Friday, September 30, 2011

Little Mountain Stream & Big Surprise!!

Today, it reached upper 80s in the afternoon. I went out again to do what I couldn't do this summer and today would be the last wet-wading day of the year. I wanted to see one of local mountain creeks around Livingston. You already know I'm always open for spots, flies, tactics, and not to mention names of waters but today somehow I want to keep all myself. I'm not being protective as it's well-known and public, no secret at all. So if I receive emails or calls, I answer how to get there but still I don't exactly inform you what to do because I want you to challenge in this stream!!
I was again soothed by cool and crisp forest air. Water was cold but still on the comfortable side. A stereotypical pocket water run!!
Section I fished was lined by trees = no sunshine. Bugs were in the air (seen as you go down) but no apparent risers. I had to figure out what might work or not. Hopper still worked and I was amazed by the thickness of this little rainbow.

Just listening to the fall running was nice enough but I had to see what would be in this deep pool.

Suddenly I felt a big tug and it ran hard!! I was standing just below the fall. So as it ran down-stream, I had to follow it by climbing up and down rocks. For technical reason, I was with a super long leader. I should have brought my net!! I was afraid to lose it. It was very hard to get it in. Quite a surprise!! It was again a fat rainbow but this time up to 15-inch!!

I lost my breath!!

Right after this, I got hooked into another submarine!! It was longer than above, 16-inch, but wasn't as thick so it came out easily but lost him while getting my camera ready........

This is the bug I was seeing. Must be a knocked down October Caddis.

Fluttering adult.

Now it must really be October and fall then.

This small mountain stream is technical than it looks. Who wants to nymph-fish in this size of creek and who actually can? I was quite content with the very last outing for summer filled with surprising trout!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Healing Water

I was kinda gloomy or even depressed for the last couple of days. I know why. Weather and season have been somewhere in the middle. With just my selfish wish, it should be cold because my firewood are ready and the fall started officially in the calendar!! I'd rather complain cold weather than this yo-yo-yo weather. Although it's none of my business, with this fine weather, I can easily day-dream a dozen car are parked and 20 angler are making a row to fish Barns' Pool #1 and #2 respectively!! I also want to see tremendous hatch of fall baetis and drakes so I can compete with naturals, rather than just expecting hatches and casting the supposed-to-work flies. Then as the guide season is ending and fly tying order is slow, I felt low. But last night I realized "fishing and fly-tying are my jobs!! I have to get out!!" I tried to be positive and thought about where I should go. I tried to take this warm weather as friendly and decided to do what I couldn't do in the middle of summer before snow falls. This summer, I didn't have any time to fish small mountain streams with my light 4wt rod along with some hiking. I decided to visit West Boulder River. The unpaved road from Livingston was very uncomfortable to drive. Middle and lower sections of West Boulder are surrounded by "SIGNS". I finally made to the trail head at the beginning of Forest Service Boundary.

I didn't have time to hike into the meadow. But this first section was really pretty enough for me.

I knew attractor dry-flies would do the job in this kind of mountain streams. I just went small with Micro Wulff Cripple.

My first catch was this nice little brown!! Well-colored and spotted. My depression had gone away!!

Right after this, I hooked into an estimated 12-incher!! I was like "OHH?AWWE!!" It really ran and pulled my line out. I was with 5X tippet. I've been landing lots of up to 18-inch trout at Slough and Lamar with 5X and 5wt rod but with the lighter gear today, I felt it like a 20-incher on 6wt rod!!

With some sweat and wet-wading in cool stream, I really felt better. My next choice of fly was my recent favorite Purple Haze.

I was casting upstream at a small eddy next to the heavy run. I lost my sight in a moment but I suddenly felt a big tug!! Snagged underwater? NO!! Nice fish!! I got back the lost 12-incher!!

Just about 1/4 mile up, it became difficult to walk along cliffs and boulders so I head back. It was still a decent run and I had another objective. As I fished down, I caught another 12-incher and this time it was a fine Cutbow!!

