Friday, December 19, 2014

Bitterroot October Flashback

With the snow piling up outside the window and a mountain of winter fly tying ahead, its a fitting moment to savor a flashback to the fall fishing crescendo from just a few weeks ago. With the crisp mornings and balmy afternoons of indian summer came the aggressive hits of autumn brown trout, staking out their turf and showing no quarter to intruders whether real or imitation. Enter flashy white minnow invading said airspace and Kasploosh! Dead to rights minnow, never had a chance.


Flies & Beer. Period.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Black Keys : Modern Times

Nothing like a little rock n' roll to kick the weekend off in style, and who better than the two-headed blues / rock monster that is the Black Keys to get it done. Everyone has their favorite album from these guys but recently the searing Magic Potion has been my go-to for all fly-tying and tackle cleaning afternoons. Something about a mountain of Marshall amps trying to break all the windows out of a garage that will never get old. . . .

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Guides Day Off: Blast from the Past Bass Trip

 Earlier this summer Outfitter Jed Fitzpatrick( Bitterroot River Guides ) and I found ourselves with a couple of days off in between long stretches of trips. We knew we needed to get away, but the big question still lingered... where are we going to go.  Chasing trout for three months straight can get you stuck in a rut, and with another few months of it still ahead, it was apparent that we needed a change of pace. We kicked around a few different ideas of where we could escape from the confines of our normal trout filled runs, and settled on getting back to our roots with a bass trip. I have known about this water for years, but had never slipped a boat into it. The pull of new water that we knew would be relatively empty was too much for us not to go, and what we found was better than expected.

 Big untouched water chocked full of bass and pike, was a breath of fresh air to a couple of road worn fishing guides. Coolers full of beer, an arsenal of rods that would make any bass pro jealous, and camping gear all loaded up in the boat, we pushed off for an overnighter on the river. We were in for a trip full of feeding. Whether it was us, the fish, or the deer flies everything ate well.     
 Pushing off the boat ramp Jed and I were into smallmouth and pike right off the get go. While the pike were a little tight lipped to start, the smallmouth bass were very willing to chase streamers and eat crawdad patterns.

Don't forget socks... a buff will almost work as deer fly protection
After a long day on the water, we found a spot on the bank to set up camp and relax for the evening. Sitting there watching the world go by, we enjoyed ice cold cocktails, lied about past fishing trips, and grilled up some fresh fish for dinner.

The next day we started at first light in a backwater that we found the pervious day. The pike and bass were ready to roll right from the start chasing big streamers and reaction baits. After enjoying early success, we kept our party rolling downstream towards the takeout striping streamers along rocky points and weed beds turning bass as we went.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Snow and Turkey Report

It is that time of year again in western MT, the time when one and all hunker down indoors and celebrate with family and a boozey drink of choice. For those of the fisherman persuasion add to this a compulsive checking of snow-tel sites and sitting desk-side building an army of bugs for next season. Hunting season drawing to a close means the last push to be outdoors is exhausted for a few months, just enough to allow cabin fever to set in and the prospect of breaking ice on the Missouri to be very, very entertaining. This is the season of cross country skiing and porter beer, thick and dark beer after an afternoon in the powder. Add a hot-spring run or two and you have the full winter of outdoor activities covered.



NRS frame in this picture somewhere

Snow is coming slowly but surely to the mountains this year. As the great turkey holiday approaches Missoula and Bitterroot valleys are getting sunk into a major winter storm system: First big snowfall of the season just in time for he long weekend! Piling up in the hills is what we want to see, making the bucks move around and building a summer's worth of water for later.

Follow MT. precipitation like a fiend here:

Montana Snow Precipitation

Turkey & Giblets: 

Without a doubt Thanksgiving is the best, best, BEST part of the holiday food season. The turkey may take center stage but I am a major sucker for stuffing : It only shows up one day a year (similar to the monarch butterfly) and is basically just bread soaked in turkey essence, plus spices and bacon if you are  of the hedonistic persuasion. Pumpkin pie of course coming in a close second because there is always room for pie. With the low drone of football in the background family and friends gather around an over-loaded table and arm wrestle over who gets the drumsticks. Ahhh I love the holidays!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Morning Steelhead

