Where did I get this lovely cutthroat? It's that stream up in Wyoming that we've mentioned before. It's one hour up a rough gravel road into the mountains to a dry Forest Service campground. We fished the river for five days and never fished the same water twice. There were so many, many fish, from 10" to 19, most were in the 14"-15" range. They all were caught on a dry fly. There were few other fishermen, a few horsey people, as it is a trail head into the high mountain country. Kathy Powers is with us today.
* Early August, Slough Creek, Yellowstone National Park - John and Elaine Cook
The day is hot, so wet wading is obviously the way to go. Standing on the bluff over looking the meandering river, we see several fishermen, some buffalo way off in the distance, and notice that the water is way lower than when we have fished there in the past. As we near the river, three fishermen are leaving and report that the fish are rising but they couldn't figure out what they wanted. We decide to go down river a ways to get away from the last struggling fisherman. As we approach a likely bend in the river, the fish are definitely rising to a very small (size 20 - 22) hatching mayfly. John is discouraged because he likes water that has lots of moving characteristics and this is like a slow moving lake. We turn on our walkie-talkies and he goes up river to find a riffle. I cross the river and walk down, positioning myself on the inside of the bend where the water is deeper and the bluff behind me allows for a decent backcast. OK, the water is like glass, so I lengthen my leader to 15' and tippet 6X. Out comes my Green River box (very small flies) and select a size 22 PMD adult while the fish keep rising all over the flat! I focus on the rises. Which are the small fish (splashy) and which are big (sippers)? Of course, those nearby are small. I catch a few 10 - 12 inches. Both Rainbows and Cutthroats. Then with a long cast, one of those sippers takes my fly, I set up, and after a significant battle an 18 inch Rainbow ends up in my net. On the walkie-talkie, "John, I got a good one."
My focus returns to the rising fish, and catch a couple more good ones, but a distance noise gets louder and I try to identify it. Then it dawns on me; BUFFALO! The Ranger had told us they are in the rut and aggressive. How to describe the noise? A deep guttural, raspy growl. I can't see them but they must be close to the edge of the bluff. I've got to get out of there quick! Can't go back up to the shallow crossing, so dragging net, reeling line and leader into a tangle, I cross with water coming up to my ribs. The noise is loud behind me. I arrive at the opposite shore, and start running up the sage brush hill. A quick look back to see a whole herd with bulls kicking dust into the air and growling. I keep moving fast and the sound begins to lessen. A walkie-talkie message to John, "The herd is heading your way. Let's get out of here!" So we did. P.S. If you want to hear the growling sound, ask John. He has mastered a mimicking rendition.
* July 14-20 - Montana - John and Pat Steele
We lucked out when we fished the Yellowstone River on Monday, because although it was windy and fishing was tough, the day afterward, the river was closed to all fishing and boating because of an unprecedented whitefish kill. Apparently, a parasite that affects stressed salmonids was taking its toll on the whitefish. See http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment for details about the situation.
Ed Lawrence, our outfitter, scheduled us in at a nice private pond called Burns Pond. It was stocked with fat rainbows, some of which had outsized heads. Our guide, Tim Schwartze, put his boat on the water and ferried us around, and we a great time catching the rising fish with grasshoppers. If the wind began blowing, all we had to do was turn the boat to put the wind at our backs.
We took a travel day on Wednesday and drove to Helena from Bozeman, to fish the Missouri. Thursday, we fished from Stickney Creek to Prewett Creek takeout. It was overcast and cloudy all day, so the fish were hunkered down. We managed to catch our fair share, though, on a worm, with a pheasant tail dropper. It was a goodly mix of rainbow and browns, all in fine shape.
On Friday, we fished from Prewett Creek to Cascade, and the weather was sunnier, but not as hot as it had been the first part of the week, so once again, we began with the subsurface rig we used the previous day, not wanting to fight success. Mike Niles, our guide, put us on to more fish than we bothered to count. Late in the day, we tried throwing hoppers, and we stung a few fish, but didn't hook up and land any. Still, it's always exciting to watch topwater takes. All in all, our Montana trip was loads of fun!
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