Sunday, February 23, 2014

Let it Snow: Western MT snowpack.

Water, water, water . . . . . It is the reason for the season.

Snowpack conditions looking solid for Summer 2014. The Clark Fork will be brimming, the Blackfoot be singing, mega-hatches for everybody!

Seriously though:

While it's still cold out there let the white stuff keep coming. Stoke the fire and tie flies for summer, couldn't ask for anything better.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Twelve Months of Mighty Missouri

The Missouri River. One of the greatest places in the world if you are a fisherman of any kind, but it is an especially hallowed ground if you are of the flyfishing persuasion. Pods of fish slurping everywhere, nymphing riffles everywhere, big fish chasing streamers with abandon. Everywhere. Needless to say we make the trek over Rogers Pass as many times a year as humanly possible, scoffing at sleep, garden maintenance, and music festivals, for just one more chance at landing a hog Missouri fish. 



Blue Steel






Monday, February 17, 2014

Montana River Bass

There is something about being in the grips of a winter storm that makes memories of the summer more fond. One of my favorite days of fishing from the past season was a day spent with Alex and Outfitter Jed Fitzpatrick chasing bass and pike.

 Fly fishing in Montana is without question centered around trout, so for the three of us it was a nice change of pace in the middle of the guide season. These two had never fished for bass in Montana and especially never with fly rods. We chose a stretch of river that I have spent plenty of time on in years past. It is the kind of place where on any cast you could catch a smallmouth or largemouth bass, pike, or a rainbow trout that can stretch as long as your arm.

 On this day we caught or hooked all of the above, although the pike were few and far between. Words cannot begin to describe how excited I am to get back out chasing bass and pike with these guys. Only a few short months and a lot of snow to get through before we will be back.


A nice Montana bull moose
A-Train with the Smallmouth of the day.
Jed hooked up with a large trout.






Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Cleaning Guide

Winter is a great time of year. While not the most exciting season from the outdoors perspective it allows a chance to reflect on adventures from the past season on the water and to daydream about bigger/better adventures to come. Nothing like a little cabin fever to make you lock down plane tickets and reserve camp sites. Along with the cabin fever comes the relentless urge to clean reels, upgrade tackle, and to hone the collection killer flies that we'll be flinging in the year to come.

I always seem to have more flies than i know what to do with. A sure sign of the flyfisherman is a tackle bag over-stuffed with flies for any conceivable situation: Hexigena, Hecuba, Damselflies, Dragonflies, Isonychia, Waterstriders! (seriously though i do not have any waterstrider patterns. might need to look into that). Sometimes, though, having all the flies can get in the way of the one fly. When the fish are going ape all around you a large fly selection is not your friend. Having a few proven arms beats a bullpen full of experimental jam-funk journeymen any day. So what to tie, what to tie?

When i set up to tie bunches of a particular pattern it's usually because (1) i have had some phenomenal days with it, the kind that leads to that annoying nostalgic gaze we fishermen are renown for. "Dude it was nuts. Fish chugging everywhere. Three doubles in fifteen minutes. Insanity". Big-day flies seem to get tied on more frequently than even the sexiest-looking new-fandagled MFC wonderbug. If you have confidence in the flies you're fishing, the fish will have confidence in them too. Sometimes; (2) If a fly is going to stay in the workhorse lineup it has to be easy to tie. Body, wing, hackle, period. Its easier to get good at tying simple flies and this tends to make them more durable too. When that one chewed CDC emerger that just has got the mojo going for it finally falls apart its good to know there is an entire cavalry waiting to back it up; Finally (3), i like flies that just a tiny bit different than other patterns mimicing a given hatch. Flies that have subtle differences in silhouette and color will get eaten throughout the entire hatch, not just the initial gluttouny phase when the fish will eat a well-presented wine cork. They also get eaten right after someone with the generic fly has rolled through. Can't complain about that.

These are my thoughts when cleaning out a years worth of gink, gunk, sand, used splitshot, chewed flies and old bottle caps form the guide bag. After a few more years of this i expect the have the ultimate assortment of killer flies, all the killer and none of the filler.

Fish on.