The Global FlyFisher - The Largest and Best Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tying
First published March 1st 2002 - More than 13 years ago
170 trout between two fishers
Down in the main valley, on the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River, Ernest Hemingway, the swashbuckling novelist, who mainly told the truth, but occasionally took some liberties, boasted to have hooked 95 fish in a day. All on a McGinty, a wet fly which imitates a yellow jacket, a kind of hornet. We tried it too and it sure caught some trout. But nothing beat the high-riding hoppers, Wulffs and Adams suggested by Dave.
Grizzly bears and marauding wolves from Yellowstone Park roam the steep slopes and gulches of the Absaroka Range. Obviously Dave felt that federal penpushers overprotected these predators and threatened the livelihoods of ranchers and hunt outfitters.
You never get enough
Our lucky pick was the K Bar Z Guest Ranch, a family operation lorded over by Elliott Seagal and run on a daily basis by Dawna Barnett, the gal in charge of administrative matters. "Don't you worry about catching fish; up there you'll get anything like a hundred or more." He told us at Cody (of Buffalo Bill fame) Airport. Was this cowboy overstatement as opposed to British understatement, or just a plain fib? The ranch itself is located at the foot of the towering Cathedral Cliffs just off the road to the Northast Entrance of the Park. We spared a day to get accustomed to the laid-back style especially as we needed some sleep to rest from the dreadful Anchorage flight and to avoid high elevation sickness, and so we took part in the K Bar Z barbecue and dance. We also were spectators at the Cody Night Rodeo.
Eagerly rising to fur and feather
Dry Fly Paradise
No nymphs, no streamers. This was Dry Fly Paradise. As usual we were absolutely overequipped. As Elliott told one of his sane (that is non-fishing) guests: "These guys carry more flies than I have in my shop". We were "competing" against each other, running to the better pools. But despite of hooking a few hundred fish in five days, we only had to kill one, which was bleeding profusely. Cooked by Mary-Anne (Elliott's wife and possibly the most important person at K Bar Z), what a breakfast it made!
Although we never caught any real monster, we managed to land some real beauties. The largest one, a Cutthroat of about 21 inches, released by Jean-Marc into the Lamar river inside the Park, the bonus here being our ride through a herd of buffaloes, the mighty flee-ridden Tatanka. The average size of the fish we caught was between 10 to12 inches with some better ones and the "cricks" as Dave would call them were at an elevation of about eight to ten thousand feet!
Occasionally, Dave fished with us, but he was more inclined on banning us on videotape adding spicy remarks about our inaptitudes. He led us to the places of our dreams and showed us more fish we cared to see. We had a great time with him and can't wait to go back to K Bar Z to enjoy more of the hospitality, friendship and great fishing.
Our only bad luck were the forest fires which made our 5-day pack trip impossible. The U.S. Forest Service had put a ban on overnight camping and we had to return to the ranch every night to the very dismay of Jean-Marc who likes his trips a bit tougher than most. "If it doesn't hurt, it ain't true".
I didn't mind and therefore got to appreciate Mary-Anne's great Cowboy cuisine. Our meals were taken under the impressive trophies of mule deer, bighorn ram, moose, trout and the inevitable jackalope. I still was more than happy to relax in a rocking chair under antlered game in the lounge enjoying the sarcastic wit of our host Elliott.
Gear and flies
Short rods up to a length of 8 feet with a comfortable action in 2-to-5 line weight are a good choice. I liked to fish an old 7'7" G-series Scott rod that allowed me to feel fish when fighting them, whereas Jean-Marc preferred the crisper action of a 7'9" 4-weight Winston. For mountain lakes we upgraded to longer rods, heavier lines and longer leaders. A 5-to 6-weight rod is a good choice here. All fishing is done with floating lines. When we return we won't certainly forget a belly boat, sink lines and the pack mule is not going to break it's back.
The Welcome mat is always out
K Bar Z is a licensed outfitter for Yellowstone Park, but Dave's favoured haunts are well outside its boundaries. The setting of the ranch is phantastic: you stay in comfortable private log cabins and the massive stone fireplace leaves a lasting impression. Mary-Anne knows how to pamper her guests and does so with great pleasure.
We can't wait to return to this ranch where, the Welcome Mat is always out. K Bar Z claim to be in the business of creating memories. They are not! They make dreams come true!