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Evening on the upper Ruby

By Troutnut on July 7th, 2019
After camping atop the Gravelly Range and mostly dodging thunderstorms throughout the day, we set up to camp in the evening at Cottonwood Campground along the upper Ruby and drove to fish a nearby reach that looked good on Google Earth. There wasn't much visible bug activity and I didn't see a single fish, but I did manage to find five small to medium rainbows on nymphs and soft-hackles.

Photos by Troutnut from the Ruby River in Montana

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the Ruby River in Montana

Male Drunella (Blue-Winged Olives) Mayfly DunMale Drunella (Blue-Winged Olives) Mayfly Dun View 3 Pictures
Collected July 7, 2019 from the Ruby River in Montana
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 18, 2019

An evening drive down the Madison and a fun flyshop

By Troutnut on July 5th, 2019
After spending the morning and early afternoon at Norris Hot Springs, Lena and I drove down through the Madison River valley to get in some evening fishing. Mid-afternoon we stopped at Beartooth Flyfishing, which is one of my favorite fly shops because I like the flies designed by the owner, Dan Delekta, and wanted to buy some more to use as models for tying my own. I like his sense of how to mix in flashy synthetics without detracting from the buggy appearance of the fly overall. His SureStrike nymph pattern became one of my favorite attractor (Attractor: Flies not designed to imitate any particular insect, but to incorporate characteristics attractive to trout. When trout aren't feeding selectively, attractors often outperform careful imitations as searching patterns because they are easier to see and incorporate more strike-triggering characteristics. They include legends like the Adams, Bivisible, and Royal Wulff.) nymphs last year and has worked well for me in Montana and Washington. This time I picked up a box full of other nymphs and dries to try, primarily as attractors (Attractor: Flies not designed to imitate any particular insect, but to incorporate characteristics attractive to trout. When trout aren't feeding selectively, attractors often outperform careful imitations as searching patterns because they are easier to see and incorporate more strike-triggering characteristics. They include legends like the Adams, Bivisible, and Royal Wulff.), buying two of each pattern to fish and one to save as a tying model.

After the shop, we hit a couple spots along the Madison in the evening, and I finally broke my short but painful streak of skunkings or near-skunkings on this famous river with a decent 14" brown and a couple smaller ones. There wasn't much bug activity compared to a week earlier, and I only saw a couple rises, but attractors (Attractor: Flies not designed to imitate any particular insect, but to incorporate characteristics attractive to trout. When trout aren't feeding selectively, attractors often outperform careful imitations as searching patterns because they are easier to see and incorporate more strike-triggering characteristics. They include legends like the Adams, Bivisible, and Royal Wulff.) and soft-hackles were able to get some attention right at dusk.

Photos by Troutnut from the Madison River in Montana

Lazy sightseeing around Bozeman on July 4th

By Troutnut on July 4th, 2019
On July 4th, my wife Lena had just flown in to join me the previous night and we were taking it easy around Bozeman. We didn't do any fishing at all, just drove around to see more of the area, including the Yellowstone River's Paradise Valley and the state park where the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin come together to form the Missouri. In the evening we drove from Three Forks in to Bozeman to see the fireworks display, but the main show in town was a footnote compared to watching personal fireworks go off all over the valley for most of the 20-mile drive.

Photos by Troutnut from the Yellowstone River and the Missouri River in Montana

Wrapping up the Yellowstone trip

By Troutnut on July 2nd, 2019
On the day my friend was set to fly out of Bozeman in the evening, we began by heading to the Firehole to fish early in the morning before the water got too warm. We planned to fish upstream through Fountain Flats from the bridge near the Ojo Caliente hot spring, more for the geothermal scenery than for any idea that the fishing might be particularly good there. However, thunderstorms with frequent air-to-ground lightning kept us in the car for nearly an hour at the parking lot waiting for a safe window to fish. While we waited, my friend read from my copy of Ernest Schwiebert's story about the Firehole, The Strangest Trout Stream on Earth. He commented, "That guy makes it sound like it's impossible to catch a fish on this river."

When we finally got out on the water, there were no rises and little to no sign of bug life. Although the occasional splashy refusal and a couple brief hookups kept things interesting, neither of us caught anything. Apparently, Ernie called it.

