Winter Newsletter

November 2008 - March 2009

05/12/2009

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

     
Average fish from past years

December 27th        What Happened to the Lower Shoshone

The aftermath of this summers super high flows and other less obvious factors in the Lower Shoshone are now very apparent. The river has suffered a major fish kill in much of the river as well as a major kill of many of its invertebrates.  I have been noticing a steady decline in the fish population for the past 3 years. Here are some of my thoughts and observations.

Starting in 2006 I noticed a major decrease in numbers of large fish from the Corbett bridge down stream to the Willwood dam. In previous years I had caught good numbers of fish (mostly browns and cutthroats) in the 17" to 20" range and it was not uncommon to get some up to 26". In 2006, when the flows were cut back for irrigation, there were literally millions of sow bugs and scuds left high and dry on the flat above the dam. Since then, I have seen very few bugs even though the vegetation was still plentiful. In the fall of 2008 the fish population above the dam is very small and the average size of the fish is now 10". Below Corbett dam most of the fish are Snake river cutts in the 8" to 10" range. Most of these fish appear to be stocked cutthroats. Very small numbers of spawning browns were spotted this year below the dam as they head up stream. The biomass is very sparse.

In 2007 I began to notice a decline in fish 15" to 17" from the Belfry bridge to the Corbett bridge. In this section rainbows seemed to be the ones taking the biggest hit. In previous years there had been plenty of fish (brown, rainbows, and cutthroats) in the 15" to 17" range with fish to 20" being caught on a regular basis. In the fall of  2008 we have seen very few fish above 16" with the average fish being more in the 8" to 12" range. Most of these fish appear to be stocked rainbows and cutthroats with a good number of wild browns. This section appears to have been hit the hardest for what ever reason. Examination of the biomass reveals only a few small mayfly nymphs with just a few caddis. The midge population was impacted by the removal of the sediment during the high water. I also found very few scuds or sow bugs.

As recently as the spring of 2008 the Paul Stock trail area was loaded with fish in the 15" to 17" range. These populations have been greatly reduced as well by the fall of 2008. This area seems to have held its own better than the rest of the river but there are not many fish 15" to 17". The population has been reduced by more than half. The average size fish is now 10". Mayflies and midges are the main course with very few sow bugs, scuds, and caddis. The canyon section has held its own as well. There seems to be less than half the # of  fish but the remaining fish are in the 12" to 14" size and  this may even be an increase in size from a couple years ago.

The Willwood  dam to Powell section is also holding its own. We had caught some of the largest fish in the system down here in the past. This year we did not see as many of the fish from 18" to 22" but we did see pretty good numbers of rainbows with some bear river cutts and a few browns from 15" to 17".  There were still good numbers of sow bugs, caddis and mayflies on the rocks.

What has caused this situation? I think the most immediate factor was the super high summer flows. The high water made it impossible for the bigger fish to eat enough to keep them from loosing weight while swimming in the faster water. It doesn't take as much food for the smaller fish. Much of the food was also washed away in the flows. The fish became displaced with less food and many could not make it. The thing is, we had noticed a decline prior to the high water. Was it fishing pressure? Could it have been disease or some form of pollution? Could it have been sedimentation from agricultural run off? Is this thing just a big natural cycle? We just can't be sure but we should definitely be keeping and eye on things. This is almost as big a change in fish population as was seen on the Yellowstone in the Park.

The bright side of the story is that the river is now clean and should be able to provide great spawning habitat for the next couple years if there are any fish left to spawn. The insects will have better habitat as well. The Wyoming Game and Fish has already stocked 30,000 Snake River cutts to help replace the fish that were killed. At $2 a fish you do the math. This is the largest # of fish ever stocked in the Lower Shoshone at one time! We must give the GAF credit for getting some fish back in the river quickly. It may take several years for things to come back if the high water was the main problem. Let's hope this is what will happen.

There are some things that we can do at this point. We can instigate a no kill regulation on the river for all fish 14" and larger. This will keep the naturally reproducing fish in the river. It will probably be necessary to restock the river again, at least in some places. The 6 fish limit has always been to many fish. This could be dropped to 3 and be a little more responsible.

