Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Some Fall Flies

    The Big-N-Ugly Box
    they work wonders
    .. Fall is when the trout in the Madison River are at their intellectual peak. They have seen flies from the four corners of the earth and rejected most of them. They have refused the offerings from both sage fishers and first-timers. They have figured out just what real food looks like.
    .. The fish are experimenting less and gobbling more. They've seen it all - almost. The flies below all work well for galling a trout on the Madison River. They work best in the Fall when a sack of groceries is on the mind of sex crazed trout. The combination of impending winter, (less food,) and the urgency of procreation, (more energy used,) join forces to make the following flies worthwhile - starting now.
    (All images are huge - just click on them.)
    .. Thunder Creek. When was the last time you heard someone recommend that old fossil? Who do you know that fishes it? They are either very good liars or just plain secretive. The trout in the Madison River haven't seen many of these. They usually eat the ones that they see. Fish it on the swing. Let it straighten out. Wait a little while then strip it in real fast. Old ways. This specimen, (rust, dead head cement and all took a nice fish at 7-mile bridge last October.)
    .. Original Olive Matuka. These are tied commercially but their sales are way off. Although infrequently used these days, there is probably one in your fly box. There may be several. They most probably are unused and forgotten. Drag one out and give it an honest try. The early morning is a good time for the darker ones. Dead drifted or stripped downstream in the undercuts may just surprise you.
    .. Chenille Matuka. Bright and boisterous, this variant is also tied commercially. It looks too gaudy for most "serious" fishers. It is a visual disaster in just about any fly box. It's not on the lips of the romantic poets of Yellowstone lore. Yet this variety is as good as or better than the original. The tail is splayed and provides nice action in the depths of dark pools. Sizes up to #4 and 4XL are not uncommonly found stuck in the noses of eager trout in the willows below the Highway 191 bridge.
    .. Bead Head Rubber Legs. There are a bazillion rubber legs flies. They have secret names as well as commercial names.
    .. They can be "Silli" - "Spooky" - "Madisoned" - "Fireholed" - and "Henry's Forked."
    .. We use several of them this time of year and all are just grand. This one may be the grandest of all. It gets down quick and is good for 'snap-casting' right above the big roll that ended with a baby splash just over your left shoulder. The combination of long hackle, wiggly legs, copper wire. and a prickly body are often irresistible when slow-drifted across the bottom of a dark pool at sunset.
    .. Guide's Secret Rubber Legs. Not a secret any more. Seven or eight years ago this pattern was hidden in dark places and fondled frequently in anticipation of Fall fishing. There are many variations of this fly: the chenille, the number of legs, the head and tail treatment, the size and hook. All seem to work just fine. There are now many commercial versions. Some of the local, (Cameron, Ennis, West Yellowstone,) versions are still proprietary. So be it.
    .. Hackle & Legs. Here's another rubber legs pattern that has been embellished with long widely spaced palmered hackle. This one can be made to float with enough goo, or what ever is your favorite flotant. On still, or slick, water in the light of a Gallatin Moon, (July, August, September,) The many dimples create little lenses that allow the light to be seen. Strikes can be explosive - especially after a slight twitch.
    .. The fly can also be drowned or fished on the swing in the film or down deep. It reminds us of an augmented Wooly Worm. It's good for a change of pace and is an excellent conversation piece.
    .. Woolly Worm. The poor thing: fallen into disuse and disgrace. Often mentioned in the same sentence as the San Juan Worm. The Fall sizes and variations are not within the traditional range for this old sweetheart, (how many do you have?) Sizes in the 2 - 6 range are not uncommon. Long hooks are used by the neighbors. Red buck-tail is used for an afterburner. Very long, (for hook size,) hackle is the norm for this time of year. Traditional yellow and black are frequently the choice for the area around the Barns Holes and the Local Hole. More often, the last couple of years has seen hot orange or bright rust being chosen for the big water just above the estuary.
    .. Pheasant & Blue. This streamer is a staple along the Washougal River in Washington and on the upper Clearwater River in Idaho. The pheasant rump feathers are popular in both steelhead and salmon fly patterns. Fishers on the South Fork of the Snake River in both Idaho and Wyoming have used this pattern for a couple of decades to take large migratory cutthroat trout. This pattern is now finding it's way into secret stashes of some of our neighbors. We've not used it but they swear by it - and at it.
