Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The End of a Western Adventure Plus

Arriving at the creek mid-morning the next day, we looked at the long 8 mile hike ahead of us with anticipation. We were after Cutthroat Trout on this day. One hour goes by, and we are still walking. After two hours of walking, we started fishing. Between Ken, Dan, and myself, I think we landed around twenty cutties ranging from 14 to 20 inches. We even had the chance to sight fish for some of them. That night, after the 4 mile hike out, we had a memorable dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone and departed for Lander, Wyoming for the last leg of our trip.

Arriving in town around 2 AM, exhausted from our drive, we chose to set up "camp," in the local city park. By camp I mean that I laid a tarp on the ground, slipped into my sleeping bag, and passed out under the stars. Somehow, I managed to avoid the sprinklers that apparently go off nightly (found that out the hard way the next night).

The next morning, we hit the local fly shop and went to the little river. When we arrived, hoppers were EVERYWHERE! Trying to contain our excitement, we strung up the sticks and headed towards the creek. That day of fishing was some of the best Brown Trout fishing I have ever witnessed. Between the 3 of us, 40 to 50 trout were caught and released from 10-20 inches long. All of them came on dry flies. These were not normal Brown Trout. Large fish between 17-20 inches charged our oversized hoppers with abandon in the middle of the day. Not only were they plentiful, the trout were also beautiful, having a buttery yellow color with amazing Brook-Trout like spots. That night we camped at the city park yet again. Only in Lander would they allow campers to pitch their tents next to a community center and a playground. It's a pretty awesome place.

The next day, we had a rod reservation on a local "creek." I use the term creek loosely because the stretch of water we fished was actually a lake. Here, large Brown Trout (16" and up) made their living by cruising the shoreline looking for unfortunate terrestrial insects that had fallen into the water. Hoppers were all over the place here too. The trick was to quietly stalk the banks of the lake looking for the fish swimming along the shore on the search for food. If the cast was right, they would eat it. Bonefishing for Brown Trout, if you will. Very exciting stuff.

That night we made our way into Lander Bar and met some really great people. I also tried to track down an old fishing guide and friend, but the connection was not made. Maybe next time I guess. That night we camped on the little river, each of us looking forward to fishing it the next morning before our departure back to Michigan.

As it did before, this river provided great hopper fishing the next morning. It gave us a great sendoff and gave us memories to last until next year. We will be back, rest assured.

As far as Michigan fishing, mouse fishing was very good around the new moon. Now that it has brightened up, night fishing for big Brown Trout has slowed down considerably. Today, I managed to do some fishing with friend and local warmwater guide John Johnson for smallmouth. A video from the morning will be coming soon.

We had just gone for a dip

The crew

Hoppers on the tent at big fish canyon

Tying mormon crickets on the road

Our campsite at big fish canyon

The Yellowstone

This Bison looked like he had a bone to pick

Cool shot Kenny...

My biggest trout of the trip-22"

The "creek"

Yours truly with a 19"

Kenny with a pig

Myself with a buttery brown from the little river

On our way home

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Endearing Cutthroat

The next morning, we awoke from our slumber and struck out to the general store, located just down the street from our room. After picking up supplies and taking some pictures on the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake, we departed in the direction of the Yellowstone River in search of Cutthroat Trout.

Unfortunately, the river didn't fish well despite the presence of stone, caddis, and mayflies. Only later did we learn that the river is "dead." Lake Trout, first introduced into Yellowstone Lake in 1994, have had a severely negative impact on the fishery in the lake and river. The Lake Trout has caused the decimation of Cutthroat Trout in the lake, consequently causing a dramatic decline in the population of "cutties" in the river as well.

Ken, however, saved the day on the Yellowstone for us. He landed a HUGE cutt, probably in the area of 22". It was a truly great fish and moment, and one of the highlights of our trip.

In the afternoon, we made our way up to a well-known river about an hour away. When we arrived the skies looked gloomy but the river looked great. We put in and immediately began catching fish. Soon, however, rain began to fall, the river turned cloudy, and the fishing shut down. Little did I know how well this river would treat me the next day.

