a smile appeared on his face. By the time he landed his first fish it was all over. He is on his way down the slippery slope. You can't really describe what happens but if it does happen to you, it changes you and it is good. Very cool!

 

We had a spectacular day! We took turns on each hole. Miss 3 strikes and your out. The fish were beautiful as was the scenery. We fished late but all seemed refreshed after the long day. It doesn't get any better! Enjoy the pictures.

August 6th

I hiked into the Clarks Fork Canyon for the second time this year. The first trip the water was muddy and I didn't bother to fish. This time there was about 1 1/2' of visibility. The water is still a bit high and the hatches down there are just getting started. Just a few mayflies and caddis. The golden stones have yet to emerge. Fishing was great, catching fair. There were fronts coming in all day and that seemed to put the fish off every time the weather changed. Largest landed fish was about 17" with most being small guys. I did turn a couple real nice fish on streamers that were between 18" and 20" but they didn't take.

 

The fish look very good. Not very many tracks down there yet. There were 7 piles of bear poop on the trail but we didn't see any of the depositors. Mosquitoes are not to bad this year. The river has changed quit a bit due to the high water this spring. It always amazes me that these fish do as well as they do in such harsh conditions. They are true survivors.

 

The rod of choice on this day was the 8' Phillipson Firehole special. The fish were up on the Bah Behr all morning and then started taking a prince dropper in the afternoon probably as a caddis. Amazing to see such small fish attack a huge dry!

 

The fishing should improve as the water clears and the weather settles. There are plenty of better fish in in there, we just couldn't get them interested.  Probably because of the weather and the water being off color. I'll be heading back down soon to try it as soon as the water clears. There is no place I like to fish more!

July 22nd

I had another Guide's day of so I high tailed it for Big Snake Creek. Weather was partly cloudy and nice all day. A little wind in the afternoon. The morning started out a little slow so I went deep with the Beldar and a soft hackle sow bug dropper. Picked up a couple nice fish out of the first run and decided to move on and do some exploring.

I was fishing my Phillipson Dry Fly Special. It is an 8 1/2' 3 piece 6wt made for big western water and big fish. A perfect choice for this creek. You can cast anything from tiny dries with delicacy to big honking streamers. The tips are still soft enough to handle light tippet. This rod can do it all in the west!

 

I got bit in the second hole almost immediately. These fish are big and in fast water so it is pretty easy to loose them which is exactly what I did with the first couple. Cutthroats are notorious thrashers. They use this strategy to dislodge themselves from predators, mainly eagles and osprey. I calmed myself and started paying a little better attention to playing the fish out of the current. I landed several from the deepest part of the hole. I then hit the current seam and picked up several more beauties. This day was turning out almost to good to be true!

 

The fish were fairly active. The first couple were dead drift. Got several more on the swing with the little soft hackle. I then stripped the streamer through the hole and got a couple savage strikes! That's the thing I like about streamer fishing. Versatility!

 

I headed down stream swinging the streamer steelhead style for a couple hundred yards without a hit. At the bottom of the run I finally picked up a real nice bright fish. There is an island that I like to fish but I had never tried to get out there at these flows. I made a practice run and it was swift but I figured no guts no glory. The worst I could do was get wet and the weather was nice and warm. I made it without a hitch but the return would be the test. You have to wade up stream in the current for about 200 yards. I figured I would just take my chances.

 

It felt good to finally be on dry ground and I decided to start with some dries as it would be the least invasive technique and work down from there. First cast a huge cutt came up and gobbled a stimulator! Sweet! A few more casts produced another great fish. I kept hearing fish rise but I couldn't see them. I sat back and watched and when I spotted one, made the cast, and fish on! To much fun for one day.

 

When the dry action subsided, I put on a dropper and here we went again. I have never caught so many fish in this river as I did today. Spectacular! 90% of these fish were 3 lbs and up. I'm pretty sure some went close to 5lbs. Amazing!  I did catch a couple that were only 16" or 17". ONLY!

 

Well, I didn't want to wear out my welcome so I decided to quit about 3p.m. I still had to make the river crossing. I went as far up stream as I could and then angled down and across. It was touch and go but I managed to get out just before being swept into a big deep section. As I headed back to the truck, all I could think about was that I am truly living the dream! I can't see how this day could have been any better.  Enjoy the pictures!

Dropping in!

Stone Flies are all over the place!

Here's some dormant Buffalo flies in the cooler weather!

First cast!

Big stone nymph!

July 21st

Pickett Creek finally came down enough to have some fun fishing. It is still very high but if you have a death wish and don't mind going for a swim now and then, you can get around. We hiked down into the canyon and with a front moving in I had my doubts on how the fishing would pan out. I only had about 3 hours to see what was going on. As soon as we got to the water I noticed tons of small black stone flies on the rocks. The cool weather had the bugs dormant but the fish were looking for them on the edges and any place the current slowed.

Dry Stone Fly!

 

The fish are in very nice shape! After fishing Yellowstone yesterday you can really see the difference in unmolested fish. There are even a bunch of smaller fish in the 8" to 10" which is nice to see. The creek is very healthy.

Another Beautiful Fish!

 

Almost all the fish took the nymph. I had a couple come up and take the dry and I think if the sun was out, they would have been much more willing to come up. I had a blast for the limited time I had to fish! I probably landed about 15 fish between 15" and 18". A couple bigger fish got off in the fast current as usual. This is definitely one of the premier streams in our area. How much longer it can remain good is up to us. Take care of the less than 10% of what remains of the wild Yellowstone Cutthroats!  Enjoy the pictures!

