Sweet Sixteen Fishing Tournament – Great 8 Winners

Posted in Fishing on April 19th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

We are down from the Sweet 16 of fantastic fishing destinations in the Greater Yellowstone area to the Great 8. Some intriguing match-ups were in this round, true nail-biters, especially with the inclusion of the two underdogs who escaped the first round with upset wins. Both 6 seeds from their respective brackets made it into the Great 8, will they go any further?

First up is the recap of the games from the Yellowstone Region.

#1 Madison River vs. #5 Quake Lake
History would dictate that this game ought to be a easy win for the Madison. It is after all the storied, fabled, and legendary 50 mile riffle. Maybe no other river has as much history with-in fly fishing lore as the Madison River. Legends were born and bred on the rough and tumble nature of this mighty river. Names like Charlie Brooks, Ross A Marigold, Bob Jacklin, Bud Lilly, and many others call this institution their alma mater.  Yet the Madison had a scrappy opponent that has surged in recent years to be considered a contender, Quake Lake. After all, Quake knocked off Hebgen Lake, a mighty foe in its own right. For just about every minute these two went back and forth, but in the latter stages of the contest, the historical significance of all that entails the Madison River outlasted the upstart Quake Lake. The Madisonʼs all encompassing power house game that includes year round dry fly, nymphing, and streamer fishing, swamped Quake’s 6 month season of the same , but slightly shortened game.
Winner: Madison River

#2 Yellowstone River vs. #6 Ruby River
Our first game of the week included our first #6 seed to make it into the second round. The Ruby’s small stature was predicted to have its hands full with the giants that make up the Yellowstone River. For the first half of the game it looked like we had a major upseton our hands. The Ruby pulled out all the punches, with blistering hatches of PMDʼsYellow Sallies, Baetis, and Caddis galore. By the midway point there were tearful mournings from Vegas odd makers. But the second half was all Yellowstone. Matching the hatches of the Ruby, the Yellowstone threw in some Golden Stones and Salmonflies, the true big boys, followed up with Green and Gray Drakes, and to top it all off Hoppers and Ants. Too much game for just about any competitor.
Winner: Yellowstone River

Look out folks the Final Four has its first goliath of a match up!

#1 Madison River vs. #2 Yellowstone River
Post your feelings now about which river, and why, should make it to the championship game!




FISH MORE!!!! Check! A March/April Fishing Report

Posted in Fishing on April 15th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

So I know each year we say a lot of things when it comes to making New Year’s Resolutions or making mental or physical achievement goals. But when it comes down to it we either fail to even make an attempt at these goals or they just fade to the bottom of the list based on level of importance. Well not this year. This spring, as always, I made a list of things to do by the time I landed at the Firehole Ranch for the summer. Just below “losing a little winter weight”, “FISH MORE!!!” was literally near the top of my list. I know most of you probably think that I fish enough as it is, but that is what you think. Since I live in what I consider the “meat and potatoes” of Montana there is a lot of water that receives little to zero attention from fly fishing “experts”, blogs, fishing reports, and magazines. (I say “meat and potatoes” because if you even mention fruit or vegetables in this area, you are probably a sissy.) I wanted to take advantage of my location and time to explore. Living in an undesirable fly fishing location comes with its pros and cons. Cons being that there isn’t much for documented information, lack of designated public fishing access, and the fact that I haven’t fished with anybody else in Montana since like November starts to get lonely. Pros being that there isn’t really any competition. If you are creative, like to explore, and have a GPS depicting public and private land, you can find hidden gems with gullible fish all over this state.  It really doesn’t get much more satisfying.

Now as for the fishing itself, it has been awesome! We couldn’t be having better weather for spring fishing and antler hunting. I mention antler hunting because it is motivation to climb seriously steep hills to achieve one of my other goals above. Lose a little winter weight? Check. Rivers have bumped and warmed but still haven’t blown out completely. There are hatches of midges, mayflies, and stoneflies already with March browns and caddis right around the corner. My favorite and probably most productive set up lately has been a dry-dropper system containing a #10 Foam Skwala Stonefly with a nymph imitating whatever other dominant hatch that might be occurring, hung below.  Aside from a little streamer and bobber fishing here and there, no matter what state, stream or river I have fished lately, I haven’t changed my set up for over a month. Fish more? Check!


