Tuesday, September 24, 2013

See Boges fish

This guy, hard at work at the daily take your dog fishing day:

At the cutthroat lake...
and in the wilderness...
on the Yellowstone...
and at secret creek...
Researching an article...
and corralling grayling...
with Liz...
During skwalas...
Harassing the guide...
and fish...
"Do, you, want ..." 
"...to chase some ducks?"

For hoppers on the Missouri...
...or runoff on the upper Madison...
...or Christmas on the lower Madison...
Always "helping" me land.
Trudging through the hopper grass (see it?)...
...and when it's too cold to fish...
... and just barely warm enough.
Just a pup, taking to the locals....(that's him ^ ;))
Even just fly tyin'...
Before I knew how to fish ...
Spotting rises on Fairy Lake...
Hunting predators...
Sniffing out the neighborhood drakes...
Overlooking the Gibbon...
For mahogany duns....
Rain, sleet, or snow...

My dog is there.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Rivers rose and temperatures fell.
Fish rose and rain fell.
Grasshoppers die while big orange sedges hatch.
Fisheries open as summer closes.
Hebgen trout migrate while colored leaves fall.
Mornings need sleep, noon needs fishing.
The 90-degree sun has set behind the snow-capped ridgeline.

Rod tips rise and stress falls.

Autumn begins Sunday.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tiny bird of many names

This month, when you're fishing a green drake hatch, take a moment. Note the color of the abdomen and the burgundy eyes of the adult mayflies. Feel its velvety wings and stubby tails. Smell its legs.
Why, this is no green drake at all. It's a timpanoga hecuba, which I believe is Blackfeet for “tiny bird of many names”. Around Yellowstone Park they call it the drake mackerel. Around Grand Teton National Park it's called the Snake Drake. Other places have the fall drake hatch. Some call it the large dark Hendrickson, others the timpanoga or hecuba, and others yet the red quill.

Aside from the strawberry and cream color (and without dissecting the male's genitals- no joke - according to Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes in Western Mayfly Hatches), it's easy to think they are green drakes. Three short tails, slate gray wings, stocky abdomens, about a size 12.

Green drakes. 
A thick hatch is uncommon – it can take years before an angler encounters one. They enjoy baetis weather, so if you pack a couple rows of blue-winged olive dries, bring a couple big Royal Wulffs.
The nymphs are brown and mottled, but since hatches are neither common nor thick, there are likely relatively few. A thick Pheasant Tail or buggy Hare's Ear should imitate it.
The nymph.
West Yellowstone legend Craig Mathews developed a pattern called the Drake Mackerel Emerger. Hamilton, Montana's Chuck Stranahan created a fly called  the Brindle 'Chute that imitates the dun stage.
“(Gary LaFontaine) wrote at length about ambient light, how orange and green ambient light are present at streamside and bounce off everything we throw into the water,” Stranahan  wrote. “The Brindle 'Chute applies those principles with extraordinary results.”

The Brindle 'Chute.
Of the few I've encountered, a high percentage were cripples. Thus the Royal Wulff Cripple is also a good bet ( basically a standard Wulff, tied with a forward post ala the Quigley Cripple along with a trailing shuck). Or an Adams.
According to Ernest Schwiebert's book Nymphs Volume 1, hecubas hatch from the Pecos River and Rio Chama in New Mexico to the Conejos, Arkansas, Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and upper Gunnison rivers in Colorado to the Provo in Utah (particularly near the Timpanogos Cave, from where it's Latin name derives) to the eastern Sierras to Oregon, to Idaho's Big Wood River, Wyoming's upper Snake and Gros Ventre rivers, and the Canadian Rockies. I have recorded them on Montana's lower Gallatin, and Yellowstone National Park's northeast corner gets reliable hatches that see more attention than most. The Yellowstone River from Yankee Jim Canyon to Livingston usually gets a hatch, the Musselshell reportedly sees them, and the Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers of western Montana are known to have hecuba hatches. It is limited to the West.

But you won't find any anyway, unless you take a closer look at that green drake.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Luxuries of a boat bag

Are boat bags essential fly fishing gear? No. Are they extremely nice when fishing from a boat? Yep. And every bit of ease, comfort and happiness counts to this crotchety angler.

Right here ^
It snugs up nicely beside a cooler bag in between the cross bars of an Outcast PAC 1300,
beneath a soft dry-fly cast on the Yellowstone River.
They easily stand upright in a boat (unlike backpacks, etc.), protect your gear with hard sides, provide easy access in a boat, are easy to load and unload with their top-mount handles. So I got one.

Sage's Technical Boat Bag is handsome, durable and accommodating. It holds a full inventory of gear:
  • rain jacket
  • map book
  • five or six fly boxes, and a couple more fly-shop cups
  • a couple bottles of floatant
  • a couple tins of split shot
  • a few indicators
  • a Garmin unit
  • a good-sized first-aid kit
  • lip balm
  • sunscreen
  • long-sleeved shirt
  • water filter
  • a few granola bars
  • some plastic bags for dog poop or whatever
  • small MILC camera and extra lens
  • spare AA batteries
  • Raft repair kit
  • Forceps with tippet caddy and nippers can attach to any of a number of exterior tabs
  • Miscellany like salmon-steelhead poly leaders, old leaders for streamer fishing, mini camping-storage bags, etc.
All fits with aplomb and there's still room for a water bottle.
Perfect for a WaterMaster, too. 
I noted some minor issues, like the absent bag-top handle. Lifting it into the boat requires one little extra step - cinch down the shoulder strap to be used as a hand-handle. Absolute minutia, but something. It does have hand handles on either side, on top of the side pockets (two hands usually required). It also has accoutrements like a big Velcro-able fly patch and a cover leaf for added protection, with magnets to keep it where you want.

I owned an old brand-name boat bag that had some serious waterproof zipper issues - this bag seems to have passed that test. The zippers aren't terribly hard to pull and they haven't given out yet, save for one zipper pull that popped off almost immediately.

Get'cha self one.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The equinox nears

As we look forward to another hot Labor Day, we reminisce about past Labor Days when fall had started early. In 2008, for example, we slammed grayling in a local reservoir on a cool, drizzly day. We were hoping for one of those again, but we'll settle for 90s and sun.

We have relatively few options for a full-day's fishing due to the weather (the rivers get too darn hot for trout), so this reservoir is one of our only nearby options, though it's said to be the "busiest trailhead in Montana".
Last Labor Day's weather was about like this year's. We fished a gorgeous little creek near Idaho that kicked ass on the opener, but was really tough on Labor Day. Could've been the heat, the summer fishing pressure, or just a fickle day.

It's about the time that grayling start schooling near the inlets so it can be fruitful to swing a mini-San-Juan worm or bright scud at our aforementioned reservoir. But I suspect they haven't started migrating due to this heat, so maybe we'll see some cutthroat and brookies. And sit tight for another week while we wait for autumn to slowly arrive.