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 Post subject: Yellowstone TR, Part 2
PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 8:35 pm 

Joined: December 5th, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 5345
Location: Manchester, ME
As the discussion from my first post indicates, the bison are everywhere in the park, and they are formidable critters. We had three close calls with them. For the record, this is too close.

ImageDSC_4116 by pixdee, on Flickr

One close call came on the day Parker, Craig, Ken and I fished Slough Creek. I had to leave earlier than the rest of crew to meet my ride, and a large, solo bull was taking a snooze in a ravine where he was hidden from me until I was about 5 steps from him. I came up over the crest of a little hill; he picked his head up and looked perturbed, and I slowly backed away and made a large detour.

Dee Dee and I spent part of day on the Lower Meadow on Slough Creek later in the week, and while I was busy fishing to a rising trout, she was facing the other way sketching some antelope. We were maybe 25 yards from each other, and at one point I looked behind me to see a big bull that had worked between us. I was out wading in the stream with a steep bank between me and the bull, but he was on a beeline for the little sand bar she was sitting on. She just slowly walked away and the bison continued as though he'd never noticed either of us.

The closest call came on the Yellowstone, up in the Hayden Valley above the falls, where I'd love to spend some serious time fishing some day. We were up there on a successful attempt to see wolves, and stopped for lunch in a little picnic area. I spotted a cutt near the bank that was probably in the 23-24 inch range. It looked like a submarine.
ImageDSC_4706 by pixdee, on Flickr

Needless to say, I got a little distracted and probably spent 45 minutes floating a variety of tiny mayflies, midges and finally small nymphs past it. During this time it rose once for a natural I couldn't see, took about 6 nymphs under the surface, and once moved 6 inches toward my fly. As this was going on, I gradually became aware of what sounded like a Labor Day parade--drums, the beat of marching feet, and a chorus of sirens--that was getting closer and closer to us. Eventually they got close enough that we could figure out what was going on. There had apparently been a bad bison jam on the road all day, and finally the Park Rangers decided they needed to move the herd of bison, so they lined up a bunch of Park Service police cruisers, turned on the lights and sirens, and drove the bison up the road, hoping they'd move off to one side. The "drums" and "marching feet" were bison hoofs galloping up the road. The "drive" worked, eventually, but not before the herd came through a narrow little pass between two hills, and then spread out into the picnic area where we were standing with a parade of vehicles behind them that looked like a western rural version of the chase scene from the Blues Brothers.

ImageDSC_4298 by pixdee, on Flickr,

Some poor Asian guy had stepped out of his car to take a picture of the river, and froze as the herd of bison came charging through. Dee Dee and I were over on the river bank, where we'd decided it was safer to stay put rather than try to get back to the car. He made the other choice, then froze with his hand on the door handle as bison streamed by him for about 45 seconds. All this time one of the rangers is shouting through the speaker from inside his patrol car, "Sir, get into the car. You are in danger. Get into the car NOW!" I'm pretty sure the poor guy didn't speak any English and had no idea what to do. If he'd tried to open the car door to get in, one of the bison probably would would have clipped it and torn it off. They were that close.

We also had what seemed like a close call with this badger, who came out of a burrow on the bank of Slough Creek and did a very good impression of a mean dog who is not happy that the UPS man is walking up the driveway. I have not had a wild animal snarl at me before, but this one did.

ImageDSC_4855 by pixdee, on Flickr

Back to the fishing. It was slow compared to last year. I caught fish every day and just about every place I tried, but they were difficult and selective. Hatches were sparse to non-existent, so fish were feeding on a this and that mix of nymphs and terrestrials. As I said before, ants were the key, and a slow sinking wet ant with a glass bead head was more effective than floating ants. This is a little larger than average fish, I think from Slough Creek.

ImageIMG_1161 by pixdee, on Flickr

Since the meadow sections were pretty difficult, I tried to fish some of the faster water in the Lamar Canyon. I'd done pretty well on this pool last year with buggers and stonefly nymphs. This year I got roundly skunked--had a strike on my first cast with a big clouser/bugger, then never saw another fish. It was quite a chore getting down in there on my gimpy leg, and getting around those huge boulders was interesting.

ImageP9110159 by pixdee, on Flickr

ImageP9110162 by pixdee, on Flickr

I spent the last day on one of the more remote bits of Soda Butte. It was tough--hot, bright and sunny, and for the first time on that section I ran into a bunch of other anglers. I could find water to myself, but I think most of the pools had already been covered at least once before I got there. About an hour in I cast a #20 parachute ant into a little pocket behind a boulder near the bank that was no more than 15 inches deep and this fish took it before it floated a foot.

ImageDSC_4881 by pixdee, on Flickr

With 20/20 hindsight, that was the "quit on" fish, but as usual, I kept pounding away for another couple of hours before I realized I wasn't going to get another one.

We'll be back next year.

PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 1:40 am 

Joined: February 14th, 2007, 1:00 am
Posts: 1435
Location: New Hampshire
Awesome wildlife report and pretty fish. Thanks for sharing!

"Fishermen...spending their lives in the fields and woods...are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation." - Thoreau

PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 2:06 am 
FFIM Addict

Joined: September 28th, 2003, 12:00 am
Posts: 2664
Hmmmm... A buffalo with it's eye bugging out to get a better lock at you and a badger snarling at you. Sounds to me that the critters out west weren't real impressed by you.
Great pictures and report. Sounds like it was a good time.

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

Sir John Buchan

PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 12:39 pm 
Wanna-be Maineiac

Joined: December 11th, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 2431
Location: Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris...
Maybe one of these years we get a group from FFIM to rent one of those big ass ranches out there for a week or two?!

PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 12:59 pm 
FFIM Addict

Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 4132
Location: Ellsworth

My friend, you were WAY too close to that Buffalo in picture number 1.

I well remember trying (operative word there) to fish Soda Butte one day with Hutch, Parker, and Gussa and trying every which way but loose to get away from two old Bulls that didn't want me to fish that particular stretch of creek. I spent a good part of the day getting out of their way.
Both nice TR's. I haven't been to the Park in too long now.....the last time (if I recall correctly) was 2011. There are other places in the Montana/Wyoming area that have better fishing......but probably none better for fishing combined with wildlife viewing.
Dave M

"Fish the West every year. Life is short; and you'll be dead a long time." Chris Hutchins--2009

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