Wednesday, November 16, 2011

South Fork

I don’t know what I’ve been thinking lately. It’s November 16th and I haven’t chucked a streamer on the South Fork this month. Sure I got a heck of a lot of required work and projects done, but at the expense of some of my favorite trout fishing of the year. Not smart. As I always preach to my friends who make excuses not to fish or go places, “This aint a dress rehearsal”. Who knows where we’ll be next November.

Recent blog star Weldon Jones and good friend Andy Asadorian joined me on the South Fork today. Like many of my friends, Andy too worked for me in the fly shop for years. He’s now the main man at Will Dornan’s Snake River Anglers in Jackson, Wyoming. And may I add, one of the most hardcore young anglers I know.

The temperature was a whopping 1º F this morning. Yes, you’re reading this correct and yes we went floating. Winter has arrived early in the Yellowstone Country and believe it or not, today was about the best looking weather day in the 10 day forecast.

At 9 AM we hooked my boat up to Weldon’s truck and headed over Pine Creek pass to the South Fork. We were making first cast at about 10:30, and Weldon and Andy were cracking ice from the rod guides by 10:32. Being the oldest and wisest, I offered to take the oars first to stay warm and in hopes of a rise in temps by the time I pulled out my rod.

About an hour long session one went poorly. The boys didn’t land a fish and spent a lot of time clearing guides. After a warm up break on shore I pulled my out my Ross 6-weight all strung up with a WF6S Scientific Anglers Stillwater line. Attached was my usual rig of 16 feet of OX SA Flouro and three streamers. As always I had a heavy bugger on the point, five feet up the level leader a yellow streamer and on top an unweighted mini leech.

I don’t know if the cold effects leader material but two minutes into my fishing a modest sized cutthroat ate my top fly and he was gone. I didn’t even feel him. A few casts later I realized he’d broke me off at the knot. Being that my 0X is nearly 13lb I hardly ever get broke off by a trout. I still had two flies attached so I continued fishing and soon landed a brown trout about 16 inches and similar sized rainbow.

The morning was slow but reminded me of how much I love floating the South Fork in November. The wildlife was tremendous as always. Although not much more then a few beavers and muskrats in the mammal department, the birds were unreal. I’ll bet I counted twenty bald eagles and thousands of ducks. There were even a few robins and killdeers that were stocking up on protein from an enormous midge hatch that blanketed the rocks and snow patches along the rivers edge.

Fishing improved dramatically in the afternoon. It wasn’t because things warmed up however. The temps hardly changed and we had a downstream wind with us all day to cool things off even further. Although we didn’t catch any “big” fish, there were plenty of “quality” cutthroats, browns and occasional rainbows to play with. I even had a cutthroat double on briefly. Unfortunately one fell off when I put the heat on to get them to the boat fast. Two fish on one cast is a pretty cool feat and this would have been the second of the season – darn!

We reached the take out just at dark. The boat ramp was a glaze of hard packed snow and ice. While some daredevils often chose to back their trucks down such a ramp, we wisely dragged my boat up to the road and loaded it on the trailer before even starting Weldon’s truck. Then without any chance of getting stuck were on our way.

When I got home tonight I was very pleased to check my email and see two painting orders, some Cliff fly box art requests and two article needs. I’m a lucky guy to have all the work. But these jobs aren’t going to keep me off the South Fork several more times this month. Today was a precious reminder of how much I love it there in November with friends. Stay tuned for more fishing reports and feel free to keep those orders coming!


  1. are we talking about the south fork of the snake? I miss fishing that years ago! ohhh memories

  2. Better get that driveway shoveled!

  3. Jeff, that streamer rig leader you're throwing sounds pretty unique. These posts about late season fishing help keep the pysch. Thanks.

  4. Yes Dustin, SF of the Snake. Pat, I'm gonna shovel all day today because I haven't yet and we got another 4" last night. And Todd, I'm hoping to explain my rig in detail when I stop fishing so I'll have continuous interesting content. Thanks for reading!

  5. Ditto Todd! I'm curious how you rig three streamers and only lose the top fly. Is this a dropper set up like a czech set up?.... Also, Jeff I was wondering if you put your artwork on coffee travel cups. I could use a few of them. An open sketch would be cool. Thx Tim Schilling

  6. Tim, yes my 3 streamer rig is like Euro nymph rig only very far spacing between the flies. And unfortunately I don't have travel coffee mugs. Only the ones pictured on the side of the blog. I'm sure I could draw on a mug you already have with a sharpie like I do the Cliff Fly Boxes. The curvature could be a challenge but I'm game.