Thursday, July 28, 2016

YNP Dawn Treader 2016: Lake - Falls #2

Yesterday, July 27th, exactly a week since my previous Dawn Treader mission, I hit the road in the darkness, again, to the same destination = Yellowstone River below Yellowstone Lake.
It was quite a learning experience a week ago. I wanted to see if I could act better and perhaps the more important factor was that Big Cutt hovering season wouldn't last long.

I rigged up my special set-up and started casting/fishing with the according tactics, that worked last week. It didn't disappoint me!! Just about 15 minutes in, I felt a tug. Again, considering the character of the river, it couldn't be a rock snag. Indeed something was moving and I felt really heavy!! It was quite a tug-of-war under the very early light!!

This was some of the most impressive trout in my notes and most likely it (its picture) will be on my wall!!
Bye bye
Then just at the downstream of the same spot, I felt another tug!
This was one size smaller than the first one or one from last week, yet still very impressive!!

So I caught "twice more" than a week ago. In other words that was all.
I tried some more spots and also sat and waited for rises. Insect hatch was again tremendous!! This time I did observe rises!!...........8 of them........... Slightly disappointed that rises didn't go on in spite of good hatches........

It was another learning & observation day. Actually I often hear from long-time anglers of this stretch that catching only 1 or a few big Cutts is very common nowadays. Regardless of methods or spots I caught these fellas or number of catching results, I am sincerely happy to see them and admire these true ancient and native species in Greater Yellowstone Region.

If you are interested in seeing them, better get out now!! Ideally be a Dawn Treader.......... 
Or it could also be better to think of next year opening day and following days in July. 
If you book a trip with me, you will automatically be enrolled in Team YNP Dawn Treader!!

Bonus shot: Oh-ah? Is this Mr. B?

Friday, July 22, 2016

YNP Dawn Treader 2016: Lake - Falls

YNP Dawn Treader has been revived in 2 years!!
On July 20th, I left my place in Livingston just after 4am. I drove through Paradise Valley and then grand scenery of Yellowstone National Park. I reached my destination before traffic jams, caused by tourists & wildlife combinations. A different parking spot but the same stretch as two years ago: Yellowstone River, below Yellowstone Lake (or Fishing Bridge) to Hayden Valley, one of the most glorious waters in North America.

It was only 6 days since the opening (July 15th). I wanted to wet my line to see if I get connected with the true native giant Yellowstone Cutthroat. I knew it wouldn't be an easy task. At least I could tell that water would be lower than average as observed downstream in Montana. Would that affect fishing, trout, insect hatches, etc? Trials and adjustments, learning and observation, then patience, concentration, perseverance.............. I have ruminated these words over and over through the day.......... To me, it was more like to redefine myself "true meaning of fly-fishing" and "why we do this sport" and to understand, or at least try to understand, "Longest free-flowing river in Lower 48".

There were tremendous amount of insects on and around River!!............where are rising trout? 
Check and fish likely holding spots with nymphs!..................why am I not getting any bites?
Am I fishing at wrong spots with wrong flies?
Then I started to ask myself stupidly - should be kept within me!! - "Are there any Cutthroat in this River?" "Lake trout, bears, and pelicans wiped them off?"

This Zen Argument went on and on through the day...........
Then I got a bite! It was a Cutt though not super big and was slipped off from my fly.
Technically I avoided the "skunk" for the day........ At the same time, that hinted me something.
I went back to where I fished for a short period in the morning. On the other side of river, I saw 2 anglers out of a group of 3 hooked into Cutt (one was successfully netted and photographed). I was sincerely happy for them and reassured that "they are somewhere around here!!"(again, I should keep this nonsense within me but I just can't help being honest about fly-fishermen's emotions).

Then I changed my tactics and fly presentations. For the first time ever on that day, I felt a solid tug. Considering the current and depth, it couldn't be a rock or boulder. Something flashed!! YES!! I was connected with something BIG!!
Then came next challenge to handle. These brutes know how to utilize the heavy current of Yellowstone River for their advantages. One literally has to play a tug-of-war plus follow the downstream without falling in.

My nerve and rig = fly-knots-leaders = held........

