Thursday, May 27, 2010

Favorite River - Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park

My young friend/co-worker, Corey, has got over the appendicitis surgery and recovery and got back to work!! I can finally rest my arm from cows. Last month, as I posted for a couple of times, I wrecked my truck in Livingston, got a light case of whip-lash, picked up a bad case of flu, and got hit by pollen allergy. I guess we all appreciate how happy it is just being normal (in this case staying healthy).

Meanwhile my casting arm has been a bit spoiled. And now I am really heading to Yellowstone National Park in three weeks. I would post about my plans, flies, and what I expect later, but here's one of waters in my mind that I will definitely visit, Gibbon River.
I'd like to quote about Gibbon directly from Craig Mathews' book, The Yellowstone Fly-Fishing Guide (only one book you need when visiting Yellowstone Park as my review says).
"The Gibbon River has it all: meandering meadow stretches with deep undercuts inhabited by big browns, riffles with rambunctious rainbows, pockets holding voracious brook trout, and secluded pools hiding the elusive grayling".
During my trip in late June last year, I fished here one afternoon and one full day for the first time. Though my experience is only like this so far, I'd like to make a comment about this river. It is overlooked!! even by anglers fishing on that day!! I can think of several reasons. First, Madison and Firehole get more attention due to their fame and easy accesses. Second, one has to make a long walk from the parking. Third, it is a bit wilder than Madison and Firehole.
I hit a very good caddis hatch. My favorite was a X2 (Improved X Caddis).
And I trailed with Nick's soft-hackle. This fly is amazing. It caught on the surface before swinging and while swinging. When I saw surface rises on this one, the flush and silhouette of X2 let me know the take. A deadly combo.

I caught a 5-inch brookie for the first time in my life!!

I caught a few 12-inchers. They were very nice especially with my 4-wt 8-ft rod.

At the end of the day, I caught a nice fat 13-incher. Over all, I think trout in Gibbon look larger than in Firehole, instead population might be less. And it might be a different strain. Gibbon browns have less spots and colors than those in Firehole and Madison.

So, I will make hikes for a day or two to Gibbon. But also, I heard a local tip from a guide. There does exist resident monsters up to 10-lb???? I actually believe it. Probably so is at the Firehole. They both are nutrient waters with lots of great trout habitats. There can be some monsters that do not rise to dry-flies as most of anglers like to fish. I'll find more.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Classics

I am still in the middle of cows after cows. I can't go out fishing right now yet I have plenty of time at my bench.

With some confidence of my skills for Spruce Fly below (thank you for dropping me by), I am into more classic yet still the all time favorite patterns. Then again I have tied with my own interpretation and imagination.

One of those was Matuka streamer. Traditionally tied with hen hackles for body/wing/tail, but I used "Church Window" feathers from a cock ringneck pheasant skin. (Chartreuse exclamation marks)
And this is the idea from Jack Gartiside. Along with his Soft-hackle Streamer, I admire him as a soft-hackle guru, as Sylvester Nemes, especially since I heard that he passed away last year........
For more information about why pheasant skin is so important and exciting for a soft-hackle addict like me, one should click this site of his.

Here's one with black x olive tone. I weighed with a lead wire under the chenille body. Yet it still keeps the look of soft-hackle/wet-fly/streamer.

Another one more darker oriented. I used the butt end of regular grizzly saddle hackle.

Here in eastern part of WA, now is the time for damsel nymphs. One of the Northwest favorites must be this Carey Special. I tied with a body of peacock herls and grouse feather (for tail and hackle) instead of pheasant as suggested originally. I just wanted to have darker silhouette that grouse feathers have.


Corey, please come back to work fine and sound ASAP so I can get out fishing with these flies...


Monday, May 17, 2010

Spruce Fly

I am a bit slow at my tying bench. Mostly because all the flies are ready in my boxes. Instead I always improve my tying skills, inspect materials, and get back to books. One of those flies that I had passed or couldn't tie before was Spruce Fly. It is interpreted as wet-fly or streamer. Either way it is my favorite way to fish. Yet, I just added some soft-hackle looking.

Not truly following the general recipe, but I believe these two of my ties look good and will be swung in Madison River in the fall. I used red floss instead of yarn or dubbing and curved hooks as often used in soft-hackle patterns. Also for the left one, I used the butt end of saddle hackle as in Soft Hackle Streamer.

