Friday, November 26, 2010

Weather Hazard - No-Joke

I don't keep track of when and how much we had snow any more. But yesterday and today, I experienced the most brutal and unbelievable weather in my life. I have lived in Bozeman and Sidney and I did have some nasty winter days in northwest Nevada and eastern WA. But weather in Livingston is.......

Yesterday afternoon, I thought I might want to grab fried chickens and snacks in a grocery store. To go to highway (main street), I have two routes. I wanted to go south but there was a guy pouring gas tank to his car in the middle of road, not sure if he was stuck or not. So I turned north. As I saw my neighborhood couldn't get their car out right in front of their house (their car is a regular sedan), I got stuck too right in front of them. My F-150 in 4WD wouldn't do but they gave up their car and helped me get out and I gave up to go to town and just backed up to my house. They decided to walk to highway then their folks would pick them up for family gathering and I promised them that I would help their car when they got back.

This afternoon, we worked on their car under this kind of weather. It was reported actual temperature was about 20 above but how we would feel with 30 to 40mph, occasionally 50mph, of blizzard. I can't express in my words so I shot a little video with my camera and for the first time, I'd like to post here. See how it looks and works.

We dug and cleaned snow under front wheels as much as we could. Then we tried to slide in boards for the grip and hopefully car could go backward. First, tires didn't even spin!! We dug more and tires started to move but couldn't get on boards. We found that just too much snow under-car, almost lifting the car so to speak. So we gave up.....

Those ice, powder, or snow, whatever you call, turn into water right after they hit our face (eventually back into ice). I got too much on my right eye, which essentially caused a running tear and suddenly my vision went blur........ my contact lense was blown off from my right eye!!!!

With those wet hair and underwear, I might have experienced minor case of hypothermia?? With coffee and wood stove, I feel better now but gust continues outside.......

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winter Has Come

Winter, actually snow, has settled in earlier than I expected. I mean, last winter I spent in Montana was almost 8 years ago. I just can't remember the average. Last Tuesday, it was a snow storm. Then from Wednesday night to all through Thursday, we had 50mph of gust which dried out all the snow on the ground. Then on Friday, it started to snow. I was gonna do some yard chores on Saturday but snow didn't seem to stop for a while so I did on Friday afternoon. It was all through snow on Saturday also. Probably about 2pm, which is supposed to be the warmest of the day, I got this temperature with my truck thermo as I went to town quickly.

Just about the same time, my firewood were already like this.

This morning, they looked like this. Snow stopped and the Sun came out lightly but it is estimated a couple of inches of accumulation over night.
But I was ready for the cold weather. My landlord gave me bags of elk burger. Last night, I set up my crock-pot filled with one of bags and other ingredients and cooked all night. It turned out to be the best chili I ever made. Even Lieutenant Columbo would be satisfied. "It's the crackers that make the dish" (quote from Lieutenant). I actually like to eat in his style; little a bit of salt and ketchup and then the ritual of crashing fistfull of crackers!!

Maybe a bit too many homey stuffs for my fly-fishing blog?
I am tying lots of flies as it's the perfect time of the year. Whenever it warms up around 30s, I can go to spring creeks. So I tied up my secret weapon dudes!!

While I was getting comfortable with heat from the wood stove and mellow by liquor, I was dizzy and dozing. But suddenly another idea was born in that condition of my brain. Here's another color variation of T&A. I combined the all time effective white and black, naming it "T&A Integration". It should work. I'll find out once weather cooperate probably at Lower Madison and Yellowstone just around here.

I have more flies to tie and have some do-it-yourself projects.

Hopefully I can get out fishing soon and post trout pictures.....

Wish everybody have a great Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Buff Thought

As I was buying a present for my brother, I got one for me. To make it a surprise for my bro, I don't show the present, but I'd like to post this!!

I went to a trading-post kind shop only several miles south from Livingston. The owner and his shop are really cool!! The shop is filled with lots of cool and artistic stuffs which capture my eyes and interests. He showed me wildlife feet that were freeze-drying outside. And he showed me one which used to belong to a buffalo. I had an urge to get it!!

