Eye of the Guide


Satoshi Yamamoto - Oct 06, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 8 can be found here

Case #6: Bee Swarm on B-Day

Although this story is not based in Yellowstone Country, as I wrote this series I reminisced of this experience. I believe it's very relevant to the topic.

Surreal Experience on My Birthday:

It was probably the most surreal experience in my life, fishing and any other things included. Several years ago I lived in eastern part of Washington State. There were some good trout fisheries in the area, with Yakima River probably the most well-known. My best kept secret and favorite was the small mountain stream filled with native Westslope cutthroats and wild rainbows. The Westslope tended to be larger than the rainbow. The largest being 15 to 16-inches, any Westslope 12-inch or larger were always beautiful. This stream was suitable for one day or for one overnight camping with the mix of other streams in the area. Although fishing was consistent and always fun, I didn't want to fish it out. It was such a lovely stream. (Though usually I'm open to discuss which streams and even spots, I've never mentioned the name in my blog. Now I don't live there any more so don't ask me!)

At that time I was already grown up too old to feel special about my birthday (early August). Yet ideally I didn't want to work but go out fishing. Somehow fishing on my birthday has been special (even now). When I could take a week or longer leave from the job at that time, I made fishing trips to Montana (go figure where I live and what I do now). In that summer, I couldn't take a week-long break but barely managed to take one day off on my birthday. So I decided to hit this creek. Honestly I didn't expect much as I drove. In the previous year, my favorite and the most productive hole (5 to 6-foot deep) had been buried with rocks (I had guessed it was due to run-off). Consequently nice size cutthroats also had seemed to be gone. Yet this creek was the only one option on that day. Anyway I hiked to the hole. As I was getting closer, I noticed there were many bees flying just along and above the stream. They were not stinging kinds at all (sorry, no pictures). As I got the tail-out of the hole where I usually started fishing, I felt "BUZZ". I'm not making jokes here. Yes, bees were buzzing in the air but also I "felt", or probably "perceived", "BUZZ" steaming up from the hole (I might have had some adult drinks the night before but I was sober enough to walk on rocks and in the water without collapsing). Without any hesitation, I rigged up two dry-flies: bee + attractor dry flies. As my flies fell on the water with the first cast, trout swam up to attack with ferocity!! This was the BUZZ I felt steaming up from the hole. Trout must have recognized bees flying above them but they had no way to jump at that high in the air.

Typical appearance of Native Westslope in Eastern WA.

Another Bee-Swatter!!

One little trout bit on the attractor dry and pulled down my leader. Then a much larger Cutt darted to the bee pattern!! For a while I literally had a "double" (lost the larger one, I recall). Also, more than once I observed larger trout were darted to the bee pattern when my leaders got dragged under water by currents.

As the pictures show I caught some nice Westslope cutthroats from the hole, all on the bee pattern. I was sincerely glad they were still there. They must have had survive, away from the buried hole, somewhere in that small stream. This feeding frenzy went on about one hour (could've been shorter, I don't remember well). I started late so I was ready for lunch when the action slowed down. Now swarming bees around my lunch were slightly annoying (again they weren't the stinging kinds). Although bees were present all afternoon, somehow the trout didn't come up to take the bee pattern any more.

Bee Patterns

Since this experience I always carry bee patterns with me during summer months. These patterns have evolved through experiments and as my tying skills grew. Followings are two of my recent patterns. These work very well in waters I fish and guide; Yellowstone Park waters and floating rivers like Yellowstone and Madison Rivers; during summer months.

Yamamoto's Summer Buzz Bee

  • Hook: Scud or Emerger #12 & 14
  • Thread: Black 8/0
  • Rear Body: Cylinder foam black/yellow cut in half
  • Front Body: Black foam
  • Wing: White Zelon Windows' Web, etc.
  • Legs: Small rubber-legs, choice of colors/barring.

Yamamoto's Fountain Buzz Bee

  • Hook: 2XL curved #12 & 14
  • Thread: Black 8/0
  • Rear Body: Cylinder foam black/yellow cut in half
  • Front Body: Black foam
  • Wing: White Zelon Windows' Web, etc., Parachute style
  • Hackle: Grizzly
  • Legs: Small rubber-legs, choice of colors/barring
  • Dubbing: black or yellow or both (I used yellow behind and black in front of the parachute post).


I fished this creek during the following summer for several days but didn't see any bees at all. I had good fishing with respectable Westslope cutthroats at the same hole but nowhere close to the experience of the year before on my birthday. Even now, though I spend days the water fishing and guiding much more than then, I haven't had days when bees were present in such abundance (without stinging us) and trout actively look up ONLY for bee patterns. I'm sure I'm not getting emotional, but the "BUZZ" I felt steaming up from the hole was something surreal and divine. It was the birthday present given to an old boy by the "Fishing god".

Satoshi Yamamoto, http://leftyangler.blogspot.com, is a guide and a professional fly-tyer in Livingston, MT.


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