Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Films - Simms + RA Beattie Edition

Barely was able to sneak in a Friday Films for this week but never fear, it's here.  Things are getting busy around Western Montana.  The fishing is slowly but surely turning on and plans are already set for some weekend floating.

If you search on YouTube for either Simms Fishing and/or RA Beattie you come up with some stellar films.  RA Beattie is one of the best in the business at making fly fishing look just plain awesome so enjoy the goods.

Just a hint.  I saved the best for last

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fast Times on the Mo' Part 2

So in case you missed part 1, here's the link.  Fast Times on the Mo' Part 1.  This post may make more sense if you read it.  Or not.  Not quite sure if my posts ever make sense.... 

6:30 PM: Time to shed the leaky waders and partake in the evenings many events.  The first and foremost being that of sampling the fine variety of Tombstone Pizza and hot sauce collection at Joe's.  The hot sauce treats some more favorably than others. 

7:30-9:30ish PM:  Glad to have enough wood for a lengthy fire.  The flames warm the extremities and provide the focal point for the nights entertainment which goes something like this... 1. There's talk of fishing. 2. "Thunder Cat" Caleb brags about his freestyle rapping prowess, I challenge him to a lengthy rap battle, he wins.  Just gotta say, that kid is a lyrical assassin.  3. More talk of fishing. 4. I counter the sting of defeat by belting out every Michael Jackson song I know, which happens to be a substantial number.  5. The more musically inclined of the bunch join in. 6. More talk of fishing. 7. Look at pictures of fishing. 8. Lie about fishing. 

And so on and so on...     

10:00PM:  It begins to rain and blow.  We run for cover.  Natures way of saying it's time to go to bed.

Craig, MT fireworks show
Day 2

8:30 AM: Wake-up.  Feast on a gourmet breakfast of PB and J sandwiches, black coffee, granola bars and half stale doughnuts.  Garrett, who is apparently the only prepared guy in the bunch, toasts bagels over the fire and serves them up with cream cheese.  I try to convince myself that my day old sandwich, granola bars and said doughnuts are just as good.  Somehow I don't think they were.

9:30 AM:  Step into my soggy waders, this does what the coffee had until this point failed to do.  Break camp.  Load up the boats, rods and other gear and set sail one more time.

10:30 AM: We continue to nymph up fish.  Different day, same story.  Pink, pink, pink, midge, pink, pink, scud, etc...

11:30 AM: Start seeing a few heads up.  Rig up the dry rods, hope for the best.  Chris, Garrett, and I all manage to stick fish on top.  Our collective first dry fly fishes of 2013.  It feels really good to not be staring at bobbers indicators for a while.  This is why after all, you come to the Mo', for a chance at a big selective fish.  It's nice be rewarded, even just a little bit.

First top side trout of 2013

1:00 PM:  The forecasted snowstorm finally rolls in and brings with it a stiff west wind.  This shuts down the dry fly bite and our will to push on.  The decision is made to pack it in and get out of dodge.  This decision turns out to be a good one.

Hey guys, have you seen my ________?
Summary: It was during this very weekend last year that I had to good fortune of running into Zach, Stan, Alec, Caleb, and a few others in the Craig campground.  Since that time I have had the luck of getting to know these fishy fellows better, and have had the privilege of fishing with them a time or two.  This years President's Day weekend bash turned out to be even bigger and better than last years.  It's always great to be around a bunch of good guys who don't take things to seriously, can tell a good joke, laugh, and flat out catch fish.  I think plans are already being made for next year.  Until then. 

And now you know, as Paul Harvey would say.  "The Rest of the Story." 

What keeps you coming back.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fast Times on the Mo' Part 1

Day 1

4:30 AM:  Wake up.  Eat a healthy breakfast of chocolate chip cookies, coffee, and an assortment of leftovers.  Depart to Missoula soon after.

6:30ish AM:  Stumble into the rendezvous point (Town Pump) and meet up with some False Casters with Flat Tires featuring "Thunder Cat" Caleb.  This occurs after cramming into a truck full of an assortment of fellow crazies diehard trout bums.  This includes Alec, Chris, and new friends Kelsey and Garrett.  We all depart for the wide Missouri.

10:00 AM:  Arrive in Craig.  Skies are clear, spirits are high.  After an obligatory stop to Headhunters Fly Shop, the boats are soon in the water.  

11:00 AM:  We perfect the art of trolling long enough for a brown to gobble up  Gratton's streamer.  Pictures ensued.  We do not attempt to troll streamers any longer.

