Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Many More Hopper Days Left?

Today, I floated mighty Yellowstone with my guide friend Graham again. We went down low, way below town of Big Timber. It's a big, wild, and diverse section. It was mostly cloudy in the morning and only two boats ahead of us. We both started with streamers targeting only BIG browns. Graham had some tugs and a few bites but I had none. Wind was manageable but the Sun/cloud were taking turns every 15 minutes. It just didn't seem a typical streamer day at 'Stone. Just before lunch break, I was fishing with my hopper rig. It looked like a light "sip" but once I set the hook, it leaped so high for 5 or 6 times!!!! It was a handsome rainbow in almost like a fall coloring. Very beautiful and healthy. I was screaming "Hopper Boy!! Hopper Boy!!"

I caught some more little ones and saw a couple of large fish came up to my hopper. Graham experienced pretty much the same. He caught a couple of 12 to 13-inch that fought more than their sizes. Then we witnessed a funny moment. There was a rise toward Graham's hopper but the fish missed it. So he recast barely a foot apart quickly. Another rise and this time it was on. Nice hard-fighting rainbow!! There was a possibility that some of those we missed could have been brown trout but all we landed are, from little ones to the picture ones, rainbow trout.

Weather forecast in our area calls for apparent temperature drop from September. This summer feels like really short for everybody in Montana. Especially for fishing and guide business, area river started to fish only since middle of July. Yellowstone became "fishable" and "floatable" only a month ago and dry-fly actions started only half a month ago!!

September is the month of transition from summer to fall. I hope we can fish with hoppers and terrestrials as long as we can but also I have already had enough fun with hoppers. So I want to review my best hopper for the season. This is "Carnage Hopper" from Montana Fly Company.

If you click above, you can see a high-speed tying instruction!! This hopper is simply realistic and indestructible. One fly lasted through all the assaults from too many cutthroat until one got away in its mouth.

Do I tie these myself? No way. These kind of flies are worth buying rather than trying to tie.

I hope we have some more fun with hoppers and other terrestrials. Then when the fall is knocking on the door, that will be fine with me too!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Guide x 2 = Hopper + Streamer

Today I went out fishing with my guide friend in Livingston, Graham, to Yellowstone River. We went to the section down from town. 'Stone below town is wild & untamed. We saw only a handful of boats besides us. I was fishing first. I thought "everyone is casting hoppers so I go with streamers!". I just snagged bottoms and gave Graham extra works to recover my flies. Graham's turn and he fished very well with hoppers!! We were quite surprised and amazed that there are healthy population of Yellowstone Cutty in this lower river.

Next turn of my fishing, I saw two big fish came to my hopper. From this month experience with Cutthroat and Cutbows, I did hold my breath and hook-set a moment but I couldn't really get into hook-ups at all.

Graham did great again while I was at oars. He hooked and lost nice browns for a few times. Toward the end, I fished again. First with streamer again, and I got snagged again. So I fished with hopper for a moment. Then Mother Nature gave me a new opportunity. As seen in the picture above, it was a nice bright sunny afternoon. But just like the other day, suddenly winds picked up and dark clouds covered the sky. Thunder started to roll somewhere and rain would drop any moment. We stopped maybe 5 minutes or so till winds calmed down. I felt the urge that I had to try streamers again. With this cloudy condition, I figured trout might not look up for hoppers any more instead would be less shy for streamers. Furthermore, I chose lighter colors. I tied on Sex Dungeon in olive,

trailed with Woolly Sculpin in a mixed color.

"I told you so!!" A bit skinny but a nice rainbow smacked on my streamer!! I fixed my own skunk!!

It literally inhaled the Woolly!!

Just before take out, I thought I snagged the bottom again but it was a huge brown trout!! But it wasn't hooked quite well and gone...... We did see its silhouette. It could have been another monster for me. Would have been nice if landed.......but I smile and let it go because all I have to do is simply get back and fish again!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Unnamed & Untamed

Today my friend Link and I were originally planning to fish Lamar but with Link's Superintendent (in terms of job and fishing!) Dale joining, we hit a trail. I was allowed to join with one condition "I can NEVER mention the river and the section. If I do, I will be executed". They actually blindfolded me while driving so I really can't tell you!!
Fact is one should not get here unless you are an experienced 19th century mountain man, equipped with a couple of bear-sprays, bug-dopes, bushwhacking hatchets, etc. I took a couple of great pictures of the scene but I just keep them in my mind and just get to fishing.

Oh...........lovely cutthroat all over.............. Chubby Chernobyl Ant wasn't mouthful enough?