I got it and now am hanging on my wall. Spending with lots of cows, this is one of the ugliest hooves I've ever seen. But uglier, the better. I love and hate buffaloes. First I love their meat and as a Western icon. Then I hate them because they cause jams in Yellowstone Park and they scare me while I'm fishing. These are why I consume buff meat at least once a year to be immune to them. Now I've got one of their feet!! I may even be able to use it as a club to whack them!!

Coincidentally, the back page of the recent issue of my favorite fly-fishing magazine is the picture of buffs from the Park............

Is it gross to hang a buff hoof on the wall? So far it doesn't lure any house-flies. Instead, it makes me know that I have to toughen up in Montana!! Oh, I love and hate buffs.........

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Greek - Roman Equivalent? Actually English - Japanese Bros

I was reading The Lost Hero. It's another great read after Percy Jackson seriese.
Percy Jackson and his friends are demigods whose parents are Greek gods and human.
New characters in The Lost Hero are demigod kids whose parents are "Roman Equivalent" and human. I don't lecture mythology but here's a couple of examples.

Zeus = Jupiter
Poseidon = Neptune
Aphrodite = Venus

This gave me an idea to make an equivalent of my blog in Japanese!!

I have just started an extension of my blog in Japanese.

Japanese Edition brother. I really wanted to show Japanese people what about fly-fishing in Montana or American West in a big picture.

This is especially because I really try to host Japanese flyfishers to Montana as a fishing guide and a tour guide in general. I soon will be one & only lonely Japanese fishing guide in Montana as I have been one & only lonely Japanese cowboy & cattle breeder all through US!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Debut as a Commecial Tyer

Snow and cold fronts are coming in. I'm learning how to make a fire quickly in a wood stove in my house without smoking entire house. I'm getting better day by day.

Today, I made money (just little a bit) for the first time with my fly tying. As I was looking for what to do for the rest of the year other than breeding cows in spring and early summer, I have been knocking on doors of fly-shops in Livingston, Bozeman, and West Yellowstone to see if I can tie flies for them and sell my own designs.
Reading magazines and being a good customer, I kind of already know about fly-tying industry. Some shops tie their own flies and promote them, other shops simply rely on flies that are tied cheaply in foreign countries. The latter is getting stronger and American tyers are losing the competition. But there are always people and shops who appreciate enthusiasm and new designs.
I sold my own Coyote (full name: Coyoted Pheasant Soft-Hackle) as the debut of me being a commercial tyer at a shop in Bozeman. The fact that my own design was the first one to sell made me really happy.
Here's the top view of my Coyote.
I have a tying order like this for next year.

I will have more orders for 2011 soon. Fly tying can't sustain me to make living but it's quite fun so little a bit of money is really enough and it keeps me busy during the winter.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Last Day of the Park: Swinging Large Soft-Hackles.

Almost all 5pm, I drove into Barns Pool #1. OMG.........there were still too many people. It's been a while that I saw this many people. Even at Cable Car Run.

Well, my objective was to swing my large soft-hackles so I wouldn't regret conducting my obsession. I have known that not many people go down below Barns Pool #1. There are several nice riffles to swing soft-hackles. And I noticed that people were sticking there without making any steps and just catching whitefish on nymphs.

I didn't like the situation but I interpreted as my advantage to swing my soft-hackles. First I tied on a white then later on I tied on a black Soft Hackle Streamer.

Beneath that I trailed my own Coyote.

Just about the limit of darkness, I took off my sunglasses and tucked into my wader, as I did last year while swinging my Coyote. Coincidentally, I felt a big tug and trout set the hook itself. It was a nice 18-inch rainbow.

But to confess, it was foul-hooked on her pectoral fin.

But then again, how lucky I was. She fought very hard because of a foul hook. Another minute or two, she would have been gone by snapping off her own fin. And then again, she was on my own Coyote. Also coincidentally my new scarf was orange as my Coyote. Orange will be my lucky color from now on.

Thank you for the memorable catch of the year. I revived her and she was ready to go as splashing waters to my face.

To summarize my fishing in Yellowstone National Park this year, I had my own satisfaction though trout were not as large as last year. Instead, I have caught more numbers and gained my own experience about spots, reading waters, hatches, flies, etc. June trip was a great success. From now on, I have to figure out ways to visit the Park economically from Livingston.