Josh Duchateau

Head Guide and Outfitter

Fly Fishing Tournament – Sweet 16 Bios

Posted in Fishing, Uncategorized on March 20th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Rowan Nyman’s Sweet Sixteen Fishing Tournament, featuring world class contenders in the Greater Yellowstone area

Yellowstone Region

#1  Madison River: The 50 mile riffle, this number 1 seed deserves its ranking based on legend alone. Dry flies, nymphs, or streamers, all day any day of the year, an angler will have a chance at 14″-18″ rainbows and browns. Classic Montana scenery greets both the wade and the float angler. This river brings the full game to the table and has stood the test of time. Multiple championship winner means championship pedigree and caliber. The Madison is a longtime favorite, a workhorse that brings its own style to the tournament.

#2  Yellowstone River: History might deem that the Yellowstone maintain a number 1 overall seed, period. The longest undammed river in the lower 48, the Yellowstone has numerous strengths – unparalleled scenery, native Yellowstone cutthroat, diversity of water and angling experience. Why is the Yellowstone not a number 1? It might be a conspiracy of the selection committee, maybe there can be only one number one, or maybe it is the randomness of the universe. A scary matchup for any challenger, and a legendary winner that can match up with any river or lake anywhere and anytime!

#3  Lamar River: America’s Serengeti (Yellowstone Park) is bisected by this high meadow river that is home to native Yellowstone cutthroat. The Lamar’s strength is its ability to provide great dry fly fishing with large foam and rubber leg patterns in the middle of some of the most wildlife infested gorgeous scenery in the U.S.. The Lamar brings a strong game as long as it didn’t rain the night before. Hint: don’t be too quick on the draw here. You decide what that might mean!

#4  Hebgen Lake: Home of the “gulper”, Hebgen’s challenging rainbows and browns can get under your skin. Large trout sipping dry flies off glass smooth water every morning in July, August and into September can be incredibly addicting. Hebgen is detailed oriented and brings grit and preparedness to the ultimate level. Look out for Hebgen, it has a long history of bracket busting the more infamous blue ribbon rivers.

#5  Quake Lake: Some may consider this fishery too highly ranked, others might consider it too low. Quake is hard to figure out. Rainbows and browns up to 22″ can be enticed to both the dry and nymph. An all summer fishery that shines when the wind is down, tough when it is up. Which Quake is going to show up, might just determine how far into the tourney this fishery can go.

#6  Ruby River: When the Ruby River shows up in the tournament, look out. Capable of producing good numbers of nice size Browns and Rainbows, this little sleeper of a stream has been know, for those in the know, to become a favorite to go all the way. Inconsistency of conditions is the river’s only weakness, as some seasons it wants to underperform, other seasons it shines. A doppleganger of the tournament, this one is going to make it fun!

#7  Gibbon River: A hidden gem in the Park, the Gibbon winds its way under the radar, giving up some nice browns and rainbows down low, and a combination of rainbows, browns, brookies, and even a few grayling in the sneaky upper meadow stretches. Often overlooked, the Gibbon can put a challenge on any river in Yellowstone National Park. This one can surprise you.

#8  Grayling Creek: Blow by this river on your way to Bozeman and you might be missing out on this 8 seed’s ability to provide a day of solitude and dry fly fishing, both characteristics of an upset in the early rounds.


Montana Region

#1  Henry’s Fork: A much deserved number one seeding, no other river or lake in the field can match its diversity.  Box Canyon, the Ranch, Mesa Falls, the lower. From canyon deep water nymphing hogs to highly selective spring creek professors, the Fork has all the angles covered. With no apparent weakness historically in its game it will be a tough match up for any prospective competitor. But in all tourneys, you have to show up for every game, is the Fork going to live up to its fabled reputation?

#2  Slough Creek: America’s most infamous backcountry river, Slough is legendary among anglers who want to strap on a pair of hiking boots, a can of bear spray, and a desire to catch Yellowstone cutties that love to inspect every nuance of your presentation. Slough Creek is unassuming yet crafty. Be prepared to bring your “A” game here if you are match upped against the agile Slough.

#3  Firehole River: The most unique river in the whole tourney, the features of the Firehole make this a tough matchup for any seeded fishery this year. Lined by the world’s largest collection of geothermal features, mixed with fantastic hatches, and an abundance of wildlife, the Firehole River is always a favorite among experts. Although its members, Rainbows and Browns, are a bit undersized, they have more hops than just about anyone else in the tourney. The Firehole’s weakness is that it might be a little lethargic during the heat of the summer, but it shows up big, early and late, and the Firehole can be expected to do some moving and grooving!