    .. Brindle & Hen. This popular fly from Northern California locations around Hoopa, Eureka, and Salyer has been modernized by the recent explosion of color in chenille. Similar in form and function to the classic Brindle Bug this fly is not just another pretty face. Tied with a heavy wire under-body it bounces through deep riffles with undulating sex appeal and is hard to resist by submarines parked in the dark spots during mid-day. This is a useful probing fly when tied with no underwire support and the action is leech or eel like. Just the groceries a fresh-run fish is looking for.
    .. Bead Head Glitter Nymph. This monstrous cousin to the standard pheasant tail nymph is persistent in the repertory of the big-fish catchers in the neighborhood. It's easy to tie in sizes 4 - 8 and makes an excellent fly for the low clouds and bright overcast days of late September and October. It has nearly replaced the Casual Dress in our box and we don't regret it. Bleached goose biots are becoming rare these days. White will work just fine - or do some yourself.
    .. Sinking Hopper. It's just about time for the sheep to call it quits on their hopper box. The feather merchants have run low on their stash and will soon begin touting the flies of fall. Grasshoppers in the high country continue to grow and molt through the first couple of weeks in October. A hard frost will "knock 'em down." A couple of warm days, (even after snow,) will kick some life into them. Drowned, this fly is a nearly irresistible morsel for the big resident trout and a rare treat for the lake run fish of the Madison River.
    .. Many of our strangest neighbors use this as a dropper behind a big streamer such as a Woolly Bugger, Egg-sucking Leech, Chamois Leech, or a Brindle & Hen. Common practice is to soak the little dickens in water for a day or two and let the river do your shopping for you. Foam patterns are just too hard to sink - they can be retired now.
    .. Dark Spruce Fly. This classic has persisted despite the hawking of "more modern" flies. There are many variants and they seem to be quietly proliferating. We prefer ours tied a bit on the sparse side and choose to use a barred furnace hackle tip of a mahogany color rather than the traditional golden badger hackle.
    .. This pattern is old, (1918 - 1919,) and was originally called the Godfrey Special. It was a premier sea-run cutthroat pattern for over half a century. It is still seen along the Madison River, and steelhead streams most everywhere. This is just the tonic for jaded trout around Baker's Hole and the Barns Holes.
    .. Furnace & Red. This fly has been a staple for our Fall and Winter fishing since sometime in the late 60's. A couple of dozen were a gift from a fly fisher in Pocatello, Idaho. He may have "invented" it.
    .. The name was roughly translated as "BOB'S FLY" - Google shows nothing quite like it by that name. It's a dark fly that is sometimes stripped cross-current at night or in the twilight. It's caught a few big fish. A few of the ancient neighbors here and in I.F. use a similar fly - with different names. (The eyes are Herter's NOS. We have zillions of them and used to think they were important - works just as good without them.)
    .. The Little Brown Trout. Dear to the hearts of Montanan's that love our cutthroats. There is a satisfying surge of glee, (it arises somewhere between the epitome and id,) when one of these little flies gets eaten. This old pattern is seen in most fly boxes and is only occasionally used. It is special only in the hearts and minds of ancient neighbors that remember what a glorious bit of water the Snake River was without the scourge of the invasive Brown's. Fish it like the little streamer that it is. Shallow riffles, deep undercut banks, and deep slicks are it's prime hunting ground. Even the Browns will eat it.
    .. Stonefly Nymph. They live here. They get dislodged. They float around in the water column and get eaten all year long. Of course they are a Springtime religion, but the trout will eat one that's floating by. Often the older neighbors tell us to "hit 'em in the nose." That's good advice if you know where the noses are.
    .. The mundane task of systematically covering a run in the Fall is a bit tedious. It is also rewarding when using any of the many stonefly imitations. Like a dog with a bone, the fish grab it, shake it, and hold onto it with a fierceness like unto a virgin prom queen in the back of an S.U.V.
    .. Baker's Hole Bugger. Straight from Blue Ribbon Flies & Whiskey Creek Fishing comes a fly designed specifically for the water around Baker's Hole. It's a fly that has been "making the rounds" for a few of years and shows some staying power. Although supposedly designed "for Brown Trout" the fly is just fine for pricking hungry trout of any stripe.
    .. A couple of the neighbors are aficionados of this fly and have already shortened it's name to "Baker's Bugger." They fish it all year long. The fly uses standard Brindle Bug chenille and a two toned tail similar to the Brindle and Hen. These long-tailed buggers have been getting more attention during the last decade. Probably a good reason for that.
    .. P.S. Don't forget your Mouse. Fishing in the park is open until 10:00 PM. {{NB- as of 2008, the regulations have been changed to sundown. puts a crimp in the mousing around. ]]


