Saturday, April 09, 2005

Montana Dailies

These are the daily reports from the buddy trip to Montana last fall. I found the stationary on the frig in the Spanagal's cabin. I figured I better write some things down before I forgot them. The first half was written on the second Friday. Subsequent reports were recorded daily. On the back of the page are reports from Rock Creek for Monday and Tuesday

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Yakima River in March

Two days after I returned from Belize I found myself in the Lower Canyon. The sun had already dipped below the western rim when I got there. There wasn't much time so I went straight to the Tomato Juice Hole. I had pulled my last fish of the '04 season from that hole so it was fitting that the first fish of this year came from there too.
Sven had fished all afternoon to rising trout right in front of the camp site. He told me that the baetis hatch started at "noon-thirty" and went for at least a couple of hours. After supper we sat around the campfire and drank a few beers, some single malt scotch and a little Jaegermeister. Just before Sven retired to his tent he forecasted a great day of fishing for the next day.
The next morning was beautiful. The sun warmed the canyon floor to above freezing almost negating the need to re-ignite the campfire. The wind was less than a gentle breeze. It was all more than I deserved. I made a couple of egg sandwiches for breakfast. After coffee I donned my waders and grabbed my fly rod as did Sven.
We crossed the river and walked up the railroad tracks on the far side. All the water looked good but we continued to walk upstream looking for chukars in the breaks above us and trouts in the water below.
One quarter mile above the camp I skidded down the bank and gently stepped into the river. Working my way upstream I cast a skwala imitation to all the likely holding spots. You never really see a lot of those skwala stoneflies but the trout take them when they are present in any number. I took a few fish with the skwala pattern before I noticed the mayflies that were beginning to come off.
I clipped off the big fly and tied on a #18 polly winged dun. After only a few minutes the polly dun, or Pauly as the pattern has since become to be known, had proved to be a very effective baetis imitation.
Armed with the appropriate fly and the tactical knowledge of the situation Sven and I caught many trouts as we leap frogged each other up the river.
For now there was plenty of water, by the weekend the 9 to 5'ers would be spraying casts all over the canyon. But the weekend was days away. We had this stretch of the river to ourselves and fully took advantage of it.
There wasn't much to complain about for the rest of the month either. The weather was about the only thing that changed, that whole "in like a lamb/out like a lion bit' proved itself true yet again. The mayflies didn't seem to mind as they kept on hatching everyday, though never at the same time more than two days in a row.
Ken, Karl and myself camped out one weekend. It was of course the first rainy weekend of the month but we managed to catch lots of fish and have a good campout. Many beers were drank and stories told, the usual campfire scene. Saturday night we were all suprised by the sudden appeareance of JT. JT was in the country for only a few days so we were all real happy to spend time with him around the campfire.
By the end of the month I had spent seven or eight days on the water. If the fish weren't taking baetis, they would take a skwala. I only had to resort to fishing with a nymph one morning and it worked so well that it was almost as fun as fishing a dry fly. I camped out three times and fished with at least four different people and while it aint about numbers I feel obliged to mention that I did catch dozens of trout.