Nice & healthy ones..............

Chubby again...............

Link kept catching too. Indeed we all did. Besides those landed, we had three times more risers/lost ones.

I noticed one character of these cutties here. There fins seems slightly colored in orange/pink.

All of their fins were wide, healthy, strong, and beautiful, period.

This place was somewhere else. We fished all day till we noticed it was getting dark. Yet we didn't feel that we fished enough because time had passed so quick!!

I will keep my mouth shut so please don't try to bribe me with Canadian whiskey, fried chicken, or buffalo steak.......

Thanks Link and Dale for the great day!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cutthroat Paradise

Between fishing Yellowstone River and tying flies for the shop, I had to go fishing the Park again today. I only focused on Lamar today. It might have been a bit too cold for wet-wading but Montana guides/anglers have to wet-wade while we can, otherwise snow might fall in a couple of weeks. As I observed a run along grassy cutbank, I saw rises. It maybe too early for mayfly hatches? With this cool weather, fall baetis may be coming off now? I tied most of mayfly patterns but had no luck. Fish were rising just along the bank. With breeze from downstream, it was hard to make dead-drifts. As I got slightly frustrated, I noticed I was getting closer and closer to the target and getting butt deep. It was cold for the first thing in the morning. I decided to walk around downstream to see what was on the water. It seemed like a couple of different types of midges were on the surface at the same time..............

Meanwhile, a huge buff bull was bathing 50 yard upstream from me...........

I went through most of midge patterns but didn't have any actions. I ended up staying almost an hour at the same spot without catching any fish. I finally started to shiver with the fear of hypothermia........ I gave up and went to the top of the bank, knowing I would spook risers and I did. A couple of Cutthroat got away. Amazing how they can be so selective at times......

Indeed, it seemed entire population of buffs in the Park would be along Lamar today. I was way below "high-water mark" but this beast didn't move. I was almost "breeding distance"!!

As a professional cattle breeder, I can tell you the difference between domestic cattle and wild buffs and give you the following advise.

  • Yelling, whistling, throwing rocks won't do nothing to buffs.

  • Bear spray should work as I once tried to a Jersey bull but you don't want to waste your bullets in a real bear country.

Anyway, I couldn't help doing but I made a stunt. This buff was about 15 feet behind me!!

A couple of anglers were bragging at me "PMD this" and "PMD that". I actually saw huge Gray Drakes in the air as at Slough. Then I picked up an impaired PMD dun with its nymphal shuck still attached. A very rare photo for me.

So my fly selection was this slightly irregular Sparkle Dun.

A nice Yellowstone Cutty came and grabbed it!!

Winds picked up and all the calm water were waving. I was even afraid of a thunder storm might hit the river. Luckily weather turned out nice again and afternoon was a terrestrial time!! Hopper!! x Hopper!!

Here I confess how I landed it...............

I also saw a huge beetle too.

So a beetle pattern worked as well (no bait-fishing by using the one above!!)

All cutthroat came up to my flies were 14 to 16-inch class. I personally get most excited with their rise motion from the water to the surface. It maybe a second or even less, depending on spots, but the duration and movement are so beautiful and I tend to set the hook a bit too fast but I'm still satisfied with what I see, period.
There are some guides/anglers who say "cutthroat are stupid and easy to catch". They'd better be re-born with different brains, I guess.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quick Update

Yesterday's angler on my boat, Joe, emailed me the crazy weather we encountered. It's actually cool when we look back but it was scary that time. One beauty we saw was this "Double Rainbow"!!

I have never seen that before. All the peaks along Paradise Valley looked beautiful too at the sunset. Then again, I will never forget the scene that the gusts knocked over trees into the river....... Welcome to the 'Stone!!

If You Don't Like Montana Weather........

Today I got a call from my guide friend Gram to see if I can offer a ride for his father and two other friends. We floated from Grey Owl to Mallards Rest. It was peaceful afternoon with nice breeze........Here's Joe caught a nice cutthroat on a dry-fly.

Again, it was really peaceful then suddenly storm hit us!! 30 to 40MPH from the upstream that pushed us too quick. Then we got another gusts from downstream with 70MPH (gustimated?). I thought my boat might get flipped over but fortunately storm left as alone.

