Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Battle of Lower Slough

August 25th, I was guiding a group of clients with Curtis Wright Outfitters ( hosted Yellowstone Trip for three days straight. Originally we guides at Parks' Fly Shop ( were ready for floating our Mighty 'Stone but we didn't have "third time lucky"........... I took my clients to another walk/wade trip. However on this day, my option was limited........ My favorite guide destinations Lamar and Soda Butte were muddied up by thunder storms on the previous day. I was honestly so shocked and saddened by the sight of dark chocolate water with such low water level..............

So I had no choice but made a resolution to guide them at Lower Meadow of Slough Creek (section below camp ground). Some of long-time blog readers may wonder "Isn't Lower Slough your best favorite water???" ----- YES!! Lower Meadow of Slough is THE TOUGHEST & MEANEST PUBLIC SPRING CREEK IN THE WORLD!! I can't resist its sadistic treatments, if not punishments!! Then it usually ends up me catching one memorable trout ONLY after I pass all kinds of torments and hardships....... I explained all of these to my clients as we drove. My clients were reasonably skilled and willing to try yet I wondered, as a guide, if I could put them into "kiss of refusal" and "third-degree inspection" by humongous trout there!!??

We could hold and started from my favorite and probably the most productive spot (if I would mention one). However, we were not alone who had found only one clear water remained in the area........ I've never seen this many people along Lower Slough.........

Anyway, each gent had a few actions in the morning. Chuck was working on a riffle followed by a deep pool. He caught a few trout then suddenly his rod bent like an archery-ready-to-shoot!! I went to help him and saw a GIGANTIC trout at the end of his line!! After a looooong battle, it broke off his tippet and gone...........well...............

Unfortunately we didn't really see strong insect hatches (expecting PMD, Green Drake, and potentially midges). As morning passing, we saw rise rings here and there but not constant. We just worked patiently. Ken was rewarded with a nice 19-inch Cut-Bow on a Green Drake dry-fly!!!!
In the afternoon, we were required more and more patience.......... First of all we had to find a spot or two to make our casts!! Then hot bright weather (yeah, totally different from the day before!!) made trout shy and exhausted us........ However, as evening approaches, most people started to leave the creek (more room!!) and winds died down (calm surface!!). I encouraged my clients with MY ONE & ONLY SPECIAL BATTLE TACTICS FOR LOWER SLOUGH!! (that I developed after many trials and refusals.) After another breath-choking fight, finally Chuck was also rewarded with a typical Lower Slough Cut-Bow, measured 20-inch!!!!
Well, I've gone through another battle at Lower Meadow of Slough Creek.......... It was just like my own fishing day but guiding clients through these conditions was totally different. Success?? Maybe....... At least, for each gent, these cut-bows were THE BIGGEST CATCHES during their Yellowstone Trip!!

I can't emphasize how much I have learned and gained (and been tormented!!) from Lower Slough as an angler. So transferring my experience and knowledge of such water to my clients makes me grow as a guide. Just like at Livingston's spring creeks..............

So more guiding requests for Lower Slough are welcome. Then my own fishing there will tune up soon!!
To be continued.........

Monday, August 26, 2013

Green Drake at Soda Butte!!

Believe or not, this happened the day after I had another PMD hatch at Soda Butte!!

I took another group of clients. They are lead by Curtis Wright Outfitters ( in Ashville, NC, who organizes their renowned Yellowstone Trip with Parks' Fly Shop ( Due to (well, another one.....) mud-plugs caused by severe thunder-storms in the area, our float trips were replaced with walk-wade trips. (Eventually Lamar and Soda Butte themselves were also filled with mud-plugs too......). I took them to Soda Butte again. I was expecting another great PMD actions but also I had some hunch...... This weather......... overcast with potential showers........ It might be something other than PMD such as........... Great Green Drakes!!??

Just like a routine or a clock-work, we started to see surface actions at a certain time of the day. YES!! Green Drakes were on the water!! with some mix of PMD!! Here's Tom fighting on his massive one!! I confess I slightly screwed netting........sorry.......

Brother John got one respectable Cutty!!

Anyway here are my famous "pump" pics for Green Drakes!!

Each of brothers had one sipping rise on his dry-fly, followed by "SUBMARINE" Run!! We clearly saw what big and beautiful Cutties they were!! Big Cutties were very aggressive to gulp on Green Drakes!! Those trout went off from brothers' lines before netting but memories will haunt them till next time....... Same for me. I'm just as excited as my clients!!

I have a few more brandnew Green Drake patterns for this season. Those are on water and proven one by one. But we still have "Drake season" left this year so I'll post all as time goes by or all at once sometime later. Shown here are simple yet SUPER effective soft-hackles!! Simple, that's why I can stock (barely....) even during the guide season and take quick photos..... Rest of my new patterns need photo-sessions later the year.......

