Posts Tagged ‘Yellowstone National Park’

These are two interesting dubbing materials that I use when creating some of my fly patterns:


SLF Prism Dubbing. No Description Available
and Zelon Dubbing:
SLF Prism was introduced in 2007 by Wapsi and Zelon dubbing is only available through Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone.
SLF Prism has found its’ way into many of the classic attractor nymphs or searching flies I tie. Zelon dubbing was developed by Craig Matthews, in many colors, to match the insects in Yellowstone National Park and in the surrounding areas. I use SLF Prism for the thorax on the Dean Endress ROBO PT nymph.
Dean’s ROBO PT NYMPH…Dean ties it bushy, using mixed Lite Brite for the thorax…
PT/TB :toast:

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Parks’ Fly Shop is located in Gardiner, MT, where the Yellowstone River flows North out of the park. I stopped there with Ally in 2001. They have an interesting selection of custom flies which work exceptionally well in the local area and on other waters as well ( try a House and Lot Spider on the Upper Owens or Hot Creek). They have some unique flies which will serve one well and a visit to this charming little town on the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park is well worth the time… Much like Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone is a fixture, so is Richards Parks shop in Gardiner…


Here is a link to their custom flies with a description of pattern components:

Park’s Fly Shop (See Custom Flies 2010)

Wiese’s Turkey Vac









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On Thursday, October 13, 1977, the sky was again overcast and there was the threat of more rain or snow.The night before, my Dad and I had decided, over a steak dinner, to travel over to the Yellowstone River to try for some West Slope Cutthroat trout.

After a quick breakfast, we left West Yellowstone at 7:30 AM and drove to Norris, Canyon, then South to Buffalo Ford several miles North of Fishing Bridge. On the way, we passed The Gibbon River which I would not fish on this trip and endless miles of lodge pole pines no longer there as a result of the 1988 fire. As we drove South from Canyon, several herds of buffalo grazed in the Hayden Valley.

Arriving at Buffalo Ford, I rigged my Leonard and remarked to my Dad about the pleasurable effect of being able to fish with no one else present. We were the only people there. At the end of my tippet, I tied on a # 14 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear and stepped into the water. Even at this late period in the fall, the Yellowstone’s current was strong.

I fished quartering upstream, using the “high – stick” technique that I had been taught on the Roaring Fork. My body was constantly being pushed down river by the flow. I felt my feet slipping on the gravel bottom as I made an effort to dig in. ” Hey”, my Dad called out as he observed from the bank, you’re moving!” After an hour of this, with no trout to hand, I ambled out of the river and sat with Dad in the grass to rest. ” Why don’t you try that streamer again”, he suggested. I reached into my vest and pulled out the streamer wallet, fingered through its’ pockets and removed a # 6 Bucktail Coachman. This time, I left the wing unclipped – thinking it would make a difference( it didn’t), cut the leader back to 2X and tied it on with a Duncan Loop.

I stepped back into the river and cast out into the current quartering downstream. As the fly swung below me and the line tightened, I twitched the rod tip back and forth and gave the rod a slight pumping action. I retrieved the line back to myself first slow, then fast. It started to rain.

My Dad walked back to the car. Just as he called out to tell me where he was going, I looked down into the water at my slipping feet and noticed, to my amazement, three 16-18 inch trout holding at knee level. I was breaking the current for them. Each time I moved downriver after fishing out my cast, the three trout would slowly fin backwards and remain in position.

After thirty minutes of no fish and with the rain now becoming a steady downfall, I became REALLY frustrated. First, I tried to kick one of my trailing companions in the head. I nearly lost my balance. Then, holding my rod in my left hand, I leaned over with my nose almost touching the water’s surface and tried to grab one of the trout. I succeeded in getting soaking wet. By now, my Father had returned to stream side and was watching my antics.

I heard him call out to me, “Hey, I think you ARE losing it son…Let’s go!”

It was 3:00 PM. The wind was blowing gale force and the rain was coming down sideways. Once again, I was frozen. I stomped up to the bank, heaved myself into the grass, got up and went back to the car. I was muttering under my breath, ripping off my waders and drenched clothing. We drove on to the Old Faithful Lodge, where next to the fireplace, over B&B’s and water my Dad tried, but could not keep a straight face.

I was to hear, for many years to come, a recounting of my first experience on the Yellowstone River….

This story continues here:
4. South to Bridgeport


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The third day of my visit to West Yellowstone broke cold and overcast. Dad drove me up to the Firehole and dropped me off about a mile above where I had previously fished – close to Biscuit Basin. I had expected the weather to turn and wore a heavy wool, cable knit fisherman’s sweater and two sets of long underwear. On top of that, were clunky, inflexible boot foot waders that barely bent at the knees. I placed on my head a thick wool pull over watch cap – one of those with horizontal colored stripes that looks fashionable on a tourist in the Andes. I had no gloves or anything else to keep my exposed hands warm and would pay a price for this later in the day.

