Monday, October 5, 2015

Save the Best for Last: Yellowstone Park Day 4

On the last day of our trip Gracy’s dad was headed back home, so it would be just the two of us today. Gracy had told me the day before that this was my day to plan, and plan I did. The best thing about my planning was that it included something for everyone: a drive somewhere we hadn’t been, a hike up to an alpine lake, fly fishing, and scoping out the hillside for the chance to see a wolf. 


This plan of mine was presented a few days ago, but was shot down due to the distance and because I had mentioned fly fishing. Sadly, anytime I had mentioned fly fishing in any of my plans for this trip it was shot down... until the last day.
“I think that’s where we pull over.” Gracy said, as we approached the trailhead for Trout Lake. 
“Alright!” I said happily, and parked the car to gear up. 
Gracy was ready first, and went over to look at the signs that were posted.   

I walked over to Gracy after I had locked the car, and she turned and gave me a concerned look.
“What’s the matter? Are you bear-anoid?” I asked. 
Her look quickly changed from concerned to annoyed. 
"Did you just make that up?” She asked. 
“Yep, because it’s funny!” I smiled. 
“It was stupid.” 
“What do you mean, that was good stuff!” I said. “Do you get it? It’s like you are paranoid, but about bears.” I said, still smiling.
“Yes, I got it.” She said. 
“I have my bear bell, my bear spray, and I can run faster than you.” I said, to reassure our safety.   
“Whatever, I’ll just trip you.” She said back with a smirk, and we started our hike.       

The hike was short and sweet, and as soon as I saw the water I started gearing up my fly rod. 


The wind started blowing a bit to give the water a little chop, and clouds rolled over to threaten rain. Though the sun had been covered it was still a nice warm day, and so we started our hike around the lake.  I followed behind, casting my fly into the lake in search of a fish.  There was no surface activity to be seen anywhere on the lake, so I was just shooting my line everywhere. Suddenly a burst of color rose up to my fly just inches under it, and my eyes widened as I waited for the take. Then... the color slowly faded back into the deep; the fish had just refused my fly.  


We were almost across the lake with no more interested fish, so I switched to a streamer. I did have one good follow with the streamer, but that was it. The first part of the day was over, and now it was my turn to get some time on Soda Butte Creek. 


We pulled into a parking spot, and I geared up quickly and hit the water with little farewell to Gracy. She was prepared with a book to read and binoculars for animal watching; She also let me know, before I escaped, that I only had three hours to fish before we had to get back to our dog, Kiwi. 


A smile grew on my face as the sound of rocks crunched under my feet on the banks of Soda Butte Creek, and I approached my first spot to fish with little expectations... There were anglers everywhere, and I had passed up many other anglers that had fished this spot already; in fact an older gentleman had told me that he had already caught three fish in the hole I was headed for, but they had stopped rising to his fly. I thanked him for the bit of information he gave me, unhooked my caddis from the fly rod, and gently presented it on the creek. WHACK! A fish took my fly as soon as it hit the water, and I set the hook fast. I quickly looked over to see if the the gentleman was still close enough to talk to, but he was already too far away to share what fly was working. The fish bolted deep, which jolted my rod tip down hard and recaptured my attention. I quickly regained control, and brought in my first Yellowstone cutthroat trout of the day. 


Perhaps with my fish caught so quickly the next one wouldn't come as easily... I was wrong. After applying some dust on my caddis, it hit the water and another fish took. 


I set the hook and smiled, because I knew this was going to be one of those days.

I could do no wrong; the fish gods were smiling upon me, and I was already hooked into my third fish on my third cast. 


My brother would love this river, I thought to myself as I fought my fish. We would take turns catching fish, and make a fun video for my Dad to watch. But right now I was by myself, and the best thing about that was that I didn’t have to share any of the fish.


I try to make it to Yellowstone Park as many times as I can because there is so much to discover.  Everytime I return home a fellow angler named Thad always tells me about Soda Butte Creek. “It’s my favorite river in Yellowstone. Skip all the other rivers along the way, and you won’t regret it!” He would tell me, and now I finally understood why. 

After releasing another fish, I flicked my fly right back out and a fish didn’t take. 
“What the heck!” I yelled, having to recast.  
The fly hit the water, and I saw the yellow eye of a fish as it came up and refused my fly. 
“Oh, you want to play that way huh?” I said to the fish. I brought in my fly and clipped it off... only to replace it with a smaller version of itself. 
“Refuse that!” I said, laying it back out into the creek.
SLAM!   