Flymph - Master Angler Version!!!
 This one is even sparser and simpler!!

Wait for my Drake reports till hatch is over for the season!!

PMD at Soda Butte Creek!!

I had a very busy week!! If my blog post is slow and behind due to my guide duty, I hope it will be understood. But good fishing memory shouldn't be forgotten! My clients of last week and I had some of greatest fishing at Soda Butte Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

Pale Morning Dun hatch was excellent!! Then the quality of trout, Yellowstone Cutthroat exactly, kept us entertained all day!!

This was actually an afternoon hopper action!!

Just like recently popular fish art products!!
Before PMD hatch starts, I encourage my clients to try some nymphing. We caught two Cutty that had previous anglers' nymphs embedded on their mouths!! We safely removed those old "itches" and promptly released them!!

 Another PMD Big One!!

 That said, catching is easy!? NOOOOOO................ I had excellent anglers. Then Cutty in Soda Butte (and other streams in the area) can be as technical and selective as those in spring creeks during the hatch!! My anglers could enjoy and take reasonable sizes and numbers of trout on dry-flies during the hatch. However my eyes, trained at spring creeks, observed some potentially big individuals were "slicing" nymphs without breaking surface or definitely feeding on ascending nymphs in the water column. Just in case, I kept my "spring creek flies" in my truck. I rigged up my own Pheasant Tail Mayfly Cripple (of course this one catches any time anywhere!!),
And trailed Sawyer Pheasant (Master Angler Version)!!

Those big ones above were taken on PT!!, fished just below the surface and by targeting the feeding depth!!
Just a word of caution when you fish Soda Butte (and any other rivers in general): keep enough distance from other anglers. When someone is fishing a certain spot, first-come-first-serve rule applies. Look for other spots or be the first one there, period. Also one can't "own" a stretch of stream in this federally managed land!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mightiest Spring Creek Lesson with Tiniest Creatures

Well, this post will be somewhat essay and serious note rather than my regular fishing report. It was another "learning & observing" day at DePuy's Spring Creek ( What my client and I experienced was somewhat beyond the realm of anglers' comprehension. Although we deciphered puzzles and hooked into trout, as an angler = human being, it was some of the greatest lessons I've ever learned while fishing.

On August 18th, I had one angler at DePuy's. He had necessity skills and was equipped with appropriate gears for spring-creek fishing and most importantly willing to learn and work hard!! Based on information from my trusted sources and my own scouting, I had a basic scheme and schedule of the day.

Meet at 8:00AM
Fishing for midge hatches from 8:30AM till whenever it ends (1 hour or longer)
Expecting PMD hatches from 11 to 11:30AM till 1PM (give or take)
Fishing with terrestrials (hoppers, ants, beetles, and crickets) most of afternoon
Fishing for Sulphur Mayfly hatch from 5 to 5:30PM till 6:30PM
We might see another midge hatch & rising trout till we call for the day

Now don't get me wrong. I know things don't always go as we plan. What if it rains? What if winds blow so hard? may ask........ I remain flexible and analyze my situation then I will re-plan and re-schedule. Then again, hatches in spring creeks tend to be consistent most of time. Besides, right now, I can predict Livingston weather as well as professionals.

For the first thing in the morning, my agenda was proven right! We saw midge-rising trout and started working. It was very tough (I would add "already from the morning" as I recalled at the end of the day......) but with my suggested flies (soft-hackle patterns!!), my client got into a couple of trout!
Nice 'bow that fought and leaped a lot!!
 Checking their diet as always..........

As the morning went by, we started to see more constant risers. I didn't assume but positively judged "PMD hatch!!" So I tied on PMD patterns for my client. However we saw a few looking-ups and that was all.........yet trout kept rising on something......... I seined both way above and way below from rising trout, so I didn't disturb them, and all I collected was size 24 or even size 26 midges!! I doubted my eyes and seined again and again. Although there a very few small gray mayfly and black caddis mixed up every now and then, majority were tiny midges. Then clearly to our eyes, we didn't see anything big enough such as PMD, BWO, Caddis, etc., on the surface. It had to be midges that trout were feeding on so constantly and eagerly.

So I abandoned my PMD agenda and adjusted my tactics and mind-set for midge fishing. Then next amazing occurrence was trout wouldn't stop feeding on midges till 1:30pm and even after. We had to eat lunch, not just because we were hungry but also we needed relax and re-focus. We were back at the same spot after 2PM and trout were still feeding on the same small midges!! (I seined again!!).