Rigging a # 22 Dry on the Firehole, October, 1977…

I fished upstream with the same small ( #22) yellow mayfly pattern I had been using. I hooked a few small fish, none over twelve inches. At 11:00 AM the wind began to pick up and the sky darkened further. Soon, drops of rain, then sleet and finally snow began to fall. Within an hour, the guides on the Leonard filled up with ice. I plunged the entire rod and reel into the warm river water to free the ice. In five minutes, the guides were, once again, choked with ice. Then my hands turned blue.

Workin’ a section of the Firehole…

I staggered clumsily out of the river and onto the bank and sat under a tree ( this was pre fire). I rolled my wader top down and stuffed my hands under the sweater and into my armpits. It was now 1:30PM and Dad would not be coming up the road to get me till 5:30 PM. It was so cold. No traffic was moving on the road to or from Old Faithful or the Yellowstone Lodge ( Old Faithful Inn). The snowflakes were getting bigger, piling up on the ground. The world had become utterly dark and silent except for the thick sheet of steam rising from the river and it’s constant gurgling. My head was itching like crazy, I felt totally alone.

Caught a Trout…my Dad took these pictures which have been LOST for a very long time…

I contemplated walking to Madison Junction and on to west Yellowstone just to keep warm. I was miserable.

I walked to the road and headed East towards Madison Junction and town, switching my rod from one hand to the other so my free hand could be stuffed under my sweater. I arrived at the Junction at 5:00PM and saw the approaching headlights of my car in the distance.

” What took you so long?” I asked my Dad as he pulled alongside me with the window partially down. ” I noticed it was snowing when I left the saloon”, he replied, ” so I figured I’d better pick you up early”.

I walked around the rear of the car, opened the door and slid my soaked body into the passenger seat exhaling loudly. Just then, my dad reached under his seat and thrust a brand new hot thermos bottle into my rigid hands. ” Thought you might like some hot coffee”, he winked.

My Dad was an OK kinda guy…

From that day to this, there are five items that ALWAYS accompany me to the water – in my truck or on my person: a soft, warm watch cap, fingerless or flip-over gloves, full gloves, a de-icing agent ( ice off paste), Gore Tex Shell and a thermometer

MORE warm clothing...HERE

That is what I learned that day…

This story continues here:

3. On Being an Obstruction
4. South to Bridgeport


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Dad and Mom before she hit the ejection button…

… was this. Dad would ride with me, early in the morning, to a spot on the Madison or Firehole in the park, drop me off and return to pick me up at dusk.

On the first morning, Dad left me where we had parked the day before. It was clear; the temps were in the low 60’s as I watched a flock of Canadian Geese course up the river as I set up my Leonard. I waded into the current and placed several casts of the miniscule yellow mayfly along a center streambed of moss.

PT, Fly Fishing the Firehole River, in Yellowstone National Park, October, 1977…

Around my third drift, a good fish rose to my offering and pushed upstream. I attempted to turn what was now a very heavy fish before it made the safety of the moss. “Damn”, I muttered as it dove into the vegetation. I had not positioned myself properly to turn my prey away from its safe haven. I spent the next five minutes moving up and down the bank pressuring the fish. I let the line go slack. With a rush, the fish turned down river. I couldn’t stop him. I panicked. The fish was into my backing. At that moment, the fish gave a headshake and the tippet popped. “Maybe five pounds”, I said to myself.

Working a dry fly around the weed beds…

I spent the rest of the day thrashing about with two small Browns to hand. Late in the afternoon, I walked down the road along the Firehole to a large pool I had seen when my Dad and I came up in the morning. I cut back my leader to 3x and tied on a wet Royal Coachman streamer, size # 6 . I clipped its wing to a stub (a trick Frank Arcularius used on the upper Owens River) and proceeded to cast, quartering downstream.




ROYAL COACHMAN STREAMER – (un-clipped wing)

I used a hand twist retrieve initially as the fly swung below me. Then, sped up the speed on subsequent casts. When I had the fly moving at about 4-6 inches per second, the first of a series of small Browns pounced. I was releasing the sixth fish when I heard a horn honk and turned to the road to see my Dad pulling off the road to pick me up. It was almost dark.

There is a nice fish in that net!!!…

On the way back to West Yellowstone, Father reported his exploits at a new town watering hole. My Dad was 65. He was handsome, charming and a good storyteller. It seems a bevy of babes at the local leather sewer had warmed up to him. He insisted that I accompany him back to HQ and meet them. He was right; they were BABES and all in their twenties. They wouldn’t give ME the time of day…
The Story continues here:

2.The Big Freeze

3. On Being an Obstruction

4. South to Bridgeport

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