So lessons learned. "If you don't like Montana weather, wait 5 minutes". Now it's opposite " if you like Montana weather,watch out in 5 minutes!!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Rod Review & Greeting

GREETING!! : Tomorrow August 22nd is the second birthday for my blog. It's been lots of stories and pictures from every fly-fishing experience from my journal and fly-tying scene at my tying bench. Thank you very much for dropping by. I have been able to keep myself going SOLELY THANKS to your reviews, comments, and friendship.
OK, here's the review for my brandnew rod. What I got is ECHO EDGE. This is the amazing rod in a very affordable price. ECHO rods are Made in China but who cares? and which trout notice it? I swear my words that each ECHO rod cast much better than cheaper sides of American made rods, period. Major models are in 4-piece and with rod tubes,

and protected with cloth-pockets.

It's really a beautiful finish. I personally like the assembly dots for quick rigging this 4 piece rod.

I also prefer EDGE's reel seat to its upper cousin ECHO 3 so over all I like its finish. I did test casting both but I am positive EDGE casts just fine and great in any fishing situation.

Then again, my first catch on this brandnew rod was a Yellowstone Giant......Coincidentally or not, I was just getting comfortable and confident to cast streamers, then WHAM!!

I even tested CARBON rod and that's also a great rod for more than money can buy.

If you can afford hundreds of $$ to one rod, that's fine and if you own lots of them, congratulation you are a rich man/woman. But I can tell you that expensive rods never promise you to cast further or to catch bigger fish, period.

Nowadays, I'd rather spend for my safety and comfort while fishing; such as wader, wading boots, comfortable clothing, and miscellaneous accessories.
In other words, I suggest people to get out fishing and to practice more casting rather than owning one $$$ rod and going fishing several times a year.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

19 Miles to Go

On a nice sunny day with only light breeze here in Paradise Valley, floating Yellowstone is the best summer activity. Fishing with a good friend made the day much more fun!! Link hopped on my boat and we floated from Carbella to Gray Owl = about 19 river miles!! Link kept catching lots of trout on his special dry-fly!!

Look at this!! Nice buck Yellowstone Cutty!! I was honored to net this beauty.

We landed a couple of good rainbows too.

There were two tricky currents/braids to maneuver but not bad at all. In the afternoon, we faced winds from downstream that slowed us down some. Link says he moved some large trout below Emigrant, where I caught the giant the other day, but we didn't get into hooking. We missed browns......(not whitefish = 0 of them!!). We pulled in at Gray Owl at 7:30pm, taking longer than I thought. This float is essentially two long sections = guides do either one of two for a day trip = but I condensed two runs in one day. Sored but doable and lots of fun!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

NE Corner Addiction

Lovely Yellowstone Cutthroat and pretty rivers in northeast side of Yellowstone Park became my new addiction. Particularly complicacy and technicality at Slough Creek drew me back again since my birthday. This time NO QUICK-SAND!! It is not always my style to sit still until hatch(es) occurs as I typically fish with nymphs and streamers. But today, I just wanted to see Gray Drake hatch again and if I could do better. I first noticed water was almost foot lower than two weeks ago. I was able to hold the best spot. Number of insects on the water and trout rises were somewhat less than two weeks ago. I started with Gray Drake Sparkle Dun. I also heard a new tip to fish here. I used a 12-14 feet leader/tippet to conquer drags caused by complicated currents. I am just telling you that, whether you hire me as a guide or not, because not everyone wants to handle that long leader and cast over 50 feet for drag-free presentation.

It was a fighty Yellowstone cutty.

After this, I caught a cutbow just about the same size. And it turned out to be slow and tough. I was trailing another fly behind but fish were still rising (and I kept missing) on Gray Drake Sparkle Dun. So trout must have been looking up Gray Drakes and Drakes must have been there. I changed the second fly into Hi-Vis Spent Sparkle Drake.

This fly suggests dun, emerger, and even spinner. I just needed something to attract trout's attention.

Then it happened within a few casts. I have never seen that kind of rise and take!! I'd say it was lighter and quieter than rise for midges. It was just a tiny bump on the surface and two flies of mine gently sank.......Set!!?? It was on!! and I felt it would be a large one!! I should have brought my net...... I gently dragged him to the shallow.
This huge male rainbow indeed took the Spent Sparkle Drake. AGH!!! I screwed up the close-up shot by my shadow!!

How about this? It was a feisty 17-inch male rainbow. It actually didn't fight as much as the previous little ones. It didn't look sick either as his teeth punched holes on my finger!!

Wind blew hard and hatch ended. Now it was a terrestrial time. I moved on. At another great deep run, trout came up to my hopper gently.......I made sure my hopper was in its mouth and set the hook!! Another feisty Cutbow!!

It really chewed and swallowed my hopper!! Playing with these NE trout, I learned that I hold a breath a bit longer before I set the hook. They just come up slowly and deliberately and then munch on it. We don't want to take our flies away fro their mouth because of our excitement.

