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.