Saturday, January 19, 2019

When The Weather Aligns


I think it was back in 2016. We had a pretty mild winter around these parts of Montana. I remember going out and fishing through the December-February timeframe and was in total awe of the productivity on our local streams. 2019 is shaping up to be one of those winters. Most places haven't had icing issues as of yet, and the fish are eager to eat and plump. I've found more fish eating in shallow water then I can ever remember. I've gone out with a few friends as of late and they haven't been experiencing the same madness as I have. One of the issues is they are not prepared to fish in the winter. It's extremely important to have the right base layers, socks and fly gear. I can't harp on this enough...….lose the fly line. Most of the winter your getting your nymphing game on anyway. Setting up a mono-rig almost completely eliminates the ice issues I see most guys have with fly line this time of year. If your skeptical, check out my buddy Dom's blog and sift through his postings. You'll be a believer once you give it a try. Fly selection isn't that hard this time of year either. Throw on your favorite stonefly and trail a midge or worm off it. Cover water until you start getting into fish and pound that spot until there's no more willing fish. Don't overlook the shallow riffles at the head of a big bucket.....when the sun is up the fish will be there. Get out there and try it, you won't regret it!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Warmer Than Average

Sunrise Over The Spanish Peaks 

Things have been a bit balmy here in Southwestern Montana as of late. High 30's and low 40's are the norm here in the valley. We haven't scene much in regards to precipitation either. The Madison range is sitting at around 78% normal snowpack for this time of year. Pray that Old Man Winter wakes up and dumps some snow on us soon.
Brian Working A Good Seam 

Madison Rainbow

Madison Rainbow

 The one nice thing about the weather is the tolerable fishing conditions. This is good and bad, I've scene more people out and about then normal for this time of year. I fished the Upper Madison the other day and as usual things were very good. Be the first to hit a bank and you'll get into fish looking for those daily occurrences of midges. Any small #16-#18 midge in various colors seems to be doing the trick. I also managed a few on Rubber Legs and Eggs.
Brian Scoring A Good Winter Brown That Fell For Mikes Midge
Pink Stripe 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Embrace The Elements

I keep the heat in the truck at full bore as I scramble to gear up on this frigid November morning. Long gone are the crowds of summer, the only sense of life is from the distant Magpies chirping a lovely morning melody. I struggle to pull my G4's up over my winter garb, thank goodness for the zipper feature. I rigged my rod up in town so I can quickly approach the stream without freezing my hands assembling the graphite pieces.

The agony of summer fly selection doesn't find a place in the depths of winter. Midges, Stone Fly's, Eggs.....the list really doesn't go much deeper then that. As I walk toward the stream I feel confident those flies will generate some action much quicker then it's taking me to walk through the snowdrifts to get to the stream. There is no rush during winter fishing. Most people don't want to brave the hazardous conditions to catch a few trout. Through the years, I've grown fond of battling the elements to land fish in this kind of solitude.

As I start to peel my line off the reel I'm cautious to avoid getting any type of liquid on my gear. That can end your day quickly this time of year. I scan ahead and immediately find what I'm looking for, soft water. The key to winter fishing is to find the subtle currents where lethargic trout await an easy meal. I tuck a 15 foot cast close to the bank and almost immediately the sighter hesitates, a quick hook set assures my first feisty rainbow trout of the day. I often find that trout tend to hang out in groups during the winter months. Maybe they are lonely, maybe they are somehow generating heat together....or maybe there is limited quality water to live in when the temperatures plummet. No matter what the reasoning is if you catch one fish in a particular spot during the winter rest assured more should follow. Another cast in the same spot produces another rainbow. I look around to see if anyone else is in sight but I already know the answer. I cautiously wade to the next soft spot and the catching continues. I'm sure the cars passing by are wondering who the idiot is putting his hands in cold water when the air temperature barely registers 20 degrees outside. I embrace the cold feeling and continue upriver, plucking fish out of each bucket one by one.

