Tuesday, April 29, 2014

End of April

Since the last post, I haven't been fishing. But I feel it's been busy with something around me. Also, Yellowstone River hasn't started its annual runoff yet. It's been cold. That's why the River hasn't blown yet. Is it fishable?? How about Mother's Day Caddis?..........Hmmmmmm tough call....... I have actually just come back from the river. No baetis or midge actions in spite of cold overcast afternoon. No signs of caddis either. Floating and pitching streamers and nymphs are viable options. I saw several boats. Everyone is taking chances............ I keep serious eyes on the runoff. Not just for caddis hatches but also for predicting when we would be floating again..... 
It's time to fill up fly boxes and fly bins.......well, actually time to wrap up that......., I guess.   I did another custom ties for Buzz at Spring Creek Specialists (www.springcreekspecialists.com), located with DePuy Spring Creek property (www.depuyspringcreek.com). It's quite an honor that my dry-flies are taken by Buzz!!
This makes 4 patterns of my original patterns at his shop! When you come and fish DePuy's and Armstrong's (www.armstrongspringcreek.com) or even Bighorn, Missouri (tail-waters), and Yellowstone Park waters (some spring-creek quality streams), check out his shop and pick up some flies!!
As you already know, but reminder, these are also seen at my sales site (http://leftytyer.blogspot.com) and can be purchased directly from me.
Last Friday, I visited East Idaho Fly Tying Expo (www.srcexpo.com) in Idaho Falls. There were lots of vendors and some of great fly-tyers from the area and other parts of US.
I had an opportunity to drop by the booth of Sweetgrass Rods (http://www.sweetgrassrods.com/). For people in this "circle", no explanation needed that they make some of the finest bamboo rods in the entire continent!! I had a pleasure to test-cast and this was the first time I ever touched and cast with a bamboo fly rod!! Sweet.........
Some raw materials on the table....

There were lots of vendors that were very tempting and about to make me spend all the money I got!! One booth had lots of good old fishing books (mostly used then some new). I found this old yet very clean copy with a super bargain price!!
Back to my tying bench with Atlantic Salmon Flies. I'm working on one last project for the season. Here's another interpretative/thematic design of mine. I will discuss about this later.

Corresponding framing and display. There will be a major update about Atlantic Salmon Flies at my sales site soon.
 I have just purchased a Jungle Cock skin, again for the very last project.
Well, I'm a good shopper......!!

I'd like to go fishing of course! 
I keep you posted about the runoff report and my very last Salmon Fly project.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

On The River

This is the journal entry from last week. As of this typing, Yellowstone River slightly got colored due to warm weather. This means we are facing the most sentimental and emotional period about "'Stone": "Will it blow soon?", "will some cool weather arrive and tame the water down some time longer?", "just one more shot for spring-streamer!", and our biggest curiosity = "Will we see Mother's Day Caddis?"

So this is the typical of spring hatch fishing on the Yellowstone. Most readers and people who know me around here assume, due to my blog, that I am interested in and fishing exclusively spring creeks. That's not totally wrong as I spend lots of days at creeks, yet over all mistake. I love to fish our "Mighty 'Stone" too, as it flows right along the town of Livingston! Also, I have to guess there are many anglers out there, locally and nationwide, who would think/imagine big Western rivers such as Yellowstone and Madison are fished with nymphs, streamers, and attractor dry-flies....... We do so that's not totally wrong. However, I can't emphasize big rivers around here do have excellent aquatic insect population and hatches!! Sometimes, it can be as complicated as or even more difficult than Livingston's spring creeks. I'm always a learning student.

Midge and baetis hatches on the Yellowstone are simply fun!! Trout seem also having fun to feed on the first and constant insect hatches. But also I admit these are not as complicated as these at spring creeks...... Again, it's just fun. After my brain had been twisted by complicated mood of hatches and trout and by trying to decipher them at spring creeks, these actions at the River can be relief also.

