Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Legend

The shadows of the Bridger Mountains start to emerge as I speed past the main street exit. A few minutes later and into the canyon I go. Rock spires shoot out of the mountain side and the dawn patrol crowd marches toward the base in headlamps. I get passed by 3 Tacoma's hauling R/O boats through the S-Curves...everyone racing to get that first light streamer bite. This is a typical morning in Montana during the summer months. The same scene will play out every morning till September hits.

I let the guides race past me, take a sip of mediocre coffee and as usual my old man's face pops into my head. The smell of coffee takes me down memory lane daily, especially in a truck in route to fish.

The sun now sheds light on the Absaroka Mountains, maybe the most rugged in all of Montana. Livingston Peak comes into view as I descend down toward Livingston and for a second I think of how brutal that summit climb is. An antelope busts across the road and quickly forces me to focus. I hang right off I-90 toward Yellowstone National Park and start getting excited about the day's adventure.

The drive-thru coffee shack is 7 trucks deep and the guides are starting to file in at Albertsons parking lot. Yes....typical summer day in Montana indeed.

I roll into Sweet Water and can see the rush behind the shop. Guides are hooking up the boats and setting expectations with their clients. I hear one tourist say "So how many 20 inchers are we gonna get today?" I gaze over and see the guides face turn from excited to annoyed quickly. After 10 minutes the crowd disappears and one boat is left in the parking lot. THE LEGEND. He looks all lonely and neglected as I approach him. This ole boat has scene plenty of days on all types of water, his battle scars telling stories of boulder hits, poor rowers and wild fish. I back up and attach it, then realize the back taillight is out. Cops are scarce around these parts so I ignore the malfunction and bolt down 89 towards Paradise.

The boys are waiting at Mallard's. Some Quick BS about the weather and how bad the fishing will be quickly turns into the first beer sip of the day. Andy's hungover and the only remedy is a Moose Drool to start erasing last nights mishaps.

We opt for the Bird Float, mostly because the dry fly bite has been rumored to be good. I'm hesitant to believe the action is as good as they say but rig up a Purple Chubby at the end of my rig anyway. I dunk the boat in the water, park the truck and off we go. Snowpack has created an epic flow this year. Strainers and whirlpools are frequent hazards that have eaten a few boats already. I got a few rookies in the boat and wonder how they will fare handling The Legend. The Legend has a specific oar stroke that will make him perform, but it's not easily found. It took me 10 trips down the river to dial him in, now I feel like we speak to each other, respect each other and keep each other out of trouble. How he reacts to different folks behind the drivers seat is yet to be scene.

I sit middle and head straight to the far bank. Some rip rap provides good structure for browns and I like how the current flows off the rocks. Steve chucks a cast right next to the rip rap and gets the first 16 inch brown of the day. The kiss of death has just occurred.....a trout in the first 5 minutes on the Yellowstone....this is going to be a long day. I bounce from river right to river left putting them into the best positions.....and the Legend looks like Barry Sanders juking and jiving fluidly.

No action occurs in the next 20 minutes and Steve wants to row. "Quick fast strokes's the key to handling the Legend." He nods his head and starts down the river. We hit a braided section and opt left, this time of year you can pretty much go anywhere you want because of the flows. I focus hard on the willow bank, striving to get my chubby under the overhangs. I miss a few small cutthroats and think about going smaller on my dry fly. I look up to see a strainer approaching quickly and Steve is headed right for it. "Tilt the boat and stroke quick brother!" I catch Steve's attention, he was preoccupied keeping us close to the bank. I look down and see him struggling to move it. The Legend doesn't like his touch...he isn't reacting the way he should. At that moment I switch seats with Steve in a frantic manner. We're 10 feet from the strainer.....10 feet from saying good-bye to The Legend. I cock him hard and start hammering on the oars....and just like a sports car he turns on a dime and we elude a disaster. He just needed that right touch to get moving and luckily I had it. Maybe he was trying to send a message to the rower, maybe he was sending a message to me. Either way we continued down Paradise Valley in the shadow of the Absarokas. We were accompanied by Bald Eagles, Caddis Flies and Moose. Eventually we were greeted with some rainbows and cutthroats.

