Wednesday, September 6, 2017

When will the smoke clear?

Beast Of A Cutthroat 

The past 6 weeks have been a smokey mess here in Montana. Numerous fires are blazing across the state cloudy the views that make this place so special. There is no rain in site and temps are still hitting the 90's, fall can't come fast enough.
Butter Brown 

The fishing has slowly but surely started to pic up. The tourists leave....the bite gets better. I've been all over the place the past few weeks, famous rivers, smaller streams and high mountain lakes. The lakes have been fishing really well with chubbies, those fish are trying to pack on pounds before the winter months set in. The rivers and streams are starting to fish really well too....nymphing has been the name of the game if you want better fish and numbers. It only gets better from here on out, hopefully I'll be spending plenty of time on the water for the remainder of fall.
Mountain Crick

Mountain Lakes 
High Mountain Cutthroat 
chubbie eater

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lots Of Boating

Meet The Montana Mule 

Gone Boating 

I have had some of the troutbitten guys out here for the past few weeks. This entire time has been a blur in regards to where and when we fished, but most of the time I got to fish with them it was from a boat. We had some very good days and some very slow days. Mud Plugs have been wreaking havoc in the valley so being flexible with your floats has been key. We had a few decent top water days with a big chubbie and a few really good streamer days. The nymph bite was pretty much non-existent for trout as usual on this mighty river. The heat of summer has caught up to many freestoners in the area so we need a nice cool spell to travel into our neck of the woods soon. The spruce moth hatch is starting up in the local canyon so I plan on trying to hit that in the near future. It seems like each river and each day has been something different. Forget the forecast and just go fish, ya never know what the day will bring to you.

Streamer Eater In The Shade 
Another Meat Eater 
Colored Up 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Montana Gold

The Elusive Montana Gold 

I have been searching for the Montana Golden Trout for the past 2 summers with no luck in landing one. Yesterday my wife decided she wanted to go for one more hike before heading home for a few weeks visiting family and friends. Our destination was a lake that has a natural reproducing population of these fish. The Journey up the mountain was pretty simple for us this day. It being early July our hiking legs are prime for almost anything Montana has to offer. A short 2.3 mile hike with 1200 feet of elevation gain was what it took to get to the lake.

The Lake Of Gold 
Because of the easy access, there were a few people chasing what I was. This lake was not too big but could handle about 6 anglers with ease. Anymore then that and you would feel a little crowded. I walked to the far shore of the lake and noticed fish spawning in the shallows. At 9,000 feet the fish have a brief window to spawn before winter sets in again. Unfortunately for these fish they were spawning in stagnate water and their eggs won't reproduce because it has no moving water over it.
close up 

Anyway I kept walking and found some shoreline cruisers I could target. I rigged up an Olive Woolly Bugger because I saw no fish feeding on the surface. When my fly hit the surface I spooked a few of these fish. For whatever reason the Golden Trout is really finicky and hard to catch, unlike most cutthroat or brook trout.

I cast out a little further and let my flies sink to the depths. Slow strips let me work my bugger back to the shoreline. After 3 casts like this a felt a tug and the rod bent......BOOM! Excitement raced through me as a saw this majestic fish flash its brilliant colors at me under the surface. I yelled for the wife and she started getting out the camera. About 3 feet from the bank the bugger slipped.....and I moaned with anger. The barbless #12 hook didn't do it's job and I felt like I missed a giant 12 point buck with my compound bow.

The feeling of defeat hit harder after the next 20 casts produced nothing more then a look. We were on a time schedule as well and it was running out. We cruised along the lake and hit prime drop offs hoping for that fish. As we neared where we started I wasn't confident I would get another shot, oh well I thought.

At a random spot with a submerged log I felt that addicting tug of the line and set hard. FISH ON! More brilliant colors flashed under the surface as I battled this little elusive beast. I made sure I applied steady pressure the entire fight until I brought the trout to the shore. I felt relieved when I held this fish. I admired its brilliant colors and snapped a few pictures so I can remember it forever. The fish swam off into the depths very quickly hopefully providing someone else with that memory in the future.

I find myself setting goals a lot when it comes to my time on the water. It's good to keep things fresh and challenge yourself. Whether its catching a 12 inch Eastern Brook Trout, a 20 inch wild brown trout or a Golden Trout.....make sure you don't chase just that one thing for too long, there's a lot of amazing trout out there to catch.

Mission Accomplished 
- Have Fun Fishing

Friday, June 30, 2017

Action is HOT

Mid Afternoon Bruiser 

I've been out and about jumping from stream to stream this week. Doesn't matter where you go, if the water is clear the bugs are popping and the fish are eating. Not much else to say really, if you like dry fly fishing do it, streamer fishing do it, and if your like me and like to nymph DO IT! Now's the time to get out there and enjoy all the local rivers if they are clear. Have fun!

Brown Town 
Amazing Coloring On This Yellowstone Cutt 
Beat Up Jaw 
WOJO getting it done down under 
The Release 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Salmon Flies and Cutthroat

The Bug 
Did some chasing of the Salmon Flies this past weekend and also hit up some local small streams. I put in a good 17 mile float looking for epic dry fly action but we didn't find it. The bugs were there....hiding in the willows but the wind stayed calm and they clung on hard to live another day. This caused the dry fly bite to be weak but we still managed to entice a few trout. This week will be epic if you get to the right part of the river.

Big Salmon Fly Eater 
Float Back Drop 
The water clarity is really good right now and the flows are still up. Getting out on the boat is the way to go for the time being until things drop a little more.