    feather duster

    .. This pattern, the original Feather Duster, is a staple in our Spring assortment. There has been much discussion about the original pattern; so here it is.

    .. This old fly gained surprising popularity soon after Bob Bates described it in the Outdoor Press, (August 26, 1993). It was developed in the early 70's and has garnered a following of dedicated nymph fishermen.

    .. The original article is hard to find, so we have reproduced it here.


    .. Eagle's Store in West Yellowstone, MT is just a block and a half from Yellowstone National park west entrance. They stock a lot of things that you need but can't find in the gift-shop-type stores around West Yellowstone. As always it was the fly shop section that interested me most. Beside a normal collection of fishing paraphernalia and good information, they had a set of pictures showing how to build a Feather Duster.

    .. The name was bestowed because Wally Eagle, who developed it in the early 70's, used ostrich herl from a feather duster for early copies. (Please do not confuse it with similarly named flies, such as the English dry pattern.) Wally's Feather Duster catches a lot of fish around West Yellowstone and should prove equally successful elsewhere in our northwestern region. Wally provided additional tying details and fishing techniques and a sample fly to photograph.

    .. Wally recommends fishing it dead drift with a yarn strike indicator. Any strange movement of the indicator might mean a strike so tighten up a little. You'll know instantly if it is a fish or the bottom. To place an indicator, simply tie an overhand knot in the leader and put a piece of yarn inside the loop. Carry a safety pin to open the knot and change it's position. For fishing the Madison River, place your indicator about 3 - 4 feet above the fly and add a split shot, if needed. On spring creeks, place a sheep's wool indicator only 18 - 20 inches above the fly. The sheep's wool indicator should be as small as possible. Wally uses a chartreuse idicator for good light conditions, but finds it hard to see in some conditions. He recommends using pink or green indicators in bad light conditions.

    -- Hook: Mustad 9672, 10 - 18 -- Thread: Burnt orange 3.0 -- Weight: Lead wire -- Underbody: Gray wool -- Tail: Pheasant tail fibers -- Rib: Copper wire -- Body and thorax: Ostrich herl, dark gray -- Wingcase: Pheasant tail fibers

    .. Put about five wraps of lead wire around the shank where the thorax will be. Just keep it back from the eye three or four eye widths, so you will have plenty of room for other materials. Use a lead wire that is about equal to the hook wire diameter. Attach your tying thread and wrap over the the lead a couple of times to secure it. Bring the tying thread rearward and attach a strand of wool. Wrap the wool to make an underbody fot the ostrich herl and shape the thorax; the wool also makes a soft base for the pheasant tail fibers. As with the lead wire, leave plenty of room for a head.

    .. Use 6 or so pheasant tail fibers for the tail, attach them at the bend and make the tail about a gap width long. Also just in front of the bend secure a copper wire and 5 or 6 ostrich herls. Attach the herls by the tips if you want to taper the body and by the butts if you want a full body. Carry herls forward to mid shank or 2/5ths point depending on if you want a longer or shorter thorax, secure and trim. Counter wind copper wire ribbing, secure and trim.

