The sun was just breaking through the trees as I
made my walk around the campground circle. Here at
7,000 feet plus it takes a few days for this ol'
man to be able to breath. I was sure that the tourists
had used up all the air. To build my lungs and decrease
my need for lots of Oxygen, I would slowly make the trip
around the camp circle each morning. Yellowstone's Canyon
Campground was our central headquarters for the week.
From here all the great sites are within striking
distance with the motor home.
I am and always have been a morning person. The rising
sun charges my internal battery for the day. As the night
leaves and things start moving, I feel alive and eager
to see just what the day will bring. Each sunrise will
shine on something new, is my way of thinking. This day was
no different. The mountain coolness under the tall pines
was muffled and the breeze just a carrier of the smells of
old camp fires and pine wood smoke. The squirrels and
jays seeking some breakfast were the only chatter
I was not feeling like I had run for 200 yards, as I made
my way back to the RV. I decided to head down to Cascade
Creek. This was the closest water to the campground that
might have some area to fly fish. Last night's bedtime
reading gave me hope that the little creek would have
some Grayling in it, near Cascade Lake. This creek feeding
from the lake that was only about 1 mile west of the Canyon
Junction. That was an easy walk downhill of about
three-quarters of a mile.
So packing my day bag and donning my fly-vest, I selected
my 4-piece, 9-foot, 3-weight custom rod, the one with all
the Concept single foot guides. I chose my 'Flylogic reel'
loaded with DT-4F line, I felt that I would want to make
short casts and quickly load the rod with a short line.
I had glanced at the creek the night before as we returned
from a West Yellowstone shopping trip. There were no overhead
trees to worry about, just low brush in the valley.
I walked along carrying my waders, day bag, rod tube and wearing
a smile sure to stop any bear, just like Davie Crocket's. My
breath left a small cloud as I traveled along in the morning
cool, enjoying the birds and small varmints that lived on
the edge of certain death by the wheels of the passing cars.
In the motor home I never noticed the small wildlife that
so covered this land.
There were small ground squirrels and some other type of
furry flash that I never got a good look at before they
would disappear into their tunnels. Whistling as I walked
I covered the mile without even thinking of all the
troubles in the world. Here I was enjoying Nature, as
it should be. I would be brought back to reality, as
park workers would drive past hurriedly as if late for
I got to the crossing where Cascade Creek flowed under
the westbound park road. I slid and hopped down the
north road embankment, to the valley edge. The valley
is bordered by stands of trees about 200 yards apart
with the creek winding its way from the north. I could
look to the north for maybe 3/4 of a mile. What I
thought was low gray sagebrush was to be almost
shoulder high in places. The sage had paths and
runs all through it. The leaves were still holding
the morning dew causing a damping of my jeans and shirt.
Cascade Creek, YNP, just above the westbound
park road from Canyon Junction. Sun has dried the sage.
I picked a place off the road about 100 feet that I
could recognize later, to stow my hiking boots, wader
bag, and rod tube. I put on my waders. I have learned
over years of fishing that hiking in waders can make
the rest of the day a bit moist, due to the sweat that
seems to settle around your feet by noon.
The bottom of the valley was not the most stable ground
having underground water with open holes the size of
basketballs. I had to watch my footing all the time. I
found I could not stand in one place too long, as I would
start sinking into the ground. There were gravel and rock
outcroppings that offered firm footing in places.
I found a path to the small creek. I mean small creek. In
July Cascade Creek was only 1 foot to 3 feet at the widest;
I could have jumped across it in most places if not wearing
waders. As you know neoprene waders with felt soles are not
made for jumping.
This is the narrow creek which held the cutthroats.
I studied the water for signs of the local trout. The water
was clear and moving well over the rainbow, colored, graveled
bottom. I turned over a few rocks to find some natural
foodstuff. I found that the undersides held some scuds
and that was about all. The cobwebs along the creek banks
held a few duns. I'd guess they might be pale morning duns.