I wanted to see Main Boulder as well before I lose lights. Same scenario for the Main. Lower and middle sections are within private lands (mostly hay farms and ranches) with a few public accesses. Everyone has been asking me "have you seen Natural Bridge and Falls?".
I brought my rod as well but it wasn't necessary. Without fishing I was amazed by this natural beauty and wilderness. I crossed the bridge and took a trail down to the water.

Now the river is running UNDERNEATH me!!

I took the next very steep trail to see below. River came out like this through the tunnel. I was on the top of cliff for two pictures above.

I took a picture of WHY & HOW as well so I don't have to explain!! Sounds like we can see a big fall during run-offs. I may swing by next year on my way back from breeding cows in eastern MT, WYO, and SD.

I really felt better today. I can't remember whether it's minus ion or oxygen or whatever. Anyway cool waters and forest air really soothed my gloominess. I don't have to be patient but just simply relaxed till the fall settles in. Meanwhile I try to fill up my own fly-boxes and order materials for the winter fly sales project. Then I fish very hard under nasty weathers.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Firewood 2011

Today I did a real job. Now is the best time to work on firewood.
1. Firewood price will go up later on.
2. From last year's experience, I don't want to work once snow is on the ground.
3. The most importantly, fishing (guiding & tying also) is slow now.
4. Further more importantly, now I can really focus on FALL FISHING!!

It's very hard to find firewood in reasonable price with trustable quality. I had to make several calls. I think I did well on that. I needed a chord = 4' x 4' x 8'. Last October, right after moved in, I had to get firewood and still had to go fishing. I made a good deal as for money paid, but I had to haul all by myself with my truck bed. Very hard and time consuming. This time, the price included delivery and it was worth paying.

Why I bought blocks? Because a chord in blocks is cheaper than a chord in split. Besides, my landlord owns a wood-splitter. Have you ever seen these? It's not that much a difference in price for wealthy people but I'm cheap. Besides, I can split for the size I want. One doesn't want all to be too small. I actually split them relatively large so I can get away with a few piece a night. Again, this is from last winter's experience!! - how to start a fire, maintain the fire and room temperature, and last all night long - YES, mastering firewood and wood-stove is sort of ART!!

As I push the lever the BLACK BOARD will go forward and push the wood into the "V".
Day didn't start smoothly. I first went to buy fuel (regular gas). Then I had mechanical problems to get it run. I could finally get it running and splitting after 11am. When I was done, it was 3pm!! During that time I only sipped a cup of coffee. I kept working with great concentration under Indian Summer sky. After one hour meal break, I stacked into piles, picked up "chips" for fire-starters, and brought the machine to my landlord's house.

I made TWO PILES like this. I got everything done by 6:40pm!!
CHEERS!! PBR tasted as well as after good fishing day!!

Life in Montana, especially in winter, can be tough. I don't mind some work but this may not really be a work compared to what 19-th century mountain men had to do.
Anyway I feel a great accomplishment. It was a warm day at least so I might have been tempted to go fishing. But from the practical point of view and for my near-future plan, I resisted the urge. Maybe I should get out and eliminate some more whitefish from my system but probably I did enough for past two days as I'm the WHITEFISH KING!! Now I'm really getting ready for the fall fishing next month and winter life.

CHEERS, again!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Whitefish Champion

Today, Graham and I hit the 'Stone again. We floated Hwy89 Bridge to Springdale = almost 14 river miles. Wind pushed us down but not scary level. It was just breeze compared to real winds in Livingston. But it was sunny and up to 80s!!??
Although Graham had some actions on hopper, I tried nymphs with a bobber again. I caught one whitefish but after that it was boring and even hard to nymph in this stretch because structures (depth, current, etc) change so often. I switched into hoppers too. It was a decent Cutbow. It was as round as spring-creek trout.

After this, hopper fishing seemed totally dead....... Indeed nothing seemed working. We were losing our confidence but my streamers didn't. I bet on that streamers can wake up lazy trout. That would be the only way to get through. I worked with great concentration and something hit it!! HUGE!! I was positive it would be 18-inch, give or take. Indeed it was........another 18-INCH WHITEFISH 2 DAYS IN A ROW!! See how proud I look like!!

Graham caught a nice brown on a streamer too. It leaped several times till I net it. Actually I haven't seen this kind brown over a month

It was just a tough day but my mission was accomplished. I try to catch as many whitefish as I can for now so I don't have to deal with them later. Then I defended my title as WHITEFISH KING. It was squeaking when I was trying to get my streamer back. "Que~~Que~~" I don't think I can sleep tonight with that creepy sounds..........

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whitefish Hunter

Today, during my lazy time in the morning, I got a call from my guide friend Graham to see if we can go fishing. I said "I'll go!!" before I wash my face. We floated from Carter Bridge to 9th St Bridge, just a short one around town of Livingston.
We saw a stonefly struggling for something. It seems it did come out of its nymphal shuck but wings looked immature to fly. Very cute. Is this what we call "Midnight Stone"?

Not only because I had to get ready in an hour or so, but also due to slow experience in last two floats with my outfitter and his friend, all I could think of is "NYMPHING" for my heart content!!!, period!!!! It's in the middle of transition of the season. Summer dry-fly actions were officially over but also it's too early, at least for me, to fish with only streamers. I simply wanted to see fish on the boat. I really didn't care if it would be trout or whitefish. If it happened to be a whitefish, I expect it would be over 20-inch!!
Today's hit fly was this Beadhead Crystal Serendipity. This used to be a "Brown Trout ONLY" but.........

I nailed lots of whitefish!!! See how strong I gripped it with my pride!!

NOTE: I'm not a "whitefish-hater" who performs "bank-release".

I felt enough so I changed my game plan a bit. Now I wanted bigger individuals or perhaps some trout. So I took out a huge BOBBER from my camera strip,

and tied on a larger Rubber Leg in black/coffee.

Withing a few casts after we resumed floating, the huge bobber sank, and I set the hook!! HUGE!!, I could tell. and it was an 18-inch WHITEFISH KING!!!! I'm holding it as if I'm working on cows' cervix when I breed cows but fish was safely released in the river.

My mission was accomplished. I'm happy!!

But also we were amazed by the Mother Nature of the LONGEST FREE FLOWING river. Section we floated used to be the main channel. But with the historical runoff of this year, now it became a side channel or should we say "old main channel".

Including that, I love 'Stone for sure!! Let's see what happens tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NE Corner - Ultimate Match-The-Hatch Again

This morning as I went outside to throw away ground coffee beans from my coffee pot, it was cold. I saw frost on my boat since......last time when it was cold!! Today I went fishing to Yellowstone Park with my outfitter's good friend again. It was his last day of vacation.

Like last Friday, we got to Lower Slough around noon. But today it was sunny day. Temperature was 40s to 60s but sunshine was still stunning in the car. But we could still expect some hatches. At least we hoped trout would look up. My first choice was this Green Drake Foam Nymph. Yes, it was ragged, chewed, and ripped.......I should have taken a picture last night!!

My day opener took it confidently.

A nice healthy hard-fighting cutbow!!

We noticed Green Drakes were in the air sporadically. My next choice was Green Drake Sparkle Dun size 12.

WHAM!! This is one of the best Yellowstone Cutty!! Hard-fighter too!!

Cloyd stayed in the same spot and he kept catching with Green Drake patterns. Meanwhile, I looked around another up-stream. Trout were feeding there too. I didn't see many or any large Drakes on the water but I thought it would be the same scenario. Trout came up to my Sparkle Dun and refused it for several times. One particular trout at a certain spot kept doing it. Something must be funny. I looked around water surface and I saw this struggling mayfly. Size 14 and somewhat gray..........

I didn't have exactly the same or close imitation but I figured down-sizing might do the trick. Fortunately I had the same Sparkle Dun above tied in 14 for Western Drake. BINGO!! That picky trout took in confidently with the first drift!!...........then gone by breaking the line..... I had one more and it got another attention in a few casts!!

Cloyd kept working on the same spot and he was telling me that he was fishing with Sparkle Dun I gave him. Meanwhile, I said "SET!!" Trout was bending his bamboo rod!!!!

It didn't come easy for net and camera as it was a fine 18-inch Cutbow!!!!

Nice work, Cloyd (& my fly)!!