One last point. We need to take a serious look at water management issues. Never in the history of the Buffalo Bill dam has a sustained flow of 6500 for that length of time occurred. We simply did not release enough water to be able to keep the flows at a reasonable level during the summer. Now we know what a negative effect this has on the river and we can try to adjust the release schedule to compensate for big run off years. We will all be paying the price for some time. One thing is for sure. The river got a much needed flushing flow. We need to do everything we can to preserve the natural treasures that make Wyoming the place I want to call home. Just some observations and ideas.

Big fish from this fall

     
 

Big fat rainbow!

Beautiful stocky fish!

Check the blue spot!

Nice Big Brown!

Nice!

Good color!

Nice fish!

November 8th             

Wind River Canyon 101

I spent the past three days fishing the Wind River Canyon and it has to be the best big fish water in Wyoming bar none!  John Gierach wrote about it in his book "Still Life with Brook Trout" and described the canyon as being very steep sided, covered with boulders and poison ivy, and darn near impossible to fish from the bank. To all but the most hardy fisherman, this is exactly what it is.  Once you reach the water it doesn't get any easier. You will be walking on trash can size boulders and wading fast current most of the day.

The fish are big.  Fish average 18" to 20" with some pushing the 30" mark.  My biggest to date was a 27" rainbow that had to go at least 7lbs or more.  Browns are the predominant species followed by rainbows and then a few Snake river cutthroats. It is rare to catch anything smaller than 16".

The river definitely fishes better on overcast days. It is rare for the browns to come out and play when the sun is out in the low water months from October 15th to April 15th. On bright days, look for the best fishing early, before the sun hits the water and late, after the sun drops below the top of the rim.  Fish the deepest fastest water in the middle of the day. Cloudy days can be good all day.

These are big predatory fish so don't expect to see many fish rising to little flies in the low water months. In the summer when the water is high you can have fantastic dry fly action on the edges with big Turks and other big attractors. In the low water months fish the deepest seams and edges next to fast water during the day. Look for fish to move to the edges and riffels as the sun drops later in the afternoon. On cloudy days fast stripping streamers on the edges is very productive especially for those aggressive browns. Finding the right kind of water to fish is critical to your success!

Use heavy tackle! I use a 9 foot 6wt rod.  My leader is straight 20lb mono with 18" 0X fluro tippet. The two best setups for me have been a 9ft leader with a #4 heavily weighted streamer. I put a trailer on 0X 18" behind the streamer with a sow bug or nymph of some sort or an egg if fish are spawning in the area. The other is a simple two fly nymph rig with 2 small split shot and both flies tied to 0X. Sometimes the fish want it really moving, sometimes they will prefer a dead drift, and sometimes they will want to take the flies on the swing. With these two systems you can give it to them exactly the way they want it. As always there are many ways to skin a cat. This is what has worked well for me.

Here's a hint on landing these fish. You can expect these guys to take you into the backing in fast current QUICK!  It is important to get moving down stream as soon as you see the fish dropping into the fast water below the hole it was hooked in. Running down big rocks while trying to take back line and not kill yourself is the only way to keep from loosing these fish. It can get pretty comical at times. I'd say most of these fish have a fifty-fifty chance of  leaving you standing there holding an empty reel with a slack line.  What can be more fun and exciting!

The Wind River Canyon is rugged, wild and beautiful! It has some of the healthiest, heftiest fish in the state. If you like big fish and are up to the challenges the canyon presents there is no better place in Wyoming. One final note: It is located on the Wind River Indian Reservation and requires a special permit.  Here are just some of the fish  from the last three days fishing. I'm going back next week!  Enjoy!

              

Massive!                                25" Rainbow

 

Average canyon brown!

Perfect wild Rainbow!

24" Brown

Perfect Bow!

Another!

Amazing scenery!

Toad!

Nice rainbow!

 

Taking him downtown!

 

Super thick Brown!

 

Another nice one!

 

They don't get any better!

 

82 and still climbing the rocks!

November 14th            

Fishing with old Guys

Since I first moved to Wyoming, I have been lucky enough to fish with a lot of old guys. As a 40 year old with out a real job, the only guys I fished with were retired guys simply because we were the only ones who didn't have anything else to do but fish.

