This weekend Rachel and I headed to Wilson Lake, KS, to hopefully get into some clear water sight fishing. Wilson is known as the "clearest lake in Kansas!" according to the billboard on I-70. We met up with my buddy, Clint, who lives nearby. He just got into flyfishing recently and had been nailing bass on poppers all Spring. He kept telling me he was seeing tons of tailing carp back in May. This was as soon as we could make the trip, so we hoped the fish were still up shallow and eating!
Saturday morning started out with beautiful weather, but the clear water we had been expecting had been muddied by recent rains. There were a couple tails to be seen on the flats, but I could tell our opportunities were going to be few and far between. "Should have been here last month!"
It didn't take long for the wind to pick up, so we pulled the kayaks up and began exploring the shoreline. I noticed something on the sandstone bluffs, so I went up for a closer look.
Giant Mayflies! And lots of them! I'm guessing these guys emerged the night before? The carp were probably gorging them selves on nymphs and sipping big duns off the top. That's how I envisioned it anyways. And I am using that for an excuse as to why the fishing was so SLOW today.
The shoreline excursion also provided a few reptile sightings. But we were too slow for this collared lizard.
But Rachel nabbed a horny toad!
We had a few shots at fish, but we were doing a lot more searching than fishing.
I was in the back of a cove when I noticed something chasing shad back in the shallows. I through my orange and brown Clouser on top of them and ended up with this guy! I'm on the board!
Not long after that bass I noticed some nervous water up ahead, just off a little rock outcropping. The glare off the water didn't allow me to get a visual on what was feeding just below the surface, but I threw the fly in there just the same. Fish on! Finally a carp! He made a good run into the backing and gave me a fun fight. I was pretty happy to get this guy before going home with a carp skunk. Clint ended up catching another bass on a popper before we had to call it a day. It was a fun day on the water, but next year I'm coming in May!
So it's been 7 months since my last post, and I kind of left the end of last Summer's trip to Montana hanging in the balance. Between being busy at work, buying a new house, getting married, Summer winding down, and the Fall hunting seasons beginning, I managed to neglect my digital scrapbook. So much time has passed since these pictures were taken I don't remember too many details. But I want them in the archives so here they are, with minimal description.
I do remember our last stop was the Bighorn River. The scenery was reminiscent of a river on the Kansas plains, but the fishing was everything we could hope for to close out what had been an exciting, whirlwind of a road trip.
We slipped the boat in just below Yellowtail dam, reluctantly avoiding the Big Lips Carp tournament that was going on up at the lake. Well I was reluctant, but the two who out-voted me were eager to get after some trout.
It seems the fish were hungry and not too much time would pass between hook-ups.
We spent the night in Cottonwood campground and made the long haul back to KC in the morning. At least I didn't have to drive the whole time!
We left Ennis after lunch, headed back East towards the Yellowstone. We would be arriving too late for an evening float, but too early to call it a night. After five days without a real shower, we decided to get a motel room in Livingston. With a cozy camp secured within walking distance of civilization, we headed downtown for the evening.
We stopped in the Owl Bar for a few drinks and some time to adjust. Interesting place, Owl Bar, with an odd collection of figurine decor above the bar, and a flashlight handed to you whenever you needed to use the restroom. The Murray Bar across the street was supposed to be the place to be, and with the rodeo in town for the 4th, we figured we needed to acclimate a bit before wanderin' over there.
The Murray Bar wasn't quite hoppin' yet when we arrived either, giving us a chance to grab a stool and check the place out. Bayes noticed the wall covered in framed shadow-boxes containing a photo, signature, and favorite fly of some pretty famous tiers/fishermen that have bellied up to the bar at one time or another over the years. The place eventually began to fill in as Austin singer/songwriter Leo Rondeau and band took the one step up to the stage. They started out with an interesting selection of great covers that you rarely (if ever) hear done. As the night went on and the crowd loosened up they started slipping some originals into the mix. We liked these guys a lot, and we ended up having to drag Rachel off the dance floor so we could get out of there before the night really turned the corner. We did have WANT to get up early to fish the Yellowstone in the morning.
We woke up surprisingly early and made it up to the Carbella Bridge access in good time. This was the first overcast day of the trip, and we were eager to see how the fish reacted.
It wasn't the lights-out fishing we were hoping for, but we were definitely getting takes fairly regularly. Again, hookups were a different story. If there was a "hot" fly that day, Rachel had it. It seemed like she was getting fish to rise on that thing every time I turned around, but I think this is the only one she hooked.
We pulled the boat up and stopped for a wonderful lunch of bacon sandwiches courtesy of the Best Western continental breakfast bacon bucket that Bayes raided that morning.
But the most memorable part of the day occurred after lunch. In an effort to fish water that "gets less pressure", we took a side channel off to the left, knowing it would eventually meet back up with the main. We were questioning our decision fairly early on, as one of the first obstacles we encountered was a fast narrow chute along a bend with a wicked strainer covering more than half the channel. It got a little tense as Bayes pulled hard on the oars with the giant fallen over tree coming up fast. Once we cleared it, the river immediately turned right and widened out into a slower open stretch. We thought we were in the clear when Bayes and I looked at each other and spoke simultaneously.
"Do ya hear that?" We said to each other, both hearing the distant sound of rushing water. Looking down river we couldn't figure out why the sound was getting louder and louder, but it was.
We both saw this movie before, so we decided to pull the boat to shore and go survey the situation.
Yep, that'll do it. Now we had a problem. The boat was too heavy to pick up and carry around the falls, and we had went a long ways downstream after we cut off the main channel. Looking about a hundred yards upriver we saw what might be our saving grace. We decided to pull the boat back to check it out.
After pulling the boat upriver as far as possible before a high bank, we hopped in and shot across as fast as possible. There it was. Only option.
The shoreline willows were too dense for anyone to want to crawl through them to do any scouting ahead. We simply pushed in there and hoped for the best.
After rounding each blind bend, we were relieved to see another short, unimpeded stretch of skinny water. Although the quarters were getting tighter.
Fortunately, pushing through those last willows revealed a clear path back to the "secondary" channel.
And better yet, we were now below the drop!
That detour definitely added a little spice to the day. I was even able to get one more nice brown before our takeout at Emigrant.
Only one river left before the long drive back to Kansas.