Sunday, July 31, 2011

DePuy Spring Creek, MT

DePuy Spring Creek
H: We couldn't fish the roaring, turbid, Yellowstone river that ran through our very backyard at the lodge, so Eric scrambled to get us access to private waters. He was able to get us on DePuy Spring Creek, Saturday, July 23, 2011. We started the day early. As we got in the car, Eric forewarned us about Betty, the eccentric owner who would be signing us in, and the large white mansion she lived in.

After a short drive, we arrived at "Graceland" and met Betty. She was very sweet, and unlike most people, managed to pronounce both our names with little difficulty. She gave us a map of her property and off we went to fish. We started somewhere in the middle of the 3-mile long creek. There were a few PMDs emerging and we each had a variant of a PMD dun on our lines. Eric demonstrated the "steeple cast" we should use since the bank and tall grass behind wouldn't allow for a normal backcast. Josée picked it up with ease and it wasn't long before she caught several trout.

I, on the other hand, had a more difficult time with it since I have a sidearm casting style. There was also this crazy bird in a tree behind me that clearly objected to my presense on his stretch of river. He routinely swooped down like a kamakaze, aiming for my head. I finally looked him in the eye and spoke softly, telling him I was only there to catch some fish. It seemed to work for a while... : ) Eventually, I blocked out his antics, focused on the fishing, and caught some unusual fish: cutbows, a hybrid of a cutthroat and rainbow trout. I know there is controversy over these "half-breed" fish. But they were fun to catch and each one strikingly different in coloration and markings.

Eric with my first Cutthroat.
After an hour or so, surface activity died down, so we moved to another part of the creek and nymphed. The nymphing was very productive and we landed several more rainbows and cutbows. And we each caught our very first cutthroat trout that day, marvelling at the fiery red slashes they are famous for. Eric headed back to start up the grill for lunch. We fished by ourselves for a while, watching industrious muskrats swim by, before our stomachs protested and demanded food, so we headed back to the truck.

He cooks a mean elk burger.
Eric provided a veritable feast for us that day. He grilled up some killer elk burgers from an elk that he had hunted and dressed himself. It was my first taste of elk and I thoroughly enjoyed it--not gamey at all--tasted like bison.

After lunch, things had quieted down considerably. Eric took us to the upper part of DePuy creek--what he called the PhD area. The fish here are extremely finicky and the water more challenging: tricky microcurrents, crystal clear visibility, and thick, lush weed beds (or trout condos, as Eric liked to call them). If you landed a fish here, you graduated with a PhD. Unfortunately, most of the trout appeared to be in their condos taking siesta.

Eric and I crouched along the high banks, scouting for shadows and movement below, hunting instincts in high gear. Success! We spied a sizable dark shadow undulating against a sliver of sandy bottom, sandwiched between two weed bed rowhouses. We slithered down the steep bank, on our bottoms, entering the water as soundlessly as possible. The fish was about 35 feet away. We didn't want to push any water and spook him, so we held our position. Eric and I observed our quarry and discussed the best plan of attack. Since the bank and grass was at least 10 feet high directly behind me, a roll cast seemed to be the best option. Just great! The rustiest cast in my limited but slowly expanding arsenal. Rusty or not, I practiced a few casts away from my target until I was ready.

It took numerous casts before I got it just right. He took turns feeding to his left and then to his right. I finally made the perfect cast at the right time--he was on! Now, to land him. He dove into one "condo" after another, seeking refuge. I tried to keep his head up and brought him in close several times. But each time he saw us and the net, he made a run for it. Eric got a good look at him and thought he was a cutty, about 17 inches. He made one last dash and dove deeply into the beds. I lost him!

Later, as we climbed back on the bank, Eric said there wasn't anything I could have done. He jokingly said I deserved at least a Masters, if not a PhD. So much for my dissertation...

DePuy: PhD area

1 comment:

  1. hi guys, your breakfast boy here.....looks like you had a good trip! very nice pics...