A Land Unchanged

Yellowstone National Park draws in millions of visitors from all around the globe every year.  People from all walks of life come to view the incredible geothermal features, abundance of wildlife, and picturesque landscapes that Yellowstone is so well known for.  With that said, there is plenty of solitude to be found in the park if you are willing to put in the time and effort.  One of the most popular tourist sites is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  At over 1,000 feet deep and a mile wide, it is a site to behold. IMG_1078

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

For the past several months, Brent had been speaking of a place where there are hundreds of wild cutthroat trout, each one willing to rise to a dry fly without hesitation.  The end of July is when the river is in it’s prime, and Chris, Brent and I were able to find the rare occasion that all of our schedules aligned.  Like any phenomenal fishing location, there is always a catch.  What’s the catch to “Seven-Mile Hole”?  Hiking down into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  A 1,200 foot descent in a mile and a half is not an easy task, even for an avid hiker. IMGP5487

Hiking In

From the head of the trail, the hike in to the canyon is approximately five miles.  The trail begins at a relatively easy gradient, with only the occasional hill.  It’s the last mile and a half that keeps most people from making the descent into the canyon.  It’s extremely steep, and the ground does not provide very solid footing.  It’s not a matter of “if” you slip and fall, it’s a matter of “when” you are going to slip and fall.

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Fishing a Productive Run

Upon arriving at the river, I immediately thought about how beautiful the water was; a deep turquoise color that is only seen in the purest of rivers.  It was only a matter of seconds before we were casting into the river.  It was immediately apparent that the fishing was going to be phenomenal when Chris and I each hooked into fish on our first two casts.  What a rush it is to see a beautiful cutthroat trout rise from the depths of the crystalline water, swimming so slowly that time seems to stand still.  Eventually they would eat the fly, and then slowly descend back to the depths of the river, without even realizing they had eaten a big piece of foam.

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Vivid Cutts

It took a little while for me to get the hook sets down, but once I figured it out the fishing only got better.  We spent the next several hours working our way down river, picking up multiple fish at every spot that looked promising.  It is not often that you can pull a fish out of every single run, all day long.  Most waters are too pressured, but not the Yellowstone.  The few who venture out to fish its mighty waters are greatly rewarded.  The further we walked downstream, the better the fishing became.  It also became more treacherous and difficult to navigate.  Boulder hopping and balancing acts on top of logs became the norm.

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Salmon Flies Were On the Menu

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Chris With a Beautiful Cutthroat

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Pocket Water

IMGP5515 Yellow BellyIMG_1660Sparsely Spotted
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IMGP0024Beautiful Gill Plates
IMGP0029One of My Favorite Runs
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Watch Your Step

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Chris Demoing the new RIO Perception Line

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Bear Spray is a Must in the Yellowstone Backcountry

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Grizz!

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One of My Best Fish of the Trip

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Beat up and Battered

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Heading Out

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, we decided it was time to hike out.  We were all a little sad to leave such an incredible place, but we wanted to get back to the vehicle well before dark.  Hiking in Yellowstone National Park in the dark is a terrifying experience and not one that any of us wished to do.  We had the unfortunate experience last fall when we made the mistake of leaving too late.  We made sure not to make that mistake twice.  After a long and grueling hike out, 14 miles roughly, we were all relieved to make it back to the vehicle.

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Ominous Storm Moving In

Spending time in such a remote area was both an incredible and humbling experience for me.  I cannot think of another time in my life where I have ever had such an epic day of dry fly fishing.  There is no where else in the world quite like Yellowstone.  The Yellowstone backcountry offers a whole other experience that most people who visit the park never get.  Despite the level of difficulty it took to get in, I am already looking forward to returning next summer and creating more life long memories with great friends.

Get Organized

What do you do when it is too cold outside to cast a fly?  You get organized of course!  Organizing your fly boxes is also a great time to take inventory of what you have and what you need to tie more of.  Can you ever have too many flies?  I don’t think so.  Everyone has different ways they like to organize their things.  Here are a few of my boxes that I got around to straightening up during our most recent period of subzero temps.

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Dries and Nymphs

While getting organized, I often like to think about the places I would like to fish throughout the year.  I think about what time of year certain flies work best.  Sorting through my still water patterns got me excited for kicking around in my float tube, chasing tasty perch and chunky ‘bows.

