Goodbye and Hello

It’s October and I’m not sure how that happened. Time seems to be flying by, likely due to the outstanding weather we have experienced through September and now into nearly the middle of October. So many things to do and the days never seem sufficiently long. Ever since our Labor Day snow, it’s been sunny and warm and way dry. Thirty days and counting since our last precipitation.

These factors have produced the best fall colors we’ve had in many a year. It’s pretty amazing out there right now. I highly recommend capitalizing on the next week or so, because the inevitability of leaf drop is right around the corner. It’s a time of transition. Although we might try to stop or slow time’s progression, the labor is fruitless. And that’s the way it’s suppose to be. Appreciation what we have serves a broader application and so I’ve been doing my best to soak it up with a few clients and friends.

The goodbye portion of this ramble pertains to our friend Mr. Grasshopper. It’s been one hell of a hopper season, but unfortunately that is pretty much done. Over the last three weeks the hopper happenings have slowly faded and the baetis have begun to make their appearance. The Stillwater has had afternoon hatches of baetis most everyday. The unfortunate thing is that the bigger fish are not really looking at them. There are many rising fish, but the vast majority are dinks. With a lack of overcast or cloudy days, the bigger fish have not really made the commitment to the itty bitty flies. And the flies are itty bitty, size #18 and sparse ….. very technical. But …. the deep and dirty double nymph rigs have been been lethal and that is what the larger fish have been keyed in on. Oh, and one last thought on the Stillwater. It’s low and skinny and not at all easy to float. So heads up.

On the other side of the ledger, the hello portion of this discussion is related to the upcoming streamer action. Starting this weekend, the weather is supposed to markedly change to a much cooler pattern with clouds, rain, and snow. Sounds like streamer stripping weather to me. And yes, the browns and the brookies are lit up in their finest spawning colors with attitudes that reflect hormonal changes.

So there you have it folks. It’s fall. It’s beautiful. The fish are there and ready to rumble. We’ve only have a few more weeks of the really good stuff and then, it’s hunting season.

Last of the 2020 Hopper Eaters

Fall Colors in a Special Spot
Yes that is bear spray on my pack

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19 Years In

Hard to believe it’s been 19 years since the original September 11. Time slips away, but to many if not most of us, memory doesn’t. Some dates serve as milestones in our lives, this date is certainly one of those. Hard to shake and hard to forget the shock and disbelief as things were going down. In many ways, it was a time when our country actually got on the same page for about a year. Unfortunately, we seem to have reverted to our respective corners and focused on our individual “rights” and placed that ahead of the collective needs of “We the People….” Strange how it takes a kick in the butt to pull us together so that later we can fall apart.

So how about for at least today, we try to treat each other with the respect we all deserve ….. let’s just try it and see, what the hell do we have to lose?

And the fishing you ask? Well generally, it’s pretty damn good. Hoppers were the main course until our recent snow fall. The air temp last Saturday when I got off the river was 102 degrees in the shade. Yes, that’s mighty toasty. However, we woke to snow on the ground and a rousing temperature high of 45 degrees two days later. The water temps plummeted from 66 to 45 and of course that pretty much freaked out the fish for about two days. Although fishing post snow was not a hopper fest, the fish were eating nymphs dredged low and slow if you hit them on the nose. Pat’s stones and psycho princes were the ticket de jour.

Yesterday and today we are back on the temperature roller coaster. We’re gaining heat to the point that by Monday and Tues next week, we’ll likely to set all time temperature highs for the date. What’s a boy or girl to do? Well not sure what other are going to do, but I still have lots of hopper dry flies handy, and I fully intend to use them and go visit a recently met friend on that industrialized irrigation ditch which holds monsters. The last call for hoppers is fast approaching. If you got the need, you’d better get r done.

Next menu items will be baetis and streamers as we once again switch gears and transition into real fall. It’s a bitter sweet time of year. Hate to see summer go, but can’t wait for the glory of a Big Sky fall.

What the Future Holds
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Busman’s Holiday and General Update

Yes it still remains hot and that has had an effect on the fishing.  Water temperatures on both the Stillwater and Jellystone have been in the 70’s as of late.  As you might imagine, fishing has been slow in the afternoons once the 68 degrees mark is reached.  Thus I’m doing the early morning thing and that has been paying off.  The bite is definitely better early.  Mostly we have been fishing a hopper trailed by a small-ish dry fly.  The other morning the fish were all over a #16 caddis, but unfortunately most of them were in the 12″ size class.  Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.

Other than hoppers, the surface bug activity has been rather slim.  The are trico’s on both the Yellowstone and Stillwater, but I’ve seen nothing but small heads and splashy rises …. nothing of consequence.  I’d like to tell you how the nymph fishing has been, but my folks of late have choose to go dry and I’m ok with that.  Oh, and during the right conditions, the streamer bite is starting to pick up and should continue to do so until late fall.

And now for something completely different.  This last week was not uber busy with guide trips. Thus a buddy and I slipped away early in the morning for a day of exploration via newly acquired pontoon boats on a stream with few trout and fewer folks who seem to care about this water.  It’s not unlike fishing in an industrialized agricultural irrigation ditch.  But over the years it become one of those places that if I’m really looking for a fatty, it’s the go to place.  And yes, earlier this week I was in need of a big fish.  Long story short, all was pretty darn quite during our outing until about 11 am although the trico’s were rather blizzard like before then.  Once the heat turned on (95 to 100 degrees), so did the fish.  I won’t bore you with the details other than to say we did well.  But as typically the case, the big one got away.  And I do mean he, she, or it was one hell of a big fish.

During the first of three skyrocket jumps, it was obvious the rainbow was way over twenty inches and fat like a piggy.  Then it took off on a ripp’n run well into my backing.  By applying all the power and tension which I figured the leader and rod could handled, I finally got it stopped and turned and I figured the fish was as good as mine.  I figured wrong.  For some unexplained reason, the fish was gone and the line was limp…. damn.  It took a little time to recover from that experience during which time a few expletives were heard randomly echoing from the canyon walls.

After having hooked up two more nice fish and losing them in the next hole, I finally checked my bug.  Well I’ll be damned, the hook was completely straight.  Wonder if that makes a difference?  Lesson learned the hard way which is usually the way I learn best.

One last thing, let’s all be aware of the water temperatures out there and take care of our finny friends.  Start early, stop early, tie flies in the afternoon …. tomorrow will be another day and much like Arnold said ….”I’ll be back”.




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