I’m Still Alive – More Later

The Staff Are Great

I was sick for a bit. Still am; and am still a pretty private person. I’ll blog a bit less and live a bit more. The upcoming winter is going to be a challenge. msk.jpgmsk.jpgAt least the park is getting pressure to be sensible about research findings. It’s a shame the centennial challenge does not acknowledge upcoming weather and demographic patterns. The GAO thinks it should.



Here’s where I was.



Semper Fi, Redux


I hope this works. I’m sweltering in the hopper-laden meadows of Slough Creek. This post should appear at noon on July 4, 2007. I’ll find out when I get back. Have a safe and joyous celebration of our independence.


skyblu tribute

The Little Fishies Of Yellowstone


The weekend was a shameless retreat from the new project and the occasionally dreary task of reading resumes. My normal “shooting session” was abandoned, the computer was mostly turned off, (is that bad for them?) and all food was commercial, overpriced, palatable, but quick and convenient.

The weather was just too nice and the park is beautiful, but drying out very fast. I visited the Firehole and the Madison. There were some hatches of caddis flies and I managed to catch a bunch of fish with my caddis fly imitations. Both the fish and the flies were small. The biggest fish I caught on Saturday was a 12″ whitefish. It even jumped as I was pulling it in. Steve says that they don’t jump – oh well.

little-brownie.jpgLate on Saturday there was a hatch of small mayflies near the picnic area on the Firehole. I used my little trico flies and caught about a dozen fish – all about 8″ – 10″ and very lively. Steve took a picture of my brown trout. It’s a shame that these fish are not native, they sure are wild though.

Sunday morning I called mom and we talked about Dad and how he always wanted to fish in Yellowstone. I told her about the fish and she said that I should have a good time and enjoy the weather. She may come up again in the Fall and we can go on one of our “Pack Trips.” I pack and she trips, (see last year’s trip to Joffee Lake – 12.)

Sunday was very bright and warm. I drove all the way to the pullout for the Kepler Cascades and walked along the trail to Lone Star Geyser. It’s shady and pleasant. There are not many fishermen, but there are a lot of tourists. There was a stupid couple with a black lab that kept running and barking and jumping in the upper Firehole. There was one fisherman that really chewed them out because they were ignoring the leash law of Yellowstone. Where’s a cop when you need one?

bridge.jpgThe upper Firehole is very cold here and the fish are small, but there sure are a lot of them. I just ignored the screaming kids and the loud bikers and fished. It’s easy to get to the river and there is a bridge so you don’t have to wade if you don’t want to. There are a lot of flies in the air and they look like good fish food. There were some caddis and some mayflies. I used all five of the patterns that I brought and they all worked. I’d like to say that the ’52 Buick was the best but it was just the same as the bead head fly nymph.

The foot and bicycle traffic along the trail are easily as heavy as when I was fishing at lake Cachuma back in Santa Barbara. It feels just like fishing in a city park; the fish are more cooperative in Yellowstone though. The tourists stopped during the little hail storm about one O’clock, but the came back soon after – just like the flies.

It was about five O’clock when I left and drove down to the pull out at seven mile bridge. The only bison that I saw was near the National Park Meadows. I stopped because there were a lot of flies smashing into my window, and there was no one fishing there. I caught one little rainbow and then the mosquitoes started to bite.

I got home about nine O’clock and hit the shower. I was tired but did not feel like I’d exercised much. So, it’s early and I can run some before breakfast.

Without Dad


Steve tells me that the fishing has been great in Yellowstone. I’m going to spend two days fishing. I only know how to tie one fly, and it’s kind of messy. But it catches fish. It’s called a ’52 Buick. 52-buick.jpgIt looks like a lot of the nymphs used around here, and I have a bunch of them.

My new camera is on the fritz again – operator error. So I searched the web for a picture of the ’52 Buick. The only one that looks like the one that Dad tied is from British Columbia.

