Big & White

Upon asking several friends the question, “what streamer can you not live with out in Argentina?”.

I received this answer – “big & white”.

Madison River Fishing Report 03.08.2013

High up on the volcano it was wet and snowing.  As we rounded Quake Lake, the clouds parted and sunshine appeared, giving way to the Madison Valley.  It’s a different world down in the valley, and I love it.  Elk numbered in thousands on the benches above the river.  While the snow pack at 7000 feet is nearing 100%, there is bare ground along the river bottom below Palisades.  Four feet of snow sits in the yard on Horse Butte, walking in the grass, however brown it may be, is so very nice.  After a stop to run the drahthaars, we cracked another beer and walked down to a big slick.

There were heads and no wind.

We caught fish and drank more beer.

It felt like Spring……

Snow Pack Report

Currently, we are experiencing warm weather and sunshine here in West Yellowstone, Montana.  Today is the Taste of Trails, held at the Rendezvous Ski Trails.  I will fore go the fly rod and join my better half with a set of skis, a pack and a Bota box of wine!

The water temps on the Madison, over the past four days, have been hovering between 33 and 39.5 degrees…..not too bad for early February.   February looks to be a bit warmer than usual, if the forecast below is correct, fishing will continue to be good .  Our current snow pack here in West Yellowstone and around Old Faithful is a bit low, but from what I’ve read this should jump up a little bit toward the end of the month.  With a glance at the USGS SNOTEL web site, one can see where the entire state sits with snow pack.

Temperature and Precipitation forecast for Nov 2012 through Oct 2013.

Temperature and Precipitation Graph

Snow Pack as of 02.09.2013

Jefferson drainage – 99%

Madison drainage – 100%

West Yellowstone – 89 %

Gallatin drainage – 100%

Missouri drainage – 100%

Midge Clusters

The Griffith’s Gnat has been the most productive midge cluster ever invented.  I use it in sizes #12-20 on rivers throughout the West.  George Griffith tied this simple pattern, it’s durable and productive which are characteristics of all quality fly patterns.  Peacock and grizzly hackle….simple shit….thanks George for inventing this fly.

So, last Spring, before a trip to the Big Horn with several buddies, I sat down at the bench to tie these up.  After cranking out a half dozen, I looked at the fly and a thought occurred to me –  why not add a wing, for visibility?  Lots of folks have done this in the past using CDC or tying this fly with a post and hackle, but I never really thought it looked quite right.  Since I had just finished up tying a couple dozen BWO Comparaduns, the idea of using a comparadun wing (for you died in the woollies – a haystack wing) sounded cool.  So, I tried it and also added a sparkle tail as well…why not….right?  I also clipped the fly, top and bottom, to give it a cleaner look – much like the buzzball.  On over cast days, I use a black comparadun wing as this shows up nicely in silver water.

We fished this pattern on the Big Horn with a ton of success, but since the trout were taking damn near everything we floated to them, the test was not really a test.  The entire season went by and finally a chance to test out this pattern arrived while guiding on the Missouri River in late October.   Tim (pictured above) had never thrown a dry fly.  He wanted to up his game and was tired of chasing the bobber from ramp to ramp.  We launched at Wolf Creek bridge and floated down a short ways.  I dropped the hook and started in on the instruction – measuring distance, reach cast, slack line, feeding line and of course the concept of first drift/best drift as the best course of action for him to take.  Tim, being the scientist that he is, caught on fast.  Rising trout on the Missouri can be some of the most picky sonsabitches anywhere, especially by late Fall.  We set up fishing to our first pod of the day, above the Railroad Trussles, and had seven or eight nice fish taking midges and spent BWOs.   With just one fly and some 5x, Tim went to work and managed to catch his first trout on dry fly in about two minutes.  His first fish moved a foot and half off it’s line to eat the fly.  He hooked and jumped a few more, then we moved on.  Well done Tim.  We spent the rest of day fishing streamers in between pods of trout.  The only fly we used for the pods, was my new twist on George Griffith’s Gnat.   Just after Christmas, I sent this pattern, and several others to Montana Fly Company for submission.  With any luck, they will add this my collection of patterns at MFC.

My twist on the Griffith’s Gnat – the Gnat King Cripple…..this was named after several beers while floating the Big Horn.

Really? This good?

The Missouri River is as good as it gets.  It is 30 minutes until May 1, but yet the river is fishing like its the end of May.   Prickly Pear is still dirty, but catching fish river left is not impossible……downstream of Craig the river mixes up to that shade of green that we all love.  3X works great right now as the fish are not leader shy one bit.  The Dearborn is minty, has dropped a bunch and the Canyon was lights out…..even in the pouring rain – which only last about 30 minutes.   Ric G. and I floated again today and caught fish on all three disciplines – nymph, dry fly and streamer.