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9-9-02 - How can you expect us not to stop at Dan Bailey's???
Dan posing for a photo op. above the Yellowstone River, north of the park.
FINALLY, my first (and only) fish of the trip...a nice Gardner River Rainbow.
Dan working the cast...
Again along the Garnder River.
Look at the gorgeous colors of the hopper.
This bend of the Upper Gibbon River held exactly ONE trout, what I'm guessing was a cutthroat. I wasted probably 2 hours on this deceptively stupid trout.
The Elk prevented us from fishing this stretch of the Gibbon.
Thankfully Yellowstone has so much more to offer than JUST trout fishing.
The Yellowstone, North of Lehardy's Rapids.

9-9-02 - Montana (Technically Wyoming) Part IV - It's do or die time in Yellowstone!

Rivers Fished: Yellowstone River, Gardner River, Upper Gibbon River
Fish Caught: 1
Outing Date: 9-9-03
Weather: Clear Sun
Air Temp: 60's?
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: N/a
Water Color: Clear for the most part, Yellowstone was muddy to the north.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Mainly Terrestrials including Chernobyl Hoppers.
Pattern Color: yellows, reds, browns, tans etc..
Fishing Quality: FINALLY a fish!

This is a day I will remember for life. The three prior outtings on this trip...well...naw..not really that "memorable". This was the day we decided to head into Yellowstone.

On the drive down we saw the signs for Dan Bailey's Fly Shop. This was the shop where my first fly reel was mail-ordered (I still have it too). This was were my first fly tying kit came from...my first materials. Dan Bailey's was the root of all fly fishing evil. Their catalog had seduced me into the realization that I too could fly fish, even as only a 10 year old. Well, after 15 years of fly fishing I figured DB owed me one.

So it goes like this...Dan and I walk in and look around. I'm impressed by the fish silloettes along the wall of moster trout. I'm overtaken by the fact that there's surprisingly little in the way of fly selection (based on baseless expectations). We get some help...we find out about the licensing in the park and get our Park licenses.

Before we leave, I pull the salesman aside and put it to him point blank. "Look, it's my buddies first trip fly fishing for trout and we've been skunked for our last 3 days. We've fished the Blackfoot, Belmont Creek, Upper Clark Fork. We've barely even SEEN any fish. We'd like to catch a fish. We need easy trout. We need slutty trout. WHERE ARE THE SLUTTY TROUT?!"

With a sly grin the salesman looks at me and says "Alright, you need to fish the Gardner then. Right inside the entrance of the Park. You WILL catch trout".

And that's precisely how it went down. On our way in we passed an angler who landed a large Brown north of the park. Our first access at the Gardner produced 1 rainbow with about 30 minutes of effort, about a 9" that whacked a Chernobyl Hopper that I had sunk into the pockets behind the boulders. I mean WHACKED IT. And the worst part? Just as Dan was taking the pictures the batteries ran out...so he had to run all the way back up while I held the fish on my line in the water...bring back batteries, and get the whole production in order. Not to mention that Dan almost didn't get the fish in the picture ;) Learned my lesson there too...if you want GOOD fish pictures take a LOT of pictures of the fish. Anyway, THANK YOU Dan Bailey's for pointing us to the SLUTTY TROUT!

We continued to work the Gardner at a few more access points downstream but once again had no luck and never SAW any fish...but I'm sure they were there.

Next stop the Upper Gibbon River. I'm not sure why we chose to stop...I think we were just passing it and decided it was worth a shot. Well I probably wasted 2 hours fishing the first bend. Laughable really, because there was one trout, I think a cutthroat, holding in the tail slowly sipping off the surface....no hatch going on and nothing seen. EVERY cast I'd get a look..within an inch or two, and then it would turn away. Try to offer that fly again? Nope, it would only get one look. I rotated through every dry fly in my box, and each time I was refused.

We did at least take some time to check out the scenery, the elk, the bison, the waterfalls, the Yellowstone Canyon. Things like this make a bum fishing trip still enjoyable.

To end our trip we decided to fish the Yellowstone. PeterM had been out there only a few weeks prior and gave us specific instructions. We dropped in at two spots, one flat in the middle of nowhere that seemed to hold nothing, and then just downstream of Lehardy's Rapids.

I have to say this was insane...it looked like the Milwaukee River...PEOPLE EVERWHERE. Most were within casting distance of each other. But then again I know WHY. Fish were rising EVERYWHERE. On the downside I didn't have any wading equipment and was out of clothes, so wet wading wasn't even an option. Although both Dan & I put in a valiant effort, I fear our casts probably weren't even reaching the fish!!! All the same it was a spectacular end to our fishing, and watching the sun set over Yellowstone Lake sealed the deal for this trip being one of the best you could ever take.

I would return home with a new fire for fly fishing...especially after spending 4 days and only catching one fish. There was no way I'd wait another year to go trout fishing, I had to go trout fishing NEXT WEEKEND, and I had to catch more than one fish. One week's worth of research lead me to the SW Wisconsin Tribs, Salmon and Steelhead, and the rest is history recorded in my Rambling Reports.

  MP 

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