Saturday, November 26, 2016

Changing Of The Seasons

Tank Of A Rainbow 


The weather pattern here in Montana has been a strange one the past few weeks. I felt like when Andy was out here Old Man Winter was knocking at the door. Not so much. High's are still reaching the upper 40's some days and the night-time lows are at or above freezing. I would say that most rivers are in post-spawn mode at the moment although you will still see many fresh redds out there if you go out so watch your step! I've been limited on time lately and spent most of my quick outings close to home. The Brown Trout seem to be in a lethargic state at the moment. I've had some trouble connecting with them on a regular basis...most of my subsurface fishing has been spotty. The Rainbows are taking up refuge in the slower deeper water, so if you do get out make sure you spend the majority of your time there. Some midges have been hatching around 11am and if your in the right spot and get lucky you might get to throw on some dry flies.
Another Beast Of  A Bow 

Winter is one of my favorite times to fish. There's some pretty good fishing to be had if your willing to brave the elements. Invest in proper clothing and you will be surprised at how long you can last out there.......

These Guys Have Been Hard To Come By 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

DAD



I watched Dad as he stood before me a proud man. The roll cast that he was throwing toward the far bank was the same one he taught me years ago. His cigar was lit, the tobacco smell that I've grown used to on fishing trips made me feel at ease. The Bridger Mountains in the distance fascinated him, thoughts of Jim Bridger and his excursions racing through his mind. He had a big family to be proud of and a loving wife to share the journey with.  Many years of hard work in the education system, side jobs during the summer, and sacrifices beyond belief brought him to this point. A few years into retirement and he was able to take his wife across the country, into Big Sky Country, to visit their son. A well deserved vacation for years of hard work.

The water flowing underneath us had a calming sound to it, the bald eagle flew overhead with grace. The trout rested close to the river bottom sampling the insects that floated by. He drifted his nymph past many willing fish that day, each one bringing a smile to his face. It didn't have to be a trout either, a few white fish were the most exciting catches of the day. I remember fishing below him, then looking up to witness the happiness in his facial expressions. I paused and took it in, I was happy for him, happy that all the roads he took in life brought him to this very moment with me. That particular moment will resonate with me for a very long time.

Weeks prior to their visit I was knee deep in typical life stuff. Working many hours, worrying about petty things and lacking sleep. Seeing him at the conclusion of all that was just what I needed to clear my head, put life back into perspective.  He lived his life for his family, taught lessons from actions not words and affected people far and wide with his powerful smile, selfless attitude and willingness to teach others.

A few days into our trip we ventured up to the Madison River in the park. The Barnes Pools are very popular this time of year, and if you aren't a local you can receive unwarranted backlash from the regulars. There are unwritten rules while fishing those spots, take a few casts then take a few steps down and proceed till your at the bottom of the run. Get back out and do it again if you like, but don't stay put...the locals don't allow it. My old man enjoyed just being out with his sons, and often stayed in one spot for a long time, not bothering anyone. I often wondered what was going through his mind when he stayed put for hours at a time. It really didn't matter, he was enjoying life.

Someone came in above us without my knowledge and took offense to my dad standing in one spot for more then a few minutes. He proceeded to give my father some lip. I was on the verge of blowing up on this guy, that is my nature. I hesitated because I didn't want to make my dad feel uncomfortable. He finished fishing the hole and gracefully walked up to the other angler and explained to him that he was from out of town and apologized for not knowing these unwritten rules. The fisherman proceeded to apologize and gave us some useful information on other spots to fish. Without telling me, he was teaching me a lesson. Don't let mean people get under your skin, and handle the situation with grace and pride. He walked up to that man and kindly spoke his mind, and in the end made HIM feel like the asshole.

Growing up you always see your dad as a role model. He taught me many things but appreciating the small things in life, taking the road less traveled, loving and putting your family first are the ones that will stick with me forever. He also wasn't a fly fishing snob. Although he enjoyed to catch fish on the fly, his origins were that of bait, and he saw all ways of angling, whether with bait for bass or lures for trout, as equal. So the next time I get frustrated with bait anglers, I think I'll look to the sky and not think anything about it, because that's what dad would do.