As we head back to the car, we cast some at a pool. Apparently Drake hatches were ending and as we were expecting baetis hatched in Lamar, I tied on baetis patterns. After a few close calls, I got the biggest one on size 20 ICU Baetis (sorry, forgot to add a picture but you can click the link). I caught up with Cloyd!! It was another 18-inch Cutbow!!

In Lamar, we held another nice piece of water all by ourselves. But it was funny again!! Large Drakes size 10 or 12 (not as large as Drakes in Slough = size 8 to 10) were blown in the wind along with tremendous amount of midges!! From their rise forms and sounds, I bet they were after blown Drakes. So the same Sparkle Dun worked!! Always happy to see native Yellowstone Cutty!!

Drakes were over and we found baetis in the air (somehow trout didn't seem interested in midges) and I took another fine Cutty on ICU Baetis. But also we found another species of mayfly. It was about size 14. Heptagenia? If anyone has any idea and suggestion, kindly let me know.

At 6:30PM, Sun went down behind the mountain and everything shut down and we started to feel chilly.

It was another great experience at both Slough and Lamar. When hatches are on, trout here get very selective, as selective as those in any other spring creeks. Particularly in Lower Slough, it's both exciting and frustrating that trout come up to our flies, chase several feet, and inspect several seconds........they may bite and may not...........This ultimate match the hatch will last 47 more days!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lower & Slower

Today we hit Yellowstone again. We floated from "Otter" in Big Timber to "Pelican" in Greycliff. Hmmm.......both critters are known to suck fish........Are there lots of fish left in this stretch?
Fish count may have been the average day but they were all small. This was the largest.

It just seemed we were in the middle of transition. Not really hopper-fishing any more but we haven't seen strong fall insect hatches either. Anyway, here's today's hit fly, Purple Haze (my tie). It is indeed sparkly tied with Super Floss. But I believe it would represent any kind of mayflies on the surface from trout's views. This has become one of my favorite attractors recently.

Wind pushed us down and we came back earlier than we thought. Over all floating was fun. I'm developing more boat skills as well. Sounds like we hit the Park again tomorrow.......

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hatch x 2 = How Many Trout?

Today I got out fishing to Slough Creek again in Yellowstone Park with my outfitter's friend (Dean was tired & sored.....). From our experience from the day before yesterday and weather forecast, we left Livingston 10am. Weather was the most exciting for the fall season!! Cloudy, rainy, but no wind!! Perfect weather for both baetis and Green Drake hatches (supposed to be......). By the time we dressed up and got our gears ready, we actually didn't see rises or hatches......slightly disappointed. I tied on Green Drake patterns anyway and fished one spot. I caught one and rose a few more. As an angler who was fishing where I wanted to left, I stepped in and that was when it happened!! Just about 2pm, giant Green Drakes were on the water and trout were munching on them!!

My first catch in that pool was this solid rainbow!! Look at its wide tail and other fins!!

Really wide along shoulder as well!!

The Classic Sparkle Dun was all they wanted. I had another solid hook-up and tug-of-war.

Nice rainbow again!!

It was raining all through during Drake hatch but bearable. I caught a few more, didn't get into good hooking, and foul-hooked one, which got away two of my Sparkle Duns (YES, trailing two same flies!!).

Drake hatch lasted till 5pm and apparently slowed down. We took a quick break to warm up a bit. We expected baetis (blue wing olive) hatches now as we had at Lamar. Yes they were on the water!! They were not quite in olive-dun color and large, size 18-20, for now. Not as many as Drakes either so rises seemed less.

One of my go-to patterns was Improved Sparkle Dun.

Rises were less to none but I knew trout were looking up!! This must be a Cut-bow. I was afraid it would open the gap of hook and got away. It fought that hard.

A cute little one was the call for the day.
How could I set hooks with tiny flies in the dark? I can write a thesis about how-to by the end of the season.

This is another best hatch I ever experienced. The other is Flying Ant Swarm, which I also experienced at Lower Slough!! Lower Slough is the best & toughest spring creek in the area. As you already see lots of times, all trout are truly wild and resemble healthy condition of those in Livingston's spring creeks.

To add more expectation, fall has just begun!! We have one and a half month left.