11:15AM - ?:  Fish tend to eat such things as Firebead ________, Pink Such and Such's, Tungsten This and That's, and just about anything with "Scud" in the name throughout the day.  Trout are caught.  Lies are told.  The wind says hello from time to time, but hey it's central Montana in February after all.

12:00 PM:  It's all smiles.  Alec skillfully lands this quality specimen and Kelsey is soon into her first Missouri river trout.  As Walt Whitman once noted, "It ain't nothin' but a chicken wing on a string."  No actually, I don't think he said that.

1:00 PM:  Garrett tags an Alaskan look-a-like rainbow.  Love those spots.  As per usual, Chris continues to put plenty of finned creatures into the net with regularity.

3:00ish PM:  Stop at a desert island to warm up and chat with the False Casters Stanley, Zach, and Caleb.  Discussion turns to that of triple-overhand-double-hauling-reversal-crossover-spey-casts, CuttyBrownBows, and Purple Mountain's Majesty Drakes or PMMD's as known to you educated fly flingers out there.   

4:00 PM:  I tie into a fine Oncorhynchus mykiss which makes my day.  I'm fortunate that Garrett had the good sense to grab a camera.  He also brought the boat and drove.  What a guy!

5:30PM:  Pull into Craig, 3 boats and 8 anglers and friends.  We are treated to a beautiful Big Sky sunset and no wind.  The perfect end to a days work.  Or is it? 

Indeed the night is young and after all we are in the "City that Never Sleeps," aka "Montana's own Disney Land," aka Craig, Montana.  What happens next?  All I know is that fishing trips are sure better with a bunch of friends.

As the great Paul Harvey would say.  Stay tuned for the "Rest of the Story."  And in this case he actually did say that.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Been Fishin' Lately?

Yes I have in fact. 

However it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks.  Between breaking a finger, wrecking my car, and a host of other things which I will not trouble you all with, I managed to squeeze in some fishing.

How's is been?  Darn good if you ask me.  The unseasonably warm February temps have the trout on the feed.  It's a great time to be in Western Montucky.  Everyday the sun gets a little higher, warmer, and the days get longer.  Even saw a pair of red wing blackbirds yesterday.  They must know something's up.

Yeah, about this time every year it becomes palpable that winter's days are numbered.  I'm okay with that.

How to sum up the last two weeks of fishing?  Stripped streamers and were rewarded.  Threw nymphs and were rewarded.  Saw a bunch of new water.  Dusted off the raft.  Fished a lot with Alec of the blog Where The Water Leads.  Managed to cast left handed.  Brown trout acting unusually careless.  Missed most of the Superbowl but didn't care.  Caught fish, a lot of fish, and respectable ones to.

So below is the random assortment of fish pictures I'm calling a post, using the spare 15 minutes I have had this weekend.

Alec with a solid brown

Fishy Friend, and Guide Phil.  Hooked Up under Clear Blue Skies.
Pay dirt.  Phil's Dragon.
Strippin' and Trippin'.
Madame Brown.
Peace Out Girl Scout.
Alec with a Chunky Monkey.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Films - Great White North Edition

When you enter the words "Canada" and "Fly Fishing" into the search engine, you expect to find some great things.  I was certainly not disappointed as this week's films are all particularly good if I say so myself.

Our neighbors to the north certainly have some great rivers and fish to boot.  Definitely makes me want to load up the silver bullet (my '93 Subaru wagon) and head towards the arctic circle.  At least in Canada I can get a bag of Lays all dressed flavored chips.  If you have never had a bag of these miracles, I tell you what, you can't begin to imagine what you're are missing out on.  Why they don't sell these in the states, I'll never know.

My potato chip obsession aside.  This week we have great stuff from the Elk River Watershed, big bullies and cuts chomping dries.  Quality material from Faceless Fly Fishing.  Bow River action from Dub a Fly.  Jumbo sized bull trout from the very Humblefisherman.  And the icing on Lord Stanley's Cup, a remarkable film from Andrew Hardingham.  A story of cane rods, family, and one of the grandest fish that swims, the steelhead.

Hope you enjoy.  I think I'm going watch my old VHS copy of Strange Brew and then crank up some classic Brian Adams.

Much love Canada, keep it comin'.

Dry Fly Heaven from Jah Raven Creation on Vimeo.

Here - Faceless - Fly Fishing from FACELESS FLY FISHING MEDIA on Vimeo.

