Tips & Tricks

Prospecting 101

South of Outdated Trustworthy, a tiny stream runs beneath the Grand Loop Street—hundreds of vacationers drive over the little bridge each single summer season day.

A path typically follows the stream on its mild course to Shoshone Lake. When you stroll the path, you would possibly sometimes see a tiny brook trout finning in a deep, darkish nook of the creek. Extra seemingly, if you happen to’re not an angler and staring keenly via polarized lenses via clear water isn’t actually your factor, you would possibly discover a fish dart for canopy as your shadow crosses the stream.

This unassuming brook … this … rivulet (for “brook” is even too distinguished a descriptor for this diminutive trickle) is without doubt one of the extra complicated fishing locations I’ve ever visited. Sure, there are non-native brookies right here. In reality, any fish on this stream is non-native—earlier than the Nationwide Park Service launched lake trout, brown trout and brook trout into Shoshone and Lewis lakes and their surrounding drainages, the entire drainage was likely fishless.

I make some extent to go to this little run every now and then. Not yearly, however virtually. I’ve fished it from its forested, mosquito-infested headwaters to its modest “estuary” the place it should crest the black-sand seashore and stream into Shoshone Lake.

For some motive, this tiny little stream captures my creativeness, and it does so in that Dr. Ian Malcom “life finds a method” method. It’s not a thriving trout ecosystem (at the very least not at first blush). It’s not stunningly beautiful (however its magnificence grows on you). It doesn’t stream via extreme, weathered nation (however if you happen to hike it after an autumn snowstorm, you’ll see extra than simply boot prints on the path).

For me, this little ribbon of flowing, tannic water merely beckons. I wish to know the way it works.

So I develop into a trout prospector.

Most fly fishers who possess a rod smaller than a 5-weight will perceive what I’m making an attempt to speak. Whenever you strategy a fishing vacation spot with lightweight deal with, you could have, for essentially the most half, adjusted your expectations accordingly. You’re not fishing to catch trophy trout which may someday adorn the wall of the cabin. As an alternative, you’re after one thing extra visceral. Not the “what” of fishing, however extra seemingly the “why.”

How so?

Take this little trickle in Yellowstone. Sure, it’s small. It’s unassuming. It’s seemingly ignored by most anglers who’re, as a substitute, heading to sexier locations just like the Snake or Lewis rivers, the Lewis River Channel or the Firehole farther north.

Nevertheless it’s a part of one thing grander, as most small waters are. It’s a part of the whole drainage of two high-elevation lakes that, for higher or for worse, have been manipulated by humankind for about 130 years. No, there aren’t any roads to Shoshone Lake, and Lewis Lake solely will get drive-by remedy from most. However each lakes (and the streams that feed them) are residence to a posh fishy meals internet that begins and ends with launched species. And this little blue line on the Yellowstone Nationwide Park map is a part of that internet.

As I “prospected” the stream earlier this summer season, I knew I’d catch brook trout. These launched exotics from the shoulders of Appalachia are actually among the many most distinguished salmonids all through the park. Through the years, although, I’ve usually puzzled why I wasn’t catching extra brown trout within the stream—I’ve seen redds within the broader waters of the creek close to its confluence with the lake, and it’s a close to certainty that young-of-the-year browns use the stream as a nursery earlier than retreating to the lake as soon as they attain an affordable dimension.

So, on this “prospecting” journey, I used to be looking for browns. I knew they’d be small. I knew they’d be nearly proper for the wispy little 1-weight I used to be utilizing. I additionally knew that brook trout, in streams like this one, are likely to outcompete different fish, together with browns.

I thought of this the fly-fishing equal of a gold-panning endeavor the place, among the many a whole bunch of items of gravelly detritus, an occasional flake of shiny steel would possibly flip up.

I wasn’t thinking about a trophy. I wasn’t thinking about a hero shot. I merely wished to see if there have been trout among the many char, why they flip up, the place they flip up … and why so occasionally. And, as if awaiting a correct introduction, two 4-inch lengthy young-of-the yr browns hit my dimension 16 Adams.

Gold flakes. They flip up, usually while you least anticipate them to.

That is seemingly the logic behind “prospecting,” and one of many causes that 1-weight fly rods exist within the first place. It’s about treasure, and the trouble it takes to search for it. It’s about getting out of the automobile and wandering a blue line on the map in actual life. It’s about mosquitoes that really feel as if they could be capable of carry you off if that they had the great sense to work collectively to empty your physique of blood. It’s about stealth and accuracy. It takes dedication.

If this isn’t your factor, don’t ditch the 5-weight. But when exploration turns your crank … if the invention course of lights your hair on fireplace, even just a bit, then a lightweight rod or two must occupy a nook of your closet.

These tiny, delicate implements may be remodeled into the gold pan and the display screen, and now and again, a bit of treasure would possibly simply flip up.

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