When I first started fly fishing other fly fisherman my age would see me flailing away and just laugh and say "There goes that dumb southern boy again." A couple old guys took pity on me and would come over and offer advice, give me a couple flies, and show me some valuable techniques that would have taken me years to figure out. They taught me everything I now know about fly fishing. Those are now some of my fondest memories. We had many good times, lots of laughs, and founded countless stories that are still told to this day.

Sadly, these guys get older, loose the ability to wade like they used to and can't hike into canyons and such anymore. Now it is my turn to give them a hand if I can. I can help by finding them good fishing in easily accessible places, putting them in a raft where they don't have to wade, and just taking them fishing as much as possible.

My #1 old guy is Don Hicks.  He is 82 this weekend. We have been fishing partners for a long time now. I finally talked him into buying a Reservation permit after all these years. It was a struggle as old guys can be frugal (if you know what I mean).

I coerced him with promises of big fish concentrated in certain areas. It would be EASY!  Well, the first day it wasn't. He only hooked one fish and it took him downtown and broke him off!  He was a bit disappointed but still he knew that it was the biggest fish he had hooked all year. After a couple days rest, he was ready to go again and try to get his monies worth out of that permit.

This was his day from the start. Don hooked and landed 5 big wild fish out of the first run. All 18" to 21" rainbows that really put up a good fight. The next hole he nailed a 3 or 4 big browns. Finally, he decided he wanted to go back into the canyon where we had fished before and take revenge on the fish that broke him off. He got 2 more rainbows and 3 big browns. 82 years old and still fishing and climbing those rocks in the Wind River Canyon!

Here's some pictures from our day. I highly recommend getting yourself an old guy or three.  I have more fun fishing with these guys than anyone and who knows, maybe when I get old someone will take me fishing to. Enjoy!

Dons Big Rainbow!

Fish on!

 

Sweet!

 

Frisky fish!

 

Real healthy fish!

 

Sweet revenge!

 

150 year old dog!

Granger 9053!

Patent screw lock reel seat!

It can handle the big ones!

Jeremiah's first fish on Boo!

Big Rainbows!

Natural!

Nice!

December 4th

For the past couple of months I have been playing around with a 9' Granger bamboo rod. This rod was made for smallmouth bass, large trout and steelhead. I bought the rod on Ebay, refinished it, and put it up for sale at the local fly shop. It sat there all summer. Many people would pick it up  and comment on how pretty it was but be deterred from buying it because it weighs 2 1/2 oz. more that a graphite rod of this size. Man am I glad it didn't sell! Here's the story.

Bamboo rod making originated on eastern waters. The streams are smaller and there is a lot less wind. These days most of the trout are smaller as well. The bamboo rod market is dominated by collectors. Since there were fewer short rods made and most of the collectors that fish bamboo (up until recently) fished in the east, the shorter rods commanded higher prices and became much more desirable to collectors. The longer rods were touted as to heavy and were over kill on most trout streams. The good news is they are much cheaper!

Wyoming: Big water, Big fish, Big wind. When I first considered fishing the big Granger, the first thing I noticed in the shop was the weight. 5 1/2 oz for a 9' rod. It felt heavy in hand, especially without a reel on it. I knew I would be throwing big extremely heavy streamers and nymph rigs all day so the first step was to get the rod as balanced and comfortable as possible. I fitted it with an old Pflueger Medalist with 100yds of backing and a 6wt double taper line. The rod still balanced about 3 inches in front of the cork. I added some lead core line behind the backing until the balance point was just below my thumb. It felt much lighter in hand even though the actual weight had gone up.

I took the Rod fishing a couple of times. I was amazed at what I could do with it but I'll get to that in a minute. It still was somehow uncomfortable and my wrist got tight after about a half day. The problem was with the grip. The grip was to wide where my little finger and the finger next to it try to come together. Since I was keeping the rod, I broke out the sand paper and went to town on the grip. I carefully removed just enough cork to make it feel right while trying to maintain the original shape of the handle. It was still going to take some getting used to but it was much much better! Now were on to something!

The Wind River Canyon is where I intended to use this rod. You almost need a special set of skills to fish this water. Long casts are required. Big mends because of the fast currents. Enough backbone to throw the heaviest streamers and cumbersome nymph rigs. A good roll caster. And last but most important, a super high back cast because of the steep banks directly behind you all day! The big Granger was the perfect tool for the job!

