October 12, 2009

"Headed North" Trip Report

Day 1: We headed up to the cabin outside Oakley, Utah to break the drive in half between southern Utah and Idaho. When we reached Summit County, it was lightly snowing; I thought this was a good sign for BWO hatches...wrong. We started on the Smith-Morrhouse and ended the evening on the upper Weber. The water was very low and the fish had no interest in what we had to offer. A little rainbow was all I hooked that evening.

Day 2: We made the rest of the drive the next day and stopped at Warm River Springs late afternoon. There was a 4-man group already working the run below the springs so we headed for a new spot. On the way up, we checked into our cabin at Pond's Lodge and hurried out to fish the Coffee-pot rapids section of the Henry's Fork.

The water was low and clear and I was able to easily wade to the other side. I worked upstream parallel with Craig to no avail. Just before the light of day hid behind the canyon walls, I switched my set-up to dredging bottom. Soon after, my indicator paused and I set the hook. I could see my advisory working its way deeper into the abyss. I stayed with it and finally beached the 18+" fish in a small cove. I couldn't tell if it was a rainbow, cutt, or brown; It attempted to run back in the current a few times until I finally tailed it. Once I touched its tail I knew what I was dealing with...a fuckin' whitey! I was so disappointed, my heart sank. But I have to admit, it was quite the bull-dog fight.

Day 3: We woke up the next morning unsure where to fish. We still had one more day on our Idaho license, but I wasn't very impressed with the fishing and sites thus far. I talked Craig into heading towards the park and try some areas around the West Yellowstone entrance. We took the scenic route around to Raynolds Pass and stopped to look at the Madison. It was still very brisk and a couple anglers had just pulled up and began walking upstream to fish. We thought we might stop again tomorrow and try our luck on the way through the park to Jackson Hole. We drove past Quake and Hebgen Lakes and made it into West Yellowstone just as it began to lightly snow. A quick stop into "Blue Ribbon Flies" to test Craig Mathews on his promise to give good information (it was pretty standard beta) and we headed into the park.
We drove past hoards of fishermen on the Madison & Firehole and ended up trying the Nez Perce. The NP looked fishy, but after about 45 minutes of flogging water we moved on. We stopped just above the upper falls of the Firehole and saw a few rising trout. I was unable to connect on top, but this little guy came to play on a #16 PT. small to say the least, but it was my first Yellowstone fish.

We caught a few more dinks before taking the Firehole Canyon loop and fishing between the falls. I took the opportunity to try out the 9'5" fiberglass 5/6 I just finished before the trip. It took a little to get used to the length and weight, but after a few runs, I adjusted. It mended line very well and made high-sticking a breeze. But it would be too heavy to fish with it all day. Craig and I both caught more dinky rainbows. I caught a 12" brown just below the upper falls pool. We tried the Gibbon for about an hour without any sight of fish. The plan was to hit the Madison on the way out of the park, but heavy snow changed our plans.

Day 4: The next morning, we woke up to very cold temps. Our Jackson Hole connection reported 17 degrees and inches of snow. Our original plan was to drive into Jackson and fish along the way. We planned to float the Gros Ventre the next morning. But due to the swift change in weather, we decided to head south into warmer temps. Good thing we saw the park prior to the storm. We fished a river close to my parents on the way back south. I caught a small brown, but that was all she wrote.

Day 5: We decided to fish a few local haunts on the way home. I took Craig to snake canyon and we tried our luck at the small browns and bows its water holds. But we couldn't buy any action and the casting seemed more difficult then it was worth.

We dropped down into the Fremont flats and began picking up risers in many of the pools. It was nice to catch fish with some consistency; and it didn't hurt they were on top. We planned to fish one more haunt that I seem to do well in the fall. But a gas leak and worried wife put that on hold until another trip.

My first trip to Yellowstone to fish was far from epic, but I learned a few lessons along the way. I think next year we might plan a little earlier in the year and hope the crowds are manageable.

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