Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Showing posts with label Buffalo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buffalo. Show all posts

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Just a Taste

We left the Bighorn Mountains and Medicine Wheel behind and pointed the car west into the Bighorn Basin. This huge basin requires an extremely steep descent on highway 14A so we took things slow. The runaway truck ramps suggested that not everyone made it happily down this mountain. Even while using low gear, I still had to brake a lot, and so we pulled over from time to time to enjoy the smoky views and let the car have a rest. As we approached the bottom, sunflowers were growing in profusion along the roadway. My final stop before the bottom was to get a quick picture of these.

annual sunflowers along highway 14A in the Bighorn Basin

Bighorn Basin to Cody

Once we got to the bottom, the next hour or two found us meandering across the bottom of the basin towards Cody. A true western tourist town, Cody has a rodeo every night during peak season. We were not there for those types of tourist activities and quickly continued on towards Yellowstone. Our final destination of the trip was within reach, and we were both excited to get there and tired of sitting for so long on the drive out. Little did I know about the gem we would find before ever making it into Yellowstone.

North Fork of the Shoshone River

As you leave Cody heading towards Yellowstone, a narrow canyon seemingly blocks all progress. As you drive west, the road finds a way threading along the side of the North Fork of the Shoshone River. The short canyon is dammed at the head by Buffalo Bill Dam. From here upstream, the river runs through a beautiful high valley ascending towards the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The east entrance to Yellowstone was the only entrance that I had never visited, until this trip. That means I also never drove up the North Fork of the Shoshone River. I can promise that I will now return just to fish this river! The river has an amazing mix of water types, but overall is perfect for fly fishing and promises large trout. I would love to mountain goat my way around the canyon below the reservoir as well someday. Sometimes it requires just a taste to get someone hooked, and that is what the North Fork did to me.

Devil's Elbow on the North Fork Shoshone River Wyoming
Devil's Elbow on the North Fork Shoshone River

Bear Stories

While stopped at a roadside picnic area for lunch, we spoke with a local angler who had quite the tail to tell. Apparently he had been fishing right behind the picnic area one day when an extremely large grizzly strolled down from the hills to the north of the river. The bear came down, walked east along the bank and then crossed just below him in about 3 strides. Mind you, we are talking about a good sized western river, but then these are some seriously big bears as well. He had his artillery out along with bear spray while retreating quickly to his truck. Thankfully the bear had other ideas and kept hustling on south, across the highway, and up into the hills.

After lunch we walked down the the famed gravel bar and imagined the grizzly charging across the river. Note to self, never go ANYWHERE without bear spray in grizzly country. Thankfully we always remembered it while hiking in Yellowstone, but the lesson from that story was always in the back of our minds.

Enter Yellowstone

The heavy smoke was still laying thick over the area as we finally entered the Park and made our way up Sylvan Pass. From this highpoint, we should have been able to see Yellowstone Lake, but instead a see of smoke lay before us. Wildflowers made up for the lack of big views.

As we descended, we noticed a handful of animals in the woods, but mostly we were just focused on getting to our campsite at Canyon for the night. We did stop along the shores of Yellowstone Lake briefly. I hoped that the air would clear in short order so Leah could enjoy the wide views that are usual in Yellowstone National Park.

Smoke enshrouds Yellowstone Lake

First Trip to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park

After setting up camp, we went for a short drive to look for animals. Leah got her first views of the huge bison herds of the Lamar Valley along with some closeups of pronghorn. The moon was coming up as we returned to camp and was quite spectacular through the haze of smoke enveloping the Park.

Lamar Valley Yellowstone Pronghorn

Lamar Valley Bison walks along Yellowstone's northeast entrance road

Yellowstone National Park Bison cross the Lamar River

Yellowstone National Park and Soda Butte Creek

Yellowstone National Park full moon

Yellowstone full moon moonrise

That night, we got to bed early after a quick supper so we would be prepared for our big first full day in Yellowstone. 

-To Be Continued...

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Quick Report: Guide's Day Off


So I'm running low on time today so I'll keep this as brief as possible.  The last two days, the Caney Fork had a couple of windows with no generation for all of us wade fisherman.  That didn't last long as today they are running water all day again, but it was nice to get out while I could.

With no trips scheduled on Wednesday and of course wanting to see how the river is fishing, I took off and timed it so I would arrive just as the water was falling out enough to get in the river and fish.  It didn't take long for me to see some MASSIVE fish busting on the surface or at least so it appeared. My first thought was, "Oh no, the stripers are already here. Too bad for the trout!"  After getting a glimpse of fins and tails breaking the surface, I soon concluded that it wasn't stripers and started to wonder what in the world was going on.

Eventually I discovered the commotion was made by spawning Bigmouth Buffalo.  I'm not entirely convinced that there weren't some carp in the mix as well but let's just say I was in awe.  I've always heard about these fish but never run into them in large numbers on the upper river and by the time I see them on the lower river later in the year, they are very tightlipped.

Running my nymph/midge rig through the deeper water eventually resulted in a hookup.  Wow! These things can pull!!!  My arm is still sore.  After catching a couple on the midge, yeah, that's right, I said a MIDGE on 6x no less, I was worn out and decided to go looking for trout.


That's a size 22 gray midge

The net opening is 16" x 22" for reference and this was not the largest I caught...

In some deeper water downstream I started catching some rainbows with regularity and had a large trout, probably a brown, break me off with just a couple of good headshakes.  The trout were showing a preference for the nymphs which was interesting.  I never did get around to fishing a dry/dropper rig  but they probably would have eaten the Zebra Midge fished that way.  Late in the day I even found a skipjack for a rather unusual slam of rainbow and brown trout, buffalo, and skipjack.  Fun trip for sure!

Fresh hatchery 'bow

Deeper water was the ticket...

The good news is that the midge hatches are getting stronger and the fish are responding.  The Buffalo are in the river as well and can definitely provide some entertainment if you've never hooked one.

This brown fought twice his size and had me convinced a big fish was on for a while.

Yep, spring is definitely here when the dogwoods start blooming!