Monday, June 20, 2011

Epic PMD Fail...

Yellowstone National Park has some good looking water - understatement of the year! The weather was less than stellar between Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening. We had everything from upper 60's to mid 20's with partly cloudy skies to thundershowers to full on snow.

The water was clear everywhere in the Park. It was super high but clear. Most of the creeks and all of the rivers looked fishable - fishable with some caution for wading. The Firehole looked to be the exception. It looked perfect for flow and clarity.

After the family reunion festivities my wife was super kind and allowed me to fish while she watched the kiddo, napped, read and walked around with him in the hiking pack. I am married to the best lady in all the world!

First stop was the Gibbon River above the falls in the Gibbon Meadows section. A lot of water looked excellent but access was sketchy with flooded plains, thick mud and geothermal fragility. We tried a nice section near a picnic area.

I took a goose egg at this stop... we will call it working out the kinks.

Next stop was further down the Gibbon on the way to Madison Junction. I stopped at some nice curvy bends that looked promising. As was mentioned previously, I found copious amounts of these guys:

So, I tried nymphing one with a PTN behind it through some sections like this in all paces of water:

With nothing to show for my nymphing, I changed gears and put on a Chubby to see if anything was looking up. I had one take but missed the hookset.

The kid was getting hungry so we stopped to pic-a-nic [in Yogi voice] at Madison Junction. After everyone's tummy's were full and the kiddos eyes were sleepy we moved on to the Firehole. Our first stop was some picnic area north of Fountain Flat Drive. There were anglers every 30 yards working water like this:

I started with a Chubby-dropper setup to see if I would move some fish along the banks and different runs. I missed a hookset on my Barr Emerger PMD #16. I started to notice some more mayfly activity when the wind wasn't hellacious. I changed to a Hi-Vis PMD Dun with an emerger pattern Roger showed me. I got a take on the PMD dun but missed the fish. After about 30 minutes of trying more drifts in every direction along both banks the kiddo got fussy and we moved on down the road.

Once the kiddo fell asleep for good, we headed to Fountain Flat Drive and stopped before Ojo Caliente in an open section of water (anglers ~100 yards up and downstream of me though). As I trucked it down to the water the rises were anything but subtle and they were plentiful. I continued with the previous setup but got frustrated with my Hi-Vis Dun. I changed to a hot pink Parachute PMD that I tied and it failed miserabley by floating on it's side the whole time. My final rig was a PMD Sparkle Dun trailed by Rog's PMD Emerger. I had a hard time seeing the emerger so I could have very well missed some takes. I choked on a couple of strikes on the Sparkle Dun.

I continued to fish in the huge wind with consistent risers all around me and I continued to strike out. I took off the emerger since nothing was rising to it - that I knew of - and just fished the Sparkle Dun. Of the two pinned fish that I had on the Sparkle Dun, this brown came to hand and I lost one in a similar size:

I didn't get skunked in the park but I certainly learned a few things! Here are a few new found pearls that will haunt me from the Firehole River:

  1. After fishing bass bugs and Thingamabobber nymph rigs most, if not all, of my fly fishing experience, # 16 PMDs are hard to see!
  2. 30 MPH gusts are hard to fish in with dry flies
  3. Chubby Chernobyls are a strobe light compared to #16 Spakle Duns
  4. The drag free drift up and across is not my strong pint
  5. The drag free drift down and across is not my strong point
  6. Dry fly fishing is not my strong point
  7. Matching the hatch is hard!
I am definitely humbled by this experience!!!


P.S. Enough said!

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