When I fish graphite, I fish a Winston B11X 6wt. It has a pretty soft tip and from time to time I catch myself trying to force a cast to get more distance. The big Granger has more than enough power to put the fly anywhere you want with much less effort. When you hook a fish you feel it all the way into the handle. It is great fun to fight fish on this rod! It roll casts like a dream. I found that once I brought the flies to the surface I could easily roll cast the heaviest stuff with ease. I can put a lot of pressure on the fish and muscle them out of the current. There have been no ill effects to the tips. I estimate landing over 50 fish in excess of 3lbs (some much more) in 2 months. They are still straight as an arrow. And, it is also beautiful and has 60 years of fishing MOJO!

The moral is, take the opinions of the experts with a grain of salt. What doesn't work for some may work just fine for you. Fly fishing has been much more fun the last couple of months with this rod. Had I believed what everyone was saying and gotten rid of this rod I would have never seen that when used for what it was intended, it is a fantastic fishing tool! Now I know how they did it back in the 40's. Just like we do it now! Give it a try!  Scott

Pretty wraps!

All original $200!

Tosses streamers No Problem!

Easy!

Big Browns are no match!

Nostalgic!

Sweet!

Very Ugly!

Nope!

Getting Uglier!

Ugly on Bamboo!

Bottomless pit!

Couple more years to ugly!

To nice a fish!

The Winner!

Happy New Year!

 

December 29th

The first annual Ugly Stocker day was a huge success! The weather was absolutely perfect!  Almost 50 degrees and no wind. The stockers were there and as usual, willing.

 

We dropped in at around 10 am and caught 3 fish in 4 casts. We all assumed it would be like that all day. It wasn't. The cunning and baffling stockers were effected by the bright sun just like their wild relatives. Wayne, Don and I fished the big run hard and only got 4 or 5 more. They were down deep and slow due to the cold water. We were going to have to work for them.

 

Our first thoughts were that they had spread out and moved down stream with the current. Stockers are used to a pretty cushy lifestyle, lounging in pools, eating pellets, and mating. We figured they would be in the slowest water on the edge of seams looking for something to eat. Guess what? They were!

 

Don found a likely looking spot and proceeded to pull out 3 or 4 in a row. Unfortunately, they all looked pretty good. They had all their fins and tails intact and pretty good color. No bulbous bumps on the lower jaw. Darn!

 

Wayne picked up a couple as well but they also were in pretty good shape. This was turning into a serious competition! We decided to spread out and just fish for a while.

 

I waded down stream and found the mother load in a pool in the middle of the river where two currents came together. Now I was into some big ugly fish! Terrible yellow coloration, clipped fins and huge bulbous growths on the lower jaw from rubbing on the concrete tanks. This is what we came for!

 

Alex and Anthony had arrived late and I waved them down to the spot. This was Alex's first trip to the canyon and he was ready to catch some fish. With Anthony on one side and me on the other Alex proceeded to pull in five fish while we went fishless. He has great "MOJO." He got one real nice rainbow about 4 lbs but unfortunately it was nice looking with good color and nice fins.

 

We moved back up stream and found another spot that held some nice ugly fish. Alex lost a couple and then Anthony caught a horrific fish. It had a huge bump on its jaw rubbed red on the gravel. It's tail and fins were ragged with one clipped. It had a terrible yellow coloration that spoke of many years of artificial diet. Here's a picture of Alex vomiting at the site of this fish (at right).  So far, this was the obvious winner!

 

The rest of the afternoon went about the same with many fish caught. Don got one he said was 22" with a tape and one of the most disgusting fish he had ever seen but without a picture, we couldn't count it. All in all, it was a very fun time for everyone. We laughed all day. It was just nice to be able to fish without gloves. After many days of being stuck inside with cabin fever, this day fishing with a bunch of good friends was just what we all needed . Everyone was a winner today! We were all glad to have those Ugly Stockers!

Not  Ugly enough!

Fish on!

U' gly it's Italian!

Not bad!

Mr Mojo!

Super Ugly hole!

Very nice and Ugly!

This fish made him sick!

Disgusting!

Fireplace!

7 1/2' Peerless "63"

Leonard Red Wraps!

Dry Fly Special!