One afternoon, I just hit the right spot at the right time. This cute little Rainbow was my first catch!
And of course Yellowstone Cutty!!
Sizes increased as I caught more.
So I conducted stomach pumping. See? Trout in the river are feeding the same insects as those in spring creeks.
Take a look! Beetle!!
This was a nicer Cutty!!
 Then I caught even nicer Cutty!!
Furthermore, this one was prized!! ---- this is a part of Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Park program. There will be some visiting anglers who will catch these tagged trout so please refer this site: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/guide/taggedFish.html

Tag seemed either gnawed by trout or beaten by swum through rocks. After I got home, I was playing some and found it was algae. I could scratch off and identify the fish!! I did send in the form!!

This little brown, coming up on a size 20 attractor dry-fly, had a jaw structure of 30-inch brown!? He has a potential!?

Premonition of runoff doesn't mean the end of baetis and midges. When & If the condition is right for caddis, baetis and midges can join the circus.

Then, Guide Season kicked off on the other big & famous Western river in our area: Madison.

With the predicted high & abundant water year, my guide season on surrounding rivers will be better than ever!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grand Finale of DePuy's Winter Pass

The last but not the least, last weeks made the end of Winter Pass at DePuy Spring Creek (www.depuyspringcreek.com). After I came back from Missouri Trip, 10th and 11th were booked full. Then 12th was for River Cleanup. So I hoped to get a rod for both 13th & 14th, at least either one. This is one of the best times to visit Livingston's spring creeks so all 3 creek can be booked full for right reasons. I could mange to get a spot for 13th. And this is the end of a 6-month long journey. It's another learning & observation period, yet in a higher level than previous years.

On 12th, after we crews for River Cleanup finished our labor of love, it started to rain. By night, it turned into drizzling snow and it got cold....... In the morning of 13th, unfriendly Norther continued.... I secured my regular "Morning Midge" spot. It was very wavy. In spite of the condition, I actually saw lots of midges were hatching. I encouraged myself under the treacherous conditions and fished with my best of "underwater match the hatch" tactics. I hooked two large trout that were gone before netting (likely story...) plus I had a few nibbles.......

I barely survived through the morning. After lunch, weather seemed improving toward a little friendly side. This would be the last day of Winter Pass so I needed to catch trout by any means!! Yet, though I don't limit myself and my methods, ideally it would be better and greater feeling if I could encounter afternoon baetis hatches.

I had one best bed spot in mind and secured it. I brought my 6wt, in case I would have to do some nymph-fishing to salvage the day (and this blog post). However, my wish was granted by Creek God and I did experience baetis hatch!!

To fix my day immediately and to get the best of the situation, I did utilize a two-fly rig with my most trusted patterns.

For dry-flies, CDC Sparkle Dun
And Pheasant Tail Mayfly Cripple. Both in size 20. And both did cause some surface actions.

Then I trailed these "subsurface hatch matchers". Indeed trout took only and exclusively these. Though it was friendlier than in the morning, it was still windy and causing waves on the surface. Trout were not eagerly looking up for duns. Yet baetis = BWO were actively moving. So trout keyed on ascending nymphs. Master Angler version PT did fix my day.
After PT was taken and lost by vicious trout, Winged Victory took over the responsibility. Both actions can be seen in pictures below.

YES!! I fixed the skunk!!

Actions kept on. PT hauled in the best of the day!
Just another typical run-up rainbow in "estuary" spot!!

I recall, by this fish, I had lost PT and Winged V was taking over the responsibility, as I was doing two-thumbs-up!!
A little brown was caught also.
I didn't catch anything huge or remarkable but these sizes of rainbows were very strong and stripping out my line!! I was afraid of that they would open the gapes of my flies.

And this became the last trout caught with Winter Pass 2013-2014. I could have gone on fishing and very possibly would have caught much bigger individuals by nymphing. But I had had more than fair share so I didn't.  A very satisfying ending in my own right.

I have finished the 3rd Winter Pass at DePuy's in a row. Combining with some other outings in other months and days on Armstrong's and Nelson's, I have fished spring creeks over 200 days during the 2 & 1/2 years. Why am I doing so? Am I just a fishing-junk or trying to make the best out of Winter Pass? None of those crazy reasons. It's simply because "Spring Creek is the classroom of fly-fishing" and "knowledge and experience of spring creeks can be applied to other waters".

Past two seasons were spent more for learning and experimenting. I still continue to do so every now and then. This season, I mostly visited the creek for relaxing and relieving from my tying bench (I spent hours and greatest concentrations for Atlantic Salmon Flies). Will I get the Pass this fall again? I'd like to!!

Summer months and days at creeks are mostly for guiding. Meanwhile, I hit the River before runoff hits!! Yellowstone River does have as good spring hatches as creeks. Then we expect "Mother's Day Caddis" and "spring ferocious attack on streamers"!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yellowstone River Cleanup 2014

Here's the event on Saturday April 12th.
This one has become one of annual and important events of my guiding and fishing cycle in Livingston. As a guide and fly-fisherman who utilizes Yellowstone River, to me, this is the love-derived & honored duty. I'm happy to be and proud of offering my boat.
I was assigned one of "priority sections" with another boat and crews. We found a seemingly very old rip-rap made of scrap tires. Over the course of years, River has been changing and nowadays this may be totally out of use and meaning. Yet some tires were exposed and who knows, with the expected high-water, these tires can be washed into the river.........
We picked up whatever we can and piled on our boats. Luckily we didn't have other kinds of trash (cans, bottles, etc.).

I believe this is really an event for society and community of Livingston. There has been all kinds of participants: local fishers, guides, grade school teachers and children, and even non-fishermen & women.  No competition or egos among guides and fishermen either. All we have in common is LOVE & RESPECT to our river.

This is also my way to wish and pray for another great fishing year without accidents on this wild river!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Missouri River "Land of The Giants"

Last week was very busy with full of varieties. I simply can't make one one-week summary.
The first installment is from April 8th and 9th.

Missouri River is one of the most popular and sought after trout fisheries in Montana. As waters around me keep me busy (Yellowstone River, spring creeks, Yellowstone Park waters, etc), I don't have much time and opportunities to hit "Mighty Mo".

So, the section called "Land of The Giants" had never rung a bell to me. I would imagine local anglers had named so (or area guides and fly shops would have come up with one catchy name) and certainly the section is not a secret for local anglers (folks around Helena & Great Falls).

Wally's brandnew StealthCraft was launched at the marina of Gates of The Mountains, which is a privately owned area along the shore of Holter Lake.
 Anchor on the bow? When we row down, just like our driftboats, this side is going to be a stern. Indeed this is well-crafted for fly-fishing and guiding purposes.

Front seat view into the canyon!!

Here's Wally being a "Captain"!! (I was the photographer)

 Topography and scenery are breath-taking through the section. I was awed way before fishing starts!

As any other tailwater fisheries, midge hatch is very prolific. We just didn't see many rises though. Perhaps it's because of the season.
 I caught a hand-size and "pumped". I see. What food sources were available, what trout were feeding on, and what was going on...........
After several hooking and lost fish, I had a solid hook-up!! I knew it must be a nice one. It didn't give in easily but also I didn't have a net with me. So I gently lead it to the shallow spot.
Need more explanations?
Indeed this is just an AVERAGE of this section.

Without any exaggeration and bragging, most of our catches were 20"-22" and 4-lb.

First I helped Wally a bit......

Then our outfitter Mr. Parks worked on his fish downstream.
I repeat: this is merely the average........I'm sure now you are convinced.

This also shows you the size we are talking about. Outfitter Richard Parks brought in a nice trout (one below). While it was still in the net, I hooked one as well, which was quite a leaper. So we might as well net them both. Mine was about 17"-18", which is usually considered big in most river systems!! Yet, as seen, 17"-18" class trout are less than average in this section!!
And that was one of bests for Mr. Parks on that day.
Nice scenery!

And Big Fish! You have to smile!!
 I rowed some so Wally can fish from his own rig. His first catch for his own boat was, well, another "average" of the day!!
Dawn of Day 2.

It looks sunny but brutally windy. That was why I was wearing the hood of raincoat! But we managed some trout.

Best thing of fishing with a jet boat is we can drive back upstream and fish again the same spots. And then we would row down and fish the other bank from the previous drift or in the middle.

This is one heck of a ride.
As an angler, I suggest you add "Land of The Giants" in your must-go list.