New Heathens
23Nov/10Off

Yellowstone/Tetons Wadbuster

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. As promised, here's a wadbuster post about my most excellent vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in early September. The Thanksgiving tie-in? Every last thing you'll see in each of these pics I'm thankful beyond words for.

This was the crew, Chris Stetler and Lido Vizzutti, my best friends since 6th grade, plus Chris' wife Laura, Lido's fiancee Jessica and, of course, Smurfette.

Yes, I love my friends so much I pose them on the precipice of this.

This is what Smurfette means by "taking the plunge," right?

The wildlife viewing was awesome; a North American safari. Lido got this great wolf pic.

This one too.

We watched this one gnaw on an elk carcass in the Lamar River.

There was excellent moose watching in the Tetons. Yes, we actually took this picture about a mile north of Moose Junction, WY.

No fishing, moose crossing.

Bullwinkle takes a nap.

It was thrilling to see a few grizzlies too. This was the griz angle Lido was able to get in the Lamar Valley.And this was the grizzly angle I was able to get near Blacktail Ponds.

I did get this great elk pic by Yellowstone Lake, though.

Said hello to buffalo!

Herd mentality by the Yellowstone River.

Buffalo fishing, one of an uncountable number of things I love about Yellowstone. Jessica snapped this in the Lamar Valley.

By the by, should seeing all those buffalo give anyone a hankering to eat one, the world's best buffalo burger is served at Helen's Corral in Gardiner, MT.

Saw this nifty black bear on the way down to Yellowstone, just west of Livingston on I-90.

We got  plenty of coyote entertainment, like this one swimming across the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley.

Similarly, this family of otters delighted us by frolcking in a spring creek that feeds into the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.

It wouldn't be a proper trip to Yellowstone without seeing some geothermal wonders too, like Grand Prismatic Spring.

Mammoth Hot Springs.

Little geyser, spouting off. Emerald pool. Aww, the feeling is mutual, Yellowstone.We watched Old Faithful erupt in style; from the porch of the Old Faithful Inn, enjoying beverages brewed by Madison River Brewing Company and Grand Teton Brewing Company

It had been so long since I visited the Tetons, I'd forgotten how magnificent they are.

The weather, a trout blogger noted after the fact, took a dive the week we visited Yellowstone. Smurfette reminded me, as we wheeled up an 8,878 foot pass through a blizzard on the first night of the trip en route to our camping spot, that this was her summer vacation.

The Smurfettes were tough!

Their monkeybrained beaus? Well...

We've always been a little off. Like Chef Chris...

Or Fisherman Lido...

Maybe Mountain Reveler me.

Big fun, right Lido?

We come by it honestly. We had an excellent breakfast sendoff to our trip with a group of loons called "The Starlighters Crew" at Finnegan's Family Restaurant in Missoula.

The leader of that crew, of course, is Capt. John "H. Tap-Dancing" Schuberg. Arr!

Ah, but what Yellowstone trip would be complete without some trout fishing? Well, let me tell you about itHaving looked forward to this trip for so long, I psyched myself out a little bit (a phenomenon my favorite trout blogger calls "The Yellowstone Syndrome"). Still, Smurfette was a solider. Finally, in the Lamar Canyon, our luck began to change.

That's more like it.

The prize I wanted from this trip was a Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat Trout, a subspecies of the Yellowstone Cutthroat (pictured above) that is found around Grand Teton National Park and nowhere else in the world. As seems to always be the case when I lead loved ones on a hairbrained trout mission, I'm never the first to score. Like when I fish with my brothers. The first to catch the elusive Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat? Smurfette.

I finally got what I came for.

A little later I got this very pretty Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat that went about 17 inches.

Close to where Lido was casting I saw a cutthroat rise that was no less than two feet long. It was so huge it kinda' froze my blood a little. When I came back Lido, wide-eyed and shaking his head, said he rose that trout two times. I knew he was telling the truth because he said, "I had to take a walk."

Yes, it seems the only thing prettier than a Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat Trout is the country where you have to go to catch one.

Or, in my lucky case, the company. We let all the cutthroats go. But one evening along the Snake River in between Yellowstone and Grand Teton I got my limit of brown trout and roasted them over the campfire on sticks. Figured the cutts wouldn't miss 'em. And mercy were they tasty.

Before we left I reached out to almost every flyshop I could find in the region. I'd like to give a shout out to them for the good advice they gave. Thank you Dick Greene at Bud Lilly's Trout Shop, Justin Spence at West Yellowstone Fly Shop, the good folks at Blue Ribbon Flies, Richard Parks at Parks Fly Shop, Madison River Outfitters, Jason Balogh at Fish the Fly Guide Service and Travel, David Ellerstein at Jackson Hole Anglers, Rhett Bain at Reel Deal Anglers, Brad at High Country Flies, Todd Lanning at South Fork Outfitters and big thanks to Nathan Bennett at Teton Fly Fishing.

This is a good place also to let you know that I just signed a contract with Stackpole Books to write a guidebook to fishing in Yellowstone Park. It will be titled "The 50 Best Places to Fish in Yellowstone Park" and will be published in 2012. Being far from an expert angler myself, my plan for the book is to interview 50 fly fishing guides, shop owners, writers, biologists, rangers and other notable folks about their favorite spots in Yellowstone to fish. My goal for the book is for it to have the broadest, most comprehensive collection of advice, tips, facts, lessons and memories ever assembled in a Yellowstone guidebook. No, anglers don't like to reveal their favorite spots, but they do like to tell fish stories. That's what I'm after.

It's going to be a fun project.

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  1. Hey Nate, I’m Pat Ford a Friend of Laura’s in Missoula.I took a trip to NY with her this summer and was supposed to meet with you in the Village. I was looking forward to it,but I guess she was worried about going into the city.If I knew that I would have pushed her a little . I just thought she wanted to get out of town. Congrat’s on your new release,I use to play all over the city when I was a kid. The Metropole Cafe was one of our steady haunt’s along with the Bitter End/The Other End, The Peppermint Lounge,The Hwy Club for Chubby–hell the list go’s on.Ofcourse we had to work the Jewish Alp’s along with the Hamptons and everywhere in between. It kept us off the streets. For you Folks to make it in the City—you guy’s are doing something right. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you,I would have enjoyed it. Laura say’s the two of us are quite alike being Musicians and Photographers. The shots you got on the trip are incredible,you had some good wildlife day’s. It’s funny to see some Folks you mentioned that I knew when I lived in Gardiner. Helen’s Home of the mean burger,Helen I heard passed but I talked to Steve awhile back. If you didn’t know,they are the living decendents of Calamity Jane. She walked the streets of Gardiner and settled in that spot. Parks from Parks fly shop has been around forever–I spent 3 years working with the Bighorns till they started dropping off the cliffs from going blind,both the Gardiner herd and the Tower Juction herd. Enough going back to yesterday.Again ,great shots and good luck with the music—need a B3 or Banjo player? Only kidding- but–The next time you get to Montana,I’m one mile out of Glacier National Park,grab Laura and come on up.It’s funny,your a Montana that found his way in NY and I’m a NY’er that found his way in Montana. If you get a chance check out some of my shots on Face Book,they are from my homestead not meant to be artistic,kind of a photo book! Again best of luck to you. Pat

  2. oh– One more thing–if you do your trip to find anglers I’ve a good Friend named Doug Peacock that just love’s the fishing in the Yellowstone.He is the pubished writer and was the Ghost writer for Edward Abbey. He love’s going after Steelhead on the Madison.


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