So I chose a PMD on a #16 as my first try. I was working my
way up the creek as I cast to likely looking lies. The sun
was up and strong in a bright blue sky; what a wonderful
day I was having. I picked up my first cutthroat in about
15 minutes. She was a fighter about 8 inches long. Not what
you would call big or even a large trout. What it was to
me was a big step in my fly-fishing life. Yellowstone Cuts
were one of the things I wanted to mark off this year. Now
it leaves only the Grayling. They were somewhere upriver,
as I had read.
This little guy was about the average.
By 8:30 a.m. I was about a mile upriver, having taken and
released over a dozen trout, ranging up to about 11 inches.
In this area the Creek would almost close over and I would
have to get out of the creek bed and walk around. I found
one slot that was only 12 inches wide and 20 ft long, to
cast up. Drifting my light Cahill back down towards me I
could entice some good hits. I even found some that kept
the fly in their mouth long enough for me to set the hook.
What fun I was having.
Here you can see the rise forms.
I kept pushing upriver past the maintenance building and
over the logjams of the upper part of the creek. Here the
trees came right to the edge of the creek bank. The valley
was now narrow and more vertical on both sides.
I came up out of the water to get my bearings and see just
how much farther it was to the lake. Ahead was a large open
meadow or swale. I had come up in a grove of small trees
and could see over a half-mile upriver to the northeast.
There on the edge of the swale were two moose. They were
belly deep in the rich summer grass. Here in this high
country the summer comes fast and does not last long.
They have to feed all they can. I dropped back down
into the water and worked my fly upstream again. I was
still searching for the grayling. I had a rise from a
cut and missed the take as my mind wandered off enjoying
the great area of Yellowstone Park. I had traveled
about 50 or 60 feet when I thought I would check on
my surroundings again.
This time I did not have trees to break my silhouette.
The closer of the two moose, I think the younger, raised
his head and started my way. I have seen some funny
looking things in my time. The moose was like a young
foal trying to run the first day, or a camel racing
across the dessert. (I took a couple of pictures, unfortunately
you can't tell the moose from the trees.) Now I
was half laughing to myself as this young bull quickly
moved 50 yards of the 200 yards that separated us.
"Hey ol' man this is his country, time to leave," I said
to myself. I dropped back down out of sight and started
down river. Not running but checking each tree as to be
climbable in waders. I moved off at a very good pace in
the open areas. I got to a ridge that I could cross or
go around. I chose to cross it, as on the other side
was the Maintenance Building.
I glanced back and did not see my big-nosed friend. With
a sigh of relief, I thought to myself, "Of all the dumb
things I have done in my life including bull riding and
bicycle racing solo offshore sailing... Here I am over
a mile from the highway. A mile and a half from anybody
else. No one even knew where I was. This is Yellowstone,
you know, where the Buffalo and Bears roam. What are you
doing out here with just a flyrod?.... Now each bush and
outcropping was something to check twice. "Ok there is
a tree I could climb" I am thinking to myself or saying
to God. I pulled my rod into two pieces so as not to
hang up in the brush.
I did find one of the deep holes that dropped me to my
armpits. "Take it a little slower you ol' fool." I told
I did not slow down much until I was close to the crossing
of the roadway. Here I paused to try for some of the raising
trout under the roadway. Funny how they can be so calming
on this ol' man. My breathing was back to normal so I could
again enjoy the creek. Just my socks were a might damp
from the exertion.
While I was re-tying my fly that had been lost in the escape,
a large gray wolf came trotting along. The wolf was on the
eastside of the valley, about 75 yards from the treeline.
He was just trotting along as if it was his very own
backyard, as well it was. He glanced at me and kept
going as if to say, you are not a bother and I have
places to be. He easily made his way over the roadway
embankment and before I could get my camera out, he
Now I have out run a moose, out thought a trout, and
kept out of the way of a large wolf. Still I have not
caught a Grayling but there is next year...I might
drive a little closer. You know so I do not have to
carry my stuff quite so far.
I guess I can say I was 'fishing with the wolfs.'
~ Allen Crise (Flysoup)
Allen Crise is a FFF fly casting instructor from Texas
and an active member in the Ft. Worth Fly Fishers a FFF club.
He teaches fly-casting and builds custom rods in his small
shop in Glen Rose.