I found it at “THE FLYSHOP” site. It’s a place where they make custom fly rods and flies. There are some other sites that have flies that look similar, (STS Guiding Service in British Columbia, and Washington State University TV, they have a page showing all the flies on the Open Media Network (OMN) – it’s kind of interesting.

nations sedgeI’m also taking some of John’s Old Flies they worked in the early Spring and he says they work everywhere. I don’t know if they have a name, so I just call them John’s Old Flies. He did say that they are the Nation’s Sedge, whatever that means.

I went to the fly shop to buy some flies so I could see what the real ones looked like. When I asked for a ’52 Buick they all giggled at the silly girl. Of course they never heard of the fly so it didn’t exist. It’s funny how a “professional” in the fly fishing industry deals with women. Silly ego’s and new-found expertise greeted me from the pimply faced youths that arrived here three weeks ago. They spoke gibberish, tried to sell me other flies, and failed to hear what I was saying. I’m not going back to that shop: there’s plenty to choose from here.

Now, I’m not an expert fly fishing person. But I’ve spent more time on the rivers that they were telling me all about – and they’d never even seen them. I pity the tourists that come here and expect to get some good information. Folklore at best – third hand! Bah, Humbug.

bead head prince

I’m also taking some of my favorite bead head nymphs because they look so cute and work real good. I’m going to try to catch some fish on the dry flies that everybody around here uses.

The guys at the bar gave me some Elk Hair Caddis and some Trico Spinners. The caddis are good because they float for a long time. elk-hair-caddis.jpgThe trico flies are used for the little bugs – they said it didn’t much matter what kind they were, just that little-trico.jpgthey were about the right size – these are real small; hook size 18 and 20.

My fly box is full of the flies that I’ve collected from California. They don’t look much like the flies around here. Here the fish seem to prefer very small flies. I guess it’s a matter of how long the winter lasts. The only big flies are the stone fly types, and some of them are giant. I guess if you’re a trout it’s feast or famine. So, I’m getting a box for just Yellowstone flies.

Dad’s rods are bamboo, (I have a few of them,) but this was his favorite. I use it most of the time. It’s an eight weight and they tell me it’s too heavy for the fishing around here – works fine. It doesn’t have many chips in it and the colors of the bmbooo.jpgsilk thread are just beautiful. It’s turning dark orange and Steve says that it ought to be refinished. I’ll probably just get me a new one when this one wears out.

Well, I slept in this morning, called mom and made a few other phone dad-00.jpgcalls, and sat at the computer for a while.

Dad would be proud that I got dressed first thing. I’m going to run a bit, have a late – late lunch and then go to the park for this evening’s fishing. The weather has been very gentle for this time of year. The rains and thundershowers have not materialized like they ought to and the drought is getting worse. The rivers look low, even to me, and I’ve only been here for about a year.

Dad always said that low water was the hardest to fish; the folks around here don’t seem to think so – I’ll find out: with Dad’s ’52 Buick and bamboo rod.

The Yellowstone Incubator


I knew it would come to this. I just didn’t want to say it for fear that I would be accused of being an alarmist – which I’m not.

ridum.jpgThe breeding factory that is Yellowstone has finally produced results that are making the cheerleaders and whiners very happy. Now that the park has produced too many bison for the forage, it is trucking them back into the park to destroy what little grass is left. These bison no more belong in Yellowstone than they do in your back yard – or do they? Bless the whiners and bless the cheerleaders.

feed-elk.jpgSoon the migratory Bison of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho will join the Welfare Elk of Jackson in a perfect charade of stupidity.

The cheerleaders have taken giant steps toward diluting wild genes in the Bison Herd – three cheers for them!

feedum.jpgSoon, too, I fear, the “managers” of Yellowstone will return to the mentality that established the Buffalo Ranch – feed ’em and herd ’em.

If the “managers” want ‘wild’ bison they should look to Wind Cave National Park for a sane model. The park was established to protect a cave, (Yellowstone for the geological curiosities,) then it was expanded to preserve and restore prairie, (Yellowstone devoted its prairies to the incubator,) then the ecosystem was evaluated and a few bison, (disease-free from Yellowstone,) were added.