    .. Then right in front of body, tie in 8 to 10 pheasant tail fibers with the butts forward. Leave about a shank length of tips facing rearward. Wrap over butts, bring thread back to tie in point, fold butts back and secure. Attach several ostrich herls for thorax, wrap thread forward, wrap herls forward, secure and trim. Be sure to leave plenty of space for the head. Bring pheasant tail butts forward. secure and trim. Pull tips forward, secure with one or two thread wraps and bend tips back on each side for legs. Legs should extend along the body, ending short of the point. If there are too many legs just trim off a few. Finish the head with a whip finish. Wally doesn't use thread cement because he feels that it lets the Turle knot slip.

    .. Pheasant tail is fairly delicate and breaks when big fish chew on it. Extra layers on Wally's Feather Duster wing case give you the opportunity to clip off broken fibers and still have a neat looking wing case.

    .. Note: on flies 16 and smaller, Wally's tiers might use partridge instead of pheasant tail for tail, wing case, and legs.

    {{{ This fly has fans as far away as Argentina! Go to: Fly Fishing Caribe & Patagonia. }}}


    .. In the last 15 years the dry fly has taken control of fly fishing. If you enjoy it keep doing it. If you want to catch more fish try this fly.

    .. This is a "Feather Duster" variant and has been dubbed the "Montana Duster." The original Feather Duster was perfected by long-time West Yellowstone resident Wally Eagle. He is a member of the family that founded the town. His original flies used the ostrich herl from feather dusters in the family store. The original fly is still excellent for taking large and finicky trout on a regular basis.

    .. This variant is spectacular in the spring, summer & fall. It appeared on the scene about three years ago in the arsenal of knowledgeable guides in Yellowstone Park, and on the streams surrounding the park.

    .. It's origin is shrouded in mystery and the originator is currently unknown. We found it on the web: http://hometown.aol.com/guyser1/myhomepage/index.html

    .. Look for this fly to appear in the catalogs and on the shelves of fly shops within the next two - three years. Get ahead of the curve and use it now.

    We use piles of these all season long and start the Spring nymphing with it. .. This pattern, and the original Feather Duster are staples in our Spring assortment. feather dusterThe yellow color is most popular. However, about this time each year the pink makes an appearance - probably taken for an egg - who knows? Sizes: 6 - 18.

    Proportions and tying instructions mostly follow the original recipe.

    Ingredients for "MONTANA DUSTER": Tail = 3-4 partridge rump fibers, Body = black ostrich herl counter-wrapped with heavy copper wire, Wing Case = pheasant tail fibers (pulled forward and used as legs too), Thorax = yellow or pink ostrich herl. Sizes: 4 - 8, or 2-1xl - 16-3xl.



    This little darling is a sure-fire fish getter in just about any color you choose to use. It's quick and easy, it floats like a cork, it's made from common materials, it can be tied in a variety of sizes. And it's a cinch to tie.

    For those of you, (myself included,) that like to tie at stream-side, this is the one! It can even be done without a vise and with only a bit of practice. The smaller sizes may need a bit more practice without a vise, but not much. Down to size 12 - 14 should not be too much trouble. If that is a problem, tie a bunch of the smaller ones at home and the bigger ones on the stream.

    Ingredients for YELLOWSTONE CINCH: Tail: fine hair from a moose, (ears or inside the legs), Body: floss to match the bugs d'Jour, Wing: elk hair of appropriate size, Head: more floss, Sizes: 4 -18, standard or up to 2xl dry fly hook. Start by tying in the tail and wing together - flat along the body. Wrap the thread loosely to form the body. Tie in the floss, (olive, yellow, gray, green, black, brown, etc.,) in front of the wing root. Wrap the floss forward, then back to the tail, then back to the wing. Wrap the floss forward and backward on either side of the wing while spreading the wing perpendicular to the shank of the hook, (this is the easy part without a vise - just squeeze the wing and wrap.) When the body has the taper necessary, wrap forward and tie off with a finger whip. Some folks like to use black thread, others use thread the color of the floss.

    Use plenty of flotant - grease if you prefer, and send it into the stream with a "plop." My kind of fly!


