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Gone Fishing

I mentioned in the previous posts about my first visits into the Park that I was looking forward to sunny days –

wanted days with bright sunny and blue skies.

I had read that a sunny day could produce rainbows in the mist of the falls and was also the best kind of day to photograph geysers – the water and steam shooting into the air looked best against a blue sky.

Unfortunately, the West is burning and it’s quite bad in nearby Idaho –

with westerly winds , smoke was filling the Park with a thick haze –

“white skies” were forecasted for days unless the winds shifted

Time to shift gears and do a little fishing. After all…”West Yellowstone earned the title of America’s “Top Ten Fishing Towns” (Forbes Magazine) for unparalleled year-round fishing. Top blue-ribbon trout streams surround West Yellowstone: the Madison, Gallatin, Yellowstone and the Henrys Fork of the Snake. The upper Madison, the Firehole, and the Gibbon Rivers are just minutes away in Yellowstone. Unbeatable float and deep-water fishing abound on Hebgen Lake and Earthquake Lake, Henrys Lake and Island Park Reservoir. In winter, Hebgen Lake features ice fishing including NAIFC and regional ice fishing tournaments and events…

Time to wet a line in special waters…

The nearby Gallatin River, in fact, is where much of “A River Runs Through It” was filmed. The rivers in the Park are world renowned in their own right and they also form the headwaters for many of the nearby “blue ribbon” waters in Montana including the Gallatin, the Yellowstone, and the Madison River.

The Park rivers tend to warm up in late summer – too warm in many places – so fishing is closed to protect the fishery in a number of places. So first stop in the park was defined by the closures – time to head up over to the Gibbon – above the Falls was open. Yup, the same Falls I photographed my stop here

Lots of nice pocket water and short runs/riffles – a nice afternoon spent catching a few fish…

[Nomad Note – sorry for the lack of pics – need to find an RV co-pilot that fishes – and, can take pics of me fishing…] 🙂

The next day, I went off to Hebgen Lake to try fly fishing from the kayak

I had heard that Hebgen Lake – located about 20 minutes west of West Yellowstone is a popular fishing hole…reportedly had a very healthy population of browns, cutthroats and rainbows – time to check it out…

And, even more interesting was the idea of fishing to the “gulpers” – seems the weed beds and soft bottom of the lake produce huge numbers of bugs that giant trout can’t resist – a.k.a. – Gulpers – i.e. -“gulping trout” – known as “Gulpers” for the greedy sound these large Rainbow and Brown trout make slurping tremendous amounts of mayflies off the glassy surface of Hebgen Lake…wow…sounded very interesting indeed!

Now, you’re probably wondering at this point – “Who in their right mind would fly fish from something as finicky and unstable as a kayak? How would you control the line? What happens if you catch a fish, a big fish, a “giant Gulper” maybe? How do you perform an Eskimo roll while attempting to boat a fish as big as your leg?”

All good questions – OK – so maybe there are some challenges–enough to deter most normal people – but as I have mentioned in previous post – I love a challenge…

I figured the lake was huge and I could cover lots of ground in the kayak – figured the float tube option – yup, have that toy on board the Bunkhouse too – was out of the question – beyond a few hundred yards, kicking the float tube around would wear my ass out…

Well, let me simply say, my first outing fly fishing from a kayak was interesting. Didn’t catch any Gulpers but caught a few fish which proved it could be done – and, learned a lot for the next outing – like don’t fight the wind… a strong wind will blow you too fast over the water for fishing purposes, even for trolling…a real strong gust , and there a few, could rip the paddle or rod out of your hand while juggling the two – particularly if you don’t know what you’re doing…and I was still learning…fortunately didn’t lose anything this first outing…learned real fast that even slight winds would invariably push me into awkward positions and angles.

Also remembered very quickly the old saying about fly line and fly fishing – “the fly line will catch on anything it can”. Even with virtually nothing on the deck of the kayak, things kept hanging up if I wasn’t careful. Fortunately, the spray skirt proved to be a great place to strip the line into – helped keep some control of things…

OK – I have to admit – and, glad there are no pics or video of me – for a long time I looked pretty silly with a paddle, rod, and line all competing for equal time with just two hands. ‘nuf said… 🙂

Had a lot of fun out there though – enjoyed a sunny day on the water – even with the “white skies” the place was pretty special…caught a few fish…learned a few lessons…after all – this is my “journey of discovery”…

A nice change of pace from thermals and waterfalls…

Heading back there soon though…more to follow as always…

Take care…see you down the road…

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