Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold
Showing posts with label Fly Fishing Report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fly Fishing Report. Show all posts

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yellowstone Day 2: Soda Butte Creek


Day two in Yellowstone was dedicated to Soda Butte Creek. The afternoon closure necessitated fishing earlier in the day and we were on the stream by around 11:00. We fished in the vicinity of Soda Butte and did well, mainly on terrestrials.

Things started out a bit slow for me as I was learning where the Cutts liked to feed and hold but once I figured out where they were, things became easy. It wasn't until just a little while before the closure that I discovered a deadly technique to take some nicer fish. It was really quite easy but provided a lot of fun and entertainment.


I positioned myself somewhere around the head of a pool where the riffle from above dropped off the ledge into the deeper waters of the pool. The best spot was where there was an eddy at the head of the pool. The fish would just stack up in there. The slightly off color water of Soda Butte Creek is really what made this technique work. After I had positioned myself, I would cast my fly just a short distance, never more than 10 feet or so. The goal was to have all my line off the water with just the fly touching. Once I got the fly (foam hopper) on a good drift, I would start tapping my rod vigorously enough to twitch the fly as it drifted through the whirlpool. The fish absolutely went nuts.




This technique accounted for my best fish which probably was around 15 or 16 inches. Unfortunately, the closure went into effect soon after I figured out this method so we had to move elsewhere.

After a quick lunch, we decided on fishing upper Soda Butte Creek above Icebox Canyon. This proved to be an excellent choice and we caught several more fish with most in the 6-10 inch range but a few nice 12-14 inch fish were mixed in as well. The best fly here was hard to determine. It seemed that once you caught a fish or two on one fly, it would no longer be effective. This kept me changing flies quite frequently. Another interesting phenomena we discovered here was that the fish were very hard to spook. Often, the fish would not hit on the first, second, third or even fourth drift. Sometimes it took 15 or 20 casts before a fish would rise. This was strange since I'm used to the willing fish of the Smokies where it is generally agreed upon that you give each spot a few casts and move on.



Despite changing flies often, several fish came to hand to complete a productive and interesting day. That evening, we decided we were going to make the trek over to West Yellowstone and the Gallatin River so we got to bed early. The next day would prove to be amazing...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Frying Pan


After the spectacle that was the Taylor River, the rest of the trip somehow seemed anticlimactic. Yet, with each new place we found something to match or even surpass the quality fishing we had found on the Taylor. Between the Pan and the Taylor, there were some small streams visited but those are better left for another time. I'm a small stream addict and telling about them could become a lengthy endeavor which I don't feel up to right now.

The Pan, ah the Frying Pan...where do I begin? This was my first trip to the river and I really didn't have any idea what to expect. A quick stop at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, CO fixed that problem and I came away poorer by several dollars but much richer in my knowledge of the river, not to mention being armed with the best local flies.

The drive up the river had me drooling but also frustrated. All the best water, or nearly all was clearly marked as private. This is the biggest complaint I have against Colorado. The state has a ton of incredible water which could easily rival anything else in the country. However, they don't have the angler-friendly stream access laws found in places such as Montana. Fortunately, despite the large amount of closed water, there was still plenty available and we were after some hogs which meant heading to just below the dam.

The Toilet Bowl is THE place to be on the Frying Pan and after finding it crowded several times, we finally managed to get a spot to cast over the monsters that live there. Despite all we had heard about how technical it was, it actually seemed easier than the Taylor and the fish were every bit as large. Once again the way to catch the fish was by sight fishing. The takes were so soft and quick that by the time an indicator moved it was too late.


Within minutes of fishing the Toilet Bowl, I hooked my first Frying Pan brown and it was a nice fish. Not as nice as the monsters that occasionally drifted out of the depths but still a good fish.


