Sunday, June 3, 2018

Soon Enough

Big Bugs Big Fish 

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I took a trip out to Norway in the middle of May but I've still been fishing here and there. Waters are still pretty much blown out but I think we've scene the peak of run-off. Now it's a waiting game. I did learn that you can still get some great fishing in during the high period, you just have to be willing to drive a little bit. If you do you will be rewarded with some great fishing.
2 foot cutty! 

I went down south and got my first salmon fly fishing of the year. The big bugs were out in force and they took notice to those big bugs on the surface. The Salmon Fly has made its way to the park in some will only be a few more weeks before it gets going on the Madison. With that will come the crowds though...and the start of summer. The Bozeman area looks spectacular right now with the green and white capped peaks, it's as lush as I've ever scene it making for some great photo ops. Hopefully I'll be reporting back soon on some of the local rivers and how they are fishing. Until then enjoy the pics.

The Tetons 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Boatin Days


I have been putting in some good time with the boat recently. I think I've done 4 floats in the past 2 weeks. There hasn't been any stellar days to speak of. I've thought of many things to blame it on...the late winter, cold water temps, rainbows spawning in tribs....who knows it just seems like this spring is off compared to prior ones. We have finally gotten some warmer temps recently but that lower elevation snow that usually melts in late March is starting to come off now and dirty the rivers. It's anyones guess whats going to happen from here on out. The bows seem to be spawning hard right now, but the egg bite hasn't seem to pick up this year. Whatever the reason for the slow fishing still take advantage of those days you have free....could be a LONG runoff this year. Tight Lines.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Spring Forward

Each year when the clock springs forward sometime in March it typically throws me for a loop. I woke up around 6 am and got into my usual routine. Stretching, coffee, skimming through my news feed and cooking breakfast in preparation for a long day on the water. As I pulled out of the driveway I was caught off guard the sun wasn't up yet. This time of year...there really isn't any need to rush to the rivers. The crowds of summer are a few months out and most people don't want to brave the cold in those early hours of the morning. The trout bite can be somewhat slow too. I took the drive over to the next valley a little slower today, taking in the sunrise and calm that set's in before the masses awake.

As excepted I was the only vehicle in the lot when I arrived. I knew it was only a matter of time before I got some company so I elected to take a long walk and rig up when I got to my destination. 30 minutes of hiking through the glacier field and I sat down in a side channel contemplating how to approach the day.

It's that time of year when the rainbows are starting to think about spawning, and they need to pack on those pounds before the mating season begins. This provoked me to use a standard Stone Fly Nymph and something with lots of protein....a good ole San Juan Worm. I got to work and was a little stumped at first. This river has spoiled me over the years so when I don't get into fish immediately I start to question my tactics.  I battled through the doubt and started focusing on the water. I had been casting in the head of the riffle when it dawned on me that it's still Winter out here and the fish are probably still laying in slower currents. So I backed up and fished the tail end of the riffle where the water was slower. Sure enough I got into 3 fish laying in the same area. I think I jumped the gun early on because it felt like spring out there today. The fish are still laying in that calmer water looking for an easy meal. Bouncing your flies off the bottom is a must right now. The action was good but not great for the remainder of the day. Rotating through nymph's did little to spark any crazy bite. The name of the game was thoroughly working the run and assuring I was down deep.

I was greeted with a visitor around lunch. It was not another fisherman but a coyote. This little guy got a little too curious and came within 20 yards of me. I was taken off guard and pulled my bear spray when he got uncomfortably close! Luckily he turned away after dipping his body in the river....maybe it was a little too cold to mess with me, he must of been thrown for a loop too with the clock change.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

February Thaw

Finding Solitude 
The past 10 days in Bozeman have felt like a sauna of sorts. Temperatures in the high 30's and low 40's have freed up most of the rivers around here providing action on places that are usually locked up with ice this time of year. I drove around close to town on Saturday looking for a juicy place to fish. With the weather being as warm as it currently is other anglers are taking advantage. Typically I don't deal with much competition around these parts in February so I had to drive to a couple different access points before finding solitude.

Colored Up Brownie 
I fished two different spots and one produced good numbers and size and the other only produced good size. I tend to enjoy a mix of both....but you don't always get that lucky. The fish still seem to be in those slower currents looking for the easy meal. They are also still congregated up in pods, so when you find one you will find more. Bobber fishing those slow holes can really pay off this time of year. The longer the drift, the more fish you will cover rolling those flies off the bottom...make sure your doing this when your out.

Orange Brown 
Stud Winter Brown 
Another Local Gem 
If you have the itch to get out and dust off that fly rod before another cold spell sets in now is the time to do so. You won't be disappointed by the nymphing game.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A/B Testing

We still have hats to sell! Email if you are interested

A/B Testing 
So far this winter season the West has scene very dismal snow totals for much of the region. The one exception so far has been Montana. The Gallatin Range is currently sitting at 137% for the year and the Madison Range is at 117%. Let's hope Old Man Winter keeps it cranking, the 10 day forecast looks very good.

Lone Peak Burried 
The skiing has been so good I've been on the slopes more then usual this winter. It seems like every weekend is a powder day....very hard to pass up!

I have managed to get out and do some fishing though, and it's been pretty darn good during those outings. This time of year I spend more time at the bench then usual, and I like to create some new nymph patterns to test out. Making yourself shy away from those staples in your box is sometimes hard to do, but the payoff can be big if you discover the next best meal ticket.