 

January 19th

My wife Dawn has been wanting a fireplace insert for the last couple years so this Christmas we decided to pool all our Christmas money and get one. Originally, I was not that enthusiastic about crawling under the house and running a bunch of black pipe in Brown Recluse and Hanta virus territory but when everything was in place it turned out to be very nice. A nice addition to the living room.

Dawn had been pretty adamant that there was to be no more bamboo rod purchases for a while but after the fireplace was in she liked it so much that she decided to surprise me with another Bamboo rod for my birthday. It just so happened that Tom Pursak had another of his late fathers rods up for sale.

I had purchased a 8 1/2' Phillipson Peerless Dry Fly Special from Tom back in June. Tom's dad was an avid bamboo collector and fisherman and his rods are always in great shape. Both these rods had been customized by bamboo rodsmith R. W. Lancaster, a well known bamboo master, with an unusual ventilated grip. I really like the first one so it was just a stroke of luck to be able to get a matching set.

The new rod is a 7 1/2 Phillipson Peerless "63". It is a 3 3/4 oz. 5 wt with a very modern taper. This rod is on the fast side for bamboo and throws nice tight loops. Out here in Wyoming where rivers are big and wind is a fact of life, a rod with a little backbone is an advantage. It still retains the ability to roll cast well and present flies with extreme delicacy when called to do so. On top of that it is impregnated which means it does not depend on a coat of varnish for it to be waterproof (less maintenance). It is a perfect rod for most of our local waters. Small fish feel good on it. Big fish feel better. It has enough backbone to toss any set up called for.

One interesting thing about the bamboo market is that rods generally go down in value if they have been modified or are not original in any way. Since both these rods have the unique grip and have been rewrapped I was able to pick them up for less than half of what an original rod would have gone for. In other words the rods had been restored to perfect fishing condition, cast the same as an original, and were less than half price! On top of that, they will only appreciate in value in the future! What a deal!

Anyway, they are both great fishing tools and are a blast to fish with. I even landed a couple carp on the 8 1/2' the other day with no ill effects to the rod. I probably won't be telling Bob Lancaster about that but they are tough. Here they are and boy am I lucky to have such a cool wife. Tight Lines!

 

8 1/2' Peerless with big carp!

Matching Set!

Ventilated Grips!

Less than half price!

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 21st

Chip Clouse, Kirk Bollinger, and I fished the Bighorn at Ft Smith. Weather was 57 degrees with no wind and partly cloudy. Best weather ever for January!

 

We started with nymph rigs with the classic San Juan worm, sow bug combo and picked up a couple fish on the way to the first run. There were several other boats floating. We were immediately surprised by other boats floating right through the water we were fishing. Edict is a thing of the past on the Horn even when there is ample room on the river.

 

Kirk decided to start throwing a streamer with a sow bug trailer and began getting hit after hit! Being stubborn and set in our ways, Chip and I immediately switched to a bugger sow bug combo and started catching fish as well. We all realized that the nice couple at the Bighorn Trout Shop had mentioned to try some streamers in the big deep holes. We really appreciated the good advice!

 

The browns had just finished up their spawn and had dropped back into the deepest slowest runs to rest and feed. They were really after the moving streamers. This came as a surprise because of the bright sun but they were hungry and not taking any prisoners. Much more fun than fishing a bobber!

 

Most of the fish were in the 12" to 15" range and seemed in pretty good shape considering they had just spawned. We did catch some 15" to 16" with a couple around 17' to 19". It was a good day for late January on the Bighorn. The flows were at 2465 and seemed low but adequate for a river of this size. Next year should be a good one for the Bighorn.

 

With the perfect weather, easy rowing and wading, and great company, we couldn't have asked for a more relaxing and enjoyable day! The fish were biting from 10 till just before the sun went down at 430. January is a great time to fish the Bighorn. If you want to fish a famous river without the crowds do it now. Here's the pictures from our trip. Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful brown!

Great fish!

Disgruntled!

Big rainbow on Bamboo!

Sweet!

Tough old guy!

February 24th

Kirk, Don and I fished the Wind River Canyon for the first time this year. The weather was bright and sunny with a little wind. Great weather for people but not so good for a brown trout fishery.