#4  Gallatin River: If you are thinking classic Montana fishery, the Gallatin plays this game with perfection. Gorgeous mountain scenery, spunky diverse fish that eat year round, and a plethora of rocks, chutes, runs and pools. The Gallatin is a rough and tumble competitor. The Gallatin may be the hardest matchup for any round. Why? Because it plays hard, for the full length of the game, and brings a consistently tough character. But it maintains its joyful youthfulness that make it a delight to be a part of. Watch out for this overlooked favorite.

#5  Gardner River: The Gardner has something unique it brings to the tournament – 6 different species of fish provide the Gardner the ability to shift its game in numerous directions. A nice rainbow on a green drake, a spunky brook trout on a royal Wolff cripple, or stripping a bugger for big browns in the fall. The Gardner brings surprises and unpredictability to the table. Shifty, sly, and quick, the Gardner can become a bracket buster favorite.

#6  Soda Butte Creek: History overlooked this little meadow stream, until the past 10 years, otherwise the Soda Butte would have a better seed. But have no doubts the Soda Butte brings a strong game. From July through October, the native Yellowstone cutties that call this river home love the diversity of aquatic and terrestrial bugs that line its grassy banks. Plenty of holding water, bountiful food sources, and stunning scenery. The Soda Butte brings a delightful and underrated game to the tourney.

#7  Yellowstone Lake: One of the long time greats has fallen. The largest lake in the U.S. over 7000 feet used to boast unparalleled fishing from opening day through August, but the introduction of Lake Trout a few years back has decimated this program. But the lake still has some game left. Gutty and fierce, the tenacity of this selection can still provide the angler some fun and exciting times and make it a tough game in the first round.

#8  Taylor’s Fork: A moody entry into the field of sixteen, Taylor’s Fork can be overlooked easily, but don’t be fooled by its diminutive size, it brings a fun and beautiful game to the tourney. Chock full of rainbows and cutthroat that love to rise, the Taylor’s high rising game plays above the rim. Look for excitement in this selection, and you never know when it might shine above all others!

Opening Day in Yellowstone Park

Posted in Fishing on June 6th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Guide Brady Hughes with a brown trout on the Firehole River, Opening Day 2012

Another Beautiful Brown Trout

It was about 5: 30 a.m. on day three of the usual Memorial Day weekend snow storm and once again, Brady and I set out for a long journey into Yellowstone National Park for our annual Opening Day of fishing in the park. Only about four inches of snow remained on Denny Creek Road from the previous night’s snowfall. Conditions might have slowed us down but regardless of the downed tree across the road, bison jam, and the accumulation of snow, nothing would stop us from spending another magical day on the beautiful Firehole River.
As usual, we started out swinging buggers from bank to bank. Action was spotty at first but as the day progressed bites were almost predictable. The correct depth and speed of our presentation was rewarded through each prime trout real estate. By early afternoon trout snouts began to break the surface, sipping down a few different types of mayflies. Brady and I split the difference with Nyman’s Royal Wulff Cripple enticing each fish one by one until we realized it was mid afternoon and our stomachs were leading us back to the truck.
Fluctuating conditions have made for one of the best fishing springs I have ever been a part of. Just when the temperatures start climbing and the local streams start to look like the latte you bought this morning, another shot of cold weather sets in and drops river levels back into manageable fishing conditions. Although hatches might be a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, it isn’t necessarily bad news for our Firehole Ranch fishing season. What it does mean is that the bugs will be in full swing for our ranch opener which is only days away now.

Josh Duchateau
Head Guide and Outfitter

Hibernation Season

Posted in Fishing on January 17th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Happy New Year Everyone!  We’re already about half way through the hibernation season!  Our snowpack is already twelve percent above average and forty six percent greater than last year to date.  Streamflow predictions from April to July are also one hundred and one percent of average.  Aside from property owners along the Gallatin and Beaverhead Rivers who are experiencing flooding due to ice jams, these are all wonderful statistics for another great summer of fishing.  When I haven’t been cranking out bug imitations for the upcoming season, I’ve been doing a lot of research and development on the local streams.  The fishing near Three Dollar Bridge has picked up already this year.  Midges are present and the fish are taking surface imitations confidently like hungry hungry hippos.  This has been the consistent report for most of our tailwaters.  As for the freestone streams, midge, stonefly and worm imitations under a bobber have been keeping me hooked up during the “heat” of the day.  With another winter storm approaching this week and hundreds of dozens of bugs to tie, I’m hardly thinking about summer.  Skiing and winter steelhead adventures are still the freshest items on my mind.  Needless to say, it’s been a great winter already!