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Still Water

Sorting through my hopper and salmon fly box reminds me of much warmer days.  Every spring, usually in late May or early June, the Salmon fly hatch goes off.  Fishing the salmon fly hatch does not require a lot of technical skills, but it can be a lot of fun.  It is one of the few times of the year that big browns will come up from the rivers depths and actively feed on the surface.  As summer really starts to heat up, throwing hoppers can provide some of the most exciting fishing to be found.  There is something awesome about watching a big trout slowly rise from the depths of a pool and inhale your hopper.

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Stoneflies and Hoppers

My carp flies remind me of walking the flats in search of a good mud line.  My first carp of 2012 came during the first week of March.  I am hoping to catch one even earlier this year.  I plan to focus a lot more of my time this year on chasing carp and really improving my carp fishing skill set.  More than anything, I’d like to land a carp over 30 lbs this year.

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Carp Treats

The temps here in Eastern Idaho are finally starting to warm up a little and I have been able to get out and do some fishing again.  Thank goodness the trout don’t mind the cold.  Cabin fever seems to set in all to quick when I am not able to be out on the water.

Attack of the Salmon Flies!

School is now in full swing and forcing me to spend my free time doing other things, like fishing.  I love keeping up the blog, but when my time gets limited, my priorities change.  The last three week have been full of crazy swings in the weather along with some crazy good fishing.  With the warmer weather out and the snow melting, a lot of secluded portions of the rivers I like to fish are becoming accessible.  Runoff is in full swing and making fishing slow unless you know where to go.  With that said, I have been fortunate enough to find some phenomenal fishing as of late.

A Feisty Brown Trout 

It started a couple weeks ago when I had a nice brown chase my bobber (strike indicator for those who like to use fancy fly fishing lingo).  I was rubber leggin’ it up and doing quite well.  The size of the brown that chased my bobber was enough to make me throw on a salmon fly.  Only half an hour earlier we had been in the midst of a full blown blizzard and now I was throwing a salmon fly at the end of April?  Then it got even crazier…I proceeded to catch two nice browns on the salmon fly.  They hit it with just as much energy as they always do during the thick of the Salmon fly hatch.  So why was this happening in April?  I have no idea but I couldn’t have been more happy that it did.  I continued to fish dry for the next little while but didn’t pick any other fish up and we called it a day.  A couple weeks later (Last Friday) we headed up again, this time hoping to get into some more fish on dries.  We tied up a lot of salmon fly patterns in preparation for this trip and it ended up paying off.  The weather had been pretty warm and we were hoping for the best.  The day started with a good hike down the canyon and to the river.  Most fisherman are too lazy to want to hike more than a few hundred feet to get to the river.  Nothing much was happening up top so we started by throwing rubber legs and midges.  It didn’t take long to hook into some beautiful wild trout.  This trip provided some of the wildest looking trout I have ever caught in my life.  We worked our way down river a couple miles and  I eventually switched to top water after Josh started hooking a bunch on top.  The day started out great and ended even better.  Josh, Gabe, and I all did excellent (and Kyle for the short time he was there).  We landed close to forty fish between the three of us. We all would have liked to stay longer but had plans to get home to.  It gets much harder to keep plans when the fishing is so good.

As Wild as They Come

This is by far the Coolest Looking Brown Trout I Have Ever Caught

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A Spotless Rainbow Trout

A Greedy Brown Caught By Josh

View From the Top of the Canyon

Since last Friday was so successful, we headed out again yesterday afternoon.  The first spot we stopped was pretty good and we got plenty of hits but only managed to land one fish.  We each missed a hit from some pretty nice browns.  We decided to head up river and the choice paid off.  It took a little while to get to where we wanted to fish but it was game on as soon as we got to the river.  Josh missed a monster of a trout on his first cast and I went on to catch a couple browns around 14″.  Its a great feeling catching decent fish on a fly you tied yourself.  We worked our way down river and got into fish for quite a ways but then it slowed down.  It got slow enough that I decided to switch to a double rubber legs rig.  I started picking fish up again pretty quickly.  Josh stuck to the dry set up for the most part but sized down to a skwala and started picking up fish again.

Me with a Decent Brown Trout

As we continued to work our way down river, the fish started looking up and taking salmon flies again.  Josh managed to pull out a couple nice browns and I caught the one and only rainbow I landed all day.

Josh with a Nice Brown Trout Taken on a Salmon Fly

We kept working down river and missed a few more fish but didn’t pick up anything.  We stopped and looked under the bridge to see how many of the salmon flies were crawling.  Needless to say they were everywhere.  No wonder the fish were going so nuts for them.  We fished for another couple hours and picked up a few more fish, including some more hefty browns.  This little preview has gotten me pumped for salmon fly fishing over the next couple of months to come.  In the end we landed close to twenty fish and lost too many others to count.