    This Fly Will Catch Fish!

    .. Yellowstone Coachman:

    .. The occasional day in early Spring that allows a good hatch is an unanticipated joy. The fish are seldom very selective, (well - sort'a,) and this fly works wonders. Sizes: 10 - 18.


    .. It was a late night in the loft in Ennis, Montana. We had fished Beartrap, and the Madison near the islands - way below Norris. The sky was broken clouds and their shadows came and went on the water.

    .. Some people call them 'Millers,' others call them moths. What ever they were, there was a scad-pile of them. A famous fishing guide said that he had the fly to match the hatch. We paused as he pawed through his kit and found two of them.


    "Yellowstone Coachman," he cried and bit off the midge that he had been fishing. He shared his second fly with me, and we returned to the battle. Splash it down, float it in like a gossamer ghost - or anything in between. Fish raced to gather it up. Once I watched three fish dash from under a rock to get to the fly. This was magic.

    .. We fished 'til almost dark and hooked every fish in that mile of the Madison - all 4,500 of them - or so it seemed! We drove back to Ennis, arm weary and bone tired. The road was dry, the sky was orange, the company was great. We stopped at the Town Pump for some fuel, and some other fuel.

    .. As we sat in the loft and discussed the day we had to learn more about the Yellowstone Coachman. Our guide explained that he had gotten the fly from an old fisherman in West Yellowstone, Montana.

    .. He took it just to be kind to the old duffer; put it in his kit and forgot about it. Last year on opening day in Yellowstone Park he saw some 'millers' on the water and remembered the fly. He put it on as a lark and caught a few fish. Ever since then he brings it out in the early spring when the 'millers' are on the water.


    .. This fly is a variant of the fan-wing coachman, The tail is longer and the hackle is softer and larger.

    Ingredients for Yellowstone Coachman:

    Tail = 3 or 4 peacock sword fibers, Body = peacock herl wound in middle with bright orange floss, Wings = barred chucker. Hackle = grade 3, or stiff hen - one size larger than hook, Head = black thread. Hook Sizes = 6 -14 regular dry fly. Drench with flotant and fish low in the film, or even submerged. Cast gently - it can twirl and sing by your ear and this is hard on the leader and your knots, (and maybe your ear.)

    .. The last time I put a fly up, I got many emails about the set-up for photography, and questions about doing it. .. There is no secret, and the pictures are certainly not art. Look at the photo on the left for details. French wine seems to work best.


    Eat Your Breakfast In The Dark: Get There For The Spinner Float. * Use good hackle for the tail, * Tie it Fat & Fuzzy, * Rough up the wings, * Rough up the hackle, * Float it low in the film, * Catch Fish.
    .. Yellowstone Morning Glory: This is an all season fly that we like to keep handy for fishing in the film, or slightly submerged in the Spring. It is a traditional 'early morning' fly for those that find the right foggy morning after the rare early Spring hatch. In the Summer it's a useful attractor. There are many flies similar to this local variant and most will do - we use this one. Sizes: 10 - 16. Much has been made of the "spinner fall" over the years, but not much has been said about the 'spinner float.' It's that magic hour or, usually two, at the crack of dawn when the cripples, early hatchers, and late hatchers are all on the water at the same time. Most hatches are multi day events. Some, given appropriate weather, can last a week or two. Sometimes it seems that caddis hatch perpetually. What ever the case, early spring in Yellowstone Park, and earlier in the lowlands surrounding the park, provide an opportunity for early fishing at its finest & most productive. The trout is usually a gentleman in it's activity periods. But when there are groceries to be had he is an opportunist of the first water. The fish sees many different things, and in the early morning it is dimples and refractions that trigger strikes. This fly creates them both in abundance on foggy mornings early in the season in and around Yellowstone Park. This fly is easily 10 years old, but is found only in a few fly fishing boxes. People in West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Livingston, Gallatin Gateway, and Ennis usually have many for the early season. These are folks that are willing to get up and share the early morning with large fish gently sipping protein from the film. The recipe for the: Yellowstone Morning Glory: _ Tail: stiff bright white hackle fibers, a few more than normal - spread slightly, Egg Cluster: orange wool - tightly dubbed, Body: lavender & gray wool, loosely dubbed and picked out, Wings: speckled mallard or, wood duck - sparse but not thin, Hackle: soft but not floppy generic, (no not genetic,) grizzly - one size larger, Head: black or light yellow. Hook sizes: 8 - 18 standard dry fly. _ Don't use too much flotant, spread the wings around - or even tie it spinner style. Watch carefully because the take is gentle but positive. Long casts are not necessary in the early fog of the morning.