What did I learn from this day?
First, I'm sure I can say, though I haven't been fishing or guiding here several decades, that this is the odd year. Number 1 factor would be the water flow, which is one of the lowest in the century of record. As we know the number of Cutthroat have been recovering in recent years. Then as you can see, or as I saw a few others' catches, these big Lake Cutt were fat and healthy. I could only guess that Cutt must have regained after spawning just as usual at average time. Then majority of Cutt would have swum up Le Hardy Rapids to the Lake (or close to) quickly and easily. Also perhaps Lake Cutt = who dwell in Yellowstone Lake rest of the year = wouldn't have felt enough hiding/holding depth and security in the river. Both due to much less than average volume and height of river for this time of year . Then there came insect hatches at the section we would fish at the average time period - no wonder we wouldn't see any rises.
This is only my theory based on my own experience and a few chats with other anglers. I can be wrong. So please take this accordingly. I'm sure there are some angler who claimed to have observed rises and even caught Cutt on dry-flies. That just didn't happen to me on that particular day.

Second, I demonstrated to myself, clients, and even readers of this blog that when I mean trials and adjustments, learning and observation, then patience, concentration, perseverance, I REALLY MEAN THEM!! Easy to say and hard to perform - indeed....... But I did and I believe that was why I was rewarded at the very end of the day.

Will there be another Dawn Treader trip? Perhaps......... Where to? Thinking..........
Stay tuned!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Spring Creek, River Float, & Back Country

Only after I gave a thought for the title and typed up, did I realize that how diverse - places & methods - I fished in the previous week!!

DePuy's Spring Creek is offering anglers all kinds of actions - some are not easy........Summer Midges!!
July 11th, this was the coldest day in July that I ever experienced. It just reminded me of fishing days in March or early April...........

These guys still exist and hatch with their own whim!!
Then fishing can be as fun as one can expect!!
Conquered the morning midge hatch!! Some of the nicest Cutt!!
This angler also struggled with complexity of Summer Midges but eventually he got accustomed.

Then float trip on Yellowstone River is as productive as ever!
This angler started as new but quickly picked up skills. We had some big rises!......didn't connect well......hopefully this kind of angler will come back to Yellowstone River for future trials!!
While we were wade-fishing, my client spotted a snake - which I usually don't notice or care as long as they are not dangerous kinds. It turned out to be one of the rarest scenes we could witness and I was even able to snap pictures!
Trout is not the only one predator on sculpins!!
Renee and I also floated on a different section of Yellowstone River. Another nice weather and great fishing!
 Even I had some lucky shots!! Hopper!!
Next day we headed to Yellowstone National Park. On the way, we spotted bears!! 3 of them almost all simultaneously.
 This the record-breaking experience for us!!
Then we hit the trail to our destination. One of the pristine experience in the Park!!

A freshly tied Garside Pheasant Hopper!
 And then on my new beetle pattern!!
 Last Cutt of the day!! - successfully released!
Golden Stone on the "White Desert"...... we felt slightly misplaced........

I would guess majority of anglers who are planning/thinking to visit Montana are aware of the fact that Montana rivers are experiencing some of the lowest water year. I won't hide it or false-advertise. However, this report = my own fishing experience & destination = will show you that there are many other waters/options that are not on or can't be seen on USGS website.  Those streams hold plenty of waters in their own rights, that run cool and remain so through July and August. Not to mention with plenty of trout and insects!!

If you need honest fishing reports and stream conditions, just give me shouts!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Busy Weekend

After PMD time on spring creeks, here came 4th of July weekend. Livingston comes alive more than ever and becomes very busy with many activities!

I had a trip to northeast side of Yellowstone National Park. It's much earlier than usual years that I head that direction. Fishing is on! But also that means all the guides downstream have to be aware of water conditions of Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek.........way earlier for us to consider that matter too............. Indeed, as we drove, Lamar and Soda Butte were not in the great shape due to previous storms. So I took my guy to Slough Creek.
 This one was on.........
 Gartside Pheasant Hopper!!
Then on Yellowstone River around Livingston, the mud-plug above didn't really affect us.......
Dry-fly actions are getting better!!

On 4th of July, we floated for some fun! Renee brought in some nice rainbows!!

Then we spotted something in the shallow riffle...... I chased with my seining net!! It was a sucker with black stripes on the back!
This was my catch of the day!
Summer is rolling! All the streams in my area are fishing well!!