Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beaver Believer - Part 1

As a native Oregonian, this post has nothing to do with my support for Oregon State University, of which there is little.  Go Ducks!  (Hey, I got to get my digs in when I can after all).  No, this post has all to do with the last Blue Ribbon trout stream in Montana I have yet to fish, until now.

Not bad road trip scenery eh?  Upper Bighole Valley, en route to the Beav.

This weekend, myself and a group of intrepid souls made the three hour journey to the Beaverhead River.  I had been told tales of big browns and rainbows, lots of them, so I had to see for myself.  I have to say I was a little skeptical at first as I crossed Clark Canyon dam and spotted a dozen anglers fishing what looked like an all too thin ribbon of water.  For some reason I imagined the Beav to be bigger. this thing you could easily cast across the entire river, well, almost, if it wasn't for all those stinkin' willows as I would find out.   

My skepticism was quickly squashed however as my second cast into a likely looking run produced a football shaped rainbow in the 20 inch range.  The fish did a couple cartwheels and then ripped downstream like a rocket.  I must have had some saved up fish karma because after a lengthy tug-of-war, he came to hand.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a good photo.  (It's tricky trying to handle a net, fly rod, big trout, and SLR camera at the same time!).  However as it turned out, this would not be the only good fish landed on the trip, not by a long shot.  The early success was quickly followed up with some solid post sunset streamer fishing

So Far So Good.
The night concluded with some great food, conversation, and plots for the next days fishing.  The worst part of the evening happened to be our fire, well not the fire exactly, more like the fire ring.  In the great wisdom of the campground managers they had chosen to install a massive fire ring that could also double as a bomb shelter.  Undoubtedly this was meant to keep a bunch of careless fishermen from burning Beaverhead County to the ground, but the end result was the coldest most pitiful excuse for a fire that has ever been witnessed by mankind.  It's a sad sight, when you need a propane heater next to the fire to stay warm.  There's my rant.  Moving on.  It was really cold, just sayin'.  I mean someone could get hypothermia next to that thing...

The Frozen Chozen
Day 2 began early with some skinny water nymphing on the upper river.  As a guy used to fishing big freestone streams, I wasn't really prepared for how technical the nymphing was.  Long leaders, light tippet, skinny water, and size 16-18-20 nymphs of the pheasant tail persuasion were the rule.  The combination of big fish, cold water, and not a lot of steel left us (mostly me!) looking at a lot of long distance releases.  As a result, we were lucky if we landed half the fish we hooked.  Truth be told there may some rainbows that pull harder than those in the Beaverhead River, but I haven't met very many.  Still, some high quality trout were brought to hand.

Game Planning.
Hero Shot
Mike with a Chunky Bow'
The day concluded with a float and more of the same, small nymphs vs. sizable trout.  Boat captain Brett managed to land one of the prettiest browns I have seen in some time.  The action throughout the day was steady, not red hot, but enough to keep everyone interested.  I had a blast seeing new water and learning the river.  There's nothing like fishing a new stream for the first time. 

Salmo Trutta.
The day was capped off with great food, (much better than the canned sardines and crackers I had brought!) conversation, lies, and stories.  Thankfully the second night wasn't as cold as the first so the services of the propane heater weren't necessary. 

Day 3 would come early, but I will save that for another day.   

Eating Well.
To Be Continued...  Mostly because I have a bunch more lackluster photos to share.  Not because I have anything profound to say.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Last Time I Went Fishing

Photo Essay.
Went to my spring cutthroat Shangri-La on the Northfork of the Not Telling You Anything River, a couple weeks ago with my friend Alec of the blog Where the Water Leads.  Alec happened to remember the camera, I did not.  Thanks go out to him for the pictures.  To make a long story short, we did well. 
Here in Western Montana runoff is in full swing. However it looks like we are now on the backside of high water which means Salmonflies, Goldenstones, and the sweet dry fly days of summer are almost here. 
The creeks are open, I'm unearthing my Tenkara rod as soon as I find it.  Now where did I put it?  It will be game on very shortly...  Until then.  Enjoy the pics. 

