October 26 & 27
There’s nothing like fall fishing. However, I’m not much for winter and at first I get bummed about the onset of fall. Winter is just too close. But the truth is, like most sportsmen, the fall is the best and by October 1st I completely forget what follows. I love the change in the landscape, the crisp mornings and best of all, the great fishing.
These past two days I spent with friends Scott Smith, Tom Montgomery and Bill Happersett. Scott is a long time friend, former employee but now head guide for Snake River Fishing Trips. Scott was last on my blog in May when we got the great privilege of fishing on Legacy Ranch. Tom has been on the blog many times. He’s my photographer buddy whom I last fished with in July on the Green. Tom and I also have a habit of frequenting the South Fork many harsh weather days in late November. Bill is a long time fishing guide and friend whom I’ve known forever but somehow we’ve never fished together.
While most offseason anglers of the Yellowstone area love to target brown trout this time of year, we set out to find some lunker rainbows. We got an early start Wednesday and drove and drove. Then we did our own shuttles and launched our two boats about 11 AM. There was a fresh dusting of snow on the ground, the wind was threatening and temps were a chilly 27°. Fortunately the wind subsided and the temps rose fast so we only shook ice from the rod guides during the first hour.
Fishing started lousy. I lucked into an unusual looking cutthroat, possibly a Bear River strain on a streamer, but other than a few small rainbows that’s how the first few hours went for all of us. By lunch time between the four of us we’d caught a mere five trout dragging streamers. Tom and Bill decided it was time to put away the streamers and start nymph fishing. Scott and I noticed the beginning of a baetis hatch so Scott rigged up a dry rod. We still didn’t exactly slam the fish but we found pods of risers and caught a few. Most of these fish were 13” to 16” rainbows and cutthroats.
The mediocre fishing Wednesday was easily acceptable because of the fantastic weather. Although it never got too warm, the day was just one of those that every time you looked up from your fishing you were excited to be alive. Not only was the scenery spectacular but there was plenty of wildlife including numerous bald eagles to enjoy. There may have been a few cigars smoked as well. And really the fishing wasn’t bad. Tom and Bill caught several trout on the nymphs including a 21” rainbow. Scotty nailed several nice rainbows and I pulled a Snake River Cutthroat from and amazing little nook of an abandoned beaver lodge. He was an easy 16” and so fat he should with no trouble make it through the winter.
Getting back-to-back pleasant weather days in this part of the world in late October is unheard of. But it happened. Today the weather was even nicer than yesterday. We awoke to warmer temps and barely a cloud in the sky. There was no wind, and the slightly different float has more trees that somehow are still preserving their leaves. It was like we were set back to early fall again – something we all dream could happen for real!
The fishing was much better, in fact it was superb. The day began with five quality fish from the first good looking spot – one solid cutthroat, a rainbow and four colorful browns all on some silly looking yellow fly Scott had. Meanwhile, Bill and Tom were nymphing the run below us catching some chrome colored rainbows. Each one not only looked like mini steelhead, but they fought like them too. The river was on fire!
Our fishing didn’t slow down until about 5 PM. All day we steered clear of the wind and I’ll bet temps were in the 50°s. We spent most of the day jacketless wondering if we’d died and gone to heaven. And once again the scenery was breathtaking in every direction. Although we didn’t catch any of the giant rainbows we set out for, we caught more than our share of respectables including another fantastic bow on the nymph.
As promised, October has been one heck of a blogging month. From grass carp to largemouth to musky and pike and finally back to trout, this has been a memorable month. Now it’s back to work. Tomorrow night I’m hosting a showing of “Connect” and next Wednesday (November 2) I’ll be the guest on Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio. I’ll be talking peacock bass and other exotics of the Amazon so I hope you get a chance to tune in as these shows are always great fun. Then it’s catch up on artwork, a writing project and update my PowerPoint shows for my speaking tour that starts on January 4th. I will be on the road most of the winter. Luckily, the South Fork River is close to home. For me, working more than a few days in a row isn’t feasible so not to worry; there will be at least a couple fishing blogs per week. Stay tuned. . .