Trip Report Trip Report - Hiatus is Over

After at least six weeks of not going fishing I finally got it going again. Smoky days, low water, high water temps, closures, etc, all contributed to the hiatus. The smoke was probably the best reason to stay away from strenuous activity, but high water temps have made the fishing marginal at best. After a few days of stormy, wet weather things had improved considerably on SW Montana rivers. Air quality was much better. The Yellowstone spiked a bit with the storms pummeling YNP and pushing a plug of dirty water down from the park. By Tuesday the river was clearing and much cooler with overnight lows in the mid-40s.
I got an early start at Emigrant and worked my way upstream to some of my favorite runs. The river was still low and looked more like early March with lots of exposed gravel bars, narrow channels and exaggerated riffle corners. More mid-stream boulders were exposed or gave away their presence in the low water. You would think lower water would have some advantages for the wading angler, but in some places normally concealed ledges become the shoreline and their steep nature makes wading with the kayak challenging. Additionally, shallow riffles tend to be longer and wider requiring more time to traverse. Water clarity was still a bit tinged from all the rains, but there was certainly sufficient visibility for normal fishing. I stuck with a big Pine Squirrel streamer for most of the morning and connected with enough fish to keep the morning interesting. Most fish were still holding in fast, deeper water where they sought refuge during the high water temps. At dawn, the temp in a riffle was just about 50 degrees and by 11AM it had risen only to the low 60s. This was a far cry from the mid-60 to low 70s the river was experiencing over the last month.
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Whitefish, rainbows and browns came to hand, but the cutthroats never materialized. No Yellowstone slam on the day. Part of the reason for no cutthroats was a pesky raft of otters patrolling the river section where I usually connect with the cutts. They are cute things, but truly bugger up the fishing. Unlike the prolific whitetails which patrol the shorelines at dawn.

Several years ago I acquired a 6 weight Thomas & Thomas No Sanctuary II fly rod for a song but for some reason had never really fished it much. I took it out a couple of time this Spring but didn’t really put it through its paces. It was my streamer rod on the day as I reluctantly left the 5 weight XP at home. The NS-II has to be considered an ultrafast stick, but with a 200 grain long sink tip, the thing can really generate some distance. It feels a bit stiff when you first pick it up, but once you get some line out and load it up, the stick has a great feel. I most appreciate its ability to pickup 60’ + of line off the water and lay it down with incredible accuracy.
On Tuesday the Yellowstone along with a lot of other SW Montana rivers were in Hoot Owl or Closure conditions. When I arrived home, I learned the MT FWP had lifted Hoot Owls and Closures on most rivers. Things are improving weather wise and it is unlikely we will experience the extreme high temps again going into Fall. The low water will continue and that will indeed alter the angling some, but there should be some good Fall fishing in SW Montana.

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