Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 135mm), ISO 200, f10, 1/200
Waking up yesterday morning well before dawn was inevitable, but it did give me the chance to watch the sun rising over the huge valley we are in here. Above is about the coolest site for a caravan that I have ever seen, just outside of Yellowstone Valley Ranch where we are staying. The snow that still tops many of the mountains around here gives a clue as to why the fishing is tough at the moment though.....
They are having one of their latest ever springs out here - the snow-melt should have happened a while ago, but we are right in the middle of it now. The decision was taken yesterday to head right up into the world famous Yellowstone National Park to fish a few rivers in there. You can guess the levels of excitement from Nick and I as we made our way through the gates to the park and very soon encountered bison, deer and even a few elk. I had not realised just how huge bison are, but when you see one crossing the road like cattle of sheep would on Dartmoor, you get a full sense of their scale. Below are a couple of bison - I would love time to really try and nail some decent wildlife shots out here, but we have a job to do, and that concerns fishing.
Canon 1D MK111, 300mm f4L IS lens + 1.4TC (420mm), ISO320, f8, 1/640
Now I would love to say that we smashed more trout yesterday than you can shake a stick out, but in the end we were skunked (bear in mind that this was a "play" day, in that we were unguided. Things change today !!). Make no mistake, Nick Hart worked his socks off on loads of different stretches of water, using plenty of different methods, but the local trout population were simply not playing ball at all. It is very much worth checking out Nick's blog for the technical details of what went on yesterday, but for me it was just a dream to be photographing fishing in such a place like Yellowstone National Park. We probably saw about 1% of this vast park, and still I came away totally in a complete state of awe.
Nick and I are getting a load of photos together for Hardy & Greys Ltd., and the gear is doing great. Nick is using and wearing a bunch of brand new Hardy products for the shoot (some of which have yet to hit the market), and to put the stuff against the kinds of places we are seeing is just outrageous.
Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 320, f8, 1/160, polarising filter
Above you can see Nick tackling up on the side of the Firehole river - those deep blue skies and fluffy white clouds do it for me in a big way!! We parked up and dropped down the side of a remote valley to get in here, and both of us were surprised to say the least that a monster local brown trout did not go and impale itself on Nick's fly. Today is always another day.......
Canon 1D M111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens, ISO 250, f8, 1/80, polarising filter
Above is the last bit of water we tried before heading out of the park and back for a late and welcome supper (the food here is far too good). This is a stretch of the Gibbon river that winds across a stunning meadow in the park, and to Nick's right were loads of bison, no doubt amused at us guys doing what we do. It was a frustrating day, for most of the waters literally breathed of fish, but sometimes fishing likes to kick you hard and remind you that it takes a bit of extra hard work to begin to come to grips with a place.
I remain utterly blown away with this part of the world. Yellowstone Valley Ranch is one of the best and friendliest places I have ever had the privilege to stay, and the setting on the banks of the Yellowstone river is simply magical. This valley is on a vast scale - what a great place it would be for a family holiday. The great outdoors and masses to do - fishing, horse riding, white water rafting, hiking, skiing, or just taking it easy, you name it, you can do it all out here and I can't wait to come back already. Not that many hardcore fishing places make a great destination for the whole family, but here is in my mind just about perfect. If you want wide open spaces, stunning waters and a true sense of what it is all about, speak to Aardvark McLeod and get yourself out to Montana as soon as you can. Honestly, I can not rave about this place enough, and it does not cost half as much as you think it should. It's also very easy to get out here from the UK.
A friend of mine over in SE Ireland has emailed me a photo of a 72cm long bass he had on the first day of their new bass season, 16th June - what a fish to open the account with, and of course it went back. They smashed a load of fish, so you can guess I am sure how excited I am to be heading over there in mid-July, right after photographing some Atlantic salmon fishing on the Namsen river over in Norway.
And you might be wondering how on earth I have got the time to update this blog out here ? At the moment it is just after 5am, and I am typing this and watching the valley here light up for another perfect day in paradise. As always, I am struggling to get my body on US time - I woke up just before 4am this morning, thinking about photos, fishing and extreme metal of course. Lots of sleep is never really an option on trips like this, it's far too exciting to waste time grabbing loads of kip, and I can always catch up a bit on the flight home. Sleeping pills, headphones, iPOD, Norwegian black metal and eye shades soon knock me out. Anyway, it is fast getting light outside and in half an hour the chef will have filled the coffee pot up......