The very fish that had refused me just a minute ago was now dancing on my line. It felt good, not just because I caught it, but because I was also educating it... And a good education is nothing to waste. 
I released my fish and dried off my fly to catch another fish, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much time I had left to fish. I looked back to where some cars were parked, and didn’t see Gracy flagging me down so I went back to catching.

Do I seriously need another picture of a fish? I asked myself as I brought in another one. Yes... 


Okay, I told myself, one more fish and it’s time to walk to the next spot. That’s right.  I hadn’t moved since I had spoke with the older gentleman who told me the fish at this spot wouldn’t take his fly. As much as I wanted to stay, the next fish didn’t take long to catch, and it was time to walk on.


While I was fishing, the thought of a bear walking up on me hadn’t crossed my mind, but now that I was away from the water for a minute I was sure to ring my bell a little extra as I walked. 


I approached a nice deep section of the creek that looked to have good potential. I quickly unhooked my fly and sent it, ever so gently, on the creek. Smack! 
“Aww too easy.” I said in a deep Darth Vader voice. Sadly there was no one around to hear my terrible impression, or was there? A couple came walking by as I was fighting my fish, smiling at me. 
“Are you guys catching fish?” I asked, willing to give info if they needed. 
“Oh yeah, it’s a great day!” The guy said, as he continued walking. 
“Great!” I said back, and went back to bringing in my fish.    


My time was definitely coming to an end. The thought of Gracy being upset at me for spending extra time on the water was not even a concern, because the fishing was so good right now that her wrath would be worth putting up with. Of course, I was bringing another fish in when I had made that decision.


With my lacking time, I stopped taking pictures of fish. I couldn’t keep them off my line, and as soon as I let one go I had on another. All good things must come to an end. After releasing a fish, I glanced back at the cars and saw Gracy standing there. I quickly looked away, pretending I didn’t see her, but I knew that wouldn’t last. I hooked into another fish and let it go before I looked back in her direction to find her pointing at her wrist indicating it was time.


“Just give me ten more casts!” I pleaded as I got within casting distance. 
“It’s passed 4:30, so I have already giving you an extra thirty minutes.” She let me know.
“One!” I said, making a cast onto the fast water sweeping into a deep hole that looked like it could hold a fish. Nothing took.
“Two!” I said, making another cast with nothing taking. 
“Three!” 
My fly landed in the fast running water and ended up right on the edge of the bank. A mouth came up and took in my fly, and I made sure I ripped it out of it before the hook could get ahold. 
“DAMN!” I yelled. 
“You’re on four!” Gracy reminded me.
Cast five, six, and seven went by fast, with another hook up and loss on seven.  
“Eight.” I said, making a cast. 
“No, that’s ten!” Gracy disputed. 
“No, those other two were bad casts and didn’t count.” 
“Mm-hum...” Gracy just rolled her eyes at me.      
“Nine, Ten...” I called out each cast. Despite my incredible day I was now pleading for just one more fish, and it didn’t happen. I quickly made another cast. 
“Hey!  That’s eleven!” Gracy yelled, but I wasn’t listening. I watched my fly drift swiftly down the stream, and a fish came up and ate it. I set the hook fast and ripped out the smallest fish of the day.         

Small or not, all I wanted was a final fish on my last cast at Soda Butte Creek, and I got it. We both made our way back to the car, and I geared down to drive back to the cabin. On our way out we came across a bunch of cars stopped near the road. This is a typical sight in Yellowstone, but as we drove by, Gracy yelled, “Bear!”  


Sure enough a grizzly bear was no more than thirty yards away from where I pulled in to park, and I couldn’t believe there were people out of their cars to get closer. It was great to see the grizzly walking along, but then I looked a bit further over the hill to see the very couple I had spoken to on the river. There was a small hill between the bear and the couple, so they had no idea everyone was watching a bear approach them. I opened the door and stood on the seat so I could be higher than everyone, and flailed my arms like a drunk airline marshal trying to stop a plane from going the wrong way. The guy waved back eventually, and I started directing him away form the bear.  He and his wife must have understood my urgency, and quickly got down into a ravine. The bear popped over the ridge where the couple once was, but by then I saw them come into view and out of harm's way.   


We watched the bear walk further and further away, and when it was out of sight we started heading to the cabin. Thanks to the bear, the worry about getting off the river late was not even a concern. Instead we talked about seeing the bear, and how stupid the people were for getting so close to it for a picture... Although... it would have been cool to see a mauling. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a great time at Soda Butte Creek , The scenery's fantastic ! And I like the idea of you and your brother making another Fly Fishing video . Soda Butte Creek...better invite Feef for your next visit to Yellowstone . ( Dad )

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