Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Cleaning

It doesn’t always look or feel like it but spring is coming to the mountains. One of the things that means is spring cleaning. Time to fire up the rigs that have been sitting all winter, hitch up the boat, and go police trash from the river. Sunday last Ben and I took on the upper section of the river below town, running from McConnell to Cinnabar. We went on foot through the access sites, including Brogan’s Landing and walked some of the other bank sections that get a lot of use.

Not being fools we also took an outfit to test the waters for fish in between the beer cans, odd flip flops, lost tennis ball and other detritus. Below are some of the fruits of our labors.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Graphic Caddis anyone?

My version of Barr's Graphic Caddis - I am tying a bunch of these in olive and tan, #14 and #16's for the shop. Pictured here is the olive version... I use pheasant after-shafts instead of ostrich herl for the collar. I think it's a better color and much more life like. I tie with lots of pheasant and save these aftershafts for this fly, scuds and my drake nymphs. Go try some as a dropper, they're killer!

Hook: MFCo. #7045 2x heavy scud #14
Bead: Black or Copper 3.0 mm, optional
Thread: Serafil 200 or uni 8/0
Rib: stretch magic in .5 mm/.019 in., wrapped over
Abdomen: tinsel Halo med., then colored with sharpie pen
Wing: olive grizzly “V” cut feather
Collar: after-shaft of pheasant, 3 turns on #14, 2 on #16.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Podcast

I have finally gotten around to actually making a podcast that listeners can subscribe to.  It is hosted at Podomatic for now. We'll see how many subscribers we get and how much bandwidth we use to determine if we need to go with something fancier. This podcast will primarily include fishing tips and fishing reports for the Yellowstone area, but we'll talk about other trips we make, conservation concerns, etc. Please comment here or e-mail me to suggest topics you'd like to see us cover.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Conservation issues at the MT legislature

As some of you know I have been active on conservation issues for a long time. That activism is primarily done as a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council and our local affiliate here in Gardiner, Bear Creek Council. This being a legislative year we have had plenty to do.

I want to lead off by joining the chorus of alarm swirling around HB-309 which redefines irrigation ditches in such as way as to potentially include many miles of main stem rivers and their side channels as ditches not subject to access under Montana’s stream access law. As I write this the Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet acted upon this bill so you should contact the committee and ask it to kill the bill. Find out how your Representative voted and contact your Senator for his position. If by some mischance it should end up passing the Senate in anything like its current form, demand the Governor veto it.

A second water bill to track and watch out for is HB-24. This bill opens the door to private ownership and marketing of water, probably not in the interest of anglers.

During the last election everybody in both parties was running on a “jobs” platform. Clearly the Republican majority in both houses of the legislature have a very different idea about which jobs are desirable and how to create them than do the Democrats. While the public media have spent a lot of time on the Republican efforts to gut the Montana Environmental Policy Act they have spent very little effort on their concerted attack on every sensible component of the state’s energy policy.

Just to be clear - I think developing clean, renewable energy sources creates jobs. I think a coherent policy promoting energy efficiency, both in public facilities and for private individuals and business creates jobs and is economically sensible. I think the current explosion of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa underscores the insanity of putting all our energy eggs in the fossil fuel basket. I would think that this should be so self evident that it transcends partisan politics. Evidently, not so.

What follows is a partial list of bills the legislature seems determined to pass that vitiate much of the progress made in the last few years.

SB-226 (Priest) Requires the addition of a “transmission” charge to the energy delivered to the grid by small generators using net metering. This makes installing your own photovoltaic or wind generators much less economical.

SB-330 (Walker) Allows utilities to duck out of meeting the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RES) by simply declaring that its inconvenient. Poof goes the market for private renewable developers like the Judith Gap Wind Farm.

SB-109 (Barrett) Declares all the existing old hydro power can be used to meet the RES, another way to eliminate the market for renewable projects.

SB-104 (also Priest) Prohibits the Public Service Commission from using “inverted block rates.” An inverted block rate charges a consumer more for using more energy thus providing an incentive for efficiency.

SB-159 (probably Priest’s most perverse bill) Requires that building codes can not require an efficiency practice unless it totally pays for itself in 5 years. This completely ignores the facts that we don’t build for 5 years and that any one component of a design needs to be considered in relation to the rest of the design.