Big Dance Dialing In His TightLine Rig 
I've spent most of my time local over the past 3 weeks. Fishing wasn't lights out anywhere I went but it fished pretty darn consistent. I know I sound like a broken record but getting your flies down to where they are bouncing off the bottom is key right now if you want to stay bent. Smaller Flashy nymph's in the #16-#18 class have been taking the majority of rainbows. The browns still seem to want to stone fly. I encountered an epic midge hatch finally, and for the next 6 weeks fish will be looking up in the calmer water for that reliable meal. It started a little later then normal.

Most of the freestoners in this area are clear of ice which is shocking. You can pretty much get on any water right now from top to bottom. That could change quickly but for now get out and enjoy the solitude while you can!

TL the pocket water 

New Nymph Patterns Doing Some Work 

Empty Rivers 
Storms A Brewing 

Saturday, January 6, 2018


The Roots 

The sun gradually shined light on the Tobacco Roots as I cruised past the Lower Maddie on 84. Quick glances out the window revealed less ice floating down the river then last week. That's typically how I gauge things to look around Ennis during the winter months. I hung a left on 287 anxious to cross that bridge in town so I could see what the day had in store for me.

The next thing I pay attention to is the sagebrush and any flag I can get my eyes on. As I descended down into town the wind was howling hard. I got to the intersection by the Town Pump and it was decision time. Fight the winds in hopes they die down by noon or continue up into the foothills of the Madison's where the wind is less likely a factor. I hung a left. 40 minutes later I arrived all alone at the parking lot and geared up.

Fishing has been a little slow on the Upper River over the past few weeks. It was only a matter of time before those trout got into their winter habits and things got interesting. Today was that day. I was able to TL a stone fly and tagged a #16 Butano Perdigon nymph about 8 inches above the stone. It was one of those day's where the rainbows were on one thing and the browns were on another. Luckily I had the meal ticket for both.

I was dialed in and focused. I really spent time concentrating on not leading my flies through the drift too fast. A 1-2 second hesitation before leading really helps those nymph's get down to the kill zone. The fish were responding well to that technique and focus. The bridge was still in sight and I was already in the mid-teens for numbers of trout. The shallow/soft water really held those fish in good numbers today. It always helps having the river to yourself....something about that gives you confidence too almost force those fish into eating.

The magic midge hatch came off but I only noticed a few fish rising. One of these days it's going to explode. The weather looks pretty good for the next 10 days or so....if you have time do yourself a favor and get out that rod, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cold Smoke

I kicked the Tacoma in 4-wheel drive as soon as I left the driveway. I was running a little late because I decided to gear up in the garage so I wasn't wasting time when I arrived at the stream.  It was a Cold Smoke kinda snow, visibility was down to 1/4 mile but that doesn't stop the Bozeman crowd from doing what they want to do. Having grown up on the East Coast and dealing with town shutdowns after a few inches, it took me some time to adjust to the Montana way of things in the Winter.  It really doesn't matter how much snow you get, or how cold it goes on as it would on a sunny summer day.

I saw a few accidents between Durston and Kagy but kept on trucking toward the foothills. As I made the turn up into the canyon only a few tire tracks were visible in the 6-7 inches of fresh Cold Smoke, some backcountry skiers looking for bottomless pow. About 2 miles into the canyon I felt like I was truly alone in the wilderness. Not many people make it up this far mid-week. I had to slow down a bit at mile marker 5, "Long Winter" by Ziggy Marley was ripping on the IPOD and I got a little carried away. I found a flat spot that my truck wouldn't get stuck in got to work.

I know winter is in full force because there is 3 feet of snow along the banks. I methodically post holed a few 100 yards to the stream. The wind was howling down in the valley, but the confines of the canyon held the gusts at bay just enough for my Tight Line tactics to work effectively.

The trout's behavior these days is very lethargic. They don't want to expend any energy in the faster water. The first 25 yards of this section was all shallow riffles so I opted to walk in the stream until I found a deeper hole. I got to bottom of one deep hole and took in the sweet sounds and smell of a winter storm. There were no birds, no vehicle traffic and no other fisherman. Just the rushing water and silent drops of snowflakes.

The fish tend to be podded up this time of year, so when I hooked up on my first cast I knew a few more were going to come to hand. The small stone fly at the end of my line got mangled by multiple trout at the bottom of that hole. Takes were very subtle but the fights were fierce. Food is scarce these days so a well presented pattern is usually all it takes to hook up.

I probably only manged to cover 4-5 good holes in a mile of water, but that's all I needed to do because of how stacked up those fish are right now. The temperature was plummeting pretty good towards the end, my flies started to get ice on them, and at that point I knew it was quiting time.

I post holed again to get to the road and walked back to my truck in the stillness of winter, feeling alone on that desolate mountain. I at times during the day wondered if any of these fish see a fly for the next few months...I highly doubt it.  There was 3 inches of snow on my truck when I got back....yes this truly was a Cold Smoke storm....

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Winter Pattern

I got out for a few hours today, air temperature was 15 degrees at the start. This caused some icing issues but the mono-rig does pretty well even when its that cold.

Fishing was pretty slow at the first location I stopped at. I rotated through plenty of nymph's but those fish weren't having it. I moved upstream to a more reliable winter spot and the fishing turned on. Could it of been the time of day or just that section? Tough to tell. The bows were on the egg pretty good in the deeper slower water. It's hard to identify the slow stuff in that section of river, everything looks so fast. You just need to take your time and really focus on reading the water, once you figure it out usually some fish will come to hand. It always amazes me how close to the bank these fish will lay in the winter. The midges were not coming off yet, I'm hoping this picks up in the next few weeks because usually the catch rate increases when these little guys start popping. The lower section of the Upper River was getting pretty slushed up in ice....we'll see if it locks up completely for the winter in the next few weeks or if we get lucky.