As we rounded the last bend a whirlpool came out of nowhere and we were headed right for it. This time I was behind the oars and The Legend knew. A quick turn of the bow and 6 hard strokes and we were back in the safe current. I floated by the whirlpool and patted the Legend on the back, he performed well today.

We loaded up the boat and headed back to Sweet Water to drop the Legend off at his resting spot. All the other boats were already parked, and they looked shiny and new. I detached the hitch and dropped the trailer. As I pulled away I looked in the rear view mirror and the Legend was staring back at me, looking out of place in that line of boats.

I pulled out on 89 North heading back toward Bozeman and caught one last glimpse of him....I bet he was wondering when I'd be back to get him for the next adventure. Little did he know I was going to give him a new home for good, and the Legend and I will be inseparable once summer sets in again.

*My good friend Matt left for Vermont this summer for a few months and gave up his boat for me to use. I spent the better part of July blazing down some of the most famous waters in Montana in that thing. I had numerous people in and out of that boat, and we had a few adventures that will last a lifetime. Matt got a new hyde and was going to dump The Legend....I couldn't let him do that and offered him a new home. I hope The Legend and I have some more memorable Adventures this upcoming summer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Winter Lies

Winter is here 

Well there is no lying that winter has come in Southwestern Montana. Single digit night-time lows froze up some of the freestoners for bit last weekend, a brief warm up this week has allowed them to break free again. All this is a reminder that winter fishing is here....and tactics need to change. The spawn has concluded and fish are seeking out those slow currents. They are also podded up and hunkered down to the bottom. This means a few things....first you need to hit the slower stuff and get down deep. Two...if you don't get many hits after awhile relocate until you get into some action, chances are where you catch one you may catch quite a few.

Fly selection this time of year isn't that complicated. Stone Flies, Eggs, Worms....and midges. Those should keep your hands cold over the next few months. Crowds are pretty much non-existent this time a year outside of a warmer day here and there. So get the right clothing and get down deep....Winter offers some of the best fly fishing of the year.

Get Down Deep....You Never Know What Those Deep Buckets Will Give Up In The Winter 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Grobe Anglers Fall Vacation: Ripping Lips In A BIG Way

Working A Seam 
The Hats Gave Us Good Luck 

Andy and Ben came out for the annual fall vacation in search of big wild brown trout. It didn't disappoint. The weather at the beginning of the trip was spectacular for late fall. By the end of the trip Old Man Winter decided it was time to show up in Montana....and he'll be around for the next 5-6 months. We stuck to nymph's for the duration of the trip, and the fish responded accordingly. We saw a few guys out there ripping meat to entice these big browns to eat. We've proven time after time a well presented nymph is more productive then chucking that meat. The cold weather was just what we needed to find solitude on most of the waters we fished, I'll take that over comfortable weather any day of the week. This will go down as one of the best big fish trips we've would be tough to top this in the future.

Absolute Stunner Of A Brown Trout 
Bring On The Snow 
Miss Piggy 
Ben Showing Off A Halloween Stud 

Small Stream Gem 

Battling Through The Elements

A Slab Of A Rainbow

Name It 
Ben With A Bruiser

Starting The Trip Off Right

Pumpkin Brown

Get Some 
Epic Trip 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Colors Of Fall

Colors Of Fall 
It's been too many weeks since my last report. I've had some hard days on the water as of late. Most of my time has been spent chasing lake run brown trout in Yellowstone National Park. The outcome hasn't been good on most trips. I needed a break and decided to fish a freestoner today. I finally made the right choice. Action was pretty slow for most of the day but this one fish changed my attitude in a hurry. The countless miles I put on the Tacoma over the past few weeks finally paid off with this beast of a brown trout....Mr. Pumpkinhead. Nothing beats catching a wild river brown, the lake trout are nice but there's something really special about these guys. The trout are on the verge of spawning on most freestoners, I saw a few fresh redds today so watch where your walking in the shallows and stick to the big deep green buckets. This fish is a prime example of what can be in the deep buckets staging to spawn. Winter is close to coming here in Montana, try and get out as much as you can while the weather lasts!

Healthy Rainbow In YNP

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.