I quickly forget about my cold hands and focus on the solitude and damn good fishing that winter gives up. I often find myself wondering why it's so good during these miserable months. I believe that pressure plays a roll and also the food selection isn't quite there. Whatever it is I'm glad it's arrived. I walk back to the truck as the sun dips behind the Madison's and the cold sets in deeper, with a smile on my face because I know winter has just begun and the fishing will continue to get just have to brave the elements to experience it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Winter Soldier

Fish Of A Lifetime

That's what I'll be calling myself over the next few months. The snow has started to fly and it won't stop until April. That's a long time to be dealing with frozen guides and the white stuff. But I make it happen, at least once a week. The options get limited but there are plenty of tailwaters around to keep you busy. Skiing will take over most of my time but there are conveniently located spots in route to the mountain that will produce regardless of how hard the temperature plummets.  We had another successful Fall outing when my brother came to visit. The chase was for big fish and we did just that. Andy connected with a massive brown, his biggest to date and a fish of a lifetime. We mixed big number days in with few fish but quality size. We learned some things and wasted some time exploring. It's amazing how quickly a 9 day fishing trip can go when your getting after it.

The tide is already turning. The fish are seeking slower holding areas as we speak. Most of the browns are DONE spawning contrary to what some of the local fly shops are saying. Yes the upper reaches of the tailwaters seem to be the last to spawn but they will be dwindling by the day and by Thanksgiving it will be over. I think the next few weeks can be super challenging for numbers. Somewhat of a post spawn funk and also fish seeking those spots they will reside for the next few months. The goal is to find out those spots sooner then later, and when you do feel rewarded because it will fish the next few months.....lots of numbers. That's the update as of now, we'll see how beginning of winter treats us this year.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Changing Of Seasons

The weather as of late has been all over the place, typical for a Montana October. We started the month with plenty of cold and snow. Now we are in a an Indian Summer. It's been about 10 days since I've been out but reports from my buddies have been slow fishing because of the high sun. Andy is coming out for 10 days on Saturday so I will be able to give a thorough report at the end of the trip. At the beginning of the month small mayfly nymph's were the ticket, and the egg bite was just starting to get good. This is my favorite time to fish in Montana, low pressure and hungry fish. Let the good times roll.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Late Summer

It's been over a month since our last post. Over the past several weeks the heat of summer has set in here in Montana. Gone are the blue bird skies and clear views. We are now subject to high fire hazards and smokey skies. I haven't been out fishing as much as I would like but when I've been on the water the fishing has been pretty solid. I tend to explore this time of year to get away from the crowds, whether that is high mountain lakes or little ditches, something that doesn't attract the crowds is where you'll find me. Dry fly action has been good with the ole chubby. Pink, Purple, Golden.....throw them all and chances are you'll get a few fish to poke up. Those smaller mountain stream trout don't get too picky with the fly selection. Things are about to change for the better in a few weeks. Cold crisp mornings and clear skies are on the horizon.....I can't wait.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Chasing The Big Bug

I have a few things that I needed to cross off my bucket list since I moved out to Montana. One of them was chasing the famous Salmon Fly Hatch. Over the past two weeks I have done just that on my favorite tailwater. I was lucky enough to float over 100 miles of water in that time.

At the beginning of the hatch I was skeptical about all the buzz this big bug gets from everyone. We stayed committed to the dry fly and were rewarded with a few fish here and there. But just as I was about to throw the towel in the magic happened and I now know why people fly in from all over the country to try and experience this hatch.

I had two floats over the past few nights, we put in at 3 and floated toward dark. One of the biggest advantages the later float gives you is rested water....most of the guide boats have pulled off by then. We got into the bulk of the bugs and ended up having 40-50 eats a night on top. We stuck a good many but also missed quite a few, it's a challenge getting used to setting the hook on that fly. Giving the trout a second to inhale it is key to getting the proper hook up. I will say the ferocity that the fish hit these bugs is THE REAL DEAL. As many as you know I am mostly a nymph fisherman. But....after hitting this hatch right, I'd pick chucking these big bugs over nymphing any day of the week.

We are finally seeing most of our waters get down to fish-able levels at the moment. The mighty Yellowstone should dip under the magic 10,000 cfs number this week and will help spread out the traffic that's been on the Madison lately. I have a feeling this July will be one of the best on record with the great water and cool temps we've been having. Get out there an enjoy it....we only have 8 weeks left until the snow starts flying for good around here! Tight Lines

When The Weather Aligns

Solitude  I think it was back in 2016. We had a pretty mild winter around these parts of Montana. I remember going out and fi...