 

After picking up our reservation  licenses at the Thermopolis Hardware, who are all great people by the way, we headed in to one of our favorite places on earth. The water was crystal clear, which was great to look at but could mean spooky fish. We decided to use extreme stealth when approaching the water.

 

Kirk and Don spotted several nice rainbows nymphing in a big eddy and dropped in. I watched for a couple minutes. Kirk made a few casts and had a couple of bites on the dropper behind his streamer but they both came unbuttoned. I could see the fish from where I was watching and they approached with caution and the hits were very light.

 

I grabbed my 9' Granger 9053, which has become my favorite Wind River rod and headed down to a long deep run that I knew held a lot of nice fish. I decided on a nymph rig after what I had seen while watching Kirk and Don. As I made my way down to the water I saw a nice brown spook off the bottom and move to the middle of the river.

 

I tried to make long accurate casts with minimal false casting and get as long a drag free drift as possible. It worked! A nice brown was my reward. As I worked up the run I had one spot that produced 5 hits in 5 casts with 3 nice browns landed and 2 rainbows coming off. I couldn't believe they were biting that good with the bright sun!

 

The first couple hours turned out to be the best bite of the day. After 1p.m. things slowed down and we really had to work hard for a couple more fish. Kirk came down and we both managed a few more rainbows before we headed to the truck for lunch.

 

We hadn't seen Don all day so after we ate we went looking for him. He is a real tough old guy but at 82, I want to try to keep an eye on him in that canyon. We finally found him a couple thousand yards up stream casting at 4 big rainbows up against a sheer rock cliff. He had been fishing hard all day climbing those rocks. When we got to where he was fishing he hooked a big stock rainbow. He said that was the only bite he had all day.

Don said the same thing he said last year on our first day on the Reservation. "I'm never coming back to this dam place again." He called me this morning , pointing out that the weather in Thermopolis was looking promising latter in the week! It doesn't get any better! Enjoy the picts!

Starting to get active!

Doesn't get any better!

Healthy!

Fish On!

Nice Bow!

Carp Zilla!

Icy and windy!

Aggressive brown!

Green Meany!

Splake hit hard!

Fly Fishing is

March 3rd            Three Hours at Newton Lake

Johnny Stafford and I ran into each other at Newton. The wind was blowing steady at 15 to 20 with gusts up to 25 mph. The down wind side of the lake was white capping and the water was muddy on the edges. This makes for some killer streamer fishing for browns at Newton and it is one of the only times you can catch fish on 0X in this lake.

 

We rigged up and took a look off the dock to see if we could see any cruisers. Sure enough there were several right in front of the dock. 3 casts, 3 strikes, and one nice little brown to hand right off the dock! It was looking good on the first day the lake was entirely clear of ice.

 

The fish were really chasing for the first hour. In these conditions, the harder the wind blows, the better the fishing. We were both fishing Steve Paynes Green Meany 18" behind a big brown conehead bugger. Most of the hits came right at your feet on the Meany. Big long pulls with a pause and a long continuous pull at the end of the retrieve made all the difference. We saw 90% of the fish we caught take the fly right at our feet!

 

After an hour or two the wind started to die and the fish put their noses down looking for scuds. They would no longer take a moving streamer. We cast the scud, let it sit on the bottom, and when the fish approached gave it a slight twitch and bang! A very fun way to open the season at Newton. Interestingly, there had been at least 5 guys fishing the only stretch of open water 100 yds long the day before. Today, with the entire lake open, there was only one other fisherman and he was on the other side.

 

Fishing in a gale is not for everyone but it can be very productive at Newton and being able to use 0X give you a lot of confidence landing these fish. I am looking forward to the next really windy day!

 

Off the dock!

WIND!

Strikes Again!

Fish On!

EASY!

Best dog in the world!

Sydney the new fishing dog!

Sydney being an angle!

Dash's first fish!

March 18th

My beautiful fishing partner Christmas died last month of complications due to old age. She was 18. This is the first time I have been able to look at her pictures since she passed away. There will never be another dog like her and she will be deeply missed by everyone who knew her. Many considered her to be the best fishing dog they had ever seen. It was the most painful and emotional thing I have ever been through.

