Monday, August 14, 2017

Another Fly-Fishing Saga Somewhere in Montana

Montana is arguably one of the best trout fly-fishing destinations in the world, filled with Native Cutthroat, elusive & enormous Brown, and acrobatic & athletic Rainbow. If we consider Brook, Lake, Bull, stocked Golden, and even Whitefish, our list of destinations will be a life-long pursuit. 
However, have you - either resident or visitor - considered other species could be caught on flies in Montana? It could be somewhat what locals would be involved. Or perhaps, just like anglers from areas that don't have many trout fisheries would love to come to Montana, some Montanans may seek some other species other than trout while still in Montana. That does not mean those Montanans get tired of trout fishing. I, for one, have so many trout waters that I haven't fished but I want to someday and I always look for next memorable trout from waters I fish in regular basis. In my case, it's to push the envelope and open my own horizon and experience.

My lovely companion and I hit one such destination. It was also a debut day of my brandnew Echo Dry 6wt, Redington Rise reel, and RIO Grand line, while being protected by Patagonia Rio Gallegos wader
We had one objective though we had no idea what to expect. I rigged up a likely fly and kept fishing. I got the first unexpected hook-up that got off before showing itself but I felt the take was different from trout. Next time, I was a bit more careful. This is the memorable first fish on my brandnew 6wt rig😁🎉

 Then the second one to be landed. These are Walleye😮.
What a toothy creature 😨
This second one was larger than the first one and put some bends on my 6wt rod.
Then we started to see what we wanted to see. This was the objective that we were there. These beasts are as elusive and tricky as trout. Fly-fishing for them is as technical as for trout.
After some trials and errors, I adjusted myself. I finally made a hook-up. Yes👍❗❗however the moment after I was slightly scared as, though I have known already, these beasts are much heavier and hard-fighters than trout😨😲. I barely brought it to the shallow😥 and with the help of Renee we captured the beast😲

 Yes, CARP in Montana😂😎🎊🎊
This is my second largest fish caught in freshwater (top being the King/Chinook).
Certainly it exceeds any other trout species I've ever caught.
We both made a few more hook-ups but these beasts won't be landed all the time...........

I have a special spot for carp. Indeed that's the first species I fished regularly as I started fly-fishing (that itself is the long story). In Montana, this is quite a change from "trout game". I don't say "different" as it's indeed as technical as trout fishing and requires "fish savvy" even just to get close. Never underestimate...................... one will definitely feel the same frustration as facing the selectively feeding trout on spring creeks.
If you - resident or visitor - want to do something new, "carping" may be the one😏

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Creek Trips in August

Hot days in July seemed to have subsided as we stepped into August.
Fishing condition has been changing; stream flows are now in average/summer levels and trout have changed their feeding habits and overall behavior. I tangibly felt those changes as I had a multi-day trip with a great client. We left middle-days open regarding where we would go & fish then decided as the trip went by. We hit creeks around here and had great fun.

Soda Butte Creek withing YNP was a good starter.

But then we encountered a conundrum hatch + selectively feeding cuththroat 😮. This was actually the prologue for the rest of trip.

Slough Creek fished just about the same. Here's how a guide hide behind clients during the wildlife crossing😅
Morning nymphing was slow 😕 but we picked up some hatch-rise actions toward noon😬
 A nice Cutt on a Green Drake pattern😁🎉❗❗

Next day, we decided to fish Armstrong's Spring Creek right here in Livingston.
This is one of the most challenging periods on the creeks of a year. Some insects hatches are tapering down, while other hatches are hanging in there and/or starting (guess what those insects would be). Toward noon, we picked up some actions but we caught only small specimens (which are very rare to catch in this creek!!). After hearty lunch, it was the Terrestrial Time🐛🐜🐝🐞
At certain stretch of the creek, we had good actions😎👍

Then on next day, we fished DePuy's Spring Creek.
Another challenging day.........😟😵😥 Pretty much the same condition as the previous day, we worked hard..... rising trout, sight-nymphing, terrestrials............ Each method offered us challenges, which continued toward the end of the day........... Then we encountered a very active pod of rising trout. I knew they were after midges. My client hooked a couple but they got off😧. Then I instructed him my the-last-but-not-the-least-supremacy midge technique😬
This time he set the hook well, handled the line and trout, and successfully netted all by himself😁😎🎊
Congratulations to conquer all the legendary trout streams for his first trial👏👏👏
These were the culprits of the day that we were against😲

Also for my personal note, I welcomed my birthday that takes me to a new decade while on DePuy's. This little rainbow is my birthday trout😆😂I hope to keep learning and growing, just like this little guy will.

