Wednesday 11th July, 2007
This week's topic is something like things that bite on flyfishing trips that aren't fish. Again, lots to talk about here having just returned from a great week fishing in Montana with my parents and friends.
Despite very hot, dry conditions, a recently extinguished forest fire, and low and clear water, we managed to find some incredible fishing last week around West Yellowstone. 20+ years of experience in the area pays off I guess. It also helps when all your buddies live there and fish every day. The only problem with the trip was that it was too short, and I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to or fish all the places I wanted too.
Biting flies are always a problem during the summer in Montana. Some years are worse than others, and 2007 is a very bad year on some rivers. The flies come in all sizes and colors, and they all suck. Bug spray isn't an option. It just doesn't work. Besides, the stuff is terrible for your flylines, GoreTex, and your skin. You just find a way to deal with them, or stay home. Fortunately this year there are no mozzies to make it worse because it is so dry.
On my last full day in Montana my good friend Travis Hansen, co-owner of the new West Yellowstone Fly Shop , joined me on a backcountry mission in to Mystery River X. We were looking for some bigger than average trout in some ridiculously challenging, spring creek-type conditions. The biting flies were bad. Really bad. Every fish required a stealth approach that involved crawling through the grass, and that just attracted more flies. They keyed in on our necks, wrists, fingers, and ears, biting with reckless abandon. But we were paying the price for some amazing fishing which few people that fish Yellowstone ever get to (or would ever want to) experience. The trout were sipping huge drake spinners from the glassy surface, but the biting flies were getting to be unbearable.
After blowing a shot at a nice fish I turned around to see Travis without his shirt on.
"Are you friggin crazy, Trav?!"
No, he knew what he was doing, or at least he acted like it. His light polypro under shirt soon became a ninja mask that covered his neck and face from the nasty biting flies. Instant relief. I followed suit and we went on to have several more hours of great fishing. Only our hands were exposed to the flies and most of the time, while we stalked the stream looking for fish, they stayed in our pockets. A few more bites on the hands while casting or releasing fish were a small price to pay for a great day on the water.
On the hike out I asked Travis if he knew what kind of flies were biting us. He didn't know. Then I asked him if he knew why they were biting us. Was if for blood, flesh, or some other reason? He didn't know.
"Trav, what if they just bite us for the fun of it? What if they are just being dicks?
"What if they are? Dickflies!"
One last thing.
If you have not done it, remember to sign the petition in support of catch and release for Wild/Native steelhead on the Umpqua River, OR. Were trying to protect a once great run of fish in the South Umpqua that is fading fast and being targeted unnecessarily. I just found out that preliminary public hearings on the issue are on July 19th, with public comments being presented to the Commission for a decision on August 3rd. That means we have about 8 more days left to get as many additional names as we can. We've already got the support of prominent members of the angling community like Simon Gawesworth and Barry and Cathy Beck. Join them and the rest of us in this worthy cause. Read more on Matts Corner.
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