Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Winter 2.0

John Working A Good Run 

Is it spring? Summer? Or is Winter still lingering around? The coldest May in 47 years has engulfed Montana for the past few weeks. Run off started to get going but quickly got knocked out by Winter 2.0. Flows on the Yellowstone are as low as I've scene them since moving here for this late in May. What this will do to the month of June is anyone's guess, but in the meantime it's a great window of opportunity for those close by. Action has been good subsurface and on the surface depending on where I've been fishing. March Brown's and BWO's have been out in full force. If the water has some clarity look for some good dry fly fishing. I'm venturing down to the Henry's Fork this weekend in hopes of hitting the Salmon Fly Hatch but from all the reports I've been getting I think we are going to be too early. Last year we went down the same weekend and the hatch was almost over! That just goes to show you how hard it is to time things right.

Small Stream Gem 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

On The Verge Of Run-Off

Pre-run off is upon us here in Montana. Some of the rivers are completely blown out, some are holding strong and either way they all have more water in them then 3-4 weeks ago. Rainbows are starting to wrap up their spawning in most places, but others are just getting going. Water temperature plays a huge role for when these fish spawn so I would assume the first few weeks in May will have active fish spawning in certain water ways. Fly selection is pretty simple this time of year, egg, worm and a RL is usually the ticket. Slowly, fish will start transitioning into a BUG diet once the water calms down. The mothers day caddis hatch should be starting in a few days. That brings out the dry fly enthusiast in all of us. I'm hoping the Lower Madison holds strong with clarity so I can experience it like I did last year. Only time will tell.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Inside Seams

Took a nice long 3 day weekend to the Missoula area this weekend. Haven't spent anytime fishing around there and the hype didn't disappoint. We spent time in the drift boat and chasing fish on foot. Didn't matter where we went the fish cooperated. Even though it may be spring, the fish are still acting like it's winter. The key to the trip was fishing soft inside seams that were 3-5 feet deep. Fish were still in winter lies and NOT spread out around the river at all. We had to cover lots of water looking for the right stuff before we got into our NUMBERS. The skwala bite was weak in the Upper End of the river, so we opted to fish the worm and Rubber Leg. That combo is downright silly all over the state right now, doesn't matter what watershed you go to......that's all you need. We didn't see any signs of spawning fish up there yet, water temp is frigid. On the way home we stopped at the Big Hole and caught a bunch of fish. From the headwaters to Wise River......the damn thing is STILL frozen bank to bank. Crazy year out here in Montana.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Weekend Update

Worm Eater 
Pheasant Tails Becoming Effective 


I've been on the water a good bit the past few days. Some of the freestoners that had clarity issues late this week have come back into shape nicely. If you plan to hit those spots have your worms handy......lots of real ones have washed into the rivers the past week. Fish are whacking them hard right now. The other fly on the menu this weekend was the Pheasant Tail in a #16. Baetis are abundant and the fish are keying in on these guys. SOME fish are spreading out, still....most of my luck is coming from the slower water. Fish the flies slow and low in order to get strikes. The tops of riffles have started producing in the afternoons as fish are starting to work those Baetis nymphs that are getting active at that time. Don't be afraid to walk until you get into fish. Some stretches of the river just aren't to active yet.

Watch out for those Moose! 

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Transition

We've finally had a warm up here in Montana. The amount of valley snow melt has caused quite a few of the freestoners to turn off color this week. I got into some action prior to that and the worm bite was ridiculously good. It's quite incredible how many of these "dirt snakes" enter the water when the snow starts to melt. The fish react in a predatory way and devour any red or pink type worm you toss into the water. I've gone back to an original San Juan type pattern because too many guys these days are throwing the Squirmie and it just hasn't been as effective for me as of late. The bugs have started to come off too which is a great sign. I've scene quite a few Baetis in the air but limited risers. I'm anxiously awaiting reports for the Skwala Stone Fly hatch up north to get going but nothing so's a few weeks behind schedule this year.

