Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grizzly Mama!

As we were driving back from our visit to Old Faithful we came upon a mama Grizzly bear and two cubs.  We spotted one of the cubs first and then the other.  We knew that mama couldn't be far behind and sure enough she came out in sight.  She looked like a young mama and this could be her first cubs.  It is always so special to see these awesome animals so up close and personal.  I am always thankful that we meet them while in our truck.

Sightseeing Days

We have had quite a bit of heavy rain the last few days and the Gardner and Yellowstone Rivers look like chocolate milk.  The fish will not be biting in this water so we went sightseeing.  We spent a day in Bozeman, Montana in the old part of town filled with little shops and cafes.  We had lunch outside at an old renovated filling station and then into the newer part of town to pick up some supplies for back at camp.
Today we put Stella in the car with us and drove down to Old Faithful.  This is such an iconic place and a must see even if you have been there before.  The drive is beautiful and so diverse.  The lodge is one of our favorite places to visit.  While we were eating lunch we met a family from California but the father grew up in Brockport NY!  Such a small world.  

Old Faithful Inn - See the balcony on the front?

Enjoying some ice cream on the balcony of the Inn where you have a great view of the Old Faithful geyser.

Old Faithful
Then it was back through the park with a stop at Gibbon Falls.  This is such a beautiful spot and a nice place to get out and take a stroll along the top of the gorge.  Excitement lay ahead but that will be in the next post.

Doug at Gibbon Falls.

Monday, July 29, 2013

High Country Brook Trout

Michelle and I went to hike the high country today and to try for some skinny water brook trout.  With less snow on the mountains in and around the park water levels are down making the the high country waters low and skinny.  

Michelle fishing the narrow water streams of the high country 7500 ft.
above sea level

the fish are smaller but usually willing... today with colder weather and a front moving in they were harder to catch...

Michelle's meatloaf sandwiches on the trail... Oh yeah!

log jam

what a view

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The latest happenings from YNP

Yesterday 7/27 Saturday, was a rest day with Michelle and I driving out to West Yellowstone.  We split up after having coffee with Michelle hitting the gift shops and me going to all 6 fly shops in town where I picked up a few fly tying items.  The shop has special requested that I tie a bunch of flies for them while I'm here especially my Korn's Spent Wing Caddis which has been a killer in the Northeast corner of the park.  The guides are gobbling them up as fast as I can tie them with none of them making it to the fly rack for sale!

We had a nice time in West Yellowstone but as we got back to Gardiner it looked very dark over the mountains. We stopped in the shop and no sooner said hi to my guiding buddies; Ben, Richard and Wilson when the skies opened up with heavy rain for a good 45 minutes which is a lot in this high plains desert.  It's been great catching up with my old friends.  Wally had my two copies of his book "Yellowstone Country Flies" saved for me.  The book came out great with many of my original fly patterns included.  After the rain quit Ben came up to camp for a couple of PBR's and Michelle and I had a nice visit with him.  By the time Ben left the Gardner and Yellowstone Rivers were running muddy like chocolate milk.  There were many doubts about fishing tomorrow.

7/28 Sunday - This morning the Gardner and Yellowstone Rivers didn't look too bad, in fact they were running pretty clear... with temp's in the 50's I tied a couple dozen flies and had some extra coffee. Michelle was going to do her running this morning so after finishing my fly tying I suited up to fish the Yellowstone.  I decided to fish "Bear Alley" a section of the Yellowstone River so named for a "close encounter of the black bear kind" with my son Scott, but hey, that's another story.

The fishing was fantastic, nymphing with a Downie Red Fox Squirrel Nymph and a Fire Fly trailer. This combo accounted for 9 fish consisting of Browns, Rainbows and a couple of white fish. Everything was fine until I heard thunder and looked over the cliff behind me...  Dead Black skies... and then she opened up with thunder, rain and hail..... nice!  I was on the side of a 100 foot high cliff about 20 feet above the water sitting on a rock with my rain gear on and hood pulled up.  I had only been fishing for about an hour, so I waited out the storm and then started fishing again.

first fish of the day - Brown Trout
here's a better one ~ 15 1/2 inch Brown Trout
Rainbow Trout 

After the rain had passed I picked up several more fish in short order, but with another big black set of clouds moving in and the rumble of more thunder I packed it in and called it quits...

last fish of the day #13 another fine Brown Trout

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gardner River at the High Bridge

I didn't get out and about until 11:30 today.  Michelle was off to do some shopping in town so I went fishing... just a quick couple of hours.  The weather has been very warm with temp's in the 90's. When the water is warm and low it makes for difficult fishing and you just have to work harder.  I got a chance to use my 1949 Orvis Battenkill bamboo fly rod and reel catching 5 rainbows and 2 brown trout.  All in the 7-10 inch range.

