Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Old Man Winter Grappling With Consistency


This will go down as one of the mildest Decembers since I have moved out to Montana. We've had a stretch of temperatures into the 40's and as of yesterday it hit 50 degrees down in Bear Trap Canyon on the lower Madison. Old Man Winter can't seem to settle in around these parts. There's good and bad news with that. The good news is it's given more anglers the opportunity to fish this month with relatively comfortable temperatures. The bad news is our snowpack is low and I've scene too many people fishing as of late. I'm used to having the rivers all by myself during this time of year. It's snowing outside my window now and the forecast looks rather normal so hopefully winter sets in for good now. 

As for the fishing goes, it's been fairly consistent when I've gone out. On a recent outing to the Upper Madison I still saw a few fish spawning which seems really late around these parts but with the mild weather it makes sense. The midges have started to show themselves and the fish just started to take notice. This is the most reliable winter hatch for rising heads you will encounter for the next few months. A stonefly and a #14 Czech nymph have proved to be fairly consistent for my under the surface. I have pumped a few fish to see what they have been eating on and quite a few gave up rather large green caddis pupae. In the months to come smaller midges will take priority and it's always a challenge dialing in the correct color/size option the fish are interested in. Until next time. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Making The Most Of Opportunities On The Water

 I just noticed my last check in was in June! Wow, we probably don't have any followers anymore. The new kid has my hands full but I have been out on the water as frequent as possible. The hopper bite toward the end of summer was pretty damn good. I have found some smaller creeks in the area have an abundance of hoppers that congregate on the dry riverbed in close proximity of the water, these are the spots the yield incredible dry fly opportunities year in and year out. As we transitioned into early fall work picked up and my time on the water was far and few between. Timing the true pre-spawn bite out in Montana varies from watershed to watershed. If you fish a stream that is in full spawn mode expect for very long and slow days unless the river is loaded up with rainbows. We are now in our post spawn mode and again.....depending on what the river or stream has in its water will dictate what type of action you get. The rainbows are starting to congregate in winter water, nice slow moving and deep pools. The browns just did there thing and are attempting to get back to a normal feeding pattern but this will take a few weeks to happen. 

December can be a tough month out in Montana if you don't change your mindset on where fish hang in the winter and what flies to toss. Midges are the main meal in the waterways so your two nymph rig should have at least 1 #16-18 midge/mayfly pattern on if you want to get into numbers. Avoid riffles until later in the day and focus your attention on the slowest and deepest of holes. That's where the "Pods" of fish are this time of year. If you catch one.....there will surely be more. This is a great time to get out and enjoy the peace of winter around these parts and many places around the country. Enjoy Old Man Winter! 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Summer Check-In

Back Country Cutty

It's been months since my last post and for good reason. We've welcomed a new member of the Grobe Angler Team this June, Madison Ann Grobe was born on June 20th and she's been keeping us busy! Toss in a 100 year pandemic and well I don't have to tell you guys/gals how life has been. 
I have been out on a few trips this summer, mostly taking advantage of the wonderful dry fly action that presents itself around here during the hot months. The Spruce Moths just started getting heavy up in Gallatin Canyon so the dry fly bite should be red hot this month. Throw in the hoppers and my line won't see a nymph until sometime in September. Hope everyone is well and out catching some fish. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Eccentric Times

   My alarm goes off at 5am. I roll out of bed and fire up the coffee. Groggy eyed I turn on the news to see what damage COVID-19 has caused in the past 24 hours. Everyone lives through historical moments throughout their lifetime, but this will most likely go down as the biggest moment any of us will live through. I crack open a few eggs and long for the news cycle that consisted of Democrats yelling at Republicans or vice versa.

   I take a sip of the strong brew and contemplate a plan for the day. I have a 6 hour window to chase trout, and right now with everything going on in the world that's exactly what my brain needs to settle down.

   For the past few months I've been content on just chasing trout. When I have some time I pick up the rod from the garage and drive to the local waters around Bozeman and have at it. It's fun, mindless and stress free. Halfway through my cup of Joe I settle on chasing big fish for the day. I've gone away from "The Chase" in the past few years because of the commitment it takes to consistently catch 20+ inch fish. It's a completely different game. You have to set goals, make plans, scour maps and invest more time then just fishing for numbers. You also have to be willing to find streams that aren't so good and battle through the mental pain of wasting a valuable fishing day. Luckily my first few years out here I spent countless hours finding good solid streams that can produce good numbers of big fish.....so when time permits I can venture to those locations and get to work without much questioning of my decision.

