Sunday, July 8, 2007

How the West was won

This is a belated fishing narrative.
Written after the return, but thought it might be nice to have it up here.

A tale in numerous parts.


Part 1 -June 20th.

2 Days driving across IllWiscoMinSoDak and 2 days at the KOA at Devils Tower, and we were at Cooke City. After hiking the kids along the canyon in the 95 degree day they were ready to crash with several hours of daylight left in the sky. I got clearance to fish. Heading in to the park I had heard that the Lamar and its tribes were usually not ready to fish due to runoff, but when I stopped and looked downriver from Pebble creek, it looked as clear as anything I fish in the Midwest, although an interesting gray cast to the water told me I was not in Kansas anymore.
The scenery reinforced that point.

That brown dot in the stream was a moose with calf, something else you don't too frequently see in Kansas.

Because I am an ignorant pig and know no better I tied on a yellow humpy. I read that the cutts liked yellow humpies. There was no discernable hatch, no rises, but I went against my core midwestern principles and fished with a dry. This cutt liked yellow humpies.

My first cutthroat in 16 years.

Had one more smaller and then one nicer one before the darkness and perhaps unfounded fear of Grizzlies took me back out the NE gate to the cabin.

The third nicer one.

Part 2 - June 21

Went back to the canyon and then on to mammoth for sight seeing with the family. One thing about YNP. Beyond the people, and the RV horde, and the too built up visitor centers the stuff that is there is amazing.

My turn to take the famous picture from lookout point.

Trees killed by the outflow of mineral deposits at mammoth.

It was 96 degrees by the thermo at mammoth when we came pf the walkways.
The chibbles were spent by the heat and the altitude. On the drive out down the Lamar I did some distance scouting with the binos form the car. At 6pm on the longest day of the year I headed back into the park. I stopped at the canyon stretch of the lower Lamar.

And saw alot of these husks on the rocks, and thought there might be some evening action.

Sat on the bank and waited. A caddis popped - not a stonefly. a couple more, and in about fifteen mins..

There was a real rise here.

Those caddis dries I tied were the dead on imitation.
It suddenly got super stupid.

This was the best of the too many fish long slow evening that went on and on and on.

Last fish of the night as I was standing on the bank of the Lamar in the twilight and heard something moving around behind me up in the brush.

The crunching in the brush turned out to be this gal... not a bear.

Part III: June 22

So I had this idea on the delirious 25 min drive back back up to the cabin and cooke city, that we would do a fishing day. Get up early and figured we would walk in to the Slough creek meadows, another place I had read about but never been to. Since i was such the 169% bad ass cutt catcher now and all.

So in the morning we headed off. The weather was the same, that was, high nineties by late morning and the walk at elevation was almost too much for the kids, and my wife. This seemed to suddenly not be such a good idea.

Crossing the top of the hill felt like I was leading them on the Bataan death march.
Arriving at the first meadow and doing a bit of wet wading improved every one's spirits. After cooling off I led a casting class, and the six year old was more interested in practicing his karate on the river's edge than fishing.

Despite my success the night before, and a fair amount of bugs coming off the water there was only one rise. And the ten year old got her first cutt on a fly rod.

When we had walked back and had lunch, I decided to try again at the same place as the night before, and despite mighty protestations dragged the unwilling tribe down to the river for an evening of fishing.

A return to scene of the previous evenings crime.

Ths caddis did not disappoint.

The six year old got his first cutt.

Additional work on technique with the ten year old.

And she ends the day with a Slough creek and Lamar river fish.

Part IV:

Wherein I get schooled in the Last part of the trip...

So we left the cabin at Cooke City for another cabin about 10 miles outside of the East Gate. Chatting with the College JR from Iowa who is managing the lodge for the summer, he tells me, " the Shoshone right done across the road has some monster fish in it. Just fish deep"

So after more thermal sight seeing in the too hot park :

I head down to fish for the evening. This is not the friendly river the Lamar was. It is fast and deep and hard to wade. I work the runs deep with brown bead head bugger. I am fishing with my 4wt - 4x tippet. I hook a fish above me and it moves up river, and it is big. I don't see it, it just moves up river. I'm playing it, and thinking I am getting ready to land it - it turns down river shoots by me in the current and goes and goes and goes. I stop it but now with the current the fish weighs about 3 times as much. I am trying to baby the 4x - but can't move the fish. It has the current, I HAVE NOTHING !

I retrieve the slack line and cut the tippet back behind the 1x tippet.

Cast and cast, have one more hookup, a bow jumps twice and is gone.

The next night I move up about 5 miles up river to find less intense deep current.
I get no trout, but I catch a bunch of these:

A first for me - never caught a whitey before, I suppose thats a good thing.

Part the Vth :

Left the East gate area for two nights in the Bighorns. Maybe it was I had just finished "the Road" or maybe not, but my overall experience in the park was great - but a little disturbing. The drive through the Sylvan pass is like passing through a dead forest. A gray dead forest. On the east side, up the Shoshone river valley the pine bark beetle has devastated the trees. 70 or 80 % are gone. It is downright freaky looking at what have been very green mountainsides - and seeing all grey.

This is all standing deadwood. When this burns it will burn so fast and so hot I hope no one I know is there.

on the other side of the sylvan pass the forest is at the early recovery point of the hot fire that went through about five years ago. Good for the woods and all, but downright spectral after driving up through a grey wood.

Camped in the Bighorns and fished the Tongue river.


Did go up to the Medicine wheel - which was a transcendent hike.

Then the two day blast across WySoDakMin to land for a night in Viroqua Wisco.

Part the VIieth: Last day before landing ...

I had a little business near Viroqua so we stayed at a Motel6 or quality inn or something I have no idea. Got up at 4AM and hit one of the numerous streams within 15 minutes of what passes for a western Wisco hippie town.

Fished here :

notice - public hunting fishing and hiking.
No ATV's or Camping.
Trout reg 3.
and while we have no Grizzlys, we do have wild parsnip.

The dreaded weed....

Fished here before the sun came up:

upstream from there a little later

a little more upstream with the sun up now...

caught some like this

and a few more like this

And made it back to the hotel by 9AM for the hotel continental bfast with the fam and to make it to the farm to pick up my new pup. Kids named him Griffindor. Don't know where they came up with that. For pics see below.

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