With a black finished TMC 700 on my Regal vise, I went out of the proportion as suggested on purpose. It is more like a salmon/steelhead fly that I often see in magazines. I just swam it in a salad bowl in my kitchen with running tap water. It kept the skinny silhouette yet pulsed under the waters. And then, Oh Yes, red floss and peacocks herl body looks very fishy under the water as proven by Royal Wulff. I didn't cement the head. I applied bees-wax on thread and then whip-finished.

This is why I'd rather interpret this as a soft-hackle and keep them in my large soft-hackle boxes. I can't wait till I swing this fly at Madison in the fall.

Also, I am getting ready for my June trip to West Yellowstone before the fall. Of course, I wanted to go to Yellowstone in July or August. But my work schedule wouldn't let me go. Yet it sounds like there are lots of playing cards around late in June and I'm sure I'm gonna like it. What I mean are : not quite a peak season for visitors, last shot before Firehole and Gibbon get warmed up, and Salmon-fly craziness along Madison.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

OUCH!!!! (not me)

Yesterday, my young friend/co-worker Corey was hospitalized for appendicitis. Sounded like an acute care. He claims he's the best, most talented, and sexiest cattle breeder in Yakima Valley. So I have to cover his job until he recovers well. Suddenly I've got commitment and responsibility in my life (temporarily, I hope!!). I can't go out fishing but it is actually good time. It's not way too hot to work outside. Also all the fishery in Columbia Basin are starting to get heated up. Say, Rocky Ford will be covered by full of dead moss floating.

Here's Corey when we went fishing last summer. First time for him to fly-fish. He's one of a few persons who stepped in my secret holes in a mountain stream.

He caught his first Westslope Cutthroat on the fly in the evening. It was actually very rare for my fishing experience in that stream. I haven't caught Westslope in the afternoon even this size. All the good Westslope were caught in the morning. Then somehow rainbows usually come up to dry-flies all afternoon till dark. Westslope in my area are truly native here. Really lovely species. I can't wait to make hikes in summer.

My job schedule doesn't stop me at my bench. I think I might send him a flower??

Or maybe a Prosser Wine along with the grape fly.

Also when I went to Yakima River on 10th (my last post below), I found a leak on my wader. I thought "OMG, do I have to buy a new pair right after I spent on my F-150??". I didn't have to. I found two punctures and patched them. Not a beautiful work but solid for sure.

OK, I will be working with moo-moo cows for a while but I am actually happy (sorry for Corey). With this job for next two weeks or so, I have a perfect reason to get out to Yellowstone National Park late in June!! I have to be compensated, if not being paid more, right folks??

Also, I have to try this patched wader of mine before the trip. But I have just heard a news on the radio this morning that there was a waste water leakage in Yakima River. Without being told, I don't want to get closer. It's actually a spring salmon season right now but folks be aware if you want to eat, not me....................

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yakima Canyon to Ellensburg

Today, I fished around Yakima River around lower canyon toward Ellensburg. I basically wanted to visit Worley Bugger to buy some tying materials. I knew it would be a couple of hours of fishing in the morning because I work tomorrow. My main fly was one of my regulars, Rubber Leg as a stonefly nymph at this time of the year. But nothing happened......

At Worley Bugger, Tim told me that Caddis hatch has been very strong recently. Indeed I saw several little trout (8-inch class) were jumping out of the water. Also Tim told me that bigger trout would be feeding early and late.....making sense........... as in Madison all through the evenings of July and August.

If I had known these, I would have trailed X-Caddis and Nick's Soft-hackle, fishing as dry down-stream with reach-cast and then swing them subsurface.

I tied X-Caddis with Zelon shuck and special deer hair directly from Blue Ribbon Flies.

And a soft-hackle tied by Mr. Nick. This simple yet thoughtful design can out-fish famous LaFontaine's patterns, period.

I will be using these flies anyway in June somewhere in Yellowstone National Park.

Back through the Canyon, I stopped by Umtanum camping area and cooked my lunch. Another left-over got heated up on the propane stove. Today, I didn't forget matches so everything went smooth and the dish was a bit better than last week at Rocky Ford. Here, I was just waiting till the food would be ready...........

Back to my tying bench with new materials, I have just tied a Circus Peanut in olive & black, freshest from my vise. Besides gentle and calm fishing with dry-flies and wet-flies in each size, I do also like stripping big streamers like this. To me, it is a versatility that fly-fishing demands. Also that means, I have saved $5.......

Next week, I might try to fish Yakima in the evening for caddis hatch. But I really have to plan it carefully because it will be a long drive at night to my home.

