Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Drake Days : Summertime Rolls

Summer Solstice has come in Montana. A brief pause cosmic in our parabola through the fishing season. A change of weather from blustery rain-logged mornings to the high cloudless heat of July, and a change in hatches to go along with it. Fishing remains the same: consistent, sometimes very good sometimes spectacular. Old and young, novice and expert alike are putting the wood to some very nice trout lately on the Bitterroot and Blackfoot. Salmonflies are still very much a thing on the Blackfoot canyon as the traffic and fish tales can attest. Keep the orange #4's on for a little while longer. Around the lower Root' there are stirrings of another famous hatch but of the sleeker mayfly persuasion. Green Drakes on the menu and the fish are loving it!

Why do Mayflies stir the flyfisher soul as they do? Why do we long for the bewitching hour of mid-day for the first sings of an emergence? Sure the stoneflies have their adherents (myself being one of them of course) but stately mayfly sailboats drifting down to eager trout is what summer dreams are made of. The PMD's are here of course, as they are state-wide right now, but intermixed are the big bugs : Two, three, four at a time in a particular run then not for a mile. I imagine Green Drakes to think they are F16's but find out the hard that they handle more like Sikorsky heliocopters. Barely holding it together with the whole flying thing they find their way into the water often and the fish take notice. Flicking the big mayfly can pay large dividends even without seeing lots of them. The fish know. They know.. . .

Recipe for BRG Green Drake :

Tiemco 100, #10
Olive Dun Uni
Wing : Nat' Elk Hair wing, tied parachute or thorax
Tail : Moose Mane dyed drk. Brown
Body : 1/2 haresear , 1/2 med. olive (both MT Fly Co.)
Hackle : Grizzly, and lots to float this damm giant thing

And Now, Let There Be Rock

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fathers Day Fishing Report

Today is Fathers Day. We Marauders are all taking a day off the river this fine Sunday to gather for some BBQ-ing, golf watching, and long overdue family time. Summer Solstice and full moon happening tomorrow which makes this seem like an appropriate time to pause and reflect on the important things. Family. Freedom. Flyfishing. These days getting the Dads out on the boat is reserved more and more for preseason bundled-up missions down the low river looking for the first dry fly eat of the year. Summertime funtime sandel floats are a rare event that we can manage to pull off only occasionally. This year we pulled off one such mid June half-day shot through the town stretch, throwing a grill and a few Rainbows down to mark the seasonal turn into summer. We had a great roll yesterday with the old men showing us how its done with a bunch of nice fish eating on top. Next fathers day will include a stop at Hamilton golf course for good measure. It is Open week after all and the golfing and flyfishing persuasion is really one in the same.

(U.S. Open Bulletin : My money is riding on a late come-from-behind win for Dustin Johnson)

Dryfly Primetime Reduex
Basic "what to expect" report is as follows. Big dry flies continue to be the float-fishing ammo of choice. BUT. When there are pods take that damm foam floaty thing off and flick an imitative sneaky mayfly at them. Pretend you're a predator, not just a be-speckled rod waver.  The Pale Morning Dun is the ruler of the early summer trout diet and our afternoon hatches have been very good this year. Anything yellow in a # 14 should get the job done, nothing to techie this early in the year for us. Sleeper bite in the afternoons is the smaller Bitterroot Goldens. Fish a #10 or #12 down-wing pattern (foam, trude, parachute, etc.) as a searching fly when the fish don't seem to be keyed on anything in particular. There are a lot of these bugs flying around this year and the fish chew them with conviction, more so (I feel) even than their larger and more famous Californica cousins. Its godamm gorgeous out there right now, all the Stones' are out rolling in droves right now, bring your best flybox and find the daily favorite!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bitterroot Dryfly Primetime

Summer time is rolling toward western MT fisheries faster by the day. Rivers are still pretty full but my oh my this is when I want to be out on it. Don't wait until the tap is nearly dry and every weekend party floater thinks its time to hit your area river : GET OUT ON IT NOW.

The Bitterroot and Big Hole are both holding at or below the 25th percentile historically which means they are about as prime as you will ever see. Juicy mid-summer flows right now, fish are not quite moved to the hard sides but they will be holding there soon. How long will our snow hold out this year? Hard to say. Our snowpack is low but overall precipitation is right on average: We have been getting our moisture in rain instead of snow this year and we are hoping it holds up. It is pouring outside the farmhouse as I write this and the rest of the week looks to be the same conditions. (Green Drakes ??? ) Optimism reigns supreme for me based on our cool spring so far, way wetter and lower temps then we had same time last season. Keeping the faith that the clouds will come and the fish will bite is good medicine for any fish junkie.

