Saturday, August 29, 2015

Coach's Corner : Throwback Thursday Scott Edition

Scott Week is always a good week long trip for the BRG crew. The Scotts have been making this annual father & son outing for many years now with Alex and this year I found fortune when I was invited on their annual excursion to the "ROOT" as one of their guides.  For three days these enthusiastic fellas worked every inch of water with expectant enthusiasm. From spruce moths to the big bug we threw them all, caught a handful of fish, and maybe created a few vivid fishing stories along the way.

My Lady Anna made some "huckleberry buckle" for the guys,  Hey Mike he likes it!

This was the first year this trip occured during the now semi-annual "Hoot Owl" period of the summer. We knew it was coming.  A little earlier than expected but it's what's best for the fish right?  Now how does a guide still make memories happen for those adventurers that put away time and money to enjoy our back yard and what it has to offer?  "Simple?"  "Maybe?" Getting an early start will work, at least help us out greatly. Meet times at 6:00am will happen for the main stem of the Root and if the West Fork is on the menu then you will witness the boat hatch that comes off at the normal hours of 8:00 to 10:00am.  But this years Hoot Owl is not as bad as it may sound.  Find the right guide, be optimistic, plan ahead, make those shots and put it in front of the fish and BANG magic happens.

Working Spruce moths in the canyon

Grilled pork chops on the river  BRG style!!

Mike and his boys have a passion for the wild side and it showed during this week.

Both a Fish and a Story Ahead: Mike Scott Rock!
What do a broken rowing seat, 16" cutty, and a perfectly placed rock have in common? 
 A predicament!!!
Thank goodness Alex can walk on water and Mike has nerves of steel!  Definitely a memory maker but then I guess you really had to be there.  Thanks for being there A-Train.

Fish flop!  Take that Human! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

August Basics : How The Tough Get Going.

Dog Days.

Summer Slump.

Hot Moon.

"Dink fest"

Mid August is a very real thing right now. The glory days of early summer are a fond memory and the bonanza of fall hatches have yet to materialize. The river keeps trucking right along but the finned critters within hold their appetites and wait for tastier fare. Too smokey to hike, too smokey to bike, too smokey to kick the fĂștbol around. Gotta go to the river. How to catch the fish right now requires a few key refinements in the flyfishermans approach to keep fish hitting the net.

Be The Early Bird:
I am not an early morning person as anyone who knows me will tell you. First light is not a light I see often. Nor am I a fisherman who gets wrapped up in being first boat on the water everyday. An extra pot of tea and a stop at the flyshop before hitting the river is my preferred speed.


Right now, however, even I recognize the necessity of hitting the river early. The wee morning hours are a flyfishermans best friend: Morning water temperatures are coming down to their lowest point around 5am before their gradual daily climb. All the old hat guides know this and the fish know it too. More comfortable for the trouts to move around and hunt. The low light angle of early morning makes the big ones less wary too, no penetrating afternoon sun to x-ray them for the ospreys. The last dregs of summer mayflies are hatching around this time along with the blizzard clouds of Tricos on the lower river, giving the fish something to think about for breakfast. Got to eat a lot of these tiny bugs to make a meal, meaning you get more than one chance to get the drift right. Don't count on the good times to last though: These bugs are gone by 11am. Get out and get that dryfly action when the fish let you, move on to other projects by afternoon.

Be The Outlier:
Why do you think people love spring Skwala season so much? Its because the fish are famished and they haven't seen fake flies in months. Anything green and #8 will do. By this late point in the fishing season, however, the trout have seen a lot of different patterns presented in a lot of different ways.

Different Ways:  Swung, stripped, plopped, dropped, drug, skated, ripped, hand-lined, land-lined,  and . . . ..  perfectly dead-drifted. Again and again.

From the giant foam stonefly patterns to the ultra sneaky dropper brigade they have seen quite a frickin few flies. Sometimes the tried and true patterns will get the big fish to eat and sometimes they won't. Factor in mid-summer low water and hot afternoon temperatures and you have the recipe for lots of refusals. Everybody is fishing hoppers, lazy fishing guides like me (sometimes) and weekend warrior types too. Fish an ant or a beetle instead to those sneaky undercut banks instead. Fish a single #18 Hares Ear instead of hanging it from a hopper. Be the one fly the fish haven't seen that day and they will usually be happier to cooperate.

Be Specific:
Mid summer means the river is in its low-water main channel and the runs / pools / fishy spots are pretty damm evident. That doesn't mean you should just plop your fly right in the gut of the run and wait for a fish to attack it. When the fish are in mid-summer full-tilt feeding frenzy they are often moving a long way out of their lie to get your drift. Trust me, I look for fish every day and I see where they come from. Not so much right now. The little fish might move around like normal but the big guys are conserving energy and waiting for something to come directly overhead. Spend some time and really look at where the prime spot is and make sure you are getting good drifts in this spot. "Less searching, more shooting" is how I phrase it for clients. When looking for good fish you are not fishing the whole run anymore, you are fishing a 2 x 2 zone in the prime part of the lie. Make your casts here and Make your casts count. Which leads me into sub-point #1

#1 Be A First Cast Killer:
As with most thing the most important rule is last. If you want that big sneaky Rainbow to come eat your fly,  make sure your first cast is the best cast. Wade softly. Get the right amount of line out initially. Powder your fly. Don't false cast directly over your fish. Reach cast the first time, not the 10th. Pressured fish will not give you three chances to catch em', you will get one and only one. And the first cast should be that one.

Go out and get em'!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Two Bamboo Rods At The Trout Petting Zoo

It's always hard to pick out any specific day of trout fishing from a gruelingly long guide season. As present and aware as we are to be able to get the rod bent everyday the individual fish seem to get lost somewhere in the mix. The rocks are the same day to day, the flies patterns change with the slow seasonal cycle of weather and water conditions, and the trout. . . . . .. well the trout start to look the same. There I said it. Maybe it IS the same fish day after day after day after all! I have no idea after mid July: Not enough data storage under the ol' straw hat to keep all the trout straight. And I have a pretty steel-trap-esque mind for fish and angling moments and it still gets a little worse every season. That is generally the trend, that is the general rule. Rules that usually hold water until, until something changes . . . ..

The river comes alive with bugs. The fish materialize behind every rock stick and shelf to chase them down. A dreary day in the canyon is transformed into a shooting gallery of large trout or as my boys from last week termed it "a dam petting zoo full of trout". How good does it need to be to make two 30+ year fly fishermen start yelling like that?? Very, very good. When client and guide are both throwing hands up praising the river god like this it is a special day indeed.


Needless to say the last four days will be etched into my mind for a very long time. A specific hole on the upper river produced for us some of the best angling moments I have seen in my last 10 years of stalking Montana rivers. Quality fish is what its all about in situations like this, sometimes you land em' and sometimes you don't. Maybe even get a second shot at a giant Brown. Seeing is believing some days and the trout lately have made believers of us all. I was just glad to have hit such good fishing with a couple of my favorite summer visitors to the Bitterroot. Always fun time with this motley crew but this was a trip that we will be talking about for years to come.

There Is a Brown Here. . . 

Keep The Blue Moon Close

Team Sweetgrass looking sharp.

Thankyou Guys! Until Next Time