While I made it up to the Firehole for an “Opening Day” road trip, our first true Ramble trip in the SaraLinda began last Wednesday when we drove down to West Yellowstone. After parking the SaraLinda at the Grizzly RV Campground, we headed into the park to check out the Firehole.
We decided not to wader up, and instead wet-waded into the river where I’d landed a couple of fish on “Opening Day”. We started by swinging soft hackles. After picking up a couple of browns, we headed upstream, further into the park, to a nice spot where two large boulders created breaks in the water that seemed “fishy”. We started swinging flies again, picking up a couple of fish, before the first rise. Immediately we put on a White Miller Caddis and picked up even more fish, as you can see Barb’s bent rod in the video above.
The next morning at 7am, we met Patrick Daigle of Blue Ribbon Flies, our guide for the day on the Firehole. You may remember Patrick from “YNP Magic”, our Guide Talk with Patrick after fishing both the Madison and Firehole in October 2016. We met early to beat the crowds heading into YNP and the bison jams that accompany them. We parked at the Midway Geyser Basin, rigged up, and made our walk downstream along the river. As we walked, we encountered a lone bison on the far side of the river, who would become one of our “markers” along the river. Turns out he was there for three days straight.
What we encountered fishing with Patrick, was a sunny and extremely windy day, two things that typically don’t bring the best of fishing and patience. Anything hatching was getting blown off the water before any fish could possible take it, so swinging wet flies was the course for the day. We caught and released a good number of fish, but knew we were limited by the conditions. It didn’t stop us from having a fun day, a great stream side lunch and the knowledge of spots we might visit again….. soon!
The next day couldn’t have been more different….. cool, calm and cloudy….. aka… perfect fishing conditions. We took a hike of about 1.5 miles to a spot that we’d thought fishy the day prior. Along the way, we’re always looking for interesting things, including the bone Barb’s holding in the highlight video above. And yes, we encountered our lone bison friend once again.
In less than 15 minutes, a hatch of White Miller Caddis started… a very big, long hatch (see vid). It wasn’t long before fish were rising everywhere and devouring the real bugs AND ours! We lost count quickly of how many fish we were landing as browns and rainbows alike were in a feeding frenzy. After a couple of hours, the hatch waned, our arms were tired from casting and catching, so we hiked out… but stopped stream side for a selfie of two very happy anglers.
Day three of fishing turned out more like our guide day with Patrick, sunny and windy. Along our hike out…. we first encountered a large herd of bison…. then our lone bison about 1/2 mile further downstream, with an eagle watching over him and the river. We decided to hike a bit further downstream and found several thermals along the river. We very carefully traversed them, pausing at times to snap pictures and video. While the water felt hot tub perfect, we decided not to hop in, but do what we came to do…. fish!
While the sun and wind made fishing difficult, every once in a while the wind would die, and the fish would rise. We tied on different flies trying to match what they were eating. We didn’t have the epic day we’d had the day before, but we still managed to get quite a few to net (or hand in my case). We fished our way back to our car, trying to pick off one last fish along the way.
Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day with breakfast at Old Faithful Inn (OFI), followed by our usual writing postcards and mailing them from the Inn. Yes, we still buy postcards and send them to family… honing our handwriting skills vs. our texting skills. OFI is special to us for a variety of reasons; our daughter Krista worked there and our good friend Sarah Lichte Savage, who was a manager at OFI, once took Barb and Krista up to the Crows Nest to take the flags down. Afterward, we took a road tour around the southern loop in Yellowstone, spotting the occasional bison herd and elk along the way. We decided not to fish because a) we’d fished and hiked hard the past 3 days and b) it was POURING rain. Although, looking out now as I write this…. hmmmmmm…. cool, calm and cloudy…. See you next time!