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

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.