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The Pool

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I did a painting a month or two ago that depicts a piece of water with me in the foreground and the Absaroka Mountains in the background. It was from some photos my wife Mary took of me back in the spring. The painting was named "Grateful", and I'll try to post a picture of it on here in the morning--you can see it on my alagnewart Facebook page. The pool is "on" the Yellowstone River, but it's actually not a part of the river itself. Instead, it's part of the lower end of Nelson's Spring Creek, one of the two famous spring creeks coming into the Yellowstone above Livingston. This creek comes out of its channel onto a huge gravel bar on the river, splitting into a narrow section that runs along the high bank away from the river for a bit, and this big, wide pool that runs more directly toward the river. Since it's a part of the river channel between the high banks, it's perfectly legal to fish it. Guides sometimes take their clients up to it from the river...if their clients are decent anglers. Because there are big trout in it, and they rise regularly almost all the time. It's impressive to see it on a calm day, when you can look up this football field size pool and see rising trout everywhere. problem is, it's flat water from 2 to 4 feet deep all the way up it, and it's always extremely clear, so the fish are spooky and selective. Couple that with the unfortunate fact that most of the time you can't even see what the heck these fish are taking. I've tried fishing various dry flies to them, and have caught very few.

But what works a lot more easily is to fish streamers. You have to be quiet and make long casts, and you have to use a fairly long, fairly light leader so your fly line doesn't spook them as readily, but these fish will hit streamers. So anymore, when I'm floating this section of the river, I always stop here and spend an hour or so stripping streamers in this pool.

Mary and I had planned to get out on the river today, but when we awoke this morning the wind was honking. We almost didn't go. In fact, we'd decided we were going to Bozeman to do some shopping and take a short hike on a trail just off the interstate between Bozeman and Livingston instead. We even got all our hiking stuff together and got in the car to take off for Bozeman after spending much of the morning doing other stuff, but as we drove away from the house Mary said, "Are you SURE we shouldn't float the river today?" The wind had moderated a bit and it was sunny and in the mid-60s, a beautiful day.

I told her that we didn't really have time to do the float we'd planned, but we could maybe try floating the Pine Creek to Carter's Bridge section just above town, which wouldn't take as long. So we turned around and went back to the house, I called the shuttle service and arranged the shuttle, we loaded Mary's kayak and my little Watermaster raft in the truck, and took off for Pine Creek.

It was 12:30 by the time we got on the water, and Mary had to be back by 5:30 and it's a seven mile float, so I knew I didn't have time for a lot of fishing. I only took my 5 wt rod and didn't even rig it up before we put in. I knew I was going to have to keep up with Mary and coach her through some of the rapids, because this section has a lot of somewhat tricky rapids with pretty decent wave trains and some sharp turns. And her kayak goes a LOT faster than my little raft.

I quickly decided that if I wanted to fish that pool, I wouldn't have time for much, if any, other fishing. Besides, the wind had come up again and was really blowing, fortunately downriver.

The creek comes in two thirds of the way through the float, and I never rigged the rod until we got there. Mary hiked up to a shady spot out of the wind, where she could read a book and watch me fish, because she knew I was going to spend an hour at least on this pool. The sun was bright, which didn't bode too well for streamers in that clear water, but the wind was keeping the surface rippled, which would help.

The pool is usually full of brown trout as well as rainbows, and on streamers you'll catch more browns than rainbows, but the browns weren't there today. They had almost certainly moved farther up the creek to spawn. But the rainbows were there. I won't go into a blow by blow account of the fishing; suffice it to say that I probably had between 25 and 30 bumps on the streamer I was using, a smallish black rabbit hair concoction I tie, but most of them were just that, bumps that didn't result in hook-ups. I hooked two big fish that both broke my 3x fluoro tippet, and I caught 6 trout, a lone 18 inch brown, and 14 inch, 15 inch, 18 inch, 19 inch, and 21 inch rainbows. All were very fat fish, too. Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead so there are no pictures. These fish jumped a lot and all put up terrific fights.

It took an hour and a half to completely fish the pool, and then it was time to get on down the river. I never picked up the rod the rest of the afternoon. But hey, I've done plenty of floats on the Yellowstone where I fished all day and didn't do nearly that well.

I love that pool.

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Great read Al, so nice for someone to post an actual fishing story with no politics! I thought the "Grateful" painting looked a lot like you :) I'm guessing Montana is much further along in the fall/winter process than we are here in Missouri.

"Honor is a man's gift to himself" Rob Roy McGregor

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post-218-0-41425000-1381249080.jpgHere's the painting.

Mitch, it's not as far along as you'd think. We had a good snowfall a week or so ago. Snowed all day, but was just warm enough that it melted as it fell. Continued snowing all night, and we awoke the next morning to about 3-4 inches. But by the next day it was almost gone in the lower elevations where we are. Right now, the mountains still have snow down to about 7000 feet. The cottonwoods along the river have started turning color and are mostly yellow, but the aspens haven't turned yet. Yesterday the air temps were up close to 70 when you could get out of the wind. Today it's supposed to be a little cooler, and cooler yet tomorrow.

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Yes, wonderful. Not quite as good as being there but it helps.

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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Until I saw your signature in the corner I thought that was the photo, amazing. I think I told you in the past I found some pocket watches probably at least 20 years old from Avon that had your prints on them.


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Awesome painting Al, and the story to go with just makes it better.

I can't dance like I used to.

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