Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Scenery

This marks a new segment of the blog in which weekly, I unload a lackluster landscape shot for all the world wide to web to see.  This gives me a good excuse to practice up on taking pictures, and will force me to pack my camera with me with more regularity. 

Let me know what you think.

Spring Squall on the Bitterroot

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Films - Spring Break Edition

The Friday Films is back from it's spring sabbatical and ready for another run! Today marks the beginning of many local area school spring breaks.  In honor of the event here, are a few spring break themed fishing videos. 

In no particular order.  Enjoy the work of Montana Wild and Strip'n Flywear over at the Missouri (which is where I will be headed in a few days).  Spring fishing highlights from Big Sky Trouting (which is what I will be doing in about 6 hours), and some other tasty Montana fishing footage courtesy of Yukon Goes Fishing

Thursday, March 28, 2013

When the Working Day is Done

There are days that you are thankful you live where you live.  When it's February, below zero, blowing snow, and the sky is a perpetual shade of gray, I might question why I moved to Montana, maybe (not really).  But when spring rolls around, I couldn't be more thankful that I get to call Big Sky Country home. 

The advent of daylight savings time is a big yearly event, and means one thing.  After work fishing. 
Around here, the time change happens to coincide with one of our best periods of dry fly fishing, lucky us.  Until high water arrives, I try to set aside a few evenings a week for post work fishing.  A typical schedule of events looks kind of like this:

3:30 - Run out of the office
3:40 - Arrive at the river
3:50 - Wadered up
4:10 - Hooked up

Leopard Bow
It's cool living in a place where you can go from work to holding a trout in your hand in less than 40 minutes.  Believe me, I've timed it, still trying to get it under a half hour.  Maybe if I showed up to work in my waders.  Not sure my employer would like that though.

Busy Beaver
During this month and a half magic period, when the rivers are low and clear and the trout are looking up, I never leave home without a dry fly rod rigged and shoved into the back car.  I call it the quick response unit.  After all, you never know when you're going to have a free hour or two.  

Skwala - It's what's for dinner
Spring is an awesome time for wade fishing.  For one the weather is usually rather pleasant, you're almost always alone, there's no mosquitos, and everyday brings with it another sign of spring. 

The Real Deal
I love fishing weird water this time of year, the water the hoards of boats don't fish.  I spend a lot of time stalking strange side channels, or just walking a lot and watching the spring storms roll over the Bitterroots.   

"Squall-a" Season

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dry Days are Here - Happy Spring!

Yes they are.  It's a busy week so here's a haphazardly slapped together collection of  fish pictures from the past few days.  All of these fish ate the dry. 

Long story short.  The dry fly fishing at times has been good, and for brief moments, very good. 

The trout are looking up, birds are returning, tulips are emerging, and the grass is getting greener everyday.

Happy first day of spring.  Hope you get to spend it on the water, unlike me.

Cutthroat Spots

Love that gill plate

Midge eater
All Smiles

And another
Peace out bobbers strike indicators.  It was nice knowing you.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't Be a Hater - Letter From a Whitefish

Got this in my inbox the other day, thought I would share it with everyone. 

Dear fly fishermen (and women),

It's your friendly neighborhood Mountain Whitefish here.  Scientific name, Prosopium williamsoni.  I know some of you anglers might not think too much of us.  You might consider us to be bottom feeders, a nuisance, and even a trash fish!  None of these things are true.  Did you know we are native to most western rivers, just like your beloved cutthroats?  Did you know we also like to eat dry flies on occasion?  Did you also know that strong populations of mountain whitefish are signs of a healthy river?  Hey, I'm just here to set the record straight. 

So, don't be a hater.

Transparent gill plate. Kinda cool eh?

Some folks call us the Rocky Mountain Bonefish.  Not sure how to take that.  I've never met a bonefish after all.  By the name, it doesn't sound like they would be good eating.  Us on the other hand are pretty darn delicious smoked.  I didn't just say that did I?  You know maybe people should start calling bonefish the tropical, salt water whitefish.  Just sayin'. 

Ain't no cutthroat, but ain't to bad to look at either, right?

Yes I know we're easy to catch, sometimes too easy.  It's not our fault we can't pass up anything with a gold bead and peacock herl on it.  Hey if trout were this easy to catch would you be complaining? 

Didn't think so


Yes I know most folks don't think we're the prettiest fish out there.  That's not our fault.  I also know that we're a little scaly, slimy, and give your hands and net a bit of a funk, so what?  Don't blame us, blame evolution. 


So next time you want to curse us when you spot a whitefish attached to your fly just remember, would you rather catch nothing?  On second thought don't answer that. 

What I'm trying to say is: All we want is a little respect, maybe a little care when you release us.  Please don't throw, drop, squeeze, kick, or toss us around.  Don't we deserve a little better?  Whitefish are native after all, and we eat your stupid flies.  With enthusiasm I might add.

Please.  Don't be a hater.


The Whitefish         

Friendly Face.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Today I fished alone.  By choice. 

It felt good to be out on the river with just my thoughts and a fly rod.  Don't get me wrong, I love my fishing buddies, who doesn't?  Even so, I find that every so often I have to fish alone.  Not sure why, it just feels good to be away from humanity for a while, especially during those weeks when it seems like you are constantly surrounded by people. 

I'm a bit of an introvert so I enjoy being alone for large chunks of time.  Fishing by nature, is a great hobby for me as I often like to spend inordinate amounts of time totally alone.  To me there's no greater joy than being completely removed from society, fishing a small stream somewhere in the mountains, throwing dry flies to enthusiastic trout.  I can do this all day, and often do so.  In fact, if it weren't for the need to eat and sleep, and the peculiar truth that the sun always disappears everyday.  I'm not sure I would ever stop fishing.  Maybe when I ran out of flies, maybe. 