I think I'd rather go back to Rocky Ford as I did last week. Catching some big triploids and then cook some lunch. Better or worse, I know the routine there.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Best Day at Rocky Ford - PM

I could have kept on sight-fishing (a.k.a. dapping) with scud on the way back to my truck for lunch but I just wanted to go back for a grab. I was fishing all morning without sipping coffee.

For lunch today, I did something different from usual (= my meaty-leafy sandwiches). I packed a portion of left-over from my fridge and tried to heat with the stove for some camping taste/feeling.
Then I noticed I forgot match or lighter to ignite the propane stove. I wasn't so upset because at least I could eat it cold to fill my belly. First I hoped other fisherman might also come back to his car for lunch but he didn't. Also I knew several cars, people at hatcheries, were always passing and I could ask them for fire. But I thought a car-lighter for cigarette might work. I started the engine first and heated the car-lighter. It was hot enough but heat didn't cause an ignition. I figured it needed flame. Then I noticed I was holding a grocery add, that was wrapping my frying pan, in my hand. So I burned the add with the car-lighter and got a flame. Using the truck body for less windy position, I made the flame bigger and finally I got an ignition and a hot lunch!! This would probably be the most technical thing I did today \(*_*)/
I don't show you my lunch. Let's say casserole, which was originally meant to be soup in my crock-pot. Anyway it is edible and anything tastes better when eaten outdoors!!
I moved to the upper end of the creek. That is an outlet/riffle from the hatchery boundary, which forms a little pond then eventually getting wider below. I consider this riffle is reserved only for me and my soft-hackles. Midges are hatching all day at Rocky Ford but in my experience and observation, afternoon seems stronger than morning. So I went to an "alleged' my spot. Two people, a couple, were fishing around the riffle and pond. OMG...... But they seemed taking turns for lunch and spots and looked unsuccessful. Being a soft-hackle addict (mania), I have to swing!!! Not truly in order to catch fish but for my soft-hackles' sake, I went to the other side from them and swung my midge soft-hackles. Within 5 minutes I hooked and landed 17-incher on Mighty Midget Emerger in front of them.

That was quite a show-off. I actually intended to make a killing on this riffle since I was with my 6wt and trout didn't mind 4X and 5X tippet all day. Then I thought about they might be the first-comers, even all the way from Seattle, Tacoma, or Spokane. I should have asked them friendly to see if I can fish around the pond with them. But then again, I have to swing my soft-hackles!! I kinda felt they would not move so I left and walked along the banks downstream. I just made sure my theory and tactics were right.
I ended up with new discovery and experience. As I have mentioned before and will do in the future, I am not a stillwater enthusiast. But for Rocky Ford, I have tied several stillwater patterns. My prejudice had been how boring stripping leech for something is. But today I noticed there were lots of bank cruisers all the time. Some can be visible and sight-fishing target even while stripping my line and flies. I tried an attractor pattern; marabou tail with flash, peacock herl body, and the bead.

I got WHAM!! A hefty 18-incher whacked it!!

I moved one more fish with this. I could have gone on but I finally started feeling tired. I woke up early and drove a lot. And then these hogs made my arms sore. Muskrat holes all the way made me nervous too.

As I went back, I switched to another new tie for me called, Euro Damsel. Now is the time for damsel nymphs and I like its soft-hackle silhouette.

I felt a couple of taps on my line and saw cruising trout's back at the extension of my line. So I set the hook. Another 5-pounder came to my camera!!

Unfortunate for the couple, I was still in their "hearing" distance. In Rocky Ford, oftentimes it is easy to notice when someone trying to land trout and trout fighting back and splashing water. Furthermore, I was like;
"nice fish!!"
"you are on 2X tippet, pal!!"

I was well satisfied and tired. I stopped at 2:30pm.
Today's experience gave some big confidence to my fly tying and selection. And I have learned that I can fish stillwater as aggressively as at rivers.

I might go back to Rocky Ford in two weeks.
Do any one of you think that I can sell my flies???

Best Day at Rocky Ford - AM

Last time I said "Best day at the Rocky Ford" was last September when I went there without too much attention and expectation and I forgot my camera.

Today, I have had a better day. Fish count or size might be the same. But a bit more advanced to me, especially about my flies.

A quick note for today's condition: I bet nobody was able to fish yesterday, May 3rd. Wind was blowing over 30mph all over eastern WA and especially Ephrata was warned for dust & gust. Today it went down to occasional 10mph wind. Furthermore, I saw only 3 cars and 4 fishermen, including myself. People has just started fishing lakes around here, I believe.

