Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fishing Log: 7/21 - 8/5

My fishing journal entries are a bit cryptic and rough around the edges. They're often composed late night - after getting off the water, having a couple of beers and trying to fend off sleep for as long as possible.  I keep the log as a means of recording river conditions, hatches, productive flies and etc. - it serves its purpose well. Here's a peek at some of the fishing I've experienced over the past couple of weeks:

7/21/11 - River X [edited]. 500cfs (-). Tough to stay below the HWM. Poor viz of 1-2'. Caught cutts down low and browns up high, go figure. Jess caught a nice brook trout. Nymphing was the name of the game, trout liked golden stones and rubber legs, the whiteys wouldn't leave a green z-wing alone. Yellow sallies and PMDs throughout the day, numerous caddis in the evening... rises were few and far between.

7/22/11 - Lower Madison. 3,250cfs... they've been playing w/ flows again (raising them). Floated WS to BF. Viz was plenty good, 2-3'. Josh caught a pig right out of the gate, a fat 21" brown... biggest I've seen out of the Lower, took a big streamer on a sink-tip. Fishing was slow overall, I lost a couple of fish on a caddis pupa. Bikini hatch was sparse, probably due to heavy cloud cover.

7/23/11 Jefferson River. Floated Kountz to Cardwell. Bright sun all day, 2,800cfs at Parsons (-), 2' of viz. The Jefferson is always a gamble, and it didn't pay off today... just a couple of small fish were caught.

7/24/11Gallatin River. 1,800 cfs (-). Viz 2'+ with a color now more green than brown. Fished behind the house this evening, it was very good. The best fish was a 17” brown that was super heavy. Fish were holding in soft water along banks. A half-back was most productive, but a shop vac took a few as well. It's like fishing a new river, runoff has changed everything.

7/25/11Gallatin River. 1,700 cfs (-). 2'+ of viz. Floated Cameron Bridge to Four Corners (FAS). Excellent fishing - the trout are fat and happy with all this water, caught several in the 15-17" range and a couple over 18". A pink worm was the hot fly, but stonefly nymphs and shop vacs, PTs, etc took plenty of fish. The key was getting down DEEP. PMDs, yellow sallies and - later - caddis, but few risers. Don't take the left channel below Ralph's place!  

7/27/11Gallatin River. 1,600 cfs (-). 3' of viz. Fished from 8-10am behind the house this morning. Tried out the 3wt Winston LT for the first time, sweet dry fly rod! Lots of nocturnal stonefly shucks along the river. Peacock, #12 stimulator trailed by a #14 yellow stimi. A few nice browns came off the banks for the yellow stimi. No active risers seen. Also fished from 8-9:30pm behind the house, taking two tiny rainbows on an Iris Caddis that I tied up before going out. Caddis were out in droves, but very few rises.

7/30/11 - Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, the Lamar River and the Yellowstone River. Slough's big cutts proved challenging, last-second refusals on #16 pmd sparkle duns and #18 black ant patterns - the smaller trout were eager to oblige. Soda Butte was a zoo in the lower meadows, caught one nice trout on a #12 stimulator before we headed for less crowded water. The Lamar's lower canyon yielded a few smaller trout, on both nymphs and dries, but was slow overall. The Yellowstone near Tower still had salmonflies in the air, and trout looking up... visibility was less than 2'. 

8/2/11 - Lower Madison River. 2,000 cfs, 3'+ of viz. Hiked into Beartrap... all the way to the creek. Large hoppers with wings were in the grass along the lower end of the canyon. The dry fly fishing was excellent, fish were looking up and taking a Turk's or the trailing x-caddis. Fish have really spread out, many were taken in faster water near the banks, boulder pockets, seams and etc. Good numbers of caddis and yellow sallies out late, a few active risers. Water temps in the river have remained relatively cool this year... topped out at 67 today, fish are looking healthy and reviving them is not a problem. 

8/3/11 - Hyalite Lake. Hiked Hyalite Peak today and packed along a 4 piece and attractor patterns for the alpine lake. According to MFISH the lake holds cutts, but upon arrival I saw no signs of life despite a prolific hatch of large mayflies (unsure of I.D., but not callibaetis) and lots of moths on the water. Walked the entire perimeter, no fish seen - lake is very shallow along the shoreline. Didn't wet a line. Upon getting home I looked at MFISH again and added "fishing logs" to the query... sure enough anglers are reporting catches of cutts and brookies here... should have fished, oh well. Great hike, the glissade down from the summit ridge was awesome!

8/5/11 -  Gallatin River. 1,100 cfs and gin clear. The river has really been dropping and clearing, but some crossings are still difficult on foot. Pulled the SOAR out of storage and floated from the house to the frontage road this evening. 2.5-3 hour float if no stops. A few pushy sweepers/strainers, but nothing too crazy. Fishing was very good, despite the fact that I stubbornly stuck with an unproductive streamer (Matt's sculpin) pattern trailed by a very productive shop vac. Took a couple of healthy rainbows in Ralph's Run as well as some whitefish. Helped Megan with her cast and mending, got her into a couple of fish by days end on a shop vac run shallow under an indicator. Great numbers of caddis out, and a few active risers - worked them until last light near the take-out.


  1. Thanks for sharing your fishing diary. Couldn't find River X on the map, tho. Please advise.

  2. Thanks for the introduction to the Shop Vac. I googled it and feel like I need to ty some up.

  3. Josh - Loose lips sink ships. You know this river well.

    Kevin - The shop vac is a very productive pattern, particularly when caddis are active in the water. It was introduced to me a couple of years ago by a good friend. It's a very easy tie, and the potential variations on this pattern are numerous.