Parr Marks
Colored Up

One of Many


Got Cutt?

I Can Never Get Enough

Monday, May 13, 2013


Wow.  I just realized it's been over 40 days since my last fishing post.  What the heck have I been doing?

Well anyways, here comes a very belated spring break (and then some, a lot of then some) roundup.  I guess some things fall to the wayside when you're buying a house (more on that later), moving, and trying to keep up with your professional and academic duties.  The blog is one of those such things.  Never fear. Moving done. Semester over. The bum is back in the game. 

Missouri River Gold

I've still been fishing during this blogging drought.  I'd have to be in the hospital, or jail, not to get out on the river.  So here we go, as I poorly attempt to try to cram a month and a half's fishing into a few paragraphs. 

Let us go back to the beginning of April and start our recap there.  Fortunately our spring break falls yearly around the first week of April which usually coincides with some of the best fishing of the year.  BWO's midges, skwalas, western march browns, and plenty of nice fat pre-spawn fish highlight this annual weekly fishing marathon.

Fellow Bitterooter Jay with a solid dry fly cuttbow

The first several days of break focused on my home river, the Bitterroot, and the action was steady with solid fish regularly eating the dry.  Most skwala seasons are so-so, with maybe a handful of days when it's really on.  By on, I mean multiple eats on every bank, multiple doubles, and the like.  This year however, thanks in large part to good flows, the hatch seemed to last longer and was more consistent than in most years.  Believe me, the skwala hatch on the Bitterroot is one of the most over-hyped and over-fished hatches out there.  but even so, when it's good, it's good.  But I digress... 

Doubled up on the Mo'

The latter half of spring break's events turned eastward, over the continental divide to the mighty Missouri.  The nymphing was off the charts, and once you got the boat online, the action was steady to say the least.

I actually didn't fish much to tell you the truth, just enough to satisfy my desire to play tug of war with those hot Missouri fish and tag a few on dries.  The rest of the time was spent rowing and de-facto guiding some friends who were new to the river.  To tell you the truth I had just as much fun watching them hookup and land fish as I would have been catching them.

This was the first trip of the year for the Fly Fisher's of the Bitterroot Crew.  Lots, and lots of big fish were caught by all those in attendance.  For several of our members this was their first trip to the mighty Mo.  I love the reaction of those who hook up with their first big Missouri 'bow, and soon follow that up with a 30+ fish day.  Welcome to Disneyland folks!  You'll never look at trout fishing quite the same way again.

What a great week.  Only 11 (yeah, that's how late this post is) 10 months to go before spring break 2014!  

Club Member Doug with a Mo' Two Hander
My last great dry fly day of the season occurred a few weeks ago.  Alec and I set sail in the gray whale under threats of possible blizzard conditions.  The snow held off for most of the day (good for us), and apparently the forecast had everyone other angler in the valley spooked (also good for us), as we never saw another boat all day.  The action was consistent all day long with the fish eating exactly how they're supposed to, crushing big dries.  All we needed was a single Skwala dry.  It would turn out that this would be my last Skwala day of 2013.  What a great way to say goodbye to the spring dry fly season.

Love Those Colors

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Scenery

Heart of the Valley Edition.

Bitterroot Mountains and spring showers viewed from the Teller Refuge.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Films - It Lives!

Never fear, We are still here.  Friday Films returns from spring break for another hopefully better than lackluster installment.  

Featured this week in no particular order and for no particular reason, other than they are sweet films are:  Baetis Train by PA Undercurrent Outfitters.  It's Hardly Ever Like That courtesy of the fishing musicians over at Jazz and Fly Fishing.  And last but certainly not least, an awesome Patagonia experience from HOOKE.  Enjoy.