Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 8: Itinerant Angler

June 29th, as my Park pass ended, I headed to Madison below Quake Lake. I was hoping that water would get warmer and clearer while I was fishing the Park. But it wasn't really what I hoped for. I started from the east side bank of $3 Bridge. I hadn't fished this side yet. My rigging was back to nymphs again. Nothing but snagging really happened while I fished up-stream. As I fished down-stream swinging soft-hackles. I caught a 5-incher and a potentially nice one tugged and then lost. Someone said "trout were feeding at night with moon light". I was skeptical about that because there were nightly storm somewhere and anywhere. Anyway, this morning was really slow.
I drove around and saw lots people on each parking lot. Park rivers were much less crowded as long as I handled other sightseers jammed by wildlife. I drove to Lyons Bridge. I was going to fish up-stream. There should be less or no people as everyone there were most likely to float down-stream. Then the strangest and memorable encounter happened to me.

As I was getting my gear ready. A fisherman who was already parking there talked to me. He introduced himself John visiting from Nebraska. Then he asked me if I want to float with him???
I said "What?? Are you a guide?" (who wants to make some money? - in my mind.)
He said he had been fishing Madison but his friends had to go home and he needed someone to float with. He asked me if I can oar. "No!! I've never done that!!"

He explained to me that "it's not that difficult" and "drift boat is made tough". And trying to persuade me, he said he would show me what to do first... Yet I didn't want to ruin his day.....

I have floated this section from Lyons Bridge to Palisada with Mike from Blue Ribbon Flies twice. I never thought about me oaring the mighty Madison. John assured me that "I can't kill him" by the boat accident, nor he would kill me. I was finally tempted. "Hey, I live only once!!".

John put me fishing first and right off the bat, I caught a 17-inch rainbow!!! In lots of ways, this was a very memorable trout during this trip!!

I did oar too!! Little did I knew that the drift boat was that heavy!! I asked John a lot about handling. Yet in my first turn I crashed into two maybe three rocks. With all of new and sudden experience, I could barely see the water and enable John to cast well. But my second turn, I actually did pretty well for about a 1/4 to 1/2 mile. I sort of got a grip and really enabled John to cast to the bank which ended up to crash into trees........... So for this 8-mile float, I ended up fishing 87.5%............

John was also a traveling angler like me but a much larger case. He's been fishing Madison with his own boat for over 15 years and traveling many other places in the West while my focus is limited to West Yellowstone and Livingston so far. I enjoyed talking with him because we talked about streamer fishing for 10 minutes and next we talked about complicated match-the-hatch situation at Firehole and Henry's Fork.

My original plan had been to fish above Lyons and headed back to $3 Bridge. But I cancelled that. John said he was heading to Henry's Fork during the night, so I invited him to my regular "Last Supper" of the trip in West Yellowstone as we were both heading that way. I try to grab a nice meal at the end of the trip. This was a night before the last but it didn't matter and I later found this was good for my digestion. I had to eat something buffalo!!! My favorite Buckaroo Bill was closed only at 8:30pm. So I suggested another place that I wanted to try, called "Old Town Cafe". They have a sign "fresh natural buff meat", something like that. I ordered the highest in the menu. Buffalo top sirloin done in medium-rare!! Look at this slab!!

With a new friend, the dinner tasted much better than eating by myself.

We may not call each other after each trout we catch but I'm sure I will bump into him somewhere along Madison. John also loves to fish the Madison in the fall.

John, thank you for the experience. I will be in West Yellowstone at the end of October. I might be able to swing by Ennis but also find me Madison in the Park while I'm swinging sof-hackles and stripping streamer. Also, I will be fishing a very sensitive baetis hatch along Upper Madison, Mdison in the Park, and Firehole.

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