June 2007

Monday June 4th: Lower Madison with Trish, Larry, Boze and Trico. Flows were low at around 1100 C.F.S. and the river is gin clear until you reach Cherry Creek, which was dumping in a good amount of dirty water. The hatch activity was very strong starting about 10 am with Caddis and PMD’s. The PMD’s were coming off in huge numbers and they were the big bananna’s in a # 14 or even a # 12. The caddis are light colored and they were a # 14 and # 16. The Salmonfly hatch took place over the weekend but with the low flows fishing was marginal at best. The Big Bugs are up in the canyon right now and a couple people that I spoke with said the bugs were spotty at best as they came through the trap. Gauvin and Ashby floated it on Sunday and did fair in places.

The plan was to meet Larry and Trish at their house at 7 am because I had to be back in town for a 5:30 pm T-Ball game with my sons team the Tadpoles. Salmonflies were on our mind at the start of the day and when we arrived at the ramp at 7:45 there were a few bugs in the bushes and a rod case on the ramp that someone had left from the day before. For Jeremy it was fortunate that he had his name and phone number on the case so when I got back to town I called him and got his rod back to him. He had floated the Trap on Sunday and they hit the ramp in the dark and he left it behind. We put the rod in the truck and jumped into the boat for a quick run with the Salmonflies down to Cherry Creek. The low flows immediately made me question wether we would turn any fish because the water was not up near the banks and shaking the willows. We stuck with the Big Bugs to the Bridge Pilon and Larry hooked and lost a very nice brown on the rock slide above the pilon. Trish spooked another decent fish on the lower pockets of the slide and after we floated the bank to the lumber yard hole we decided to switch up and try matching the caddis and PMD’s that were hatching instead. I tied on a # 12 Royal PMX trailed with a Bunny Dun for Larry and I gave Trish a # 14 Tan Parawulff trailed with a # 14 Copper John. We caught and landed a lot of small fish on both setups all the way to Doc’s Channel. We pulled into see what was rising at Doc’s and there were a bunch of splashy rises at the top of the channel. We got out of the boat and headed up into Doc’s. There were three really nice brown trout rising in the slow water next to the rock pile and Larry made a dozen cast all around the fish until they moved up further towards the riffle. I changed up his bugs to a small # 16 Parachute Caddis and trailed it with a # 16 parachute PMD. Larry missed a couple of the big fish and landed a few smaller bows and a brown. The big fish got wise to us and Larry continued on fishing to the smaller fish rising steadily in the riffle. Larry gave up the rod to Trish and she caught a rainbow within ten minutes of casting. After landing the fish Trish wanted me to fish so I told them I would take a few cast. It took me two cast to land the first fish and after 7 or 8 cast I had two more. Both of them were talking about the amount of time it takes them to catch the same number of fish and that is why they hire me to take them fishing. After an hour or so at Doc’s we ate some lunch and moved on downstream. After we ate lunch the Yellow Sallies started to hatch pretty well so I changed Trish up to a # 12 Yellow PMX with a copper john dropper. Larry got a Lime PMX and a parachute adams. I dropped anchor across from the TeePee Island to let Trish run her dropper through the deep slot in the middle of the river. She hooked and landed a couple of fish on the dropper and then Jamie B. came floating by with the new owners of his 18 year old Willie boat he sold them in the parking lot that morning. With 34 one hundred dollar bills in his pocket he was grinning from ear to ear. He had the husband on the oars for his rowing lesson and the guys wife was up front as Jamie fished from the rear. They were running nymph rigs and Jamie pimped a nice brown right from below our boat as they floated past. They floated another 100 yards and had another fish on so I told Trish and Larry we would float to Cherry Creek with our dry fly setups and then head back to the bridge to to a short nymph run back down to Cherry Creek. Trish hooked a few more fish on the Copper John and they both had some fish eat on the dry. Trish had a decent number of looks at the Yellow PMX which was good to see. When we hit the ramp Jamie had sent the new boat owners on their way down the river to Black’s Ford and we gave him a ride back to his truck at Warm Springs. He gave me a couple of the #18 Bloomy’s that was working well and we set off for another float with nymphs in hopes of catching a few good ones.

Putting a boat in at the bridge is a goat show because the BLM, or as I like to refer to the Bureau of Land Mismanagement had to put in a overpriced ramp that you slide your boat to the water rather than backing the trailer to the water. Some one is going to break their arm or leg using the ramp and I hope they take the BLM to task on the poor choice and design for the ramp. I rigged them both up with nymph setups after we got the boat to the water and the tuber traffic was starting to get a bit heavy. The sights of Bikini’s does make for some good sightseeing but you never know where the tubes will end up. I tied on the Bloomy’s trailed with a black and tan for Larry and Trish got a # 16 PMD Wonder trailed with a Bloomy’s for her setup. I ran them about 6 feet from the balloon with one # 2 Split shot above the flies. Trish hooked a good one in the deep slot across from the old bridge pile that came off after a hard fight. We never saw the fish but it fought like one of the big fish do in the Madison. We floated a bit further and Trish Hooked into the fish of the day just before we hit the campground. It was the best brown I have seen this spring and Trish will be bragging about it and sending photos to her friends and family for a few weeks to come.