Once we decided the Firehole was a dud for the day, we picked up the trailer in West Yellowstone and drove up MT-191 through the Gallatin valley. We stopped to fish a couple times in the headwater reaches inside the park, first just shortly above the Taylor Fork confluence, where we fished a couple good pools with no action and decided the high, cold water from runoff wasn't helping matters. We drove back up into Fawn Pass, thinking those upper headwaters might cut some of the higher mountains out of the equation. The water was still a bit high, but more manageable, and I picked up a couple spunky mid-sized rainbows on nymphs.

With about an hour left before we had to leave from the airport, we decided to leave that spectacular scenery early in case something struck our fancy to fish farther down. In the valley near Big Sky, we were very glad we did, as we stopped at a pulloff to check out the river and found giant salmonflies in the air. We captured a few for photos, then broke out the rods. No fish seemed interested in a salmonfly limitation, but I did spot a couple risers, switch to a smaller attractor (Attractor: Flies not designed to imitate any particular insect, but to incorporate characteristics attractive to trout. When trout aren't feeding selectively, attractors often outperform careful imitations as searching patterns because they are easier to see and incorporate more strike-triggering characteristics. They include legends like the Adams, Bivisible, and Royal Wulff.) dry, and land a 12-13" rainbow. Then, running low on time, I switched to bug collecting and kick-netted a good mix of nymphs for the website.

Photos by Troutnut from the Firehole River and the Gallatin River in Wyoming and Montana

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the Gallatin River in Montana

Putting on the miles from West Yellowstone

By Troutnut on July 1st, 2019
We began July 1st with plans to fish a lesser-known river that produced well for me last year in the low water of August. Although the scenery was great, we found the river high and off-color due to an unknown combination of snowmelt runoff and rainfall from recent thunderstorms. We still plied the known good water with streamers for an hour or so, but gave up after I had no strikes and my friend missed one.

Wanting to make the most of the drive out there, we drove to try a new spring-fed tributary. Some PMDs and green "yellow sallies" (Chloroperlid stoneflies) were emerging sporadically, but nothing to really get fish rising. However, the water was so clear we could spot the fish anyway -- brook trout on the large side (mostly nine to twelve inches), huddled mostly in small schools in the bottoms of pools. They were skittish and mostly unwilling to rise for dry flies under the bright midday sun, but well-place nymphs brought several fish to hand as we worked our way upstream to the end of the good-looking water.

With much of the day still remaining after that, we drove to the Madison, bought some flies at the Slide Inn, and headed down to the Eight Mile Ford access near Ennis to try our luck. We hoped, on a tip, to find some salmonflies in the area, but there was no sign of them except one solitary shuck (
Here's an underwater view of the pupal shucks of several already-emerged Brachycentrus numerosus caddisflies.
Here's an underwater view of the pupal shucks of several already-emerged Brachycentrus numerosus caddisflies.
Shuck: The shed exoskeleton left over when an insect molts into its next stage or instar. Most often it describes the last nymphal or pupal skin exited during emergence into a winged adult.
)
on a rock. Instead, there were caddisflies by the thousands in clouds swarming around every tree, truck, and other prominent object up and down the banks. There was a good mix of mayflies, too--mostly Ephemerella. I collected a box full of bugs to photograph for the website before we even set foot in the water.

Maybe all those caddisflies filled the fish up when they were emerging, or maybe we just didn't have imitation dialed in, but we were unable to catch anything that evening. Nothing was rising, and nothing we did with nymphs, streamers, or soft-hackles drew more than the occasional bump of a maybe-strike. It was hard not to have a good time, however, based on the scenery alone as warm evening light painted the Madison Range and scattered storm clouds added great drama to the view.

Photos by Troutnut from the Madison River, Mystery Creek #237, and Mystery Creek #244 in Montana

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from the Madison River in Montana

We arrived at the parking lot on the Madison to find clouds of caddisflies swarming around everything, including every tree and vehicle in the parking lot.  In this picture: Insect Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies). From the Madison River in Montana.
We arrived at the parking lot on the Madison to find clouds of caddisflies swarming around everything, including every tree and vehicle in the parking lot.

In this picture: Insect Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies).
StateMontana
Date TakenJul 1, 2019
Date AddedJul 17, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Looking back across the Madison at a cloud of caddisflies swarming over the bank about 50 yards away, backlit by the sun.  In this picture: Insect Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies). From the Madison River in Montana.
Looking back across the Madison at a cloud of caddisflies swarming over the bank about 50 yards away, backlit by the sun.

In this picture: Insect Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies).
StateMontana
Date TakenJul 1, 2019
Date AddedJul 17, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the Madison River in Montana

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