Last but not least, as ending the season, I caught my last trout with my own designed fly while fishing it with my favorite way = swinging large soft-hackles. I was more like relieved and confident rather than just being happy. My flies, theories, and observations worked.

Also, she may even be not the last fish of this year as there are more waters to fish anywhere around Livingston!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Last Day of the Park: baetis hatch!!

Due to the fine weather, I didn't expect much about baetis hatch en masse and rising trout, both of which were usually predictable from 1 to 3pm on overcast days = cloudy, rainy snowy, sleet, etc. I just pulled in one of upper sections of Madison. While I was eating my lunch in my truck, I saw lots of rising trout but people by the river didn't see at all and left.

Though it was not as strong and dramatic as last year, it was a baetis hatch. I like ICU Baetis.

With this tiny size, I can't see it all the time but I'm learning to "pop" it when casting. I saw a rise on the top of my fly line and I was sure that was where my fly would be!!
Next, I tied on a Knocked Down Baetis.

I saw a rise and set a hook. A little one flew toward me!! Another smallest one ever in Madison.

I moved to Muleshoe Bend of Firehole River, hoping lots of people are fishing Madison and more reliable hatch of baetis. Nobody was fishing the Bend but no risers or strong hatches either. I swung soft-hackles at least. I started to see a few rises here and there. I tied on 6X Emerger behind ICU.
There's no way to see 6X Emerger on the surface but the position of ICU and the constant cast let me guess where it would be and the rise. Just a tiny rainbow but I did fish for it.

Regardless of fish sizes and condition, I consider I did much better than last year and 6 days ago. No accidental catches but positive rises and positive hook sets.

Now I was heading back to the Madison.

Last Day of the Park: AM - Slow

Another day trip to Yellowstone National Park from Livingston. Sunday 7th is the last day of the official calender but for the Park pass I bought on last Sunday, today was the last day. Now living in Montana, I have to figure out what will be the feasible way to fish in the Park.

It was a bright sunny day. I woke up early and left my house at 6am. But by the time I got into the Park at 8am, there were too many people in each pullouts. I parked at the top of Madison Junction and started to fish Gibbon River. Whitefish gorged my streamer.

I switched into a nymph rig and caught a little brown............

As walking along the bank, I read the water carefully. I saw a sequence of unique drop off that would be a resting spot for run-up trout. I chucked my nymph rig, my bobber sank, and I set the hook. I saw a really big shadow and then gone............ typical Madison River Syndrome....

I found an open spot as I was visiting town but nothing happened. This is like as I experienced in 2008. Warm weather drew too many people and less trout. Last year, 2009, it was opposite. Less people and more trout due to cold weather.

Well I wasn't sure what I was gonna do when I finished my lunch.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At Armstrong's - PM

It was a bright warm afternoon so I didn't expect much about baetis hatch. I just hoped midges would be promising to fish with dry-flies at least. I saw lots of baetis and midges were hatching but I didn't see any rings of rises at all........ So I tandemed both baetis and midge soft-hackles and swung them. Here's the baetis soft-hackle which is one of the must at Firehole River in Yellowstone Park.

Regardless of its size, all the trout caught with my soft-hackle swing deserve pictures. After this, I felt a big tug. It was a 17"-18" massive rainbow. As I saw it swimming away I said "OMG on 6X tippet!!" then it was gone. If it had been really hooked, landing must have been super careful and tiring for both trout and I. I was rather relieved than disappointed.

I moved to the upper section, which also has very good insect hatches but tougher to fish than the lower section. Yet I didn't see any risers at all but somehow spooky trout......
So I switched into the "today's special". At a certain spot, I felt the biggest tug of the day.
It was a 18" to 19" brown, which is my second best brown at Armstrong's.

I tried to self-timer of my grip-&-grin. Hopefully you can see its entire body.

As I was leaving the ranch, I saw two girls cute.

Now today's special revealed, it's a Slumpbuster, tied in size 10 and black. It should imitate leech and tiny minnow/baby trout at the springcreek. It was chewed off by brutes.

So the actual catch was only a handful but two large ones really made my day. Furthermore, I was the only one customer for today. All day along just about a mile of creek, it was all by myself. Then again, I live only 6 miles away!!