Besides midge patterns, I mixed up a couple of most trusted and best ant patterns, but ants were totally ignored!! Several actions we had were on midge patterns!! It seemed rising actions were slightly slowed down so we moved to the different section of creek for terrestrial fishing. However, since we worked on those midge-rising trout after lunch, we sacrificed the prime terrestrial time (2 to 4pm, mostly). We took some breaths, stretched our bodies, and came back to the same spot where we had been working. Now I expected to see some Sulphur hatches. Indeed Sulphur did hatch, though not super strong!! I seined this individual just coming out of nymph-shuck on my seine!!

However, trout wouldn't be interested in Sulphur at all......... As evening deepened, there were more rising trout, well......., on the same old tiny midges!! We ended up working very hard till real dark. My client was working very hard all day with tiny flies. Finally he got fatigued and called for the day around 7:30pm.......Trout were still rising................

So basically trout were feeding on ONLY & EXCLUSIVELY the tiniest species of midges in the creek ALL DAY LONG.
What's so remarkable of this experience is our preconception and expectation, even deep knowledge and scientifically proven facts, can mean nothing for trout in the spring creek.

  • PMD, Sulphur, caddis were "SUPPOSED TO BE" hatching (YES THEY WERE), so trout were "SUPPOSED TO BE" feeding on them (NO THEY WEREN'T). 
  • Besides aquatic insects, trout were "SUPPOSED TO BE" looking up for terrestrials, weren't they? - NO THEY WEREN'T.
  • Over all, trout were "SUPPOSED TO BE" looking for foods worth enough for them to swim up to surface. 
  • So they were "SUPPOSED TO BE" choosing PMD, Sulphur, caddis, ants, beetles, and hoppers (if they are present - and they were) over tiny midges, weren't they? - NO THEY WEREN'T.
"SUPPOSED TO BE" is human side of perception and thought. Trout must have their own of perception and reason.
Why did trout keep feeding on tiny midges when other bigger meals were available? - We really have to interview trout that can speak some sort of human languages.
It was indeed a frustrating and nervous-twitching experience for my client and I but I don't consider this as a defeat. Although I wasn't perfectly prepared, I could still decipher the puzzle one by one. I figured sparsely tied size 22 flies of mine were effectively taken. In my counting and observation, patterns didn't really matter but presentations and drifts did.

We both worked hard with great concentration. We both learned a lot from the creek, bugs, and trout. Over all we experienced surface actions all day!
Casting accuracy, angle of presentation, and  how to set hook and fight fish with tiny flies are lessons my clients take home.
Lessons for me are to instruct those matters to my clients more effectively and to be prepared for some advanced fishing situations, like this, at spring creeks in near futures!! 

It was another Master Class Lesson at DePuy's. Very selectively feeding trout and focus on tiny flies are very hard to accept (always!!) but I'm very content with what we went through.
Accumulating knowledge for fly-fishing, fly patterns, and trout is a good thing. Planning the day and tactics based on them is an important step for successful fishing (especially if one considers himself a guide!!). But what would you do when the day (or things) wouldn't go as smooth as you would plan? Would you be at a loss mentally and get frustrated? Or analyze and observe then re-think and re-plan?

I'm ready for the next one...........

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mid Summer Gear Supplement + News Update

Quick Update: The series of my columns for spring creek fishing at Fly Anglers OnLine ( is into its climax. I have posted this childish drawing of mine as premier at Facebook but I don't believe I have done at my blog. Hope you get my sense of humor and joke as a fly-angler. Check up the new chapter at FAOL then go fishing spring creeks in your area and in Paradise Valley!!
Drawing by the author. Note the angler here is also "Lefty" like the author.........
Just like filling my boxes with flies, I try to check conditions and inventory of my fishing equipment and gears during winter months. However, some stuffs need replaced in the middle of season, just like popular flies need tied and refilled!!

These lines are for my own use. I'm a great fun of RIO ( On the left is AVID Sink Tip. Probably some of my blog readers might remember that I used to fish with streamers and sinking-line a lot. I still do but less frequently than before. There are some serious & specific lines for streamer fishing but for now and a while, this AVID line will suffice my need.

Then now is the time to replace my beloved and most trusted LT-DT (double taper). YES!! I'm a classic double-taper advocater when it comes to soft presentations, particularly at spring creeks!! If needs be, I can cast as far as others try to do with WF (weight forward) lines!! I have used up both ends of LT. All the crusts of line represents memory of many trout!!

Poorman's wisdom. One doesn't need super techy set-up to rig up fly lines. All I use is a pen held on my tying bench with a piece of packing (transparent) tape!!