That night we had a good dinner and went to the room. Ken and Dane wanted to hike up a different stream, whereas I elected to limit my walking by fishing areas closer to the road (and thus, the car).

After dropping them off, I drove to the river we had fished the previous day. As it did the day before, the water looked beautifully clear, with a tint of green to it. As it was the day before, the fishing started off great. This time it got better. Starting around noon, I had tallied close to 20 trout by 3 o'clock. Shortly thereafter, I lost my fish count completely. It was truly an awesome day. My time there ended with a bang, catching four cutties and cutt/bow hybrids between 17 and 21 inches long.

It was about 7 o'clock when I left the stream, just about prime time for most. But with a sore arm from casting and fighting trout all day, I felt absolutely fulfilled and left to meet Ken and Dane who were just getting down the trail. After a solid dinner and some banter, we found a campsite. They also had a good time, catching many fish. In planning the next day's adventure, Dane, Ken, and I elected to go back as a trifecta to the stream they had just fished. We would not be disappointed.




Little river looking upstream

Bison were all over the place

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Throw a little ALLSPICE in there

Had a great month of July folks, with a few days on the Au Sable yielding small but numerous fish and more days out west yielding large and plentiful brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. So it goes for this time of the year when the big fish bite has shifted from daytime to nighttime and early morning here in Michigan. I like to think that going out west makes it easier to keep our rods bent with good fish all the way through the summer.

In the next few installments of the blog, I will outline our western trip, which consisted of approximately 8 total fishing days and two days of driving. Foregoing the names and stretches of rivers, I will tell you that we we split our time between waters in and around Lander, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park for the duration of the trip.

After a 24 hour drive, you could say we were a little "stir crazy," to go fishing. So when we arrived in Lander, Wyoming we located the nearest "fishing licenses sold here" sign and practically dove in the front door to procure the proper documents. Not surprisingly, the shop wasn't exactly catering to fishermen, judging by the number of shotguns, rifles, pistols, and assault rifles that lined the walls. These guys were out for bigger game than a 20-inch trout.

After a little conversation, we took off to fish a well known canyon that holds both rainbow and brown trout, some of them very large. When we arrived, I found the water high. After a single cast and a fish caught, things were definitely looking up. Heavy water and giant boulders were the two keywords for the day however, and, though we caught fish, we were in rough shape from the tough wade and the long drive and we elected to push further towards another well-known canyon on a different river.

Making camp that night on the river, both Dane and I hooked large brown trout. Things were definitely looking up for the next day of fishing. Later that night, my good friend Allshouse pulled in and awakened me from my slumber. Thoughts of a big river and big trout filled my head as I drifted back to sleep.

The next day, I awoke at about dawn, and slowly stumbled down to the river. Much to my chagrin, big trout were rising everywhere. Scratch that. These were not just big trout. These were the biggest average trout I had ever seen rising in a consistent pattern. Unfortunately, none of the crew could put a hook into them and we decided to head downstream.

At the first stop, Dane landed two beautiful rainbows, Ken lost a beauty, and I lost two trout that put my "poop in a group." One fish made and indelible impression on me. When it rose to my stimulator, it literally resembled a salmon rising to a dry fly. It was easily 27 or 28 inches long. I have had dreams about this moment for a long time.

By the end of the day, we had hooked somewhere in the area of 25 fish, consisting of a mix of rainbows, cutthroats, and brown trout. None of the fish hooked were under 18 inches long! This fishery is now known by yours truly as "big fish canyon." We will be going back next year, when the cicadas are hatching ;). Fishing with an old buddy was as good (or better) than I remember, and I look forward to doing it again soon.

That night we departed for Yellowstone National Park. After a long day of trophy trout fishing, we were in a daze when we pulled into Yellowstone. After a mix up with our sleeping arrangements, we ended up hitting the hay around 2 o'clock. We would be up and ready the next morning, on the hunt for Cutthroat trout in America's first National Park.

Guess the trout...

Little river from our 2nd leg in Lander

19" rainbow from "big fish canyon"

Allshouse with a cutthroat

Check out that canyon...