Fishing on the Bitterroot has been good to quite good the last week on the surface. Big dryflies have been effective from first cast to last, or until the fish give up eating because they are just too damm stuffed with stoneflies to eat another bite. This time of year minimal mending is necessary : Takes are so aggressive that as soon as the fly hits some pockets its is assaulted by a ravenous Rainbow. Or Cutthroat. Or even a giant Brownie here are there. This time of year (Disclaimer : Guide Rambling To Follow!) I feel I see more big Browns on the upper river than any other time of year. Big low-river fish pushing upstream to pack themselves full of giant Salmonbugs before sulking out a summer being little finicky buggers. Just some campfire talk to throw around at the next backyard BBQ.

As for the Salmonflies . Salmonflies, Salmonflies, Salmonflies.

They are still here despite what some recent rumors would suggest. Although this hatch does move upstream like wildfire, peaking in just a matter of days and then subsiding, there are still enough of the bright orange critters in the bushes to be a prime trout snack. Hitting a Salmonfly hatch right is a hard proposition, one which takes many folks a few trips out to western Montana to finally see in all its glory. Or you just back right into the best hatch in years thanks to lower-tha-average-runoff flows and you're ruined forever. I have had some of the best dry fly days I can remember within the last week. That hot-as-bacon-sizzling-castiron doesn't last forever on the big bug but there are options. Like throwing a Salmonfly a size smaller than all the rest of the trout-hunters are throwing. There are baby Slamonflies out there and the trout eat them just as readily. Instead of the whopper #4's dial it back to an #8 Rouge and sling it bank side. There's plenty more fish to fall on the Salmon before the rest of summers hatches hit us. Hit it this week hard and hold on.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Big Hole Magic 2016

First post in awhile for this blog and wouldn’t ya know it right before the season really takes off on us and free-time for blogging becomes a fond memory. This past month has found Chris and I in Wise River, MT guiding the Big Hole more than in previous years. This time of year it is all about riding the rain pushes and hunting big browns into the braids and side channels. Seven weights in hand and looking for just that right speed of gushy inside corner water. Email and phone calls take a week off as there ain’t no service when you’re on Divide time. Big Hole valley Montana is where I want to be, without question one of the most scenic rivers in the state and coincidently home to some very large fish as well.

The month started off guiding groups of wounded warriors from The Complete Flyfisher. Always awesome taking these guys out on the river, getting them into a few fish while enjoying the camaraderie and awesome setting of lodge life. I got to fish with Jeff and Tim for the week, Marines and Montana resident fishing friends who get out together as often as possible. A nice dry fly fish got our week off on the right foot, coming to eat off a sunk island point and going immediately air born. When all other options are exhausted why not try flying, right? Rain in the Pioneer Mountains bumped up the river flows but nymphing stayed consistent fort us, lots of action underneath and a few real quality fish. Good times the wilds of Wise River,  looking forward to hearing from these guys over a summer worth of trips throughout Montana.

Capping a very rainy May was our annual college reunion trip, rounding out a solid month of Big Hole Magic. Last week saw the annual gathering of UofM Aber Hall alums circa 2008. Some of these brothers we get to fish with on a regular basis around Missoula and Bitterroot valleys, others this is the one trip that we all make happen year in and year out. Coming all the way from Oregon Trent and Brandon got their share of Browns and Wise River Club hospitality to boot: When in the middle of nowhere, make mine a double. Brandon caught one of the fish of the trip just before a looming storm pushed us for the ramp. East side means wind and boy did we get some of it. Trent brought some sweet browns to the net and tagged himself solidly in the nose with a fly in said wind, putting our stream-side medical skills to the test. Nothing a little whiskey can’t cure, if the settlers made it out here I'm sure we can handle this! Speaking of whiskey, there are no photos of the bottle pile we built over three nights of partying and camping but you can all imagine: Fishing guides are known for elephant-like memories of every fish they've ever caught and iron guts to to handle the firewater to boot. We got through five bottles in three days, a respectable clip for any group of dedicated trout hounds. 

New man for this trip Andy “Rumplemintz” Remple came correct and had a hell of a weekend. Sleeping under just a tarp in May is the kind of give-no-f’s fishing attitude the trout over here seem to respect. A bunch of great fish came to net for Andy and he opened his Big Hole account in fashion on day one, dredging up a beauty right out of the gates from a boiling boulder garden. Same shirt different day, the western red flannel never gets old and made its way into quite a few pics. Seeing the Big Hole in good form makes you a die-hard believer that even on the slower days a great Brownie is lurking just around the next bush. Andy will be back for more next season with fish and dedication like that. 

We will be at it hard in the Bitterroot for the next few weeks, dryflies popping hard and the bulk of our summer guide calendars hitting right about now. Love for the Big Hole will come in streaks as we take the random client boat over the pass for a shot at a monster Brown. Never a bad time on the east side of Chief Joseph , a great valley filled with the people and trout that I love seeing. For our own fun fishing that great river will have to wait until next May.

Big Hole magic waiting in the wings.

Fish awnnnn!!