Yesterday we brought home our new pups. They are Australian Shepard's. The mom is one year old and just a great dog. She was one of the family from the time she got out of the car. She is very gentle and obedient. She has a great recall and follows most basic commands. Extremely smart. It took her 1 minute to figure out the new doggie door. She likes to chase rabbits on our morning walks but who doesn't.

The baby is extremely cute. She has pretty blue eyes and is a ball of energy. The first night she screamed for 9 hours straight. I have never heard a dog make a noise like that for so long. The next day I took her on a 5 mile walk and she was much better that night. She is only 6 weeks old and made 5 miles! This dog has a ton of heart.

They didn't take away the hurt of missing Christmas but the combination of fatigue and the fun of getting to know them has been just what I needed. I am no longer in a funk. My new pack likes to be up and running around 6:30 so it is doing me a world of good.

Dogs have taught me more about life than I can say and in these troubled times in our country we could all take a lesson from them. They are up early and enthusiastic about their new day. They have a good positive outlook and give it everything they have 24/ 7. They show us compassion and understanding no matter how much we take them for granted. I am loving having some new friends to play with. My recommendation: If you loose your dog get some more right away!

Christmas the fishing dog on the Smith in Mt.

Dash the other new fishing dog!

Dash learning the ropes with Don!

First Fish!

Nice Brown!

Big Rainbow!

On a Dry!

Fat Girl!

March 21st

My friend Mike Mucha called the other day and said his son Cody had been working hard and needed a day of fishing. That's what I call a good Dad! The weather was perfect, 60 and no wind, bright sun. The water was crystal clear which made for some fun but challenging fishing.

 

Cody is a hunting guide and fishes on his own quite a bit but doesn't get to fly fish much. He has good feel and was able to pick up on what needed to be done very quickly. The fish were on little #22 midges from the start. The hatch seemed to last all day with the evening being the heaviest.

 

We set up our rigs with or secret midge patterns and headed to the water. The fish were not moving much. They wanted the flies right on their noses. This meant we were constantly adjusting weight and depth depending on the speed and depth of the water. Once we found the right set up we caught fish!

 

Early in the day we really had to work for them but Cody managed to land 3 or 4 real nice ones and LDR'd 5 or 6 more. We ate a casual lunch around 2 P.M. and after lunch things really started to go our way. The midges came off big time! Fish began rising and we caught several on little dry flies. One was a beautiful Snake River cutthroat pushing 20". When the sun went down so did the fish. The last hour was phenomenal with several doubles and a couple real beauties sub surface. Of course the biggest fish got away!

 

The bite quit about 5 P.M. but we had both caught more than our share and went back to the car happy and very satisfied. It could not have been a nicer day for all of us. Good friends, beautiful weather and great fishing in one of the most beautiful places on earth! Enjoy the pictures.

Fly Fishing is EASY!

This one put up a fight!

Pretty Water!

Cutt pushing 20"!

Another Rainbow!

Big Fish of the Day!

Hopper Brown!

Breaking the Ice!

Great Brown!

North Fork Double!

Healthy Fish!

Chromer!

A little Windy!

Windy!

Very Windy!

First Pond Fish!

Super Healthy Brown!

Sweet Rainbow!

One Last Fish!

March 27th and 28th

My buddy Robin Jahnke of Sierra Trading Post brought his operations team to Cody for a couple of days of fishing. Robin and I have been fishing together for years now but this was the first time fishing in Cody for Adrian, Darren, and Joe. They are all avid fisherman, but just getting started with their fly fishing. A big cold front had just past through so we expected the fishing to be tough and that's exactly what happened.

 

We hit Newton Lake early Friday morning. There was a slight breeze and the temperature was below freezing. The guys got to experience freezing guides for the better part of the day. We saw no sign of fish or bug activity so we rigged several different setups and just started fishing to see what would happen. The fishing was very slow as we expected. We used some of this down time to talk over strategies, work out the casting bugs and just get a general idea of how we would fish the lake.

 

Robin struck first, landing a nice brown on (guess what!) a hopper of all things. We continued fishing, deicing guides, and just trying to stay warm for the first couple hours. Finally, Joe nailed a nice rainbow on the Green Meany. Not long after Adrian landed a nice rainbow on a Meany. Then Joe got another on a San Juan worm. Now Darren hooked a big brown on a Meany but LDR'ed it just before the net.