   There's nothing like arriving at your spot and knowing there are big wild brown trout lurking in the waters. My Tacoma came to a halt and I quickly gathered my gear.  I glanced down at my big ole Rubber Legs and smile, this guy has brought more 2 footers to the net then any fly pattern I've ever fished. I walk swiftly through the matted down grass which just recently got rid of it's winter snow pack. I hear the riffles in the distance knowing my destination is soon approaching. The magpies are chirping and a perched Hawk scans the fields for a quick easy meal. I crest the hill and look down at the meandering flow of water, my escape for the next 4 hours.

   The stretch of water I need to cover to get back to the truck would take most people 5-6 hours to fish. I know 4 hours isn't enough to lollygag around  and swap flies until I figure out what the fish are eating. I made my mind up over coffee and eggs......hit the prime lies and move on. I peel of the mono rig from my reel and start casting upstream on the inside bends. To me, this is the most likely lie for a big trout. It's that spot of calm water adjacent to the main riffle close to the bank your fishing on. Through the years I've settled on the belief that the big fish hang in this water because they can quickly sense the presence of clumsy wade fisherman. They can also quickly retreat to deeper water when birds of prey come hunting for lunch.

   My #4 RL covers the first  two runs thoroughly with no action. I feel confident I'm making the right drifts and getting to the kill zone. Questions immediately start creeping into my mind. Is it too cold? Are they keying in on the midges I see scurrying on the water surface? I think back to the plan at breakfast and just decide to cover the prime lies with my big fish pattern. Two more productive runs and riffles yield no results. I'm not here for numbers though. I'm here for one 20+ inch brown trout. I've played this game before when it comes to these fish and sometimes if you stick with it long enough you get rewarded with a fish of a lifetime.

The next bend comes into view and I take a deep breathe. This one is hard to approach. You have lots of slow clear water at the tail end of the pool and countless times I've sent wary trout into the prime lie that notified all the other trout something was up. I took my time and slowly covered the tail out. No action but no fish spooked....at least that I could see. At the top of the run there's a nice deep inside bend with little to no current. I suspect the fish are hanging in there doing their lazy early spring thing.

I watched my sighter slowly tighten and moved the rod tip accordingly to keep good contact with my nymphs. Tick, Tick, Tick. I felt good and could feel my nymphs riding the bottom of the inside bend. I am aware that usually this bend has some debris at the bottom and snags occur. This never effects my hook sets though, that's a lazy mans way of fishing. Toward the end of my drift the sighter hesitated ever so slightly. I set hard and thought I hooked some debris. But....then the debris started taking off upstream. The tell tale sign of a big brown is a massive head shake then it tends to bulldog you by riding close to the bottom of the stream. This is exaclty what happened and I knew I had a good fish on. I quickly started walking to the bank, seeking shallow water to aid in landing this fish. A few good runs up and down the hole and I finally got to visual see the big kyped brown. I knew he was namer material....now I had to seal the deal. I kept side pressure heavy on him, hoping my 4x tippet would hold out long enough to land him. I got him close enough to take a swipe with my net
and to my surprise scooped him on the first try! This usually doesn't happen when battling with a big fish but hell.....I'll take the luck. With the heart racing and a relieved feeling I sat down and admired the beast for a few minutes before taking a pic and releasing him back into the depths.

I was halfway to the truck when I landed the fish I came for. So the rest of the morning I had less focus, but was at ease. I manged to wrangle a few more big fish, and sometimes that's just the way it goes. Today wasn't about numbers......it was all about the Big Fish Chase. I was rewarded with a NAMER....a Troutbitten tradition ( www.troutbitten.com ) Folks meet Mr. Yokozuna. Tight lines all.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Caddis Larva

Consistent Fishing All Winter Long

The mild weather continues in the Bozone as of late. I've been busy with work but have kept fishing when I can, mostly on local waters. Lower sections of some freestoners are ice free which is abnormal for this time of year. One day while struggling to get into fish I managed to pick up up and pumped it's stomach to see what it had been eating. Tons of green and tan caddis around the #16-#12 size came out. This has changed my action over the past few weeks to absolute madness. The catching has been crazy and I've enjoyed every minute of it! I haven't tossed a midge or RL in 3 weeks. JCN has been one of my go to patterns with a tag rotation of Bubble Yums and Walts Worms. Hopefully this warmer then normal temp keeps up....if it lasts a few more weeks I think the deep freeze that usually consumes Montana will be less likely.

