Monday, August 10, 2015

Return of an old friend

When I first moved to Montana I had a Clackacraft 16wf.  A perfect boat for the guiding I was doing back in Washington, it was a bit of a slug for the little rivers around SW MT.  There was a nearly-new Headhunter skiff in Mission Blue (the color all 5 of the Clackacrafts I've owned has had somewhere on it) laying around that I was able to trade my big boat for.  It was this blue skiff that I learned the area out of, and made a ton of good memories.  A few years ago, with visions of traveling a little more and bigger water, I traded ol' blue in for a new Eddy.  Far and away the most versatile drift boat I've owned, the Eddy was awesome, but coming to the realization that i was not traveling like I expected it was time to go back to the skiff.  I picked up New Blue on Friday, and have yet to christen her, so very soon there will be some trico sipping fish nearby that will be reminded to keep their traps shut when blue rolls by.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fly Fishing Film Tour in Dillon!

Well it's been a while since I've posted, mostly because I've been fishing, which is the best excuse ever to let a blog die a painful death.  Worth taking the time to sit at the computer for though, is an upcoming showing of the film tour in Dillon, with all proceeds going to the Poindexter Slough Project.  All the pertinent are below, but here's my take:  Poindexter is one of the coolest spring creeks yo will ever see and a shitload of people have worked a lot to restore it to a functioning stream.  and oh yeah, IT'S PRIMARILY PUBLIC WATER!  I don't know of another fishery like it in the state.  So get down to Dillon and enjoy an awesome evening and support a project that you can use!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Christmas Island and Redemption Trevally

I originally wrote this for the great guys at Fly Water Travel to share, but figured it would be good here as well.  If you are interested in going next year hit me up,

My first trip to the fly fishing paradise of Kritimati was a learning experience. As an experienced trout guide and flats fishing beginner, I looked forward to the ample bonefish opportunities, but had my mind set on the big prize, a GT on the fly (NO CHUM!). On day 5 of 6 I finally had my opportunity, and after some equipment failure and a few choice words I watched my dream fish swim away at a much further distance than I was comfortable with.
Prior to that I had already decided that I was going to be returning to paradise, but losing what I was after was an even better motivator. I landed back in Honolulu and emailed Dylan for the “big GT tides” in 2015, got everything dialed, and set about tying for what would be a trip of redemption. We landed on Christmas Island 11 months later to the day, and set out for another adventure that would hopefully include more trevally.
The very first day of fishing we walked a flat for bonefish and watched two of our friends fishing a small pancake about two flats over. About an hour in and we heard the excited screams that a bonefish simply cannot produce. We didn’t find out until cocktail hour that evening that they had just doubled on GT, and it turned out that 4 of the 6 anglers in our group had caught trevally in the 15-25lbs range that day, all while stalking flats. An excellent start to our week.
Fast forward through the trip and my friend Brett and I took a whole day to dedicate to GT. As lifelong steelhead fisherman we were both comfortable with knowing 1-2 good shots would be all that we were after and the day didn’t disappoint. The first flat produced a 30lb trevally with its back out of the water on a shallow reef. After we had several good shots the fish made a speedy exit, nearly swimming between our legs as it left for deeper water. We moved to a new spot and had a great shot at two happy fish within minutes of jumping off the boat. After an easy cast one of the two fish peeled off and destroyed a tan mullet fly. The fish ended up rubbing the leader off on the coral, but was still hooked and fought, we had met our goal. We had several other opportunities, and never put a fish in our hands. A rewarding day nonetheless, and a very nice break from bonefishing.
Again on our second to last day we traveled as a group of six to the backcountry. A rainy day that was ideal for seeing the larger trevally, we waited for the high-tide to bring in the fish, and what we saw next I will not be able to do justice with words. Guide Biita took us to a spot where we could see several trevally cruising, and on his command my friend Jay and I ambushed them. I hooked up and subsequently broke off, a severely frustrating moment. We thought for sure that the fish were going to be gone, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. For the next hour and a half we watched what seemed like fireworks and holes opening in the ocean as packs (the only way to properly describe these predators) of trevally came into the bay, killing everything in sight. I don’t dare repeat the expletive laden tirade I spouted the first time the fish came in, but it resulted in Biita jokingly asking if I was having a heart attack. The action was so quick I genuinely don’t remember how many fish I hooked, but it was over 4.
After releasing a fish, a pack of two peeled off at my 3 o’clock. Halfway through my forward casting stroke Bitta told me to drop it short. I checked my cast down, stripped twice and saw a silver face the size of my chest inhale the fly and start back for the ocean. Having followed Dylan’s rigging suggestions I had a backing color change that signaled the “Oh Shit” point, and I came within several rotations of the reel to that point. Half an hour later and after giving every ounce of energy that I had, I put what will surely be the best fish I will ever catch on the beach, a trevally that Biita estimated to be 110lbs. A quick picture with the fish in the water and we watched it swim away to the depths. I followed suit and dove headfirst into the blue drop off, having found the redemption I had been waiting for all year, in a manner that was so far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. If you have not experienced a GT on the fly, there is no place better than CXI and the amazing guides at Christmas Island Outfitter’s. The fury and the fishing we saw, without chum, is something that I will never forget in a million fishing trips.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Signs of Spring

As much a sign of spring around this house as Skwala's and BWO's.
It's hard to write about spring when we didn't have much of a winter.  A transition wasn't clear, but it is still appreciated, and as the tailwaters drop for (too) early irrigation demands, the freestones suspend at the perfect level until the begin their spring swelling.  My friend Scott always speaks to the connection of baseball and fly fishing, and as a life-long lover of both I definitely think of the beginning of both seasons being conjoined.  My fishing doesn't stop in the colder months, but the first pitch of the season certainly tells my brain that it's time.

