Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rainy Day Throwback Thursday

Time for a timely flashback to the early summer days of Gortex, big water, and big brownies. Something about the scuzzy weather makes those toothy predators move around and hit the kill switch. I love it. When the fly gets engulfed not by a feisty 12" Rainbow but a hulking termanator Brown trout, your heart is liable to skip a beat. You'll feel it even through all the warm layers raingear, trust me. We are still a few weeks away from the final flush of autumn gold hitting the net with regularity, something I look forward to every season. You can always count on a Montana season starting and ending with a heart-pounding moment thanks to these stealthy killers.

Back to the present : Big high heat of mid-summer has us seeking shade these days. Kinda stomping on the trout bite. Add the ever-present smokey haze from area forest fires and you have the definition of Dog Days. We know its coming every year but it still comes as a shock, when the fish become sluggish, line-shy (you mean a Cutthroat can become line-shy??) and spooky to those casts that land in a heap. The promise of summer rain will keep us going though. No doubt about it there is something powerful about a summer cell building out in the Wilderness and hitting after dark, lightning and rain coming in sheets. Cooling down the river and heating up the bite. Keeping these fish happy. Maybe this weekend? Forecast looking more and more that way. Sunday is looking the wettest. And we are over due : By my observation is has been 28 days since we had meaningful precip. Too long, Momma Nature, too long.

The hoot owl restriction for our river have been lifted from Tucker Crossing to Missoula. The Blackfoot is open again as well and should stay open the rest of the year. The upper Bitterroot has been seeing most of our local pressure as it is holding cold and offering at least consistency. Much better for angling options than last season when the closure hit July 3rd and was from the confluence of the forks all the way down. West side of the state is holding strong, dodging bullets from fire and giving up some nice fish to those determined few. As far as the upper river and the WF last season our flows were awesome right up until the gates were closed Oct 1st. We have a touch more water than same time last season so we will see how long the tap stays open.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Blackfoot Weekend

The ol Blackfoot is a favorite of many Missoulians and world famous for the obvious reason. With the story of The Movie being based on the Blackfoot and it's surrounding communities it's a kind of fertile crescent for the flyfishing industry whether we like to admit it or not. I have often scoffed at this famous river for being home to too damm many inner-tubers and, well, not enough consistent, large dry fly fish to warrant the hype. Well, by golly I might be a' changing my mind after floating there last week. With some repeat clients in tow and a new river on the brain we headed north at first light to give the old Blackfoot a try.

Every now and then during a guide season a river shows up and delivers on its reputation, lock stock and barrel with cutties flying everywhere. Scenery, weather, big fish, and solitude all come together into a perfect storm. A little jaunt up north to bull trout country was a welcome break from the usual stretches of familiar water.  Good fishing or not you can only row the same river so many days in a row before the crankiness sets in. The "guide glaze" from a month straight on the river is something we all fight. Tho we didn't tangle with any Bullies chasing our cutthroat to the net we gave them every opportunity, hooking into a bushel of nice trout all on the dry. Just enough of them, in fact, to make me wonder if I should stop on my seasonal drives to the Missouri for more than just a beer break at Trixies.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Fire Season: Fire On The Mountain

Big fire rolling through the national forest outside of Hamilton today. Roaring Lion Fire is the latest reminder of how hot and dry our forests are and how fast one can blow up on you. Starting at 2pm yesterday and growing to over 2,000 acres in five hours is just amazing. I have a front row seat from my house watching helicopters bomb it, dipping low in the foothills to refill buckets and circle back for another pass. The highway is a constant flow of emergency vehicles and fire equipment. Last night the glow reached all the way through the foothills around Ward Mountain. All of Goat Mountain ablaze. I'm praying for my friends whose homes are in danger right now and my friends and family fighting this blaze. Be safe up there Brothers! The darker more dangerous side of living in the rocky mountain west is coming home big time right now.

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Evening View From Homestead