Fall in the Yellowstone region is my favorite. This year has been one of the best in recent memory. Summer temperatures stayed with us until about a week ago and now we have comfortable temps in the 50ºs. We had one quick 4” snowstorm last week but that white stuff is long gone and now everywhere you look are the beautiful colors on the trees and shrubs.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you can probably tell the Harriman Ranch of the Henry’s Fork is my favorite place to fish. With time running out on our fishing season I had to get another day there before it was too late. This week my old friend Chris Reinking was out visiting. Chris worked for me back in my fly shop days – some 15 years ago and he now lives in Atlanta. The last couple years he’s made it out to fish in October and we make a point to walk a good chunk of the Ranch.
Today was a spectacular day. Our temperatures reached the mid 50ºs and the sky remained overcast all day. We got on the water a little early for this time of year. Generally hatches don’t start till afternoon but we camped on the river last night and got up early and had nothing better to do than wader up around 9 AM. Fish activity was really dead to start but it doesn’t get any nicer for a morning wade. The eagles were flying a few elk were bugling. At 11 the first mayflies showed. They were tricos followed by baetis, a few mahogany duns and even some mystery mayflies. A few fish got on the feed. Because the bulk of the mayflies were so tiny the rise forms were so subtle it was hard to tell whether you were casting to a big fish or a medium sized one. Only when the occasional size 16 mahogany passed over would the entire head of these trout completely break the surface.
I only found two really big fish to cast too. That was a bit of a surprise considering the area we went. Here I always find the biggest fish. Chris found about the same and unfortunately neither of us could connect.
The first beast I cast too was moving all over the place. I’d see him rise and then lay down the most delicate cast I could. The presentation was delicate because I was using my 4-weight Rx and about an 18 foot 5X leader. But every time my fly landed the fish had already moved. I’d watch my drift all set to drill the dang fish and then he’d rise 15 feet further upstream. I stayed hot on my pursuit and finally got the first pig to eat. Wouldn’t you know I just grazed him. I was using an old favorite, dandruff. My dandruff fly is a European grayling fly. It’s simply your thread color of choice up the shank of the hook and then a smidgen of CDC. That’s it. Fish this fly in very small sizes in the fall and even the most selective trout can’t refuse it. However I hit this trout too hard and my size 24 dandruff stung him just enough to send him down the road but not enough to keep him buttoned on. That was it. The other big fish I saw rose twice and I never saw him again.
I felt the need to nail a couple trout no matter what size they were after my week of carping and very minimal trout fishing so far this month. Therefore I stuck a few little guys just for fun. As always its great to catch up and fish with old friends and Reinking and I already locked up for next year. In fact we think next year we might have to fish two days.
Somehow I think I’ll see the Fork once more this season. I love it there and should probably handle at least one monster before the snow flies. Time to turn on the NLCS and hope the Cubs win. Oh wait a minute, Cubs, I must be dreaming!