After hooking the beast we continued on catching small fish on a very regular basis until we hit the weed beds just above Cherry Creek. Trish hooked another big brown and we had a bit of trouble landing it but with some luck and a quick stab with the net we had it in the boat for her second big fish of the day. We gave Larry a little grief about the size of his fish versus hers and then we set off for the last quarter mile of the float.

Larry finally hooked a good one that gave him a good fight before coming unbuttoned. I was very glad that Larry hooked into a good one because he loves to fish dry flies and getting him to nymph is almost impossible. He has been a little more receptive to a nymph setup as the years go by but it has been a long process. I love to get em on dries whenever possible and nymphing doesn’t appeal to me much either but some days you just have to bite the bullet and go under the balloon to get after the bigger fish. We hit the ramp and I headed off for the T-Ball game between the Tadpoles and the Sunbolts.

Saturday June 2nd: Yellowstone river “Bird Float” with Jamie, Madeline, Mason, Shook, Rhiannon, Kylie, Jade, Tater, Reese, Moira, Kylie Lemp, Hailey and Trico. Flows on the Yellowstone were 7850 C.F.S. and there was over two feet of clarity in a greenish tinted water. I have never seen the stone in this shape this early and it is a bit worrisome for the rest of the summer. We will have to wait and see what mother nature brings us in the coming months. The air temp was in the mid 70’s and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.

We had been planning on taking all the kids on a float over the weekend and on Friday night we had all made plans to meet at our hometown source of cheap plastic shit, otherwise known as Walmart, at 11 am on Saturday. We packed up the coolers and everyone was ready to go by 11 as we had planned. We left the Shook’s car in the parking lot and jumped into my truck and Jamie’s and headed for the stone. I arranged the shuttle with Toots on the ride over and we were at the ramp putting in by noon. There were about a dozen other rigs in the parking lot at Grey Owl when we arrived and Jeff and Karen Blatter were getting ready as we pulled up with our own little circus in tow. Jeff and Karen were slightly overwhelmed with all the kids and dogs running around but they have had all of us over at their home for BBQ’s in the past so they were used to the ciaos that follows those of us with children around. We launched the boats and secured all the kids life jackets prior to setting off down the river. There were not many plans for fishing, with the exception of slinging some panther martins and blue fox vibrax spinners as we floated down the river. Jamie had several fish on before we hit the first bend and it was apparent that the lure fishing was pretty solid in the high off color water. There were plenty of fly anglers on the water as well and they were all doing pretty well, as long as you got it close to the bank. Ryan Eisfelt and Andy Chu had clients with them and we ran into them at Mill Creek eating lunch. They were doing pretty well fishing buggers and worms under and indicator. We let the older girls try casting the lures on the kids rods and the two twins did very well with watching the lure on the back cast and making a long enough cast to catch a few fish. Both Hailey and Kylie landed a whitefish all on their own at the mouth of the creek and the other kids ran around throwing rocks and sending sticks down the fast moving flows of Mill Creek.

After letting the kids blow off some steam we jumped back into the boats and continued our float on down the river. Moira, Reece, myself and the twins were in the drift boat and the rest of the clan were in Shook’s raft. The raft was a great jungle gym and the kids were having a great time jumping off the tubes and using the floor of the raft as a trampoline.

In our boat the kids were a little less rowdy and Kylie was quickly becoming addicted to fishing. She stood in the back of the boat with Trico and kept to task throwing the Yellow Panther Martin towards the bank. She managed to land another 5 whitefish and two small brown trout as we floated towards the take out at Mallards Rest. Reece and Hailey sat on the bow of the boat and had a great time being silly and looking at the birds, deer and other animals that inhabit the banks of the Yellowstone River.

We made one last stop at the Loch Leven picnic area and while Kylie fished Hailey and Reece threw sticks and played with Trico. The other boat caught up with us and they had no interest in stopping. Shook and Jamie told us that they were over stimulated by the kids and were ready to hit the take out. We hit the takeout at around 5 pm and everyone was tired and ready for some dinner. A great time was had by all and we all turned in for an early night when we got home.

Thursday May 31st: Upper Madison River with Paulson and Trico, Valley Garden fishing access site. The weather was warm and calm with temps in the mid 70’s and caddis hatching in sporadic numbers. Flows were low at 700 C.F.S at the Kirby Ranch gauging station. Water clarity was very good with a slight tint of green but not much.