Enough said. Besides I wanted to catch fish, I wanted to try new patterns for me along with some idea of mine. For scud, I have just learned a Ray Charles. But I added a "Hot Point". It used to be believed as an egg sack but recently it was discovered that it is caused by internal parasites of scud and that make trout vulnerable as easy meal (more details here from West Fly). But the way I tied in orange herls between olive is the same technique as used in Royal Wulff. So I named it "Royal Ray Charles". Sounds cool?

It did work! This fat 16-incher (no biggie at all at Rocky Ford) took it confidentially.

After this I hooked half a dozen in a short period. All came to my Royal, just didn't quite get hooked up. I tied only four of these. One was chewed off and two were taken (line broke). I kept going with the last one. I finally hooked a larger one. 18-inch long and almost 5-lb. But his mouth.......

I didn't do anything!! He must have been born like that or experienced an injury (maybe lots of them) through being fished. Anyway, it fought like a whale as he looked.

A bit later on, I hooked further larger one.

I thought I could make a self-timer and it was worthwhile. Ooops though.

Grip & grin!! It was 21-22 inches long, doesn't matter exactly because it was well over 5-lb. Much better than 21-inch whitefish at Yellowstone River!!

I caught two more on Mini San Juan Worm in brown.

These are all stocked triploids. But they are very stressed due to high fishing pressure. I think they already got to a point not to care our presence at banks.

Also, what I was doing during the morning was nothing technical at all. I was essentially dapping among them. But it has been quite an observation here when things go like this at Rocky Ford. When water is calm without too much wind waves (always clear), I can observe trout's feeding depth, feeding habits & motions, how my flies look under the water, how they sink, just to name a few. Also, in spite of their size and appetite, their takes are very subtle. I can't emphasize how delicate it is. I do use strike indicator/bobber but it even doesn't twitch or stop. Instead I see my bobber to locate where my flies are under the water. Way way way different from when brown trout whack on big stonefly nymphs in Madison River. Then I set the hook as seeing trout take my flies. This is why I think some people refer Rocky Ford as technical and sight-fishing.

Another thing I want to mention is that it's been a while that I see this many trout are feeding aggressively. I am not sure if this is because of the season or I just hit a lucky day. I am guessing it might be related to rainbow's spawning lust and instinct to feed aggressively though triploids themselves don't reproduce.

More to go on in the afternoon.

Thank all trout for your cooperation and patience!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Favorite Materials - Fox Tail

I have just obtained a nice bunch of fox tails from Doug at Yellowstone Angler in Livingston. These have become one of my favorite materials immediately, just happy to keep at my bench as my soft-hackle materials. I have tied lots of Home Invader but also I had to play some. Way too early for Halloween but by that time, I will be chasing fall-run brown and rainbow along Madison.

With the natural one, my Simms hat has got some mountain-man's taste??

It's not Bin-Ladin on my wall......

White one can make a good scurf......I'm afraid I could be #1 target of animal rights people since I am good at fishing and breeding cows and furthermore I love natural materials for fly-tying.

OK, enough political sarcasm other than fishing. Below is what's going on at my bench.
During the trip, I bought a METZ magnum cape that Doug suggests to use on Home Invader. We all know fish may not care our materials and brands but this METZ cape is really unique to me. I don't have this kind in Whiting feathers.

Now the secret weapon at spring creeks is revealed. Home Invader in natural fox tail with olive or brown made 90% of my catch during the trip, including some big ones at Nelson's. If someone argues at me about spring creek fishing (tiny flies, thin tippet, etc), please try streamer fishing first, especially sight-fishing. And then we go and talk from there.

And then here's my recent idea. I just wondered what if I tie Home Invader with a conehead instead of a barbell eye. What I noticed by tying and fishing Home Invader is that wings and fox fibers make lots of pulsing in the water. "Cross-dresser" was in my mind. What I mean by "cross-dresser" is a streamer that represents broad things all in once; minnow/sculpin/leech/crayfish or just an attractor.
Also streamer anglers know conehead patterns penetrate quick into water and make erratic and jigging up-&-down motions, especially in big swift rivers like Madison.
I then simplified. It's basically a Woolly Bugger but I tied without chenille and hackle, instead just wrapping fox tail fibers to the conehead. If this streamer hits a chart in public, I will name it "Foxxy Bugger" or "Foxxy Leech"........ Wish my dream come true???

I will experiment these two at Rocky Ford this week. I'll find more.