Mar 16, 2012

A Yellowstone Float

The day before, the valley had wind gusts up to 75 mph. We crossed our fingers that this day would be a little friendlier, especially since it would be our first trout float of the season. The start of the day felt nice enough – little bit of overcast, not quite chilly and just the slightest breeze could be felt meandering down the canyon. Got the boat in and started our float down the Yellowstone.

Felt good to have the 6 wt in hand again, but I soon found that my casting ability did not quite match my attitude. Yeah, I flailed a bit. I wasn’t quite hitting the spots I hoped for, but good times were had in spite of my fledging mediocrity. Was nice that it wasn’t yet blowing but I could have used it as an excuse. Needless to say, my buddy Jed on the oars made fine work of his pity…

Potty Break

After a hundred casts went by without any interest I offered:

“We might have to bust out a nymph at some point today.”

He looked at me, but all I saw was his profile.

“I left that box at home,” was Jed’s reply.

And so there it was… the commitment was spoken in a small, yet very potent chain of words. We were destined to spend the day chucking streamers to a seemingly non-existent community of trout. But that was Ok. That’s the process we chose.

Beneath the Absarokas
It’s just so damn fun. Yes, it’s true that Copper Johns or Pheasant tails may land more fish than Sculpins or your basic minnows, but evidently, that is beside the point. If you put your time in, chances are you will eventually be rewarded to some degree. Whether the reward has fins or not is up to the day at hand. But, if you commit yourself to the streamer there is always that chance that you just might hit the jackpot.

So we tried olive, we tried black, we tried tan and we offered yellow and we casted and drifted and stripped and dredged…

But it wasn’t until we tried one of Jed’s home grown patterns The…(I better not say for fear of offending folks) that we had our first take.  In hand it’s rather messy with a lot of white crystal dubbing, black and olive barred marabou, white marabou and a rainbow array of crystal flash.  In the water, this thing comes alive and looks real edible.  And edible it was...

At least this brown assumed so... Floating early season out here is a bit of a gamble. The weather can be raw and biting. The wind can howl and the feeding windows are typically much shorter in duration. At this time of year, cooler water temps can leave fish a bit more lethargic so using sink-tip lines and weighted flies is a good way to go. Keeping your sights on the slower flows will be most effective. Often times the outer banks are moving too fast. You might find a few here and there tucked into some little eddy lines, but if it looks like the current is ripping, look to the inside of the bend – on the broad slow seam. In fact, you should always look inside as you drift into a riffle and manage a few casts up into that little cleft – where the slack water meets the fast water. I like to throw back upstream into these areas and kind of troll it down along the softening seam-line.

On this particular day, there was about an hour (between 3:00 pm and 4:00pm) when they seemed most interested. We managed a few to hand, but missed a handful more. I hooked one beautiful brown that was probably in the 18 inch range, but he threw the hook after a nice tail-walking display.

I’m glad we dug the drifty out of the snow bank… Spring and all of her fickle charm has arrived in Paradise Valley. It’s time to get on the water as I can think of no better place to be.


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