Trout Are Eating Well This Winter
Winter Paradise 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Winter So Far

To be honest, it doesn't really feel like winter here in Southwestern Montana. Our coldest stretch of weather hit us that last week of October when my brother Andy was out here chasing trout for the week. Since then....above average temperatures and dry conditions persist in the valley floors. The mountain snowpack hasn't faired too bad....we are slightly below average for the year and we still have plenty of time to add to the depth.

With the warm weather comes plenty of opportunities for the fair weather guys to get out and about. The Gallatin looked like a July day as I drove home from Big Sky today. I'm glad folks are getting out but I'd be happy to see high 20's as highs for a few weeks.

As for my own fishing outings things have been pretty solid. I fished the Madison yesterday and hooked into plenty of fish on a big stonefly pattern. The midges were pouring off but I couldn't dial in my dropper.....not sure what the deal was. I did see some pockets of risers (typical for this time of year) but elected to stay underneath because the targets weren't that great in number. The forecast is looking warm for the next 10 days so I am sure people will be getting out. Fly selection is usually fairly simple this time of year, just make sure you are pouncing on the bottom. Have fun out there.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dawn Patrol

   The sun pokes up behind the Madison Range as I barrel toward Ennis. It's 5:30am on a Saturday in July, I'll be damned if I let tourists and their guides beat me to the river. As I slide into the town stop sign I glance left at Fan Mountain and the fisherman statue then right towards a less traveled road that leads to the Ruby. Sometimes I struggle on which way to turn...today I veer left and opt out of shitty gas station coffee and keep swigging my home brew.....the only brew..... Dunkin Donuts Medium Roast.

   The town is silent. Not a person in site. The Gravel Bar must of done a number on these out of towners. I see guides down side streets rigging up their boats for another day on the river. Another day tossing hoppers and chubbies towards the banks. I smile crossing over the Madison, knowing I'm about to poach lots of good fish before they rig up for the day.

   First light on the Madison is a must during tourist season. After 10am the river turns into a complete circus of drift boats floating the most famous river in the lower 48. I'm first to the fishing access site and get out of my truck already wadered up. A groggy eyed tourist staggers out of their tent staring at me with a puzzled look on their face. I pay no attention, connect my 4 piece together and bolt to the river. The jagged tips of the Spanish Peaks hold the sunlight from hitting the water. I'm on a mission and start tight-lining all my likely buckets above the parking lot. Action is intense from the get-go. Fish are after a #10 tan caddis larva on the tag. Some hefty browns, a few plump bows and a foul hooked white fish had me wondering if a namer was on the agenda for today.

   That wasn't going to be the case today, honestly it rarely is. I sometimes chuckle when I hear stories of regular 24 inch trout getting caught on this river. It's not true, but what is true is that all fisherman are liars.

   I make it .5 miles upstream catching fish in each likely holding spot. I don't spend much time hammering the holes, I'm after those willing to eat, 10 drifts and move on. Cover water, catch fish, repeat. By the time 10:30am hits I start seeing the tourist flotilla. I've already bagged enough fish to make any fisherman happy, but I opt for the skinny side that boats can't reach. The depth is only deep towards the bank so that's where I focus my attention. Every 5 feet gives up a fish, some surprisingly big. The side channel connects back to the main river where I catch a glimpse of 5 more boats coming toward me. I've wreaked havoc on this stretch and don't want to compete with all these people for the fish. 

I walk back to my truck happy to know I had one hell of a morning. As I'm unrigging in the parking lot 10 more boats are getting ready to float. The talk is focused on new rules being proposed on the Madison to maintain the healthy fishery that it is. Change never sits well with anyone, especially those trying to make $$ of these trout all summer long. Whatever ends up happening I hope it's the best decision for the TROUT, and if greed get's in the way well I guess I'll have to start leaving Bozeman at 4am on Saturday's instead of 5:30.

Old Man Winter Grappling With Consistency

  This will go down as one of the mildest Decembers since I have moved out to Montana. We've had a stretch of temperatures into the 40&#...