This is one of the prettiest fish I've ever seen!

Dogs hearing Indian Spirits!

Second cast!

Good to see some little guys!

Nice and healthy!

Bah Behr!

July 20th

Johnny Stafford and I finally got a day off so we hit Lamar valley for the day. The water is now in prime shape. In the morning we fished midges sub surface and had excellent results. The fish look to be in very good shape with the exception of their mouths which are already showing signs of wear and tear. I fished my Abercrombie Fitch Firehole made by Bill Phillipson. It is an 8' three piece for a #5 line and is perfect for Soda Butte and the Lamar. A true joy to cast no matter what you are throwing. The only resemblance of a hatch we saw was some PMD's for about an hour. The fish were mainly taking emergers but we managed a couple with a dry. There were also a few black stones about #10 and I got a few to come up and take that. It was very fun working on each fish and getting them to take. Swinging an emerger to the surface below a big dry was killing them.

 

We broke for lunch by the Buffalo Ranch in the shade. Midday it had to hit 85. The black flies were all over you but if you covered yourself in Deet they didn't bite. Just a nuisance with 50 of them buzzing around your head all day. The Lamar was great as well. We never saw any bugs hatching but I got quite a few to come up to the legendary Bah Behr. I fished it with a deep dropper. The sun was high and bright and the fish were down but if you made some nice long drifts they would take either fly. Most came out of the deep side of the run with a little current. All in all it was a very successful day. I think I got 25 or so and Johnny got about the same. There were quite a few people and guided trips fishing but you are still able to get on some good runs. Just wait for people to leave and cover the water with some good drifts and you will get fish out of every good looking spot. Glad to see the fish in this heavily pressured water looking good. (at least their body mass) Another river that shows catch and release is the best way to keep good fishing intact. Enjoy the pictures!

   

July 14th-16th

My good friend Jim Haeck came over from West Yellowstone to ply the much less crowded waters of the Bighorn Basin. Jim and I have been friends for several years and are both fly fishing addicts. Jim is a retired teacher and has worked in a Michigan fly shop for the last 12 years. As you advance down the fly fishing road, taking things to the extreme like fishing in super high water and chunking a bunch of lead becomes less meaningful. The pursuit becomes more of a quality issue. Casting dry flies to wary fish in spring creek type situations  is much more appealing than just fish size. Most of you who know me know I am partial to bamboo but Jim had brought along a 7'9"Sage LL with a sliding band cork reel seat that is one of the sweetest graphite rods ever made for this type of fishing! We decided to fish almost exclusively with dries for a couple days even though it was exactly the opposite of what most other anglers were doing at this time. It was very interesting to say the least!

 

The weather had just changed from cool to hot, bright, and sunny. As we walk down to where we wanted to start, we saw fish spooking from over 50 feet. We used stealth and concentrated on precise first cast presentations. The fish were extremely sensitive early on. We tried different flies and nothing really seemed to trip the trigger. Finally the fish began to feed a bit. We used a parachute sparkle dun with a proprietary mayfly emerger for the slower water and a big orange dry with a dropper for the faster water. In the slow water the fish would only take the emerger. Drift had to be perfect. The takes were so subtle that they seldom moved the dry indicator. Sweet! Then for no apparent reason the fish began to hit the big orange dry! We had a couple rods rigged with the two set ups and switched, depending on the nature of the water we were fishing. The bites got better as the day progressed but dropped off right about 5. There were no apparent hatches of any significance besides some tiny midges in the evening. We landed 20 0r 30. Not a great day but very interesting fishing!

 

We got up early the next morning and hit a lake for a half day. We thought it would be about dry damsels because that had been the deal a couple days earlier. Again, we had to rethink it and modify our approach for each individual situation. We saw cruising fish with their heads down right off the bat. First cast Jim hooked a hot rainbow. It took 40' of line, made a couple jumps and went into the weeds. This turned out to be the fishes strategery all day. Again, bright sun made it critical that the first cast be the one! Jim probably hooked and lost 7 or 8 fish before finally landing a nice rainbow. We tried different flies but the presentation seemed to be the major contributing factor to getting a bite. If the cast was accurate and the fish didn't see you, fish on!  The big fish of the day, a 21" rainbow, came up and took a dry damsel with a big head out of the water slurp which made my day!   Jim landed 5 or 6 and then the fish turned off about 1 when it got very hot. Another interesting day!

 

The last day we went back up high. It was supposed to be even hotter still but we figured that this might help the hatch as there had been a recent cool snap that had shut down the hatches a couple days earlier. We thought we were dialed in because we had done pretty well the day before but almost nothing that had worked well for us even moved a fish. Oh no! We had to use our extremely limited intellect again! After much trial and error we pulled a couple beetles out of our butts and decided to stick with it for a while. Jim stalked along making good casts and staying low. We got no fish from the slower eddies and edges. The fish were just to spooky. The riffels and cut banks were a different story. The beetle began to work it's magic!  By about 10:30 almost any fish that saw the beetle would take it! Some would chase it down stream for 5 or 6 feet. Others would hit it 2 or 3 times before finally getting hooked. It was BEETLE MANIA! We lost count of fish caught but it was a bunch. We had planned to stay till sun down but by 5 or so we had both simply had enough. We would like to think that we were super perceptive anglers and figured something out but in the end it was just blind luck and perseverance that made the difference. At any rate, we had a ball! It was 3 great days of fly fishing that turned out totally different than either of us had expected. That's why we keep coming back! Enjoy the pictures!

BEETLE MANIA!

 

Tight Lines!

 
     

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