A "double" to boot,  catching two nice rainbows at once...

Our Favorite Fishing Hole

There is nothing like being surrounded by mountains, blue sky and open land as far as you can see.  Fishing in Gardner's Hole makes for a near perfect day.  We hiked in a few miles before changing into our fishing shoes and set off to see if the fish were biting.  They were.  We each caught quite a few brook trout as we followed the snaking Gardner River.  The only company we had, beside the fish, were several elk, a prairie dog and a very special visitor - a bald eagle.  As we were hiking out, a beautiful bald eagle circled overhead as if to see us off after a good day of fishing.

Our spot for changing out of our wet fishing shoes and into dry ones to hike out.  We hiked a total of about 5 miles.
Doug in action.

One of many brookies that I caught.  Yes, the water was cold but after awhile you don't notice it - especially if the fish are biting.

A line from a favorite song - "It's good for the soul when there's not a soul in sight".   So beautiful and peaceful!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Antler Round-Up 2013

For those of you keeping tabs on the "Antler Round-Up"...

Michelle is behind early in the competition 4 to nil.  Hopefully this year she can get off the schnide!

I found two bear kills today fishing up in Gardners Hole with Michelle.  This is an old one from last year.

This one is from a few weeks ago, notice the velvet on the antlers.  Makes you a bit uneasy while fishing...

Sunset and the Elk Show!

Here's a couple of photos from last night...

Most nights here we are treated to the "Elk Show" the evening movement of the elk from their bedding area up high on the mountain behind camp and down into the Yellowstone River valley passing by our front door.  Tonight there were about 20+ elk consisting of cows, yearlings and one lucky bull.

This old cow elk came down later and bedded right behind our RV,  not more than 15 yards. 

Sunset over Gardiner and YNP.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yellowstone National Park... Brook Trout tune-up

Michelle and I hit a small brook trout stream in YNP today.  Michelle hasn't fly fished since our trip out here in 2011 so this was a good first outing for her to "practice" on some willing brookies.  It's like riding a bike for her and she was back in form in no time.

Great pocket water fishing with lots of wild brook trout.

tough to beat the beauty of a brook trout...

Michelle with one of many on the day.

Michelle working up the middle of the creek in this photo.  "Picking-the-Pockets" with accurate casting and fly placement behind the boulders and in the runs.

We only used two flies today, a Coachman Trude and a Wiese's Clacka Caddis.

Today I used my Ben Turpin custom G-series fly rod.
I thought it was an appropriate choice with the Turpin's hand painted brook trout on the rod.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Best Campsite in the West

Two years ago when we visited, we eyed a certain campsite that we thought would be the perfect place to camp.  This year we are parked there and what a great spot it is!  We can look out over the Yellowstone and Gardner Rivers through our living room window.  In the distance we can see cars and campers lined up to get into Yellowstone National Park just behind the town of Gardiner.  On our first night we watch elk frolicking on the bank of the river underneath a bright and glorious full moon. 

 When we arrived in Gardiner on Sunday afternoon the high temperatures had been there to meet us.  The summer climate in Gardiner is usually a beautiful 80 degrees and sunny.  This week it is going to be in the 90's.  Luckily the nights are cool and good for sleeping.  Early afternoons get hot and the high plains desert winds really pick up.  This makes for tough fishing but we will give it our best try.  As you can see, Doug has already braved the elements. 

On Our Way West

We are off on another great adventure west.  Our first few days of travel went very well but were hot, hot, hot.  We were thankful to find a cool pool at most of our campgrounds and an endless supply of air conditioning in our fifth wheel camper and truck.  
One of our stops was in Mitchell, SD where you can visit the one and only Corn Palace.  Given our last name, we had to visit.  With the promise of a cold beer with dinner, Doug agreed to go.  The outside of the Corn Place is covered with murals created from ears of corn.  Every year they are stripped off and new murals created.

While in Mitchell we noticed their main radio station office and went inside for a picture.

Back on the road in South Dakota we found cooler temperatures and endless highway.  The landscape is very flat and there are fields and fields of corn, soybeans and sunflowers.  We were anxious to land at our final destination, Gardiner, Montana.