Few words will describe The Firehole

The annual trip to Yellowstone is in the books, and while there’s much that I could write about the trip, hardly anyone reads the Drivel®. Conversely, nearly everyone likes pictures. So, rather than hunker down and scribe a plethora of words that will fall on deaf eyes, I’ve made the decision to tell about this year’s trip mostly in photos, with little emphasis on words. So, with the promise of many photos, let’s begin with a few words:

We fished a week later than we normally do. Turns out that was a good thing because opening weekend found the Firehole high and the fishing tough. Just ask Goose. He was there on opening weekend. He worked hard for 5 fish. He was also with us a week later, and he didn’t work very hard for a hell of a lot more than 5 fish. Overall the catching may have been a bit off the normal pace, but it wasn’t anything to complain about.

We arrived at the Ho Hum in West Yellowstone under sunny skies and warm temperatures. We held a meeting to discuss our plans.

Planning conference at the Ho Hum.

We also saw some cats. We always see cats.

The Ho Hum is home to many.

On Day One we were the only people in the parking lot at Midway Geyser Basin with intentions to fish. There was one other car. I’m not sure what their intentions were, but they weren’t there to fish. Usually the parking lot is choked with cars and tours buses: many there to tour; many there to fish. We geared up as it began to rain lightly. It often rains. But at least it wasn’t cold. It’s often cold.

Only the Rangers were there to fish.

As the rain picked up, we took refuge under a tree and continued the gearing up process.

A tree and a couple of Rangers.

As we always do, we posed for a group photo before mounting our assault on the fish of the Firehole.

Firehole Rangers 2014

We heard thunder approaching as we began our forced march. As we neared the river, the thunder neared us. There was lightning. We decided that waving graphite sticks in the air wasn’t perhaps a wise thing to do in Yellowstone when an electrical storm is brewing. Marck is usually very brave. He was not so brave this time. He retreated. We followed him.

The Rangers pull back.

We waited out the storm in the confines of Mrs. Morris’ minivan. It was the picture of manliness: Five Rangers in a minivan, seeking shelter from the raging storm. The storm passed within a few minutes, which was a good thing. Five men in a minivan after having consumed a breakfast at McDonald’s is not often a pleasant thing. We were relieved when it was safe to go outside.

The storm raged outside.

Shortly thereafter we were on the water, and into fish.

Jimmy with the first fish of the day.

As the day wore on, the weather improved. The fishing continued to be something nobody would complain about.

Morris enjoys a lack of rain.

Goose was happy to note that the fishing had improved greatly over the previous weekend.

The face of a man who caught only 5 fish on opening day.

Marck, who was not brave when it came to the thunder and lightning earlier in the day, bravely fished past a bachelor group of bison.

Fishes with Tatanka.

By mid day, the weather was downright pleasant and anyone who had failed to apply sunscreen that morning would come to regret it.

Morris sunning himself on the banks of the Firehole.

We enjoyed the remainder of the day as we fished down to Fountain Flat Drive.

Morris fishing from the banks of the Firehole.

Goose enjoys considerably better fishing than he did a week earlier.

Goose and Morris discuss how well the river was fishing.

Marck pauses between fish to look contemplative for the camera.

Gratuitous Firehole scenery photo.

A Firehole brown.

Ominous dark sky with sunlit landscape.

We did see a few anglers as Day One droned on, but that’s to be expected as we neared our termination point at Fountain Flat Drive. All in all we had most of the river to ourselves. Back at the Ho Hum we held a meeting to talk of the fish caught on Day One, and made plans for Day Two. It rained a bit, which came as no surprise.

Summing up Day One at the Ho Hum.

On Day Two we hiked in from Fountain Flat Drive. We were the only fishermen in the parking lot. Only one other car was there and it belonged to a young couple who, based on their appearances as they walked toward their parked car, had spent the night in the woods. They were carrying blankets and a tarp and little else other than the clothes on their backs: no tents, no backpacks. We speculated as to what it must have been like to spend the night in the wilderness, in the rain, amidst perhaps a large herd of bison. Someone must have lost a bet.  We hiked upriver to our fishing destination, giving a wide berth to a large heard of Bison cows with their calves.

There was a large Bison hatch this year.

There were more Bison this year it seemed. Besides the large, aforementioned herd, we also saw a lively group of young bulls trotting and kicking up their heels. The small groups of old bulls never act this way. Oh, to be young again.

Young bulls.

We caught more fish, but it was considerably slower than the first day. It always is. We got off the water early and did the tourist thing for a short while, stopping to see what most of the people in the park come to see in the Midway Geyser Basin: Excelsior Geyser Crater. It’s pretty impressive. It discharges 4,000 to 4,500 gallons of boiling water into the Firehole each minute. That’s a lot.

Excelsior Geyser Crater. It’s big.

Not surprisingly, Excelsior Geyser is a main attraction and there were no fewer than several busloads of Asian tourists present. Morris posed for a nice photo with one group of young tourists who came to see a geyser and got their picture taken with a geezer.

An old geezer by the geyser.

Tourists must stay on the boardwalk for fear of damaging the fragile thermal crust, or worse: falling through the fragile thermal crust.

Heed the warnings.

One of the many tourists dropped the lens cap to his camera off the boardwalk. There ensued much chaos that included yelling and blame-placing, although in a language I did not understand. Scorn and panic are a universal language. Fortunately nobody was harmed and the lens cap was retrieved.

Grab hold and hope the seam in his pants doesn’t breach.

The drama was captured from two different angles.


That about wrapped up the Firehole for 2014. The next morning we would leave for our next stop along the way: The Madison River at Three Dollar Bridge.

Old Lady Ho Hum

Until next year…


  1. Howard Levett

    Nice documentary Kirk. Was that my brown trout that you promised me?

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Howard. Glad you enjoyed. And yes—that brown was yours. I always try my best to make good on my promises, although sometimes, admittedly, I come up short.

  2. Morris

    Will we hear about your accomplishments on day 3 and or day 4 of the trip?

    I believe you and the Madison are friends again: and the Bucket list has one less river on it.

    Eagerly awaiting,

    • Kirk Werner

      The Madison and I will never be friends—it’s a delicate relationship. I’m inclined to leave on good terms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *