Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM
Location: Rex Hale Campground until above the second bridge upstream
Wednesday was my day to fish after spending most of Tuesday enjoying a hike in excess of two hours on the Elk Fork Trail. Warnings about grizzly bears at the national forest ranger station in Cody, WY and signs at every campground and trailhead kept Jane and I on high alert. After success that exceeded my expectations on Tuesday evening next to the campground, I decided to simply fish upstream, and this option enabled Jane to access the Santa Fe, while I was gone. Well deserved bear phobia restrained Jane from hiking alone, so I swapped the car for bear spray.
I elected to wear my waders despite forecast high temperatures in the low eighties, and I assembled my Sage four weight in the event that I was fortunate enough to tangle with another trout in the fifteen to twenty inch range. Two such cutbows found a home in my net on Tuesday evening, so I reasoned that additional trout of that size were possible on Wednesday.
I began fishing with a yellow stimulator in the area just above the campsite, where I enjoyed brief success on Tuesday evening. I managed one small seven inch rainbow, and then as I moved upstream casting to the long shelf pool, I switched to an olive stimulator and nabbed a small brook trout. I was rather surprised to encounter the char species in the Shoshone, since I read that it contained exclusively rainbows, cutbows and cutthroats.
Next I progressed to a huge bend pool just below the first bridge, and I paused for lunch. By this time I converted to a size 8 Chernobyl ant trailing a salvation. The change was implemented, after I spotted a single pale morning dun. Despite my keen observation, this tactic was unsuccessful, and after lunch I briefly experimented with a Jake’s gulp beetle. Terrestrials were not on the menu, so after I passed under the Yellowstone Avenue Bridge, I tied a size 14 parachute green drake to my line.
I approached a nice long shelf pool above the bridge that was twenty feet wide and shot some casts to the mid-section. On the third drift along the heavy current seam a fish rose and confidently slurped the drake. I could tell immediately that the feeder was a stronger fighter than the previous dinks, and the fish proved its mettle with five or six strong runs, before I guided it into my net. The length of the rainbow trout exceeded my net opening, and it displayed an ample girth. My confidence soared, but the paradrake generated only refusals after the big catch.
I pondered the situation and speculated that the drakes were in favor, but maybe the trout preferred a larger version or different style. I swapped the parachute for a comparadun that displayed a tall wing profile, and the ploy paid off when a plump twelve inch rainbow slammed the fraud.
The next interesting area featured a fifty foot long pocket of moderate depth, and two current tongues merged at the top after splitting around an exposed rock. I dropped a cast toward the top of the pocket in the merge area, and a large mouth engulfed the comparadun drake. Once again the game was on, and another muscular rainbow found a home in my net after a spirited battle. This silver brawler also extended beyond the net opening and measured seventeen inches.
In spite of the difficulty following the comparadun, I persisted, and an eight inch brown trout nabbed it in a small bank side pocket. A brown trout? Once again I was stunned to count a rogue species for the Shoshone among my catch.
I continued around the bend on the north side of the highway and passed under bridge number two. I was about to prospect a nice long narrow shelf pool, when another fisherman arrived. We exchanged greetings and information about our days up until that point, and then the other angler proceeded to wade into the river no more than fifteen yards above my position. I was dumbfounded. I reeled up my flies and shook my head in the direction of the interloper’s buddy, who remained on the bank, and then I circled around and re-entered the river at some pocket water above the long run.
I prospected the entire length of fast water and landed a small rainbow near the top section. Along the way I switched from the comparadun to a Harrop hair wing green drake. A nice large section of moderate riffles presented itself next, and I covered it with a moderate amount of thoroughness, but evidence of fish was lacking. The lull in action caused me to climb a worn path to the cinder road that paralleled the highway. Near the end of the gravel lane, I crossed some prairie grass and returned to the campsite via the highway.
The bright blue sky and warm temperatures made Wednesday a challenging day for fly fishing. I was actually very pleased to land seven fish, and especially thrilled that my catch included two strong muscular rainbow trout. I never spotted a single green drake, but the Shoshone residents were apparently aware of their infrequent presence.
Fish Landed: 7