Fly fishing is one of the only activities that I can think of that captures my complete attention, thought and emotion.  When fishing I sometimes seem to lose all conscious thought.  Call it meditation, or whatever you want, I just know it happens.  Whether it be stalking a big picky riser during a trico hatch.  Throwing a streamer to a slot where you know the cast, the retrieve, everything has to be perfect.  Fishing hoppers on a small stream in the spot you know that big brown lives, and you know you will only get one shot at him.  Or dissecting pocket water on a mountain stream, where your casts have to fit into a space the size of a coffee cup.  I get lost in those moments, completely charged, alert, focused, free from thought, alive. 

It's those "spots of time" that I and I think most fishermen seek.  It's everything that leads up to the eat.  It's the stalk, the cast, the drift, the head coming up, the mouth opening... 

When you fish alone you really get to work a riffle, run, or pod of fish exactly how you want to.  You have to trust your judgment, pick your own flies, figure out things on your own.  Nobody's there to help.  Fishing alone brings it's own rewards and challenges.  It's rewarding when you finally figure out what those fish are eating, or discover a new "secret" spot.  Challenging when you catch a nice fish and try to take a picture.

When you fish alone, you see a lot more than when you're with other people.  You just do.  Today I noticed a Great Blue Heron rookery, a stonefly hatching on a streamside log, deer crossing the river, the sounds of blackbirds, and caught sight of a woodpecker going to work on a snag.  Fishing alone, I'm just that much more aware of my surroundings, my environment and how truly alive it all really is. 

A day of fishing alone brings with it a feeling of rejuvenation.  It's hard not to feel good after a few hours on the water.  I've never come back mad after fishing.  Tired maybe, a little sunburned, dehydrated yes, but never mad.  If you get mad while fly fishing you need a to pick a new hobby, sorry, you just do.  Why do you think I stopped golfing?


Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Films - Harlem Shake, Fly Fishing Edition

Wow it's Friday already?  That week went fast.

This weeks edition brings us some humor from the fly fishing world with a few fishy renditions of the Dance/You Tube craze, the Harlem Shake.

If you haven't heard about the ever increasingly popular Harlem Shake then you either A: Live in a cave, or some similar place removed from society.  B: Have an actually useful, busy and productive life.  C: Spend too much time fishing to care about such trivial things.  Or D: All of the above.

Hope these make you chuckle.  Enjoy

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fly and Decal Giveaway

There's a giveaway on over at the Bum Trout Facebook page.  You will find the details on how to enter once you get there.  Contest ends of Wednesday, March 13.

Up for grabs are a dozen great summer flies, Fat Freddie's and Chubby Chernobyl's in a variety of sizes and colors.  Plus, two Bum Trout decals.  Good Luck!

This all could be yours.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March is Here

Time to inflate the raft, or dust off the drift boat. 

The first day of March to many here in western Montana is the unofficial start to the new fishing season.  The State seems to think so as well, because fishing licenses expire annually on the last day of February.  On the first day of March, I and a multitude of other avid anglers, shuffled on down to the nearest sporting goods store and bought a new fishing license.

A 'Bow's Adipose

For a large number of fly fisher folks now is the time to string up the rod that's been hibernating since the start of hunting season, dig out the waders that are shoved into a dark recess of a forgotten closet, and try to piece together the rest of the gear scattered throughout the house.  I'm just guessing at this, maybe most folks are more organized than I am.  I'm also one of the wackos that never stop fishing in the first place.

Jordan with a solid 'bow from this weekend.

You know March just feels different psychologically.  It's not a month that necessarily conjures up images of frozen tundra, epic blizzards, sub-zero temps and the like.  However in Montana, these events are still very real probabilities on any given day this month.  But even so, March brings about a certain form of optimism, hey spring is right around the corner right? 

Big Blue at the helm of The Gray Whale, shootin' the chutes
You begin to notice the subtle signs that winter is on it's way out.  You catch sight a few hardy red-wing blackbirds in the cattails.  There are several unconfirmed reports of robin sightings throughout town.  The morning drive to work brings with it a glimpse of newborn calves.  And before too long, some lovesick and lonely male flicker will start banging on your stovepipe everyday at 6am (really looking forward to this!). 

A trout in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Spring however, regardless as to what the calendar says, for me never really begins until I see my first sandhill crane.  I can distinctly remember my first crane sightings of each year I have lived in Montana.  The best was a couple years ago, when, standing hip deep in the river, a mated pair suddenly stormed overhead like prehistoric pterodactyls and landed on the far side of the river.  As if to say, we're back, did you miss us?       

Holla' if you like the Skwala.

Last week we were the only boat on the water.  This week there's suddenly a dozen trailers at the put in and discussion of dry flies and dreams of Skwalas to come.  It won't be too awfully long before the real action begins and with it the annual circus that is Skwala season on the Bitterroot. 

Here's to March.  Glad you decided to show up.       

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Films - Random Edition

The title says it all. 

Nothing cohesive about this one.  Just a bunch of seemingly unrelated fishy films.  On the docket we have Hank Patterson's first foray into the world of fly tying.  Next up, "Cold Blue Nights" from The Fly Collective.  This is a tasty collaboration of Ivan Orsic of Yukon Goes Fishing fame, and Russ Schnitzer of Schnitzer Photo.  Next comes is the amazing trailer "Wild Reverence" by North Fork Studios discussing the plight wild steelhead.  Finally, a nice segment from some boys from the eastern side of the country.  "Constant" by PA Undercurrent Outfitters.   


Cold Blue Nights from The Fly Collective on Vimeo.

Wild Reverence"The Plight of the American Wild Steelhead" Film Trailer from North Fork Studios on Vimeo.

Constant from PA Undercurrent Outfitters on Vimeo.