The fish are starting to break their lazy winter habits and move to different parts of the river. If the cool down that is expected comes later this week and the water settles down there should be really good fishing to come in the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Day Light Savings

Day light saving time is here and that means that spring should be right around the corner here in Montana. At the moment it feels nothing like spring, I have 3 feet of snow in the front yard and high temperatures of 30 degrees is hard to come by these days. The long range forecast looks promising though, 40 degree temps should start to be the norm as we approach the end of the month. The lower end of most freestoners and tailwaters have been locked up for over 5 weeks now. I would guess those stretches have some really hungry trout waiting to be caught once the ice lifts. I ventured out to the Gallatin today and the action was pretty superb. I fished two different locations and both were extremely productive. I noticed most of the pullouts had vehicles in them so I wasn't the only one that had cabin fever. If day light saving time isn't a sure sign of spring then the Baetis I saw hatching up near big sky was. They were not heavy but were started trickling off around 3pm. They should only start to get heavier as the days move on. Nymphing was the meal ticket as usual, Rubber Legs and a small mayfly nymph was all that was needed to bring many trout to the net. It seems like most fish are still hanging in the softer stuff but I did catch a few in the likely summer holding spots so fish are on the move. It won't be long before the rainbows have spawning on their minds. Until next time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Flurry Of Flakes

Flurry Of Flakes

After slipping through the canyon on my way home from work yesterday I had to stop and run a few errands. These tedious tasks took me to the local Smith's so I could pick up a few grocery items that some how made it off the "big shopping day list." Funny how that always seems to happen. The buzz about the upcoming snow storm was apparent as soon as I stepped foot into the store. "Dude....gonna get that mallow tomorrow!" " heading up to Bridger in the am? Gonna score that freshy freshy brah!" You know....things you hear on a regular basis living in a Western Mountain Town. I would guess that 80% of the local community feels extraordinary excitement when these storms roll into town. I'm one of them, and typically that excitement leads me up to one of the local hills to get my SHRED on. This morning was a little different. I had to get some work done and by the time I looked at the clock after some conference calls it was already 1pm. A quick shovel of the driveway and I opted to fish local and enjoy the Flurry Of Flakes that was happening at about 1.5 inches per hour.

I booted up in the garage and drove the 20 minutes to one of my favorite winter time access points.  As anticipated the parking lot was empty with no fresh tires tracks evident. I typically opt to by pass the water close to the bridge, but today I had no competition so elected to start quickly. The lower section of this river really is a great example of how fish change their habits in the winter. Slow moving water is where 95% of these fish lay, and many times they lay in pods. When you get into one fish... look out you may have found half the trout population in the river laying right in front of you. As I've done many times before in this section, I dialed in the appropriate drift and got to the bottom. It didn't take long for the sighter to hesitate and my first 8-9 inch fish came to hand. I really hammered that first pool until I felt confident there were no survivors.

I started up the river by passing the fast riffles looking for those sweet WINTER SPOTS. I located a few and did some damage before post holing through the 2-3 feet of snow took a toll on  me. I sat down to gain my breathe and listened to the silence that a winter storm brings. There was no wind, just the rushing of water and countless snowflakes accumulating on the bank. The spot I picked to rest usually has a bald eagle in the vicinity but even he was finding shelter in the storm. The snow never stopped, and the fishing never slowed down.

I gathered my self together and plowed around a bend that I never fished before. A really nice WINTER SPOT showcased itself to me once I gained sight of what laid ahead. It was about a 75 yard run with good depth and slower current.....a Winter Magic spot. Sure enough after a few drifts I got into fish immediately, and they were striking like they haven't eaten in months. I worked up the left bank got to the top and decided to cross and fish the other side. This didn't disappoint either. With reckless abandon trout came to hand left and right. It was one of those days you would never forget. The Flurry Of Flakes, the zinging of line off the reel,  the aerial assault of the rainbows on full display as the snow accumulated quickly. I got caught up in the moment and looked at the watch, it was time to head back and shovel my driveway......I followed my steps back to the truck and took in the winter storm and the Flurry Of Flakes that was coming down on me...….

Winter 2.0

John Working A Good Run  Is it spring? Summer? Or is Winter still lingering around? The coldest May in 47 years has engulfed Montana f...