    THE YELLOWSTONE SPRUCE FLY: .. Yellowstone Spruce Fly:

    .. This fly was developed by some neighbors that use a bubble on a spinning or casting rig for Fall fishing. It is an exceptional fly when casted with a fly rod in the spring. It's a bit gaudy for many of our purists, but with a nice slow presentation in the cold waters of the early Spring it looks like a big sack of groceries to hungry trout. Sizes: 4 - 12.

    .. It's not really a Spruce Fly, but it works as good as a Dark Spruce Fly in the fall, and better than a Light Spruce Fly in the Spring. It's quick to tie, durable, and well suited to Yellowstone waters.

    .. This fly is a medium sized streamer developed by a group of West Yellowstone fishermen who can't afford a BMW or a $700 fly rod but love to fly fish.

    Yellowstone Spruce Fly Recipe:
    Tail: paired hen hackle - cut like a fish tail, Butt: yellow ostrich herl, Body: green floss, Rib: small copper wire, Beard: red hackle fibres, Wing: two yellow hen hackle tips partially covered by two barred hackle tips, Collar: grizzly hen hackle, Head: black thread. Sizes: 2 - 12, 3-5xl bronze sproat.


    Looks Strange, Fishes Well. The "Yellowstone Winter Grub," is reminiscent of steelhead flies used around Salmon, & Chalis, Idaho in the early season. Later they will switch to leeches and buggers, we will switch to the "Yellowstone Duster." Both Messrs Barnes & Brooks fished this fly, but seldom mentioned it. It has been in the fly boxes of locals for at least 30 years, and gets less attention than it deserves. It is heavy, needs no split shot, has internal action, and catches fish.

    Recipe for "Yellowstone Winter Grub:"

    Tail: fine magenta & brown deer hair,
    Butt: just a bit of yellow ostrich herl,
    Body: dark purple floss,
    Ribbing: heavy copper wire,
    Body Hackle: grizzly hen, or mallard, or wood duck,
    Beard: a few fibers of body hackle, or one wrap of body hackle - pulled down,
    Wing: light brown turkey tail tip, (not white!,) or chestnut turkey quill,
    Head: black. There are several variations for the wings, - tied low, tied medium high, (shown,) or even tied very low, (below the body on each side,) like some of the salmon flies of the old world. All work well.
    Hook Sizes: 2 - 10, heavy nymph, or salmon style.

    .. Fish the fly in classic steelhead fashion; controlled casts, loose swing for 1/2 the drift then tighten up and let the fly swing all the way to the bank. Most takes are at the very end of the swing. However, this time of year the action of the fly may induce early takes as well.