I hit a local water a few times this weekend. It will probably be one of the last times I fish it this summer because all the other local waters are starting to come into play. This little place really fished well during run-off and I'm thankful to have it so close to town. Action is always consistent at this place and makes for a great day on the water.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fathers Day

The Canyon 

After a long 10 mile hike Paul and I could of hanged it up and went back to Bozeman to prepare for the week of work. That's what my wife did, she's the only smart one out of all of us. But we didn't. We stuck it out......sore feet, rain falling...mentally tired....but my Dad's face popped into my head that very moment and I knew he was watching, I knew if he were still around that just maybe he would of pushed through the fatigue and wet a line also.....because in life you never know what tomorrow may bring so live in the moment and play hard while you can.

Hungry Trout 

We looked at the water and didn't know where to start. The whitewater seemed to choke up the whole stream. But if you looked really could see that soft water. There was some on each bank, and a few seams in the middle. That's where every fish in this stream preferred to live and that's where we dropped our nymph's. These feisty cutthroat slammed our flies, they didn't hesitate, they didn't inspect our drifts. They were coming out of a long winter slumber and let us know they were ready to eat today. Dad would of probably sat on the bank. The water was a little too rough for his liking, but he would of still enjoyed himself with a lit cigar watching one of his sons fish.

Fish after fish surrendered to our offerings for a few hours this evening. It was a good time, but today wasn't about catching numbers of fish. Today was all about Fathers Day. For many years my brothers and I could celebrate Fathers Day with the man that brought us into this world, but this year was different. My brothers and I were separated by 3000 some miles but our heads were in the same place. The void left by my fathers early passing has been felt every day since he left, and today maybe felt a little harder.

As I dunked my flies into the soft seams, I couldn't help to think Dad was watching me. When I caught a limb on a back cast and let out a big "ought!" memories of years past hearing that same thing come out of his mouth flooded into my mind. Instead of getting mad I brushed it off, life is too short to let the small things ruin your day. How could I celebrate this day and honor the man I looked up to my whole life without being able to tell him to his face or by phone? As I sat on the bank thinking about it, almost to the point where I felt guilty I was experiencing it without him, his voice crept in my head again. I know what he'd say to me if he could say it......he would say get out there, get after them, stay after them and appreciate it. Appreciate the time you have out there, that's how I want you to honor me.

I find myself having conversations with him all the time, even though I know he's not here. But I do know he's listening. So I listened to him and got back after it. Let me tell you....I let the fish have it. I may have even been a little possessed there for awhile, but it felt like dad was talking to me, it felt real. So today I did my best at honoring my father. I spent time with my wife, I chatted with my family and I caught some damn pretty fish. The sting those fish must of felt when I set the hook time after time is pretty much what my family feels every day. They say time will heal us, but I'm not so sure. What I am sure of is I miss my Dad, and every time I step foot in a river I think about how excited he would be if he were still around doing the same. For the time being, I'm just going to keep letting his voice enter my mind because it gives me comfort. I'm going to keep looking up into these Big Skies knowing he's looking down on me with a smile on his face. This reports for you Dad, Happy Fathers Day, we miss you dearly and hope you got out on some water today.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Small Streams And Dry Flies

Perfect Dry Fly Water 

Got a good 5 hour outing in this weekend on some local water. The clarity held up well even with this high 80 degree temperature we've had going on out in Montana right now. I explored some new water and decided to bring out the 3 weight and throw some big dry fly's around. The fish cooperated so well I rarely had to change fly's. A good old Royal Wulff and Stimulator was the ticket. Nothing beats tossing these bushy flies into the soft seams and raising fish to the surface. Nothing of size but that's not why I come here....I come here to catch these eager little gems on dry fly's. I have to say I've strayed away from tossing bugs on the surface in the past few years, but this stream has perked my interest once again.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Peak Run Off Close?


It's an anxious time here in Montana. The weather has finally settled into summer like patterns and everyone is itching to wet a fly. The stream gauges are still creeping upward, but they haven't topped out yet. This years snow pack was pretty big and the cool spring allowed most of it to linger around longer then the past few years. I'm guessing in the next 10 days you will see most rivers peak out and start to SLOWLY drop. Obviously some river drainages will be better then others so pay attention to the USGS site.
Small Water Brown 

I've spent most of my time lately in the smaller mountain streams that can handle the snow melt better then the big freestoners. Action has been very good underneath the surface and the bugs have really started to pop. It's only a matter of time before sightings of Salmon Flies will be the talk of town. Until then get creative and go explore, there's plenty of water out there ready to see some fisherman.
Getting Into The Back Country 

Andy Scoring On A Big Bow 
 The word from PA is high and muddy water with a limited dry fly bite. Seems like hitting the water right back home has been challenging. My brothers have gotten out a few times and the bite has been solid underneath the surface. Andy has been getting into some good fish lately.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Solid water clarity for late May 

The past few days I've logged more miles on my truck then I'd like to say.....but it was worth it. Some of my stops to find trout proved to be worthless but one specific stop made all the driving worth it. A brief cold spell allowed some streams and rivers to come down and clear up a bit, so there are a few options out there right now. It will be interesting to see how high the rivers will get once the air temperatures rise again....maybe it will be a trickle run-off from here on out.

Wide Open Spaces 
Our one stop on an unknown creek proved to make all the exploring worth it. My buddies and I managed to get a bunch of rainbows in the 17-21 inch class. Felt good to rip some lips with these guys after all the traveling.

Andy sticking a good Madison River Rainbow 
Lots Of Good Rainbows Came To The Net 
Catch And Release

All Colored Up 

WOJO doing what he does best 
Nymph Eater 
Before The Rain Came In 
Most of the trout seemed to focus their lies in the softer seams. Anytime we would find some calm water the fish would follow. As for bugs they were limited except for a brief BWO hatch in the afternoon but no fish took notice that I saw.