Today marks our halfway point for the trip. It was a fine looking morning, so Dave, Michelle and I rented a boat from Fishing Bridge to try our hand at Lake Trout fishing (a.k.a. Mackinaw trout). The Lake Trout were planted sometime after we moved away, and their deep spawning tendencies and lack of a larger predator have made them a menace for the ecosystem of the lake. They have decimated the native Cutthroat population, (some feat after the way humans decimated them in the first half of the 20th century) and rangers who have worked the lake have noticed a change in the population of otters and birds of prey now that there are fewer Cutthroat to eat.
We rented small aluminum lodge boats when I was a kid and I remember fondly as we trolled spin-a-lures and caught plenty of Cutthroats. The boat we rented was much larger, and a Klamath to boot. It was very comfortable, though we had to rely on a bathymetry chart on my phone for depth.
We trolled a variety of different lures, including a few spin-a-lures with various dropper weights and even a few straight lines. At one point, we drifted a little too close to the shore and got snagged in some bottom gunk. I thought my navigation was sound, trying for deeper channels and ledges, but we had nary a bite. Amazingly, when we were well out in the middle of the lake, we were swarmed by gnats. Another fun fact: the PFDs that Michelle and I were wearing were my parents from when we lived in Wyoming in the 80s. Yes, those jackets were 30 years old and have been on that lake many a time.
We knew we were skunked, so we headed back to join back up with Kathy and the girls for lunch. After what was I’m sure an excellent lunch, we loaded up the wagons and drove up the Hayden Valley again to see the mud pots. Traffic was thick because the Grizzly mom and her cubs were out. Progress was slow, but we were able to see the cubs playing in the grass, a few eagles, and of course, lots of bison.
At first, the bear cubs were asleep in the sagebrush and we could only see the sow meandering around. Once the cubs woke up, they were in a playful mood and we were able to see them follow mom back towards the carrion. You can see in the shot above how the two are wrestling. How adorable.
After the bears, we turned back towards the lake to check out the Mud Volcano boardwalk. The sights and smells were a treat. It’s amazing how the sink of sulfur translates so well across different languages. You could see the disgust in the faces and in the laughter of the foreign visitors. (Side note – the country of origin of the tourists was much different than when I was last in Yellowstone. The world changes, obviously.)
It was up hear that Dave saw what he believes to be a wolf running near the mud volcano. Sadly, we couldn’t follow it to try to get a better sighting, because, boiling mud.
After our adventure, we headed back to camp to clean up. We had reservations at Lake Hotel for dinner. IT turns out that even when camping, we can clean up pretty well.
How lucky am I? What beauties.
Dinner was excellent, service was great, and there were a couple buck deer with their velvety antlers right outside the window during our meal. What a treat. Afterwards, I showed the kids the medical clinic I used to visit with my dad when he was the volunteer medical director for the park. It looks the same now as it did then.
After dinner, we went back to Kathy & Dave’s camper for some Rummy and shit-talking. Ella had a camera and was able to capture the moment, though she’s not yet the best at making sure the photos turn out before moving on to the next image.
Since Kathy got cell reception in the park at times, I used her phone to find additional maps of the West Thumb bathymetry since I was going to take the canoe out fishing the next morning. No one else wanted to get up before 5am to join me. Wimps.