If you are a Montana citizen I urge you to take a few minutes to tell our governor to exercise that VETO brand he had made on these bills as well as a lot of the other stuff you have heard about. Find out how your Representative and Senator are voting on these bills and hold them accountable when next they ask for your vote.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New website!

Parks' Fly Shop now has a brand-new and super-snazzy site! Still at, but all other addresses have changed. Much of the information is the same, but some new things have been added, hatch charts and other fishing information have been updated, and the names and descriptions of our new flies for 2011 have been posted (still waiting on pics).

We're pushing private water trips much more for 2011, especially early and late in the year. The Paradise Valley spring creeks and private lakes in the area simply produce bigger fish and often more early in the season, and the lakes fish well all day in the fall, when the Yellowstone will only turn out an occasional pig in the AM but fishes well with dries in midafternoon at this time. Check the site for details, and let us know if you have any problems navigating it.

We'll be using the blog more this year, not least because I issued an ultimatum that other full-time staff (aka not Doug) had to help me with web stuff.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yellowstone Park currently seeking comments on native trout restoration

Yellowstone National Park is currently seeking public comments on ways to restore/reestablish/protect native trout populations. Readers familiar with the park should submit concerns/suggestions. Here is the home address for the plan:

Here's what I had to say:

As a fishing guide in Yellowstone National Park and longtime resident of a border community, I would like to offer the following suggestions and voice the following concerns over efforts to stabilize/restore/reintroduce native fish:

Comment/Suggestion 1:

Comment 1A: I believe a catch and kill requirement should be instituted in certain areas for rainbow trout. Likely locations where this requirement might prove effective at limiting cutthroat/rainbow hybridization are the Lamar River system upstream of the Soda Butte Creek confluence, Soda Butte Creek (possibly only above the Pebble Creek confluence), Slough Creek above the gorge dividing the Lower and First Meadows, and the Yellowstone River between the Lamar River confluence and the Lower Falls. A catch & kill regulation should likewise be put in place for brook trout in the upper Soda Butte Creek drainage.

Comment 1B: I believe catch and kill requirements would be counterproductive on other large rivers specifically including the Yellowstone downstream of the Lamar, the Gardner River, and portions of the Lamar drainage not noted above.

Comment 1C: The Yellowstone River below Knowles Falls and the Gardner River are particularly unsuited to catch & kill regulations, for two reasons. First, no barriers to fish movement exist or are feasible between these locations and waters of the Yellowstone drainage outside the Yellowstone boundaries, which are managed by the State of Montana and are unlikely ever to feature catch & kill regulations on rainbow trout. The second, related reason is that these locations already feature overwhelming numbers of non-native trout. A significant percentage of fish caught on the Yellowstone in this section are either rainbows or cutthroats exhibiting some degree of cutthroat/rainbow hybridization. The Gardner River is home to relatively low numbers of cutthroats, with rainbow and brown trout predominating. For these reasons, catch & kill regulations on these waters would result in lower fish densities for little gain in cutthroat population.

Comment 1D: I wish to state my categorical opposition to any catch & kill regulation on brown trout in the area discussed in Comment 1C. Indeed, in reality I would strongly prefer identical regulations on the lower Gardner River as exist currently in the Madison River drainage.

Comment 1E: If catch and kill regulations on rainbow trout are instituted, A considerable effort should be made to educate visiting anglers about the differences between rainbow and cutthroat trout, including placards containing color photos of both species at popular access points and/or more in-depth discussion in the regulations. Despite efforts in this direction in the current regulations, significant numbers of anglers still seem unable to tell the difference between rainbow trout and cutthroat trout and between cutthroat trout and brown trout.

Comment 2:

I would support a small additional license fee for anglers who wish to fish the Lamar River drainage, with this additional fee earmarked for lake trout removal or other cutthroat recovery efforts in the Yellowstone drainage above Upper Falls. The Lamar drainage has experienced significant angler crowding over the past several seasons due to the collapse of the upper Yellowstone fishery, which both reduces the overall experience for visiting anglers and contributes to fish stress. A recovery in the Yellowstone drainage would thus benefit the Lamar drainage, as well. If instituted, this additional fee could take the form of a "check box" on the regular licenses, which when checked for an additional fee of say $10 no matter the license duration would allow anglers to fish the Lamar drainage. I should note here that I do not believe closures anywhere in the Lamar drainage except perhaps short-term closures of some small spawning streams upstream of Cache Creek would be beneficial, as anglers impacted by such closures would only crowd other waters also likely home to cutthroat (i.e. the Yellowstone in the Grand and Black Canyons).

