I got back last weekend from my first visit to the Holy Water of Yellowstone National Park to an absolute shit-storm here at work and so have not had time to write a proper report until now. For those of you who have not been there, the park is massive (3400 square miles) and besides roads, shows almost no other sign of impact by man. No fences, no telephone or power poles, no cell towers. Just wide open spaces with meadows stretching nearly as far as the eye can see. The critters are absolutely oblivious to the all-too-frequent traffic jams as overweight tourists in skin-tight shorts and shirts ignore the warnings not to approach the animals as they try to get within yards or even feet of bored elk, bison or even coyotes, dead-set on capturing a Kodak moment to send to Aunt Martha back in Sioux Falls. One afternoon we got caught up in a snarl with a ranger and ambulance at its nucleus, loading a woman on a gurney who had ignored the cars trying to thread their way through the vehicles parked haphazardly in the middle of the road. Camera to eye, she had wandered right into the path of an oncoming minivan whose driver was likewise distracted by the same bull elk. Their sad, violent encounter probably ruined both of their summers. Ours was a family vacation with three other families, all of us with kids of a similar age. Since the park is so huge, most of our days were spend slowly driving from one spot to another to see Old Faithful and the geyser basin, the Grand Canyon, Mammoth, the Fishing Bridge, etc. By now, it should be dawning on the perceptive reader that our agenda of sightseeing day trips and evening feasts left precious little time for moi to fish. As fun as it was to explore the park and see the sights, sadly the fishing left a lot to be desired, both in terms of quantity and quality. Fishing the Madison near our campground at Madison Junction and the upstream confluence of its two tributaries, the Gibbon and Firehole, several hours of pitching dries and nymphs brought just two little (~6") fish to hand. Another early morning further up the Gibbon in the canyon produced even more disappointing results, despite being some of the most gorgeous water I've ever seen. The lights were on but no one seemed to be home. Finally on Wednesday, I was able to sneak off with a friend and fish further upstream in Gibbon Meadows. A leisurely, spring creek as it meanders through a huge meadow, the Gibbon reluctantly gave up a handful of browns to 14" and a couple of 10 to 12" brookies, all to a size 18 Griffith's Gnat, dead drifted against a cutbank or over a submerged rock or log. Despite daytime temps in the high 80s and low 90s, there was almost no sign of any hatch activity or the famous terresterials, even in the evenings. Who knows where the bugs went? A final trip to the NE corner of the park let me play in Soda Butte Creek for an all-too-short hour one sweltering 90º afternoon, fighting off biting deer flies the size of small birds. The creek was gorgeous with wide gravel banks although slightly off-color with visibility of perhaps just 6 feet. Skunked for nearly an hour, an elk hair caddis drifted through one run and up against a cutbank produced the tiniest of takes - so small and subtle that I first thought I'd found another pod of fingerlings like those on the Madison. But my little 4wt bamboo quickly bent double and my reel screamed to life, correcting me that this was indeed a fish of consequence. Five minutes later I released an 18" Yellowstone Cutthroat that was my own Kodak Moment - if only I'd had the camera or had anyone else been there to snap it for me. Five casts later it was time to hike back to the truck to meet the others for an al fresco dinner overlooking the gorgeous Lamar Valley while listening for wolves in the surrounding hills. One final note: July 15 was the opening of the Yellowstone for fishing. As we drove that day from Canyon to the Fishing Bridge, I saw literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fly fishers. The water was thick with them, sometimes standing shoulder to shoulder in the broad, slow water. Every wide spot along the road was choked with cars and with fishermen rigging up, walking along, standing around BSing or getting ready to leave for another spot. I even saw one guy wearing breathables and a fluorescent pink lame wind jacket. Reminded me of combat fishing on the Kenai. On the long drive back, I mused that while my pilgramage to the Holy Water was a siginificant event in my fishing experience, the actual catching was far better within an hour or two of home. Here's a link to a composite panoramic shot looking east across the Hayden Valley with a buffalo herd in the foreground and the Yellowstone river at the base of the hills in the middle distance, perhaps a mile away.