We got out on the water the day before they left, a day I will forever remember because it was the last time I interacted with him in person. We didn't fish the most popular water or the place with the biggest fish. If you could of seen the elation on his face you would of thought we were hitting the Salmon Flies perfect on the Yellowstone. We weren't. We were just fishing a second tier stream with smaller fish. That was perfect for him, he appreciated the small things in life. The important thing was he was with his son, doing something he taught me at a young age. THAT is what made him tick, THAT is what made him enjoy days on the water with or without us. His life was taken away from us too quickly. But I vow to honor him moving forward in my actions. I plan to be a better brother, son and husband. He has passed his wonderful attributes on to his family, and we are privileged to carry on his legacy . So even though he is no longer with us physically on this earth, his spirit will infect us all, and make us better people.

The upcoming months will be hard for my family and I. I think to the days where my brothers and I will be fishing a favorite stretch of water, or hunting a patch of woods that Dad was a part of. But I also know that he'll be with us through all of it, looking down over us during that hatch, or during that encounter with a big buck. I know we are all so thankful that he introduced us to the woods and water. It's brought us closer together and now more then ever those bonds to the outdoors will see us through this. My dad always followed our blog, and I know he won't stop now, but we just wanted to say thanks.....thanks for being YOU dad.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Getting After It

This is what Andy fly out for......
This is why I love fall in Montana 
By far the biggest rainbow I ever landed 



Andy came out last Friday and we have been hitting numerous streams very hard over the past 8 days. The weather stayed pretty solid in these parts....fall temps with lows in the 30's and high's in the 50's. We did have to deal with some wind from time to time but overall we can't complain. We went after numbers on the first few days and both smaller streams fished pretty well. After we got the rod bent numerous times we were ready to chase some big fish. Our travels took us to places all over Southwestern Montana. We connecting on numerous good fish that put the exclamation point on the trip. Browns are getting really territorial for spawning season  and we even saw some of the first redds of the year. I believe things are happening a bit earlier then last year, could be a sign that winter will be here to stay in no time. The next few weeks should be off the hook here....get out while you can.

Those Fall Colors 
Solid Fish 
Red Spots Anyone? 
Fat And Healthy 
Another Slob Rainbow 
Stud 
Not A Steelhead 
Another Brown Gem 
Great spots on this guy 
Braving The Cold For Fish Like This 
Even the small streams were yielding good fish 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fall Is Here

Big Fish Are Starting To Show Up In A Big Way

My Dad's Bruiser Of A Brown

Another View


Fall has finally made it's way to Southwestern Montana. The snow is piling up in the high country and rain has risen the streams in the valley. This is my favorite time of year around these parts. Most outdoorsmen find their way into the woods to blast an Elk, this leaves the streams vacant for the most part, especially during the week. The brown trout have started to move. Lake fish have entered some systems and the river fish are on the prowl to pack pounds and search for spawning habitat before the harsh winter sets in. All these combinations can make for an excellent day on the water. My dad was out last week and we stuck some good fish, my brother Andy will be in route to Montana tomorrow and we plan to put a hurting on some good fish. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for updates along the way!

FAT RAINBOW

Brown Trout Kinda Day


Best Fish Of The Day

Nymph Eater

Football
Majority Of Fish Looked Like This





Got to do some more exploring today. It has felt like months since the last time I put a good day on the water. I've been focusing my efforts on exploring second tier streams around Montana for the last 2 months while the famous rivers are crowded. I feel like my exploration paid off in a big way today. I had the entire watershed to myself and explored as much river as I could. When I found good holding water the above pictures show how the fishing was. Bigger then expected browns came to hand easily under the sighter. The fact that fish of this quality live in these waters that get overlooked in Montana is truly amazing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Modelo