August has just begun and season goes on some more month, come and fish Yellowstone Country and see you along the streams😉

Friday, July 28, 2017

YNP Dawn Treaders: Zen Then Encore

I was sincerely happy that my lovely companion caught a super nice Yellowstone Cutthroat last week at Yellowstone River below Lake. I took it as mine too. Exactly a week passed. "How are those big ones doing?" "How is the River flowing now?" "How the hatch may be"................

Anything in life has cycle and/or season. There are so many seasonal effects and considerations about fly-fishing around here. One year, I may hit it right and have great time. Then in another year, I would miss the event or wouldn't do well during particular situations and I would dwell on it or think of solution till the next opportunity comes (sometimes it doesn't happen in the next year, I may have to wait for a few more years). Or if I accumulate experiences for certain situations and conditions of the year for several seasons, those are deeply notched in my memory system. I still fish for it then observe and learn but also I'd be relaxed.

To me, this particular group of Cutthroat in this particular stretch is the most iconic and truly a once-a-year event that may last only a short period among all the seasonal fly-fishing events around here. Certainly the size of trout is captivating (if I get lucky!). But also all the surrounding, history, legacy, everything involved is so special. I launched a Dawn Treader mission again. This time it was a solo excursion.

I got there way before the dawn. The Sun had been behind hills and tall trees then finally popped out.
Would I catch them by accident by prospecting? Perhaps then not really😑
Brown trout is said to have individual personality. Cutthroat in this region have one universal common trait: they don't respond to our flies until something triggers them. It could be time of the day, amount of sunlight, weather in general, insect hatch............... Oftentimes we, especially visiting anglers, have to feel they may not exist................. "Have they gone back to the Lake already?". Instead land creatures (group of elk) came and greeted me in the distance.
My Zen went on. Such a Meditation 😴😴
I spotted a few rises😲❗❗Back to quietness................ so I would go back to my meditation again😵

The sun seemed to decide to shine. Number of insects in the air seemed to increase one by one.
Finally at around 11AM (so guess how long I was meditating in the middle of the river), I started to see several doable rises. They were feeding on insects.  One big shadow seemed to swing under my dry-fly. Was I off😴? Or did I see an illusion?
I covered the area patiently and thoroughly. Suddenly one big submarine appeared. This time I was fully awake and sure that I wasn't seeing the illusion. It came up on my Green Drake dry-fly. I set the hook and made a connection.
Heavy😬❗❗ just as Renee was struggling a week ago. I carefully yet confidently netted😌

I was rewarded and snapped several pictures. But I knew there were more hatches and rises going on, that I wouldn't know how long they would last. If I would come back in three days, would I experience the same? - may be then may be not. Or I may not experience this until next July............. Rise forms & sounds told me they were after caddis. I was sure one came up to take my caddis dry-fly but I responded lightning-fast and pulled the fly out of the mouth😖 - this does happen to anyone who fish for Cutts around here.
Next scene = my vision I wouldn't forget the rest of my life. In that huge green pool, I could see several huge dark shadows swimming and feeding😲. I cast to one and the dark shadow took my caddis dry-fly. This time it was stronger, putting lots of fights and bends on my brandnew fiberglass rod. I was again able to net and snap pictures.

I hooked one more but at the last moment it opened the gap of caddis dry-fly and swam away. Then I ended up pulling out my dry-fly out of several mouths for the next hour or so................

What a banner day🎉🎊😎🙌
I hate to judge and entice others by the size of fish however all the trout I netted, hooked, or missed were 20+ inches - some of very rare situations in North America.

I feel very rewarded and satisfied and I'd even like to say to them "see ya next year🙋👋". I could even say I've done enough for my own satisfaction for the season = now help others catch more fish for the rest of season!!  If anyone is up for this challenge, there are still some chances & periods left for the season.

By the way, the new rod I acquired is Echo Glass 5-weight 8'6".
I'm not a fiberglass generation, certainly far away from bamboo rods. So I can't talk about the past - before graphite took over - and make comparison. But I know the difference. Switching to a fiberglass for the first time from all the graphite rods I have cast, I immediately feel what advantages graphite rods have created and helped fly-casters since. Put it simply, even poor casters or the first-timers can cast somewhat....... In other words, this Glass makes me analyze, recheck, and reform my own casting = back to the egg (basic), so to speak. With this rod, my casting falls poorly or short when I'm doing something inconsistent or my casting vices are showing. This is a great tool to recheck my casting, which transits to help me teach other casters.
As for the practical performance, this Glass is NO WAY WIMPY, compared to modern graphite rods, as Echo describes. It does load good amount of line and cast really far (again, only when done right). Then Yellowstone Cutthroat caught above is the true testimony. Glass fights these brutes just as well as graphite rods do. Then here's the added bonus: I feel trout's strength and movement more directly than ever with graphite rods😎. My left hand feels somewhat exhausted as of this typing........

