Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guides Day Off: Beaverhead Roadtrip

Midway through a summer of guiding throughout western Montana Chris and I found ourselves with mutual consecutive days off. Possibly the first ones since early June. The past three months having done nothing to kill our appetite for trout hunting we declared "guides day-off roadtrip" and set off for the Beaverhead, land of big Browns and super tiny dry flies.

The fish on this storied river are notorious for living in the most impossible of spots. If i had any illusions about what "an inch from the bank" meant, i quickly lost any doubt: Casts that seem to land between cattails on the bank get eaten, casts that are not this close do not get eaten. Drag-free drifts down glass-smooth flats get eaten, flies moving ever so slightly across stream do not get eaten. "Come on trout, that was a pretty frickin good drift, i don't know how much more drag free you want here"   The trout lay down simple, stark rules here and they stick to them. So you dust up on your super-reach casts and see what you get yourself into. Or not. The trout here will not tell you sweet lies.

So beautiful. Sneaky trout live here.

As usual Chris caught most of the fish and I helped myself to an extra cold one from the cooler. Fishing isn't everything when you're on vacation, especially after flogging the water to a froth with few fish to show for it. I caught enough to be a happy camper and also realize that i need to lay out the hoops on the lawn more often. The ol' casting gets rusty after a summer of pulling oars, all it takes is a couple days looking for noses on the Beav to remember this.

Well played Trout, well played.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Go Fishing In The Rain: It Pays

So the weekend comes and the bleak forecast comes true: Rain, wind, chance of hail, unpleasant angling conditions for all on board. What is a trout-starved flyfisherman to do?

Well go fishing, obviously.

I got out last week with Bitterroot River Guides outfitter Jed Fitzpatrick on one of these touch n' go weather days, days that can go well or go very poorly.  With their guides promising big fish moving in the rainy conditions our clients were up to deal with whatever the weather had in store. A few solid Cutties eating in the morning drizzle kept us in the game and fishing hard. By noon the rain lifted into a low calm overcast, the kind of weather that sets off any guides spider sense: "if i were a big fish, i would be looking to eat something big RIGHT NOW". And then something like this happens.. . . . . .

Great fish Mike, definitely one of the better Bows' of the summer!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dog Day Throwdown: Big Hole

A random day fishing the Big Hole in mid-August can turn out any number of different ways. It could be 95 degrees, super calm and super tiny dry flies the only thing going on. It could be huntin' the bobber through the riffles looking the fast-water Rainbows chewing nymphs. It could be windy as all get out, nothing to do but tough it out. OR. . . . You could find yourself smack dab in the middle of Hopper Season with big Browns hunting the little kickers on the surface. We got lucky and happened into the latter option. Hurrah for Hoppers!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dog Day Throwdown: Bitterroot

Some pictures from the last week of fishing on the Big Hole and Bitterroot Rivers. Not a bad show for the dog days of summer with the closing bonanza of Autumn just around the corner. Some of our favorite out-of-towners making their seasonal pilgrimage to the hallowed waters of the west. This year they all hit it right on the head, as the pictures can attest. Sometimes the river treats you very, very well. . . . . .

Extra special thanks to John, Gary, Pat, & the WV Six. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summertime Rolls: Mothman Edition

Being on the river every day means you get to see all phases, its ups and downs, strong days and off days, and always getting in on the first day of the next hatch. After a few slower-than-average floats, this past week busted wide open with the ultimate ghost hatch, "The Moth". From the Blackfoot to the Big Hole word from fly-flickers everywhere was a resounding "hell yeah!" as the first summer mini-slump became a thing of memory. Kinda tearing them up right now. Too many fish in a run to feed them all. Just take your bakers dozen and move on.

My personal motto in flyfishing is always "GO HEAVY". Not heavy metal, heavy tippet. When the hatch is on and fish are crushing bugs do not pussy-foot around: Rope up and go nail some toads. This requires strong tippet to be done properly. I hate braking off fish, especially if its a client fish of exceptional size. After a couple of days of solid hatch activity my clients started landing fish with previous anglers flies in their mouths. Sometimes several. Without fail these flies "had" been attached to said anglers rods with delicate, wispy, gossamer strands of 5x or lighter tippet. You have no chance at horsing that 18" Rainbow through a freestone rapid on 5x. Its not sporting, its silly. The obvious best choice guides choice is Trouthunter , in this case 3x by the arm length and blood-knotted on tighter than Fort Knox. Thats 8.2lbs of hook-setting confidence. It is nice to know that when the fish of the season decides to mouth karate chop your fly that you have the tackle to land him. And thats enough tackle ranting for now. . . . . . .