    Pile O' Flies

    .. Woolly Worm: Spit the words out of your mouth if you must - it's a great Spring fly in Yellowstone country. Sometimes we use small ones on the surface when the snow flies are out. Black or yellow seem to be the colors of choice, we've got more yellow ones. Sizes: 10 - 18. .. Yellowstone Badger: This prickly little devil is one that serves a multitude of purposes. Float it, sink it, splash it, strip it, or just dap it - it is a winner. This fly is similar to the other nymphs that are popular around here - the Pheasant Tail, and the Hare's Ear. We use them all, but keep coming back to this one. Sizes: 12 - 18. .. Stiff Hackle Nymph: This variant of the soft hackle variety is not a favorite among many folks in the fly fishing community. It does work and it is used by some of our 'more mature' neighbors. We've used it since the 80's and found it to be a useful resource - but we tend to forget it too. This is an all season fly that we just put in the fly box because we have them. Sizes 12 -18. .. Deer Hair Caddis: This little fly we borrowed from Jason Neuswanger over at The Trout Nut. We fished it all last year along with the local versions and it was a standout performer. It's a dark fly that is consistent with some of our early Caddis hatches and we like it very much. Sizes: 10 - 18. .. The Quick -N-Easy is one of those flies that makes many a fly fisher cringe. It is gaudy, flashy, big, and effective. It is famous for its spectacular refusals, and that's it's purpose. Tie it on early and then fish the fly that the fish are taking. This will show you that there are really fish in the water, and it may even catch one or two. Sizes: 8 - 14. .. Hellifiknow: This pattern is reminiscent of the Black Nose Dace and Micky Finn patterns. It is useful when the water is murky and you need to get a bit of twinkle down deep. It's a Spring staple and often a 'what if ?' kind of fly for prospecting. Sizes 4 - 12. .. Scarlet Ibis: We've carried this fly since the early 60's. Bit of color never hurts the old fly boxes. This traditional wet fly is one that we fish for fun. It may be taken for an egg, a flying saucer, a cowboy's bandanna, or "who knows ?" - but it takes a few fish every year. Sizes: 8 - 14.

    some flies

    ..Nymphomania is the word the neighbors use for this time of year. The fish are very hungry and are grabbing all manner of flotsam from the water. Many of the neighbors are keeping fish to eat and the stomach contents of these fish are revealing - even surprising. .. Although trout are frequently selective, they are always opportunistic feeders and their stomach contents reflect the food, (trout perception,) in the water column. This time of year the water column is full of vegetal detritus, suspended inorganics, and even some digestible items. The trout eat it all: small twigs, spent caddis cases, small stones, moss, collar buttons, bug bits, etc. .. Any fly that approximates any of these things will probably be sampled by hungry trout. And, it's a good bet that there is a chewed-up nymph in your fly box that is going to work just fine. Right now the most attractive "bits" are best simulated by Pheasant Tail Nymph, Yellowstone Badger Nymph, Brown San Juan Worm, and black Woolly Worm. Sizes on the smallish side: 12 -18. .. Hebgen Lake is fishing very well and any place near the edge of the ice will produce. The tailwater fishery below Hebgen Dam is beginning to show spawning activity in the shallows - DON'T WADE! Fish these sections from the shore, or don't fish at all. There are some excellent deep runs and pools that are easily fished from the shore -- after all, Spey casting and roll casting are good for the soul. The Plunge Pool Run & Discharge Riffles, (see map,) are excellent spots for a deep dredged Woolly Worm or San Juan Worm. .. Quake Lake is beginning to draw the neighbors as the ice recedes and breaks up. The lower sections of Awkward Bend and Long Riffle are holding excellent fish, (to 20",) and a slow drift - down deep - with a Pheasant Tail or Yellowstone Badger will produce some 'quick grabs.' These takes are of the tentative variety and it takes a great deal of skill and some luck to hook the fish. It's been suggested that 50% of the fish that taste a nymph go unnoticed by the fly fisher - probably so. Below Choice Hole and into Estuary Glide there are still pods of trout. These fish may come to the surface for a well greased Woolly Worm, (size 12 - 16,) or one that is just below the surface. If your casting skills are up to it try a 5' leader: the takes are gently and quick. .. The Madison River below McAtee bridge is in perfect shape right now and wading is a joy in the current low flows - guaranteed not to last for long. Some caddis are making an appearance and the appropriate sized Pheasant Tail or Yellowstone Badger will produce good times and dances. ..Some of the neighbors are willing to drive to the 'big water' and are fishing their favorite Golden Stone Flies and "Big Black Uglies" - and catching fish. There are even a few brave souls moving into the deep water and 'tight-lining' a streamer. This is a good way to coax some hogs from under the banks. They move just far enough away from the bank to avoid spooking the fish: then, cast way upstream from the target, and as the streamer approaches the 'hide' tighten the line and bend forward to let the fly move into position -- back strip a bit and allow the fly to 'swim' to the surface -- hold on!