Saturday, July 22, 2017

YNP Dawn Treaders 2017

It's that time of year. A section of Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, below Yellowstone Lake to above Falls has been opened for fishing on July 15th. I've been trying to make it there in between my guide schedules to meet the Native and feel & learn the history & legacy. This section has been one of reasons and destinations that my YNP Dawn Treader series was born. In addition, from this year, I have a lovely companion who goes anywhere with me, hence it's become "plural" from now on😊.

However, just like anything else in life, sometimes things wouldn't turn out as we plan or expect😐. On July 17th,  we fished a couple of promising spots/sections and encountered short yet very doable pods of hatches and rises but it wasn't our day😒😕.

Not much to report except the prolific insect hatches, which is the most known and discussed subject of this section. There were several different species of insects flying and number of each species was tremendous😲.
Here's the list of observation.
Green Drake (picture, that I believe)
Gray Drake
Western Red Quill

Hydropsyche (tan & gray patterns)

Giant Salmonfly
Golden Stone

It's amazing to see so many "big bugs" were flying and on the water = Green Drake and two species of stoneflies.
Then I had to feel and realize couple of my gears have been worn out pretty much at the same time😞. Long story short for each: wader, 6-wt rod, and reel.............. These notches on my reel are proud scars of endurance and hauling in so many big fish for me (up to 34-inch 25-pound King Salmon), but it will damage the line.............. Time to get retired and hung on the wall😌

We reviewed and analyzed this unproductive day of fishing (it wasn't pleasant) and discussed how we could improve.  Three days later, July 20th, we hit the road again. This time, my brain was composed and I was able to "think like fish" and we had strategies. We did "prospect" (meaning to search the likely spots with nymphs and streamers) but our focus was hatch and rise. We waited patiently. Cutthroat in this section & at this time year are totally different from other trout in further down the river (Cutt included). We have only a very short window to get to them (whatever fishing method we employ) and their behavioral patterns (or strategies for our perspective) may change every year. This time we did it right. We started to see insect hatches so I rigged dry-flies on Renee's rod. The moment we were ready, so were they. They were rising right in front of us😲. Renee made the first cast and a huge head came up on her #16 caddis dry-fly.
She worked on the fish very carefully and I netted for her😉
 Photo session was equally a careful operation.
It was 22-inch long, her record trout 😙😎🎉🎊😂

Insects hatches were tremendous again. Here I seined Green Drake spinner (right) and Red Quill (might be Gray Drake) at the same time.

By the way, I caught two 14-inch Cutt on a caddis dry-fly too😅
Then we spotted some more rises of BIIIIIIIIIIIG ones but couldn't really get to. Then weather turned out be frequent lightning plus occasional pouring rain - I wouldn't expect too many hatches & rises - so we headed out.

I believe the high water of this season is affecting Cutt's activities and contributing conundrums on our fishing (well, so was the last year = historically one of the lowest flow).
I have observed and learned from the River then gained from the unpleasant day - another classroom experience of fly-fishing.
As majority of you already know, this Lake-River section, Yellowstone Cutthroat, and, I wouldn't mind mentioning, Lake Trout have been hot topics for the past 20 years. Oftentimes it can be politic. Regardless of what's said and done by or among human being, Cutthroat still exist and fishing this section is something very special. I'd like to say, come & fish (while you can - by that I "might" imply one's physical limitations or perhaps some political moves) and meet the true native of North American trout. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Salmonfly & YNP

Just like PMD at Livingston's spring creeks, salmonfly hatch on Madison was phenomenal this year. As of this typing, perhaps hatch is reaching way Upper Madison and almost over. But goldenstone, midnight stone, caddis, and misc mayfly hatches are following right behind over there. 

In between my guide trips, we were able to hit The Madison at right timing! Salmonfly was peaking at Lyons Bridge. 
A hefty rainbow violently took Renee's big dry-fly😬
But also these bugs are getting very important and indeed we got some good bites!
Oh so pretty😘
This one too😍
Yellowstone Park waters have gone through transition. West side, namely Firehole, Gibbon, (both below geysers), and Madison reached very warm water temperature for the season. We'll check back these later in September.

Beginner trip at a cold-running brookie stretch.

Then the home waters of these natives turned out just ready😎😏
They are ready to look up too😎😏
I had a series of pleasant and successful trips over here.
This skilled fisher kept hauling in good ones😲

A family trip was very enjoyable as well. This lady outfished menfolks🙆

Son was catching up!

Towards end, father emphasized his skill - after all he tied all the flies for his family.
 Good one on his own mayfly pattern from Japan (I figured the size-shape-silhouette match and will do the job😏)

However that wasn't the end.... As the dusk approached, he made the very last cast........ a light yet sure rise followed.........
Long enough but also see the shoulder😲

Season started to sizzle💥🔥 Come and experience yourself😛😎