Armstrong's at O'Hair Ranch is really worth to pay the rod fee and spend a few days. I can guide you if you wish.......very near future when I become a licensed guide, really!!

At Armstrong's - AM

As I decided to leave WA State, I cancelled the motel reservation in West Yellowstone. But I kept a spot for today at O'Hair Ranch to fish Armstrong's Springcreek.
Great to live in Livingston now as O'Hair Ranch is only 6 miles south from my house!!

It was sunny all through and almost all no wind, which is very rare in Livingston. I checked in around 8:30am. Temperature was lower 30s, which turned up as high as lower 60s later on. Glorious scenery as the mist were all over from the creek with Absaroka Mountains in the back.

My first catch was typical 16-inch rainbow. There was a large rock at where I landed him so I tried a self-timer shot but I didn't hold him high enough. You can see its dorsal fin. Does the orange scarf look good on me?

Another catch in the morning. First one just looked like this.

What's today's special?

As I was fishing just about the middle, I talked to one of people at the ranch. He was checking and setting traps to catch muskrat. Indeed those little buggers are all over!! I was fishing deep fast pool between him and I. Right in front of him, I felt a big tug! It really pulled out my line and swam into aquatic weed. It did twice. I handled the first tangle but I was afraid that the second tangle might snap off my tippet. But it came free and I netted!! It was a 17-incher but really fat and "humped". No wonder it pulled out my line!! All happened in front of one of workers here, and he took me a great picture though I am holding the fish poorly.

But believe or not, while I was fighting on this rainbow, two other large trout were spooked in the same spot. I saw their shadows. Second one was much larger!!

It was just about noon so I drove back to my house and ate lunch, checked emails, etc.

How convenient is this? I am not a traveling angler any more!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Gears for Late Season

Today, I was driving around Bozeman. I was actually knocking on doors of fly-shops to sell my flies and tie for them. That will be another post!!

While visiting shops, I looked for gears for late season. I needed a nice pair of fold mit glove. Being in this area, I do love Simms products. But I came up with a more reasonable and probably more functioning pair. It's from Chota. It has a wind-stop layering as Simms but also I noticed that it's less bulky when folded. It's very important because the bulk of fold often catches fly-line when handling. Nice pads are attached on the palms. That should prevent water seep into my hands.

Then I bought a neck scarf in orange at a ranch-&-home store. Reason is to show myself to hunters while I'm fishing. At the late season, I see lots of hunters along where I fish. I just can't buy or wear safety clothes for hunters because they are not functioning as my fishing gears. So I decided to buy a scarf to compensate somewhere between my interest and practicality.

I will test these two gears at Armstrong's tomorrow. Then the final day in Yellowstone National Park is coming........

Monday, November 1, 2010

Class 4 - the Last: Swinging Large Soft-Hackles

My schedule was going very well as I planned and estimated. My last class (4:30pm till I quit) was to swing large soft-hackles in the dark. Put it simply, tying soft-hackles and fishing with them are more like my obsession regardless of catch results. But I'd like to emphasize that most of the time I end up catching nice and memorable trout.

My most favorite section to swing large soft-hackles is Cable Car Run and eventually Barns Pool #1. Regardless of its popularity, I have developed my experience to catch some. I'd say when you are alone at this section, you are most likely to catch fish, period. When too many people are around, it's simply crazy. My game plan at this section is nothing but early & late of the day. Especially, the colder the weather, the less people are around at early & late of the day. As a soft-hackle enthusiast, Cable Car Monument is my sacred place.

I fished Cable Car Run thoroughly, changing colors and sizes of soft-hackles. But didn't have even taps on my line....... I sat on the monument and tied on my own Coyote, wishing for the best.
I trailed my Coyote behind a Soft Hackle Streamer in black. Soft Hackle Streamer, invented by Jack Gartside, is probably the most attractive pattern among anglers who love to swing and then strip and twitch every now and then. Trout respond accordingly!!

I didn't have any taps or tugs at all while swinging Cable Car Run. Slightly discouraging but I kept going on to the head of Barns Pool #1. It was almost 7:00pm when I felt a light tap......