 

There was really no set pattern and just a smidgen of midges hatching. We figured there were just a few random fish cruising and if they saw a fly, they ate it. The wind began to pick up and the temps were still just above freezing so we decided to break for lunch.

 

While we ate lunch we spotted some fish activity just off shore and the guys went for it. In short order Joe and Adrian got a nice rainbow, and Darren LDR'ed another rainbow. We spread out and began working our way down the bank. Joe landed another big Brown. Then the fishing slowed. we decided to pull up stakes and head for a private pond with big rainbows. When we arrived it was frozen over from cold temps the night before. It was now 5 P.M. and we headed to the North Fork.

 

When we arrived the wind was howling! I'd say a steady 20mph with a few gusts! The temp was below freezing with the wind chill! Not a very enticing situation for guys learning to cast but everyone just dropped in and began to fish. We switched to heavy nymph rigs and streamers and let it rip!

 

The first hole Robin nailed a nice North Fork fish on our secret North Fork fly. These fish were healthy and really pull hard! Darren, Joe, and I headed up stream and began fishing some slow deep water. It wasn't long before we started hooking up. We waved the rest of the guys up and we caught fish until the sun went down. The wind was howling, our waders were freezing, and the net would freeze in position after we released fish! It was Awesome! This was an amazing start under these conditions and to have guys enthusiastic and fishing hard under these circumstances was just great! I was really looking forward to day 2!

 

Saturday morning the temps were supposed to be in the 50's and it looked like it would be nice weather when we left Cody. We had decided to try Hogan and Luce. I hadn't fished there yet and was interested to see how they were doing. When we arrived I was glad to see that both reservoirs had plenty of water but that was the extent of the good news. They were both off color and the wind was blowing about 30mph and it was looking like snow! We decided to head back to Newton and see if the weather was any better.

 

It wasn't! The wind was blowing like crazy but it wasn't looking like snow so we decided to try it. I explained to the guys that what we needed was more wind so the edges would become muddy and the fish would come in to feed. I know they had doubts but they just rigged up and off we went.

 

It took a while to get everyone on just the right technique. I started with Darren. We got into position, learned to get off a good cast in the wind and within a few minutes Darren nailed a nice brown in muddy water almost at his feet! Here came the confidence and in another minute, there was a nice rainbow! It was on!

 

Everyone was spread out casting streamers into muddy knee deep water in a 25MPH wind and catching fish! I have to say I was very proud of those guys and they are definitely the first beginners to ever attempt this kind of fishing! Every time someone would catch a fish you could hear," Fly Fishing is EASY!"

 

We caught big browns, rainbows, and splake. All we lacked was a brookie for the grand slam but they are very difficult this time of year. As you can see from the pictures it was a blast! After lunch the wind began to die and so did the catching. We set off in search of some more wind!

 

We hit the pond that was frozen the day before and it was ice free. Almost as soon as we got there Adrian hooked a nice little rainbow. Then Robin got into something big! We saw the fish fighting down deep and it was a 23" rainbow. All of a sudden it got heavier! We looked down and Robin had another 20" fish on the second fly! Unfortunately, the second fish broke off but Robin landed the biggest fish of the day! What a whopper!

 

Adrian hooked a huge fish as well. We saw it's head come out when it took the fly but that was it. It hugged the bottom and ran back and forth for a few minutes and came unbuttoned! A real heartbreaker! Joe dominated the pond. He nailed fish after fish. Nothing huge but just real nice fat rainbows, the biggest about 20. Again we fished until dark.

 

For me, these were 2 very enjoyable days of guiding. Everyone was challenged to the max and we all overcame the adverse conditions and made it happen. These guys gave it all they had and it was worth the effort. We figured we fished 25 hour in 2 days in some pretty nasty weather and we all walked away with big grins. Thanks guys for a great 2 days and lets do it again soon! Remember, "Fly Fishing is EASY!"

 

Fat Bow!

Big Rainbow!

1st North Fork Fish!

Chuck and Duck!

Beautiful Views!

Last Daylight!

Got the Hang of it!

Big Brown in the Wind!

First Splake!

Big Brown on Light Tippet!

Whopper!

Pushing 20"

 

25 hours of Fishing in 2 Days!

 

   
                                                                                                    
 

Tight Lines!

 
     

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