Comment 3:

If feasible, some headwater streams not historically home to cutthroat trout should be poisoned/shocked to remove current populations of non-native fish. Many headwater streams are likely unsuited to this due to the likelihood non-native fish would escape by hiding in seasonal tributaries, but some, specifically including Elk Creek and upper Tower Creek, might be suited to this process. Some streams in the Madison and Lewis/Snake drainages might also qualify, chiefly upper Sentinel Creek, Aster Creek, DeLacy Creek, Canyon Creek (Gibbon tributary), and Solfatara Creek.

Comment 4:

The current regulation allowing children to use worms as bait in the entire Gardner River should be modified to permit bait fishing above Osprey Falls ONLY. Above Osprey Falls no native fish are present and the water character is far more suited to child anglers both in terms of safety and in terms of likely angling success than below Osprey Falls. I have personally witnessed adult anglers below Osprey Falls managing tackle nominally under the control of their children and keeping large numbers of fall-run migratory brown trout which enjoy greater protections outside the Park. Given the increase in hooking mortality associated with bait fishing and the fact that the locations in the lower Gardner suitable for bait fishing (the slower, deeper pools) are also where cutthroat trout prefer to reside, coupled with the fact that this portion of the river is generally too rugged for small children to fish effectively, the use of worms in the lower Gardner is counterproductive.

Comment 5:

All tributaries to Yellowstone Lake and the Yellowstone River above the Upper Falls, with the exception of the Yellowstone River itself, should be permanently closed to angling. The inlet to Trout Lake, which currently opens on July 15, should likewise be closed permanently. These waters, in particular, are home primarily to spawning cutthroat trout and lack resident populations of catchable-sized fish, so closures would result in little loss of angling opportunities.

Comment 6:

With the exception of the adjustments noted in Comment 5, I wish to specifically note my belief that other changes to angling seasons/waters would prove unhelpful, likely only reducing revenues both for the Park fisheries program and for businesses dependent on anglers visiting the Park, i.e. fly shops and outfitters.

Comment 7:

A gradual sunset date for the use of felt-soled angling gear should be implemented, provided sufficient notice is given to allow vendors time to retool their inventories and visiting anglers time to purchase appropriate gear. I believe 3 years notice would be appropriate.

Comment 8:

Efforts to restore cutthroat populations via limited stocking programs should be explored. Stocking of the Yellowstone River above the Upper Falls and of some tributaries to the Yellowstone River or Yellowstone Lake, particularly Pelican Creek, might make sense. Transplantation of fluvial grayling (probably from the Big Hole River) to locations such as the Gibbon River might also be explored.

Comment 9:

Changes to current regulations governing tackle might also be explored. In particular, changing the current regulation allowing treble hooks would reduce fish mortality. A more appropriate regulation might govern the total number of hook POINTS allowed, with two being my preferred regulation. This would allow anglers to use either two flies each featuring a single point or a single fly with two hook points, or would allow lure anglers to fish either lures with one double-pointed hook (for example a treble hook with one point removed) or two single hooks (for example with two sets of treble hooks, with the trebles replaced by singles).

Comment 10:

Closures due to high water temperatures and/or low streamflows are sometimes warranted, but I believe the criteria under which closures are instituted should be clarified. During the summer of 2007, portions of the Yellowstone (above the Lamar) and Gardner (above Boiling River) rivers were closed at the same time as the Firehole River, despite water temperatures averaging 15-20 degrees colder.

Thank you for your time.

Walter Wiese

Head Guide

Parks' Fly Shop

Gardiner, MT

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tying for 2010

We are now tying flies in ernest for the 2010 fly fishing season, so I thought I'd share one of the flies I've been tying with a little twist.

This is our "Korn's Spent Wing Caddis" a great fly and one of my favorites. I've been tying hundreds of them in tan and olive green. We fish it as a trailing fly tied about 12-18 inches behind a dry fly, like an X-Caddis or a hopper. But while I was tying all those flies I got thinking about last fishing season and how well we did catching fish on pink bodied hoppers. So the next thing I know I'm tying this variation.

Why not pink? Pictured is my prototype with pink body and head, I've named it the "Pink Cadillac Caddis". Think it will catch fish? I do, but then again, I might just be a little "spent" from spending too many hours at the tying bench!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to the new year!