Paulson had been back from the Bighorn for a few days and he was already getting stir crazy sitting at home. He called me and wanted to go check on the bugs in the Bear Trap and see what else we might be able to find on the local waters. We met at the Ice Garden to leave one truck and head for the Madison. I ended up driving and we made our first stop at the Warm Springs fishing access site to take a quick peak at the river and see if there were any “big bugs” hanging in the willows at the ramp. It was a perfect day for being outside and when we got to the ramp there were no signs of the bugs, however there were plenty of PMD’s and Caddis hitting the surface and the small fish were feeding hard in the riffle above Warm Springs Creek. Paulson suited up and and hit the river with a # 12 Parachute Hares Ear. I was not as organized and my bootfoot waders were leaking so I had to shove my feet into a pair of stocking foots and deal with lacing up boots and securing the line tanglers they call gravel guards. Paulson raised several small guys as I was getting ready and by the time I had my chest pack loaded with the days arsenal Paulson was on his way back deeming the bank “Junk” and wanting to prospect other options for the day. Since we had the dog with us we decided not to hike into the rattlesnake riddled canyon and avoid the poison sumac as well. We jumped in the rig and headed for Ennis to take a peak at the Upper Madison and try and hook up with Barney for either a short float or at least some good entertainment from Barney. We did not have any luck getting in touch with him so we headed for Valley Garden to see what was happening.

When we got to the access there was one other vehicle in the parking lot and we decided to head for some of the channels and try and catch a few fish. There were some sporadic caddis hatching and neither of us were to interested in nymphing for the day so Eric continued on with his Parachute Hares Ear and I tied on a # 12 Royal PMX trailed with a Soft Hackle Mangy on the back. Paulson had several small fish attack his fly on the bank opposite of the access site and after a few minutes we headed for the channels on the west side of the river. The small fish were all over the caddis imitations and I took a few on the bead head nymph that trailed my dry. After taking turns fishing the small runs we headed upstream to fish the big shelf that typically fishes very well. There were a ton of small fish eating our dries in the run and after a little while I was bored and headed for the deeper slot just above the shelf. I finally pulled out a nice rainbow on the bead and it hit the net at around 15 inches long. Paulson keep prospecting up the shelf and into the side channel and I headed upstream in the main channel. The other car that was parked in the lot was an older gentleman and he was nymphing the other side of the run when I got back to the main channel. I took a couple of cast into the tail out and hit two decent brown trout back to back on the PMX. I fished up the run and hooked a half dozen fish before heading to the deep slot next to the old burnt out tree. The run is deep and I added some length to my dropper and tied on a Two Tone Tommy, which can produce some great results in off color water. Paulson came around the bend just as I was getting ready to hit the deep run and he wanted me to move up into the channels above where I was standing. I told him to go ahead and I would catch up with him after I hit the deep run in front of me. I wish I had told him to stay so that he could have snapped a few shots of the next ten minutes of fishing that I had. I threw my flies up into the run and made several good drifts with not takers. I moved up towards the head of the drop and on my second cast into the riffle I hooked into something that had some weight to it. The fish headed for the opposite bank and then made a quick move downstream. Just when I was sure that it was a nice brown that was going to sulk and fight me hard from the bottom the fish headed for the sky and lept two feet out of the water. I could not have been more wrong with my prediction and a solid rainbow was in the air in front of me. I took my time and tried to keep him in the hole and out of the faster current in the main channel of the river. He came close to getting out into the heavy current on two separate occasion, but I stuck the tip of the rod in the water and showed who was boss before he could reach the heavy flows. I got him to hand in a minute or so and it was a perfect specimen of a rainbow that taped out at 21 inches long and it had a belly as large as mine. It was one of the better fish that I have seen this spring and I was kicking myself for telling Paulson to head upstream. I released the beast and through another cast back into the riffle at the head of the run. The very next cast I hooked into another heavy fish and I brought to hand a nice solid 17 inch brown trout that fought like most brown trout do. After releasing the brown I fished for another 15 minutes and landed another 9 small fish on both the worm and the PMX. The angler on the other shore laid witness to the fish catching spree that I went on and he spent a lot of time changing flies as I caught fish. He stuck with his bobber rig and I never saw him turn a fish in the time I was fishing the deep slot by the burnt out tree. I was completely satisfied with my day of fishing and after a couple of dozen fish I was starting to loose interest in fishing much more. I headed upstream to see how Paulson was doing and he was still spanking fish on the Parachute hares ear. He said that he had landed a couple of solid fish and he was also ready to move on. We made it back to the truck and stopped at the Town Pump in Ennis for a few customary corn dogs and few beverages. We headed back to the lower river and went down to High Bank to investigate the willows for any adult Salmonflies before heading back to town. There were not any bugs on the willows nor were there any nymphs on the bank so we took out our frustration on a puddle of water with Paulson new 1o mm glock. I am very comfortable with hand guns and after some prodding from Paulson I emptied one clip into the target and shook my head at the power and destruction that the pistol produced. Paulson is a hard core hunter and he carries the pistol as protection in case he has an encounter with a Griz or a cat. It was an interesting experience and I will not be running to the gun store to pick one up anytime soon.