Editors Note: I started this post the other day and it snowed all day today.  It kind of took away the fun of writing some more about spring, even though its going to be back by the weekend.  Whatever, Montana.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Technique Tuesday: Early Season Stones

Skwalas, the stonefly that gets everyone out of their winter funk, wrapping foamy bugs, and remembering that after a long, cold winter there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Although their the size of a small hopper, and most the patterns we fish could be just a dark hopper pattern, the behavior of fish in March and April is quite a bit different than in July and August.  Here are few tips to help you make the best out of throwing the first big bugs of the season.

Fish Slow:  It's was to tie on a Chubby and pretend like it's August and fish outside seams and hard edges all day when you're fishing.  While fun to pretend that summer is here, it doesn't do much in the realm of "actually catching them".  Every spring I am amazed at how slow of water fish will sit in, and shallow for that matter.  Think about water that is warm, has good cover, and will not force a trout to waste precious early season energy.

Fish Downstream:  This is actually a do-all-the-time thing(at least for fishing dries out of a drift boat), but is particularly important this time of year.   When the rivers are still fairly low, and the fish aren't 100% convinced that they should be saying big food, the last thing that they want to see is a leader.   When you combine this with fishing slower water (which allows for more time to look at your junk) it is really important to chuck it in front of the boat.

Watch for the slurp:  Slow water, slow takes.  Sure, occasionally you get the fish that body slams the fly with it's face, but most of them are going to sip it like it's a may fly.  This can take some getting used to, and when you're not expecting it a  subtle take can easily be missed.  Yesterday we had several fish that neither Seth nor I (over 25 years combined guiding experience) were confident were even fish until we pulled the trigger.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Technique Tuesday: Attention to Detail

Recycled picture that I felt captured the title of "Attention to Detail"

Those of you who know me on a personal level are probably thinking that a post from me about attention to detail is an April Fools joke.  My truck is constantly a mess, my brain is scattered and you could likely fish for a week from the random gear strewn throughout my boat.  I often use the line in my boat however that the only control issues I have are manifested in my nymph rigs.  Even with a lot of my buddies who are certainly capable fisherman I prefer to do the rigging myself so that I can have control.  This attention to detail is critical to success, and part of the game that really gets me fired up.  When something as simple as a knot type can make a difference in your day, you don't want that responsibility left to anyone besides yourself!  Here are couple parts of the process that I really geek out about.

Knots-  Not only the type but making sure they are tied correctly.  I can't begin to tell you how many lefty's loops I've clipped because they are not the right size.  Always sealed with a lick, making sure that you're knots seat correctly (and knowing what this looks like) can make a difference in putting "the one" into the net.  Also having the correct knot for the correct application.  There are times for loop knots and times there aren't.  knowing when to use each is something I know with absolute certainty puts more fish into my net.

Depth-  Another one that i really just freak about. I want my depths the same, and consistent. Whether I'm bobbering 12' deep down the middle of the missouri or shortleashing the upper beat with a dry dropper, when I rig I want the same every time.  I constantly use my body as a frame of reference for this.  I am nymphing extended left arm to right shoulder, a lot.  knowing that on me that's my point of reference ensures that it's the same, every time.

Weight-  Just like both of the above, how much cowbell on the end controls your sink rate and speed. My mentor Braz taught me a lot about weighting and different places to put it on the line.  Certain rivers have certain styles that I use exclusively there (Pogo, anyone?).  Things like weighting above and below your fly, all below, and then distance above all impact the drift, which in turn impacts the fish that are impacting your net.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Living in Twin Bridges is as close as one could possibly come to living a dream life as a fly fisherman.  Life at the convergence of 3 of North America's best trout streams leaves little to be desired as a trout fisherman.  Sadly, I all too often take this for granted and approach my time fishing with the mentality of a skier in a resort town. "only ski powder days, brah!"  A week in LA gives great perspective to the unique lifestyle that those of us in MT are able to live.  Being from Montana automatically makes you the most interesting guy in the bar, and the looks you get when you describe what life in the mountains is like range from pity to pure envy.  The anonymity of the city is alluring, and I love walking around without a soul knowing my name.  By the end of a week, gorged with exotic foods and expensive beers, there is nothing better than flying over the Headwaters of the Missouri, picking out each valley as you watch them meander north.  Flowing water is a great comfort, even if its viewed from several thousand feet in the air, and there is no better welcome home.