Wind Cave National Park looks to the ecological intricacies required to manage a system. It culls Bison. It culls Prairie Dogs. It is conscious of the fact that visitors don’t always get to see the bison – so what? It is managing an ecosystem to the best of it’s ability – can Yellowstone and it’s incubator mentality say the same?

wolfpack.jpgThe USFWS recognized just how good an incubator Yellowstone was when they introduced wolves. They had an end game in mind and it is being played out now as surrounding human populations are beginning to take responsibility for these migratory animals.

Yellowstone has allowed the incubator to pump out elk, (laden with brucellosis,) and the surrounding humans love it – hunting dollars are big in Montana and Wyoming and Idaho – the cattlemen aren’t screaming about the elk; now are they? [But perhaps they should be!]

Grizzly bears have taken a bit longer, but the Craighead’s predictions of the 60’s and 70’s (Review,) have come true. They are finding habitat in Grand Teton Park, (and becoming habituated to vehicles and humans in the process.)

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition suggests a sensible plan to deal with migratory bison — don’t just pretend the bison are wild and keep pumping them out and trucking them back to eat the rapidly disappearing forage. Treat them like the critter we would like them to be. In their own words:


In Montana, big game species such as elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, and bears thrive because their habitat and conservation is supported by hunting. We can enjoy similar success with bison.

Boy oh boy, watch the whiners and cheerleaders scream about this.


And, while we’re at it, let’s remind the “managers” in Yellowstone that they are encouraging the destruction of streams by invasive and introduced fish such as brn.jpgThe German Brown Trout, The Loch Leven Brown Trout, The McCloud River Rainbow Trout, and other fish that the commercial interests want to remain in the rivers.

There is a catastrophe brewing in streams such as The Firehole, The Gibbon, The Madison, The Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek.

The Yellowstone River and Yellowstone Lake are already badly, if not fatally, degraded. There is not a fly shop within 500 miles of Yellowstone National Park that cares one whit about preservation and restoration of native species. They care about $$$$ and the fish incubator that the American Public maintains.

Did you know that Yellowstone National Park protects destructive, introduced, invasive species with it’s catch and release regulations on the Firehole River. How does that protect our natural heritage? It just protects and subsidizes the private fishing industry and a group of snobs that would rather catch foreign fish than American fish.

Do You Really think that it’s the fish or the fishing that the fishermen care about? Let’s see a meaningful alliance between Fly Fishermen, Suzanne Lewis, Mary Bomar and Dirk Kempthorne to; as Kempthorne said:

“By the Park Service’s 100th birthday, the President’s Centennial Initiative will have provided significant resources to restore and better protect the parks’ natural, cultural and historic resources.”

Let’s restore the Firehole River and it’s tributaries, above Firehole Falls, to the way they were before there was a National Park. We have the technology, it would cost less than a new visitor center, it would be “natural.”

Now there is a meaningful bit of work for the National Park Service. Far better than trucking bison back to a rapidly changing and degraded forage base. But the fly fishing cheerleaders and whiners are just as blind as the others.


pet-fish.jpgSisters, if the American public wants Tame Bison, Denuded Prairies, Sick Elk, Habituated Wolves and Grizzles, along with Artificial Streams and Foreign Pet Fish – so be it. Just don’t run to me when your children ask you what Yellowstone used to be like before global warming.

After all these are National Parks, and the cheerleaders and whiners are always talking about public opinion as if it were right.