I moved to Lamar River. All through the Valley was covered by buffs beyond my comfort zone. I did explore some but not as much as I wanted to as these beast can be very unpredictable.

Invasive species?? No....this must be sculpin, isn't it? I just found something dead in the water column.


I will never get bored at Slough Creek even I have to visit every day!! It may not be for everyone. In that case, there are various kinds of waters for your taste. I will report you more next week. Fishing life goes on!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Float the Stone

Today was another military training, NO!!, guide coaching with Dean. We floated a very productive section of Yellowstone. What a beautiful day to be in the river!! Unlike yesterday, we had no gusts or rain. While I was at oars, Dean caught some nice trout on his famous Pink Pookie.

According to him, it's "not LUCK but SKILL!!". I think it might be true because he caught a couple of Whitefish on my award winning COYOTE!! I can't catch whitefish with my Coyote as it was designed for fall-run trout in Madison!!!! Wonder how he did it and who wants to catch Whitefish anyway....... Then again, in a way, he proved the versatility of my Coyote!!

Just another day at 'Stone with a veteran guide.....Thank you, Dean.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to Catch a Tiny Brookie on Hopper.....

This afternoon, I felt a quick surge to go fishing so I went to Gardner with my Park Pass. Several fishermen were already stepping in that short section and I was afraid of thunder-storm. But I was basically fishing for my own observation and experiments and the evening turned out good so I enjoyed the quick get-out.

As I set the hook for my dry-flies (hopper + attractor), it was a tiny brookie foul-hooked on its back...... Just lovely enough for me.....

Later on I caught a rainbow on its mouth but I actually didn't see the sight of it.............

Gardner is such a fun river for all you expect. Either catching lots of trout on dry-flies (regardless of the size), some pocket water nymphing, or even streamer fishing in the fall, Gardner is there for us.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another Day with Cutty - NE Corner of YNP

Visiting Northeast corner of Yellowstone Park is becoming my treat. Today, my intention was to fish Soda Butte Creek and Lamar River. As I was driving, I saw each parking lots of Lamar was occupied and anglers were every 100 yard (that maybe too much....). I chose a good looking section at Soda Butte first. It's so obvious with nice runs and structures at right down from the parking lot but somehow nobody fishes!! Enough depth, mix of slow & fast, and along grassy cutbanks. To me, it's gotta be a "hoppertunity" from the first thing in the morning!! Indeed it was. When I saw a big shadow coming up slowly, I went "WOUW!!??" Nice fine Yellowstone Cutty.

Hopper + orange slashes = beautiful........

As I was releasing it, I noticed a fly was attached on its left gill. I first thought it would be my second dry-fly but it was an old Renegade with a piece of tippet!! Somebody lost this fine trout before!! Quite funny!!

I landed another nice one on hopper. Then I raised 3 more but couldn't get into hooking. All nice fine Cutties. One got away by opening a gap of my ant, trailed behind the hopper.


Though I wasn't really in a mood to go to Lamar due to too many people, I had to go because this was part of scouting and learning for my future guiding. I parked along the road from which the river can be reached by almost a mile away walk, hoping nobody would make this far. No sirs, no mams, two already there and another two later on. But I experienced one of the best match-the-hatch fishing ever!!!! Among braids, I thought I found a good looking run. I casted hopper/attractor again. Then I suddenly started to see risers and sippers!! Suddenly it became a spring-creek-get-down-to-your-knees situation!! This must be PMD!! (in case, I'm wrong and it may be heptagenia or Epeorus, let me know).

I tied on all the good patterns from my Mayfly Box of the day. Nothing actually worked. Then I finally tried my own original pattern that I'm working on. Trout came to only on this fly, period!! Any catch? First one I hooked into was really huge, no bragging but may have been a 20-incher, and it snapped off in two seconds. Second hit was almost close to my hand but spat the fly. Some more rises but it was over. Whole situation lasted over one hour. It was terrific with or without trout pictures. Then I gained huge confidence on my invention. Wish I had a proof picture or two........

Today's companion was like him. Not as scary as Mountain Lion that I saw along Rock Creek.

I went to the Canyon section, again avoiding people. Canyon section looks all good but it may be more suitable for nymphs and streamers to get into fish quickly. At a certain run, terrestrials raised some trout, and this one preferred a flying-ant to hopper!!

Herds of buffaloes stayed out of the road but in the range so driving was very smooth today. There are much more to explore in this side of YNP before summer ends!! I'll be back!!