6am.....Albertsons 


After a long weekend of hiking and fishing, I sat on the couch icing my sore back while watching the Olympics Sunday. That's the kinda rough life you lead living in Southwest Montana. Thoughts of the weeks work load started racing through my mind but soon got interrupted by my cell phone ringing. It was Modelo. I met the AMR worker at the ranch I work at. This grizzled outdoor lover knows his way around the mountains and rivers out here. I've floated the Yellowstone a few times with him and the guy can maneuver in a phone booth.  I took notice of the clock before I answered, 5 pm mountain time. "What's shaking Modelo?" He proceeded to mumble a few things, all I could understand was "fish, tomorrow, stone." Modelo was hitting the bottle really hard this Sunday afternoon, the poor dude lost his bird dog a few day's earlier. I told him the river was muddy above Yankee Jim, he blew it off and said, "Dude, no freaking way that plug hits the town section by tomorrow morning, meet me at Albertson's by 6am." Right before he hung up he mustered one last sentence, "If the fishing is slow, let's throw a krystal flash bugger mid-river, don't tell anyone I said that." Then he hung up.


In route to Livingston I texted Modelo a few times, no answer. I pulled into Albertson's and started making a plan b. Maybe wade fish 89 bridge? Sheep Mountain doesn't sound bad? Then I heard the Tundra pull up with Modelo's ride. He stumbled out of the truck and smiled, "time to float bitch." We ran into the gas station and chowed down some burritos. I was worried that wouldn't sit well with him, but Modelo has been here before, the burrito was just the right thing to get his head on straight.

Modelo's Ride 
The first part of the float was poor with the meaty streamers. A quick change to chubbies fooled a few small fish, but Modelo didn't wake up this early for 12 inch fish. In a stumped voice he yelled out "Hey, why don't you try a krystal bugger mid-stream?"  I said, "Dude you told me that last night in your drunken state.....WTF" So I decided to listen to Modelo, I rigged a krystal bugger on the 7 weight Recon and went to town. After 1/4 of a mile with no action, the brown came out of nowhere mid-river to inhale my fly. A long battle on 0X tippet and the fish was in the net. I sat back and looked at Modelo as he drank some beers and rowed with one arm. " I told you man, everyone has been pounding the banks, you have to change it up if you want to catch fish right now!"

I didn't argue, why would I? Modelo knows the river and to question him would be idiotic. We proceeded to rake in the fish mid-river. Modelo proceeded to pound beers. We got off the river and he was tanked. I drove back to Albertson's to pick up my truck. I asked Modelo if he was ok to drive, he was already on the phone with someone, talking about mud plugs and buggers mid-river.

Mid-River 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

#Hikeforit

#hikeforit
The height of the tourist season is here in Southwestern Montana. You can easily escape the crowds if you are willing to walk from the access sites. You can leave even more people behind if you chose to fish the so called "B" waters or smaller mountain streams. If you want to leave EVERYONE behind, throw a rod on your backpack and hike over 4 miles that gains at least 2,000 feet of elevation. Here you will find eager wild fish and nobody to compete with.

Feisty Grayling 
This is what I have been doing the last 2 weeks. There is something special about hiking switchback after switchback and being rewarded with a high alpine lake that sits below the peaks. The fish can sometimes be hard to locate, but once you find them they are typically eager to eat. My lake fishing game was pretty poor during the first few outings, but I've honed in my skills and started getting into some fish. The lake fishing season is pretty short around here, so if your sick of the crowds, strap the rod on your back and get hiking.
This Was The Honey Hole 

Little Wind Helped The Fishing Out Today 

Mid Air Shot 


Patterns Didn't Matter


Gallatin Range Lake

Clean and clear water 

Getting away from the crowds 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hopper Time