Later on we fished further down river where PMDs were pouring off and the fish were looking up. The hatch didn't last too long but it was great while it lasted. That evening it was back to the Toilet Bowl in search of hogs. I soon had my buddy fishing the best spot and was acting as spotter. He was casting over a nice brown which he couldn't see too well since the light was getting dim. It was still light enough for me to see from my better vantage point though and I saw the fish turn and the white mouth show for a brief second. I made a loud whoop and my buddy set the hook to find a 23 inch brown pulling back. I've never seen anyone so focused on landing a fish. At first I didn't know why but then asked about the tippet. The response was some muttering about 7X and I knew that he was in for quite a ride. Amazingly, the tippet held through several scorching runs and he was able to keep the fish from getting in the heaviest current, a minor miracle in itself. Finally, the fish began to tire and I waited expectantly with the net. An opportunity presented itself and I lunged at the fish, just corralling it before it went crazy again. After a quick picture, we watched the fish swim back out into the current to be caught yet again someday.


Not to be outdone, I caught another fish but not as large as the beast my buddy landed. "Another day," I told myself. The next day was dedicated to the Roaring Fork, another great river I had never got to fish. We met up with a local named Tony that had offered to show us around. He turned out to be a great fisherman and put us on some great fish. The theme of our stay in the Basalt area turned out being the One That Got Away and it started on the Fork.


We were fishing up the river through some of the most beautiful pocket water I've ever fished. I was wading slowly upstream watching for fish when I saw a large brown finning behind a boulder. The fish was actively feeding and I figured I could catch him from where I was at. I carefully lobbed my nymphs upstream from his position and watched as he turned on my fly, pulling it away before he actually ate. "That will spook him for sure," I muttered to myself. Strangely, the fish turned around and returned to his feeding lie and I got another shot. After several more drifts, I saw the fishes mouth open when my flies were in the area and soon found that it was one of my nymphs he had taken. The fish absolutely took off. I mean, he motored upstream through a short rapids and was gone with my fly recoiling with the line back in my face as he shook it free. This was just the beginning.

The next morning was our last one before we took off for Rocky Mountain National Park. We were determined to get another shot at the Toilet Bowl and accordingly got there well before sunrise. Thankfully, we didn't get up early in vane and found the spot unoccupied. We began fishing and I hooked a decent brown right off and figured it was going to be crazy. Strangely though, the fishing wasn't that good and we were starting to think about leaving. Then the Monster showed up. It appeared to be the big brown we had been watching the past few days that would silently appear out of the depths and then slide back like a ghost as quickly as he had appeared. Today however, the fish seemed to be in full feeding mode and stayed out where we could see it for awhile before disappearing, only to reappear again shortly after. After probably an hour of this nonsense, the fish came up within about 8 feet of me and and I shakily made a careful cast....behind him. I was almost to pull it out when the fish slowly turned and then darted back towards my flies. I saw his mouth open and then his head turn as my line came tight and it was off to the races.

The day before over on the Fork, Tony had asked if any fish had taken us to the cleaners. I had replied in the negative but found out quickly what he meant. This fish looked to be somewhere in the 25-30 inch range and perhaps larger. I do know it was much larger than the 23 inch fish caught previously. As soon as I set the hook, the fish took me to the cleaners. It roared straight out through the current heading towards the large eddy in the backside of the Toilet Bowl. I was nervously watching my line approach the backing and then the fish tore through the eddy heading for the farthest corner of the pool. My reel was screaming and I was shaking like a leaf. I'm sure you know what happened next... The line suddenly went limp and I was pretty sure the fish was gone. Reeling line in, I was positive I would find my flies gone but to my shock, they were still intact. I didn't know what to think, could I have done something different? Of course, I had probably done everything I could do and on 6X, this fish would have been extremely difficult to land in the first place. Then I realized, I HAD tricked this monster. The only thing I didn't do was land it and I knew that next time, the fish would probably not be quite as lucky.

I left after that. I just didn't want to fish any more. I had reached the pinnacle and was ready to let the rest of the fish be. Of course, I would be back someday. The experience was something I wanted to have again, and next time, that fish will be caught...