Go Hard or Go Home from Dub A Fly on Vimeo.

A Steelhead Family - Official HD video 3.1 from Andrew Hardingham on Vimeo.

The Humblefisherman series - The Bull Trout of Bigfoot Country from The Humblefisherman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lackluster Fishing Advice #1 - Nymph Rigs

I don't claim to be an authority on anything, but every once in a while I run across truly great anglers who are generous enough to offer up their wisdom to a poor schmuck like me.  Most of my ideas are not my own by any means, and I will attempt to give credit where credit is due.  As the saying goes, "there's nothing new under the sun." 

The periodic "lackluster advice" posts are meant to share effective strategies, rigs, and other random bits of information that I have learned through years of observation, experimentation, asking ridiculous questions, and getting skunked more times than I'd like to admit.  Hope I can provide you with some food for thought. 

Oh, and please don't hesitate to share your thoughts/ideas in the comments section.  I'm always up for learning new things, I guess that's one thing that makes fly fishing great.  You never know it all, or in my case, much of anything.

Now if you ask ten fly fishermen about how they rig up when nymphing, you will probably get ten different responses.  When it comes to nymph fishing, everyone has a crazy theory about what works, what doesn't, and why.  If we talk about rigs, the standard and most common setup nowadays (at least to me) seems to be a lot like this one.

Now there's nothing wrong with this setup.  In fact, I've caught hundreds if not thousands of trout on this rig.  Hey, if it didn't work no one would use it right?  Now the rig I've been fishing for the past year looks more like this.

If you want an actually intelligent explanation of why this rig is really darn effective check out the Headhunters Fly Shop Blog article - Nymphing Techniques from a Wandering Angler.  I will however attempt to explain why I like this system and why I think it helps me consistently catch more fish. 

1. Tight Line to the Indicator - This I feel is critical to increasing your hookups and ultimately the amount of fish pics you will undoubtedly end up posting on Face-a-twitter-gram-book.  By using a system with the weight at the very end of your rig with the anchor fly, you effectively eliminate slack between your bugs and the indicator. Less slack equals more strike detection.

2. Smaller Indicator = More sensitivity - With this setup all you need is a medium sized foam indicator.  I love the Fish Pimp brand indicators as they float well and are easy to readjust.  The medium sized Fish Pimp's provide enough buoyancy to support a heavy anchor fly, and at the same time be crazy sensitive.  You will see the indicator twitch every time the fly ticks bottom, when a fish eats, you know it. 

3. 4x Tippet sinks! - when you use a long piece of 3-5x tippet, especially fluorocarbon, your flies sink exponentially faster.  Think about it.  It's a lot harder to sink a thick butt section of a tapered leader than a 4-6ft. section of 4x tippet.  Therefore you don't need a bunch of split shot to still fish deeper water.  Believe it or not, a tungsten beaded copper john is more often then not, all the weight you need.

4. More options - This rig will effectively fish nearly all water depths you will ever encounter.  Whether it be 6 feet or 6 inches, just slide your indicator to the correct depth and have a it.

Here's the skinny on how to rig up

1. Take an old dry fly leader that you are about to throw away.
2. Attach 12 inches of 2x tippet.
3.  To that, attached 4 or more feet (depending on the depth of the water and how spooky the fish are) of 4x fluorocarbon tippet.
4. Tie on a piece of 4-5x fluorocarbon tippet to the long piece of 4x about 12-18 inches long, and this is really important.  Using a triple surgeon's knot, leave the downward facing tag end long, about 6-8 inches. 
5.  Tie the anchor fly to the longer end.
6. Tie the un-weighted nymph to the shorter tag end.
7. Go fish.                 

Hope that makes sense.

Give this system a try.  You just might like it. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Films - Treasure State Edition

It's a little bit annoying trying to type with one hand.  I had the great pleasure of breaking the pinky on my casting hand this week.

Long story short, I'd better work on casting left handed.  And I'm not going to type much more than this, sorry, ain't gonna happen.

Today, films from the Treasure State. Big Sky Country. My home.


Montana Stories: Jenny Grossenbacher from Montana Office of Tourism on Vimeo.

Down & Across from scumliner media on Vimeo.

Circle 3 Spring Creek from Todd Moen Creative on Vimeo.

King of the Herd from Yukon Goes Fishing on Vimeo.

Fall in Big Sky Country from Lone Peak Outfitters on Vimeo.