I was confused because it happened somewhere between swinging and stripping when I saw a huge submarine rise!! As I was careful not to pull out my fly from the mouth, I didn't set the hook strongly. But that submarine was actually came up above the surface to bite on a Soft Hackle Streamer as rising for dry-flies.........

I lost him................

A bit after 7:00pm, I left West Yellowstone to my home in Livingston. I drove slowly as it was in the evening and rain/snow storm could cause icy spots every now and then on HWY 191. I made home OK a bit after 9:00pm


What I found, learned, and reassured:

  • I made sure I knew what I was doing.
  • Spots, flies, tactics, and tendency of crowds.
  • I can plan a hard fishing day from my home without staying in motels in West Yellowstone.

This year, Yellowstone Park is open till Nov 7th, which is the longest as it can be. The Park pass I bought yesterday is valid till 6th.

I am planning one more whole day for heavy fishing. And again I will compound all of my fall experience.

Class 3: Nymphing

Beatis hatch slowed, pretty much ended, by 3:00pm as I estimated. So I conducted my third class schedule. It was nymphing (3:00 to almost 4:30pm). As for the spot, Madison Junction would be a great choice but considering my next plan and observation, I went to a big pool above Nine Mile Hole. It's very productive but I observed nobody was fishing all day.

Nymphing is probably the most productive way to fish the Madison all year as for numbers to catch. It's the guides' way to go tactics when things seem tough. I just don't stick with it all the time because I always want to keep myself as a versatile fisherman. As a close example, when baetis are hatching en masse, I know Madison trout never look at nymphs below, even small ones meant for baetis.

These are why I stuck with streamers in the morning and set nymphing time for the slow time of the day along with my last plan. Anyway, in the fall, stonefly is the must when nymphing the Madison. Rubber Leg would probably the best imitation and the simplest tie among countless stonefly nymph patterns. Brown/Black or Orange/Black variegated chenille is my favorite.

Then I always trail smaller nymphs under a Rubber Leg. One of my most favorites is Beadhead Krystal Serendipity. It's been a catching machine. I can't express its effectiveness.

Now snow storm was coming in as I was fishing the pool!! I was slightly discouraged when thinking about driving home but hoped the storm would send anglers away for my next plan. As I was thinking like that my bobber sank and I set the hook. I felt it would be big but also somehow weird. As I stripped my line I noticed it was a large trout but acting oddly. Well, it was foul-hooked on its belly with the Beadhead Krystal Serendipity. Really tough to get her in. If it had taken a few more minutes, the fly would have been opened up and have not hold the fish. I made it.
It was a fine brown trout indeed!! I thought it might an 18-incher to break the record of the day but it was a 17-incher also.

Again, it would have been the last trout for the season, I wanted to felt her and took a picture of grip-&-grin. It was indeed with good fall color and fine spots.

My class schedule seemed running OK. I was heading to my last plan of the day.

Class 2: Baetis Hatch

I actually came back to Upper Haynes where I had experienced both big excitement and huge frustration by baetis hatch and rising trout. This photo is from last year at Firehole. Also see my old post about baetis hatch during the fall trip last year.

But two anglers were still there. I thought they would be gone lunch, as I had left for my lunch. Well, I could think of another spot to conduct my class for baetis hatch (1:00 to 3:00pm). That's the most predictable time frame for baetis hatch especially on overcast days. I went to section below Big Bend. I fished here for White Miller Caddis and PMD hatches during the June trip this year. It's another meadow water section = great and tough dry-fly fishing.
But it wasn't as exciting as last year. First I didn't see many big rising fish = tail to shoulder rise. Just splashy rises caused by little trout. Furthermore, I saw midges were on the water too.

I typically rig up two flies so I tried lots of combination among baetis patterns plus midge patterns. I couldn't figure out quite well. In the middle of the river, I accidentally hooked this rainbow. Not big but nice.

Then this is the smallest trout I ever caught in Madison. It did bite on size 22 Improved Sparkle Dun!! I didn't see the take. He came up as I re-cast. Has anybody done this in Madison??

Well, my baetis experience turned out to be more like a joke this year. Madison below Quake Lake has been somehow murky, which is weird for this time of the year, so there wasn't much baetis fishing to be done for now.

I had two more classes to go!!