Firehole Morning

Three o'clock in the morning.  Can't sleep.  Start coffee.  Well, since I'm up, might as well go for a Yellowstone.  The drive through the Gallatin Canyon is eventful as regards wildlife. There's deer, loads of elk, a moose runs across the road.  I get to the park before six, vehicle intact.  

Along the Firehole River, it's early morning, the sun is barely up, barely visible through the high hazy clouds.  An ethereal mist hangs in the air, plumes of steam from the geysers that spew forth along the river.  I smell sulphur.  I smell bison, they're everywhere.

I walk the river, no particular destination in mind, I've never been here before.  I play tourist. The geysers and hot water pools are splendid, fascinating.  I snap a few pictures, bend over, stick a pinkie in the water.  Nice and warm.

Bison stream from a patch of open timber.  They mill along the river.  One jumps in, the rest follow.  Steam rises in the background.  It's an iconic Yellowstone scene.

After a couple of hours of poking around it's time to get to fishing.  Thus far, theres been no activity along the stream.   The bugs are slow, but eventually they begin to show.  White miller caddis, some smaller darker ones too.  Blue-winged olives.  Later, a few PMD's. 

I get fish, but its challenging.  No one pattern seems to excite the fish.  Get a few with one pattern, switch, get a few with the next, switch, and so forth.  It's as if the fish are talking to one another.  "See that fly?  Don't eat it, I did, it was a mistake."

I look at the contents of my fly box, critically.  Meanwhile, a few emerging blue-winged olives drift lazily on the surface along the weeds.  So fine featured, so delicate.  Hell, they don't look anything like the cripples that I've tied.  I look again at my cripple/emerger patterns and try to imagine how they resemble the real thing.  I really have to use my imagination.  I tie one on.  A fish eats it.  Then he tells his friends...."don't eat that."

Morning stretches into afternoon.  My stomach grumbles.  Throat parched, I head back to the car.  Eight hours have passed's no wonder I'm thirsty.   


Anonymous said…
Les: Thanks for writing about the Firehole. I've read a lot about it and always wanted to go but have yet to make the trip. I've never even been in the park. I always end up fishing north of it. Great story and like that Bison and steam picture. Driving in the middle of the night is always risky business.
Damn, it must be nice to live so close to Yellowstone! Your post brings back a lot of pleasant memories of the summer I fished the Firehole and other rivers and explored this fascinating country. Thanks for that.
Lester Kish said…
Bob, I think that you would really appreciate the experience, especially if you could get past the MO. Actually, I just got back (again). I intended to fish this evening, spend the night in the Park, fish in the morning and head home. Unfortunately, I hadn't counted on all of the campgrounds being full.
Lester Kish said…
It's handy but sure is easy to take for granted. I'll have to make a concerted effort to hit the Park specifically for fishing. How long since you summered in the area?
Bill Trussell said…
I could imagine how time would get away from you in that place. Landing trout here is an added plus!!! Thanks for sharing
Lester Kish said…
Time sure does pass quickly, especially when one is absorbed with scenery watching and casting to rising fish. And then there's the problem solving....catching those risers. Thanks for stopping by Bill.
Anonymous said…
I'm sure I'd appreciate the park and all that it has to offer, fishing and non-angling. I've come close to the park passing nearby on the way the H Fork and was heading in that direction driving Paradise valley but ended up fishing the 3 spring creeks instead. Nice post
Lester Kish said…
Paradise Valley spring creeks, pretty good choice. Thanks Bob.