Wednesday, October 12

45.02501, -110.18206: A Yellowstone Creek to Explore and a Fly Rod

Leaving the ranch, we ventured downstream to find pools that held trout, mostly cutthroat in this part of Montana, but also browns (check this fact). The grass was high, as we approached the creek, and it covered gopher holes of the dinner plate diameter, leg breaking variety. Avoiding these, we marched on in cadence with the soft ding of the bear bell on my pack.  We were below the small falls and rapids and at this point of its path, Slough Creek began to flatten and started to follow a slow “S” shaped route.  The Gore-Tex did not keep my feet dry once my leg was in a foot of water, as I trudged from bank to bank.  The plan was to recon downstream and then fish up.

My partner, Joe, found a pool where trout were “sipping”, as I walked further down toward a part of the creek, I had seen from a hike along a parallel wagon trail. There are no motorized vehicles allowed so the trail provided the route for food and dry goods for those at the ranch.

By a leaning pine, I found a pool along the bank under the riffles of a gentle drop.  There I lost my first fly, a green hopper. Walking upstream, I came upon a pool with two dead trees and a nice hole.  I worked my cast, concentrating on the water. My line seemed lighter. Odd, I thought as I reeled it in. This is not good, I reflected, looking at the broken loop on the end of the backing. As a neophyte, I was unsure of the fix for this as I did not have a leader. I continued my recon up where Joe was fishing a pool. The concentration of his crouch as he watched his fly float indicated that this was a hot spot. “They are all around here”, he whispered.  His tone signaled that this was the best spot yet. As I watched him and mentally took measure of the fluidity of his cast and precise presentation of the fly, I witnessed the swirl and shadowed broadside of a trout. Joe reeled in and showed me exactly where to cast. Under the opposite bank were at least two submerged trees providing cover from the sun and the current flowed right by, sweeping any unlucky bugs [t] into the kill zone for the trout.

Letting out line, I swept my rod from “10 to 2 o’clock”.  Joe provided patient instruction, as I tried to keep the line off the water. The line dropped, the fly landed shy of the hole, but drifted out in an arc away, then back toward me. Letting it float, watching patiently, reeling it in. The next cast (or perhaps the hundredth and next cast), landed in the sweet spot of the hole and I was rewarded by watching the fly getting pulled under the gin clear waters by a hungry trout.

Now I understand that it was in the specialized gear and technique that fly fishing offers which provides the best way to deliver a lure to these trout: the presentation. 

Isn’t that what it is all about? Using the tools at hand to provide the highest probability of catching a fish. And having a great time with a good friend.

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