Eugene angler Pat Banks made a trip to Montana recently he gave us the following report.
Go East Old Man, Go East
Our trip east was to be combination fishing for me, quilt shop stops for my wife and a return to my family’s roots in South Dakota. First up was a jaunt to Idaho’s panhandle for a few days visit with Uncle Larry and Aunt Bea. Uncle Larry will soon be 90, and I believe his secret to longevity can be assigned to daily consumption of Crown Royal. Who am I to argue with that kind of success?
We left late in the day and drove to Umatilla. We spent the night at the Umatilla RV Park and Marina. Walleye are the fish to catch in that area. And a note to the hardware and bait people: there seem to be some good salmon fishing action where the Deschutes meets the Columbia. Not much fly fishing action that first day.
The second day on the road and I found some real hot action. It was tasting samples of hot sauces at a roadside stand out of Pasco. I was invited to sample because one of the tasters was unable to attend. All I had to do was dribble some sauce on a tortilla chip and give my opinion of the heat. After tasting the first sample and having the paramedics pour a half gallon of milk and a six pack of Bud down me, I was ready for the second sample: Da’Bomb. I should have read the warning label, “Consume one drop at a time and keep out of reach of children” this gourmet delight was only 119,700 scoville units. I say this only because the first two (of ten) samples were at the low end of the scale. I had always heard that a near death experience was peaceful and without pain…not so in this case. My hot sauce tasting days were over. In fact my tasting anything days had come to a fiery end.
Next stop would be for a few days in Idaho and hopefully fish catching. By the time we left Idaho the quilt shops were way ahead of my fly-fishing. The one fly shop I found had many major fly-fishing manufacturing signs posted on the windows but no products. The only stream I found to fish was just beyond Beyond Hope. Yes, there is such a place. It’s just down the road from Hope and East Hope. The stream was really beyond hope, low and hardly any holding pockets.
Finally after those fruitless days of foaming Idaho’s Pend Oreville country, the fly fishing god grinned while fishing Montana’s Yellowstone River (Paradise Valley section). I say grinned and not smiled because although the day and float was gorgeous, the trout were not willing to anger the quilt god that day.
We put in at Pine Creek and floated to Carters Bridge. In the morning slow and steady slurping ahead of us would give us a target to aim for with a para hopper and caddis pupa dropper, but as the sun moved higher in the cloudless blue sky and the temperature rose, the action was all hoppers on top. Ty had tied some hoppers the night before and I had some that I had meticulous crafted during the winter months. After flaying the water for some time I came to the conclusion that on that day, Montana brown trout were not in tune with Oregon tied hoppers. So I begged Ty for one of his. Just the ticket. We would focus on any obstructions lying in the river or where any undercut banks happen to be found. A BWO hatch took place so I tried a couple patterns but the fish wanted a big meaty meal so once again I put aside my ego and switched back to Ty’s hopper.
The brown were dainty eaters for the most part that day and to set the hook we had to use the tired and true quick set method. We either yanked the fly out of their mouth or set the hook. More fish were left with a fleeting taste of sponge rubber or feathers rather than cold steel. Except for some early morning action the rainbows found other activities to entertain themselves.
If you have the urge to fish Yellowstone this time of year be sure to stock up on hoppers, BWO, a dark caddis and a parachute Adams. As far as a wet any caddis emerger should work for you. The biggest fish were taken on top. If you want spectacular scenery the Paradise section can’t be beat but be aware it is also the most heavily fished. For a less heavily fished float try Otter access to Pelican.