And this is the SUPER EXCITING product ever!! I have never felt difference among leaders from different brands but this one totally stands out!! Suppleflex works just as it's claimed. And it suffices my expectations: 1. I tend to be a long-leader guy (this one is built as 13.5 feet) & 2. best presentations during match-the-hatch. With the combination of LT-DT, Suppleflex casts like the extension of fly-line; the ultimate spring-creek rig!!
Talking about spring creeks, I need to carry more numbers of flies when I guide creeks than at other public rivers. It's beyond capacity of my vest. There are numerous packs in the market. I have finally found the one that should suffice my need and expectation. I prefer a waist pack to a chest one. Then I expect it water-resistance to protect my flies inside. Not just from pouring rain but also compatible when I have to wade deep and duck (and other physical movements) in the water, say, netting my clients' catches. West Water Guide Lumbar from fishpond will be my match!!
Back-side is constructed to function practically and comfortably too!!

With these newly acquired gears, I will run through the guide season and the fall fishing!!
Oh, then this is one of patterns that I have just tied for my fall fishing. Green Drake Flymph (Master Angler Version). It's not too early. Indeed some trout are already looking up at.............

I'll be back to guiding this weekend and busy days/weeks shall follow. Wait for my next report.
Till then.......

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mid August Report

I'm not much guiding this week. It's good time to check and refill my fly-boxes. Then it's good time to get out on my own and fish!.............but unfortunately I just can't fish for fun as long as guide season is on calender. Season is running and changing. We have started to feel some cold air in the morning. So purpose of my outings at this time of year is to observe changes and differences of trout behavior and of waters. Then I'm always learning new waters, access points (suitable to take clients?), trails, etc., then I have to experiment new fly patterns of mine!

I walked through literally a "sea of buffalo"!! They are not domesticated but still "bovine" or "bovidae" (whatever.......). As long as I'm cognizant of my surroundings and their behaviors, it's not scary (except for estimated 2,500-lb bull!!).

Morning Cutty "wearing" my fly!

I saw a buff walking and eventually swimming the Mighty Yellowstone. He hit the deepest and strongest spot and I saw he was struggling for a short period!! I'm sure there are many other buffs (and other wildlife) that would try to ford Yellowstone River and get washed away!! And that's how powerful the Yellowstone is!! I always fish, wade, and row with great respect on this river.
More "Chubby & Cutty"!!

Badger!! I could get really close!!
And Mormon Cricket!! Apparently this is my fly-tying inspiration!!
Then my brandnew pattern is on experiment!! Guess what........There definitely will be a discussion toward the end of year........
I visited DePuy's Spring Creek ( for the upcoming trip. I've been busy guiding Yellowstone Park and conducting River floats so it's been a while to check out my beloved spring creek. Oh, boy there are lots of learning and observation!! Creek itself, trout habitat, trout behavior, insect hatches, and insect activities, etc., I have to tune up for mid-summer mode!!

Best and most effective way is stomach pumping!!...........only if I can catch one...........fortunately I did for the first thing in the morning. Look what they are eating now............

There is still a "trickle" of PMD hatches. One cast and one rise, that was all it took!!

Again checking stomach samples.........
Sulphur mayfly!!

Terrestrials (hoppers, crickets, ants, and beetles) are all important right now!! Nice Cutty!!

Sulphur hatches in the evening........

Who knows what I would be writing about weathers for the next post? Back in hot days or touch of the fall......... Stay tuned and see you along the river!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birthday Guiding, Cutty, & Misc. Report

Another busy week is in the book of past and the new one is coming.......
I was busy guiding last week. 6th is my birthday. I've been having good fishing on my birthday but nowadays the best way to celebrate is, guess what, guiding!! I had very nice couple clients. We hiked into somewhere in Yellowstone Park. I shouldn't be personal and emotional on the job but good fishing and nice trout are very important on my birthday!! When I saw this strong bend on my client's rod, my heart was pounding and excited just as anyone else's!! (Below, some pictures are from Toni and Kim. Thanks!!)

Some of the "thickest" Cutties I've ever seen in Park drainage!!

Lady was also a very fine dry-fly fisher!!

We moved and fished a different water in the afternoon.
Land & Water of Native Cutthroat, we enjoyed for our heart content!!
Parks' Fly Shop ( veteran guide Wilson and I guided a group of rookie anglers!!

River float trips are going strong too!!
Forget low water and warm water temperatures!! Those are facts but shouldn't be used as reasons for poor fishing = excuses!! Trout are there! Plenty of them! If you hit right spots with right flies, good presentations, and confidence, trout will rise!!
Hopper-Cutty!! or Hoppy-Cutter!? I can't remember.........

Despite of weekly weather forecast for warmer conditions, we are having cool overcast conditions!! Fishing will remain good, even better!!!
Till next report........