YNP Beauty 
Pocket Water Brown 
Red Spots 


Spent the past few days fishing all sorts of new and old water. Got out on foot and a boat. Fishing ranged from tremendous to poor. The heavy pocket water streams fished extremely well TL stone fly's and we also brought a decent number of fish to the surface with a hopper. I fished a small stream close to town and got good action on a chubby along with various droppers off the dry. The big river kicked our butts, couldn't move a fish on the hopper, next time out I plan to give it some more action and maybe put it a little closer to the bank. My confidence in doing this was poor because of how many boats that were in front of us. I even managed to get up into the park for some tremendous hopper fishing for Yellowstone Cutthroats. Wow was that fun. If you haven't been to the park yet you should, it's something everyone should experience once in their lifetimes. Cool night time lows won't be far away now that the first week in August is over. The fishing has stayed pretty darn consistent out here during the dog days of summer, you just have to be willing to leave those famous waters behind and do some searching on your own...the reward is worth it.

Pocket Water 
Trey Digging Those Hoppers 
Small Stream Gem 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Heading To The High Country

One of the more productive lakes 
Chubby Eater 


Blooming Wildflowers 

The weather hasn't been so great here in Southwestern Montana lately. Fires have started to spark because of the lack of rain and hot temperatures. This hasn't resulted in good fishing and most of the rivers are in Hoot Owl Regulations as we speak. I've decided to take advantage of all the high country fishing Montana has to offer and explore some alpine lakes/streams lately. The lake fishing isn't my thing so I'm just getting used to it. Fishing has been hit or miss depending on the lake but one things for sure the scenery has been top notch. I decided to wet wade one of the lakes and my legs went numb within a few minutes. A purple chubby seemed to produce the most strikes for me on the lakes and it seems like you can toss anything in the streams to get the trout to eat. Most trout have been small in stature but they make up for the lack of size with their coloring.

High Alpine Lake 
Mountain Range 
Small Stream Gem 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summertime and the livins easy




Love the colors on this brown
Summer has kicked into full force here in Southwest Montana. Had some high's in the 90's this past week. Hoot Owl Closures will surely go into effect in some watersheds soon. Fishing has been stunning, slow and just ok on my recent outings. Lot's of smaller fish seem to be active right now in the shallower riffles. Hatches are still occurring but the hopper fishing that should pick up soon will be the main player for most people in the weeks to come. I've been trying to get some action with the hopper but I've had limited results. As usual the action underneath is the way to go if you want numbers. Caddis, Stoneflies and small mayfly nymphs is what you should be trying to entice the trout with. If you want to go flashy get ready to slam the whities.

Evening Float 
Summer Time Flows 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Avoiding The Crowds

Good fish taken on a caddis imitation
The Release 


With the 4th of July Holiday near, the crowds in Bozeman have spiked with tourists over the past couple days. I had the chance to get out on the water a few days this week and picked a few spots that I knew would be void of the crowds. Most people are still chasing the big bugs up high on the rivers so the rest of the water has been pretty void of fisherman. The caddis hatches out here have been nothing short of spectacular lately, The proper bug under the surface has been deadly throughout the day. Unfortunately we already have some Hoot Owl restrictions in place on a few rivers, if this weather keeps up there will be more to come in the near future.

Dry Fly Eater 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Big Bugs East To West

Andy Throwing Dries In The Mud 


The Big Bugs are popping off all over the place. Reports from back home have been very positive. The big fish are looking up for the cicadas that have been hatching for a few weeks. They finally made their way to the water and it's created a feeding frenzy. The water hasn't cooperated very much but sometimes you just need to go fish. My brother showcased that tonight.....scoring big on a dry fly in pure mud. It;s amazing how those fish will key in on a big meal regardless of the water conditions.

THE GRAND DADDY OF THEM ALL 

Salmon Fly Eater 

Back here in Montana things are the same. The famous Salmon Fly hatch is the craze around town and the fishing has been superb if you can get on the sections that they are coming off. I floated twice this past week. The first float was bad, the second was memorable. We hit things perfect and were right in the thick of things. Casting a #4 dry fly close to banks and watching fish inhale that thing is something special. Along with the Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, PMD'S, Caddis and Green Drakes have started to emerge. This is a special time out here....I'm hoping to take full advantage of the next few weeks.
Feisty Cutthroat