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...….

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.

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 feel...