As the guiding season is winding down, and I am getting my fill of Montana trout, I get an itch that just needs to be scratched. It starts as just a thought while rowing my boat down the river in late summer, but by the first bitter cold days of October I have a nagging urge to drive hundreds of miles to stand waist deep in rivers casting to fish I may not see for weeks at a time. Maddening yes, but once you get the first steelhead grab of the season, they have you hook, line, and sinker.
Steelhead are a fish like no other, running hundreds of miles upstream from the pacific, past predators and dams, in their quest to reach the spawning grounds. Beginning in late summer, steelhead migrate out of the pacific moving through rivers like silver ghosts, slipping up fast riffles and resting in slow tail-outs. Some days they chase and eat flies with reckless abandon, while other days you can't buy a bite. O the joys of fishing for steelhead.
It is hard to beat working a good steelhead run. Cast and step, cast and step, repeating till you hit the end of the run. Often times it takes an hour plus to hit every little bucket and sweet spot, allowing you to be in tune with the water as you slowly swing away. When your fly drops into the prime buckets you can feel the line almost come alive, dancing with the hydraulics of the river. You hold your breath when you hit those sweet spots, hoping that your fly's swing is interrupted by the pull of big wild steel.

As we are leaving the grips of the first major winter storm of the season I am getting pumped for another steelhead trip this coming week. New flies are tied, the truck is filled to the brim with camping gear, and food is prepped. This time tomorrow I will be off to Washington in search of new water and hopefully some steel. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Can a Brother Get a Brown?

Another gorgeous week of fall fishing in western Montana. Winter may be right around the corner but your wouldn't know that from the weather recently: Cold snaps yes but generally super pleasant conditions for this our closing month of Bitterroot trout fishing. Afternoon hatches of Mahoganies and BWO's are keeping the fish consistently on the feed while the big boys are staking out territory for the spawn. Once the weather finally takes a turn to winter we'll break out the 9-weights and start looking for a Steelhead or two. November anyone?

Around these parts it has been lights-out knock-down drag-out fishing for the normally elusive Salmon trutta, aka Bronw trout, aka "man in the brown suit", aka Andre3000. That last one is not actually a euphemism for brown trout but when a big one finally engulfs my streamer i am liable to yell just about anything, such as"Geronimo!" or  "F*ck yeah randy!". Enthusiasm and persistence are good traits for any kind of fishing but especially so for the intermittent action you get from big browns: Some runs have em', most runs do not, and by golly i'm going to cast to every single one of them. Add a little bit of non-trout wildlife and you have yourself a postcard Montana autumn day.

Power eagles



Monday, October 13, 2014

October Missouri Trout Camp USA

Of all the rivers in Montana that i have fished, the one i daydream about by far the most is the Missouri. With its outstanding numbers of large fish, phenomenally dense hatches, technical angling conditions, and a lifetime of fishy water to explore, i never tire of fishing here. It was only natural then that our end-of-season / back-to-back birthday blowout party should be held here: Fly, walk, float or drive to Craig MT. cause thats where the party is.

With hot flies in hand from  Headhunters  we set out for 5 days in trout fishing mecca. From Holter dam all the way to Cascade we fished it all, every fishy riffle and run worked to the best of our addled abilities. The fishing was sometimes methodical sometimes absentminded: You can only keep your serious game-face on for the first several miles of insanely perfect trout water, after that things start to look the same and you find yourself miles from the takeout and its getting dark fast. Things at this point can get sloppy. Very sloppy. Like "looking for rafts midnight boat rodeo style with headlights" sloppy. A story for another time. . . .

Other Man In The Brown Suit

We experienced the whole range of fishing conditions over this past week. We had snow so thick you could not see your fly period, let alone figure out when a fish finally got around to slurping it. We had blue-bird clear skies and WIND like only the Mo' can deliver. Gotta love the W coming in strong and making the fly flicking a gordian ordeal. There were also periods of calm with light snow in which the river fished better than any of us had ever seen. A whole run worth of fish all deciding to feed at the same time? Special stuff. More evidence to suggest that you should only bother fishing when the weather is damm near inclement: If i'm not wadered up with gortex on top whats the point of going out at all!  We gave the Mo' all it could handle this trip and we will definitely be back again next year. I hope that next years stories turn out just a little bit milder. Mahalo.

Red White & Blue All The Time