A Few Quick Takes


dry-fly.jpgAs an anxiety killer, dry fly fishing ranks near the top. It’s fishing that requires Zen-like concentration tightly focussed upon threading a nearly invisible pin hole atop a hook deftly dressed as a fly, with a nearly transparent line and tying a minute but secure knot in it. The other portion of your time is spent a) getting into your ridiculous-looking gear b) casting as far and gently as possible to land your lure gently upon the water and then c) watching the river for an encouraging ripple signifying the presence of trout that are within your view but seemingly always out of reach.MAMACITA

polar.jpg‘I don’t want to live in permafrost no more.’Gristmill

Changes to agricultural practice and forestry management could cut greenhouse gas emissions, buying time to develop alternative technologies.Scientific American

Eye candy that’s melting fast.Gristmill

grizzly-muddler.jpg— There are a number of ungulate hairs suited to spun and clipped patterns but the best spinning hairs are coarse, spongy and soft. – Philip Rowley

Non-indigenous fish, introduced in the 18th century are taking over South African rivers and streams.Get Outdoors

palomarknot.gifThe Palomar Knot is a general-purpose fishing knot . . .Women Fishing

— By the End of the Century Half of All Species Will Be Gone. Who Will Survive? – RedOrbit

But a good barbera is the epitome of an elemental, honest red wine. It offers you fruit — lots of spicy cherry and raspberry flavors — and it doesn’t hurl w-vs-beer.jpgthem at you in some formless mass. Barbera is shaped by a bracing acidity. It’s got a bite, a burr, that makes the fruit incisive and refreshing.Eric Asimov / New York Times

. . . a Gallup poll revealed that, for the first time ever, Americans preferred wine to beer. This was an astonishing development, akin to Americans jilting baseball for bocce.Slate


The Brucellocis/Bison/Cattle Industry/Yellowstone/Montana PROBLEM continues to make news on many fronts, (go to Yellowstone Newspaper for the stories – both the lewd and the lucid.) One element that has not been addressed is the fact that as the planet warms and Yellowstone becomes a bit more bison-friendly environment; the population of these habituated beasties will grow to the point of destruction. whine.gifIf all the bison that have been killed in the last five years had been allowed to mature and reproduce there would be no grass left in the park.

The whiners have tamed Yellowstone and provided us with wolves that peer into car windows, bears that approach humans, coyotes that beg for food, and bison that proliferate without predation. The bison situation is far larger that the slaughter of a few poor babies. It is the problem of a sentiment gone rampant. Don’t dare ask the cheerleaders what would happen to the park if bison were left to their own protected devices.

Where are the whiners at Wind Cave National Park? Did you know that bison management has worked there and that roundups and culling continue? Did you know that there are some sane managers in the NPS?


“The park holds a roundup annually to monitor the health of the herd and to manage herd size for available forage,” said Superintendent Linda L. Stoll.

The wolves have done wonders with some of the elk herd – where’s the “TRADITIONAL” bison predators? Where is the sane management? Ahhh, I get it: publicity, not a care for the park.


Fishing On Opening Day


another-bison-jam.jpgI went fishing on Saturday. Went up to the Firehole and fished in Biscuit Basin – just like about 300 other people. It was fun and it was sunny and it was just like a picnic.

There were buffalo and elk and tourists and fishermen and rangers and smog and honking horns and tour buses and all of the good things that make Memorial Day Weekend such a joy in Yellowstone.

I talked to some women who felt that the crowds detracted from their experience, but they went along because their husband’s just wouldn’t miss the chance to be first on the river.

I suppose that’s important. I was about number 200. I caught some fish and I enjoyed the beautiful weather. The temperature was just perfect if you found the right patch of shade.

A nice fisherman in pretty blue waders told me that the Blue Wing Olives and March Browns were hatching and that I needed to use his special fly. I asked him what it was and he said it was a Midge imitation that he invented himself. It was so small that I had trouble getting it on the tippet.

prince.jpgI didn’t catch any fish with it. It didn’t float too well. I did catch a real nice trout on a Prince Nymph that was about 1/2 inch long – size eight or ten; I’m not real good at this yet. I found a neat web page that is written by a local kid that has good information about the Firehole River. It’s called “Firehole River” at Yellowstone National Park.com.

baby-trout.jpgThe baby trout were very hungry and I caught a bunch of them. After a bit, I went to the car to get my camera so I could take a picture. What a jinx that was. But I did get a nice baby trout picture of a fish caught by a fisherman from Utah.

I’m going to wait until the end of the week before I go back. There are just too many cars, and the kid at the fly shop said that we should have a slow week starting about Friday.


griz.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk about the “grizzly bear expert” that was mauled by mom while defending her cub. And gee, he was only three miles from the road and alone and in the Springtime, and in bear country, and he’d been mauled before – a genuine expert at getting mauled!

There’s an article that I wish I’d written: An Open Letter To Jim Cole, Grizzly Expert. (Once He Gets Out Of The Hospital.)

Do It Yourself Yellowstone


virtual.jpgIf you are serious about your visit to Yellowstone: plan a little. Remember, the pap and pablum served by the commercial tours is designed to keep you entertained and generate gratuities.

Jokes, ribald tales, personal anecdotes, current social commentary, and other ploys are used to entertain. Some of the guides are very good at this, and it is entertaining. But, it’s like watching Jay Leno to get accurate world news – hardly substantial.

Should you choose to enjoy Yellowstone in any depth, a little time at your computer will yield enormous rewards. I took mom for a ride through the park the last few days. After day one she wanted to know about things that I wasn’t familiar with. Together we perused the available offerings on the web, and found what we wanted: quickly.

Of course the Yellowstone National Park web site was useful but hard to navigate. There are, however, three commercial web sites that are full of information and much more visitor friendly. And if it’s geysers you want visit GOSA.


webby-0.gifThe WEBBY winner YellowstonePark.com is a magnificent site. It has a personal trip planner that you can build and then print or download. It has pod-casts that you can carry with you. It has videos of some attractions, and it is a very complete, (though highly commercial,) compendium of tourist attractions in and near to Yellowstone National Park. The navigation is logical and easy and it invites just one more click.

Yellowstonenationalpark.com is a site with similar attractions and includes some driving tours that summarize each road segment in the park. It is a bit more verbose, but no less informative than the Webby winner.

ttl-yel-scrnsht.gifThe Total Yellowstone Page, is a navigation nightmare. It’s a hodgepodge of information that seems to have grow’d just like Topsey. There is good information here, just spend the time and clicks to ferret it out. Thank God for Firefox.

All three sites have excellent fishing sections and I, (just like a girl,) believe everything that they say: contradictory though they may be.

These three will get you started on a visit that will be informative as well as entertaining. The visitor centers in the park are useful but seem more like “eye candy” than learning centers. They are understaffed and there is no way that the seasonal rangers have the answers to the questions that you will ask – after all, they just got there themselves.


The Yellowstone fishing season opens in the park on Memorial Day Weekend. I’m going to join the rush to the Firehole. The fishing regulations for the park can be viewed HERE (PDF). There is a new section entitled “Yellowstone Fish Reports” that includes some recent investigative reports. One of the reports, “Effects of Snowmobile Emissions on the Chemistry of Snowmelt Runoff in YNP” is an attempt to describe the effects of accumulated emission products in the snow and the ‘toxic shock’ to fluvial systems. The separation methods are a bit sketchy, and attribution to only snowmobiles is a little stretchy; still fishermen should be more concerned than they are.


On a similar note: the Billings Gazette has a tally of the ridiculous gyrations Yellowstone has gone through with the “snowmobile issue.” The cost is up to $10,000,000 and climbing.

I still think that plowing of the roads is the only rational solution. Rationality, (not being in the vocabulary of the YNP planners,) will come about in the next 10 years through more law suits and the effects of global warming. Oh, well!


And, don’t worry about the cost to visit Yellowstone National Park. According to John Krist it’s only “89 cents per person, per day.” At that rate the parks should raise their fees 1,000-fold: such a deal! After all, plumbing that works would be a novel concept.

Click over to Park Remark & the comments for a less rosy and more realistic view of park fees and service. At 89 cents we’re probably still paying too much.

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