.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

01/26/09

I am calling this series Yellowstone Journals and Additional Information. It is a collection of a
rambling mixture of experiences on the streams with some notes, tips and additional
information thrown in. Some of this comes from my video tape logs (record of video shot)
and  notes made on my daily note books.

Firehole River - Part 2:

The third day we followed the same strategy of fishing the Madison River
outside the park until late in the afternoon and then went in the park to the
Firehole River. The third day we didn't arrive at the parking lot until around 8:00
P.M. We went to an area about fifty yards upstream of where we had fished the
two previous days where I noticed something almost unbelievable. Trout were
lined up by the dozens, side by side and head to tail in one section of the river.
They all appeared to be the same size which looked to be about 12 inches long.
At least there were no large ones in the lineup. That is what it looked like - a
lineup. My hand started shaking a little. I didn't know what to do.

I tied on a caddisfly, dry fly adult pattern and casting from the bank up and
across, let the fly drift down over the trout. The trout ran from the fly or my line
and leader, one or the other. They wouldn't take the fly, just move out from
under it and return to the exact same place. I realized they were not going to
rise to the surface. The water looked about two feet deep but looks can be
deceptive on the Firehole River. I changed back to the ant fly which was not a
dry fly. It would sink without added weight. Within the next 30 minutes I had
caught three of the small trout, all of which were all about 12 inches long.

Now common sense was telling me that ants were not drifting down the Firehole
River in any concentration. I didn't even see any on the banks. There were
many species of caddisflies on the water and the closer it got to being dark, the
more the caddis showed up. Splashes and feeding activity increased until dark..
Your could tie on a dry fly imitation of the caddis and still not get any takes.

This story took place several years ago, the first time we fished Yellowstone
National Park. Finally it occurred to me that the fish may be eating the caddis
larvae drifting downstream or their pupae. Since caddisflies were hatching, I
assumed it must be caddisfly pupae. The trouble was, I had no caddisfly pupae
imitations. In fact, at that time I knew only the basic about caddisflies.

I was back in the fly shops the next morning where I purchased every caddisfly
pupa imitation I could find. That was not a lot of them. If I remember correctly, I
found only three different patterns, none of which I had even seen before. Back
to the magic spot on the Firehole that day, I found the exact same lineup of
trout. They would line up about an hour before it got so dark that you couldn't
see them any longer due to the low light.

I tried all three different caddisflies I had purchased. The problem with them was
that they were all much larger than the ant that I had been able to catch trout
on. I did not catch a single trout that afternoon. I ended up very frustrated. That
was not easy to take. When you can see dozens of trout in one area and not be
able to get them to eat the fly it is mind damaging. In fact, I could only scare
them away for a minute of so, and they would come right back to the same spot.
By the way, that was a clear area of bottom about four feet wide between the
heavy grass that came to the surface most everywhere else in the river.

We didn't return the following day. Two days afterwards, about 5 days after this
ordeal started, we returned to the same place at the same time. We didn't spot
the first trout. You could see some rise out in the grass beds every once in a
while but the lineup was gone. I still don't know what was going on. We couldn't
catch a trout there the last day we fished that same area, even on the ant. It
frustrates me to think about it. I really don't have a clue as to what was taking
place or why those trout were there. You would think there was a cool spring
there but that was not the case, because I waded in the water and checked the
temperature. It was the same as everywhere else in the stream. I'm open for any
answers to it.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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