Monday, October 20, 2014

Fish kill on the Big Hole

What a healthy pre-spawn Big Hole brown looks like
So I walked into one of the local fly shops the other day on my way to the river and learned about a problem that the upper Big Hole is having with fish mortality.  Random dead fish are showing up in a much higher frequency than they should, with the canyon stretch being the worse hit.  This time of year is when the browns are spawning, and should be left to do they're thing, so I stay away from that area anyways as that is where the majority of the browns from the lower river spawn.  Obviously there are ethical ways to fish around the spawners and not "rape redds" but the easiest way is to just not go to the floats that are loaded with spawning fish.

Apparently there is a fungus going around called saprolengia that isn't too uncommon, but is severely affecting the spawn this fall.  You can read all about it from FWP here, but the easiest solution to minimize your impact and protect the future of the fishery is to not be go fish over spawning fish, and particularly don't pull them off their redds.  If you don't know what a redd is, look it up, but you can't miss them this time of year.  There are a ton of other options around right now, so think about the future!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best of Insty: Follow Friday

So I love Instagram.  Far and away my favorite method of social media.  No words, some food, and not many ads or bullshit.  I was looking at the Chive the other day and their topic was different than this, but it fits great for the fly fishing world.  Here are 3 Insty account that I think are sick and you should definitely check out.  I would like to say I will post three new ones every friday, but I'll commit to doing it occasionally?  Enjoy.

@Troutwaterfly  This is the Insty for my buddies in Ellensburg, WA guiding the yak.  You can't find a better group of guides in that part of the world, and if you're looking for fishporn, it's heavy on that:

Mitch with his first steelhead. #Klickitatriver #troutwaterguides #patagoniaflyfishing #steelheadfishing

@free_cascadia  Not fishing related, but ton's of cool shit from near the land of jefferson, and a great connection to my PNW roots

Autumnal Redwoods #TBT. _

@princeofpburg  First off, if you've been to P-burg, you know what a sick place it is.  Home to likely the best brewery in MT that you haven't heard of, and a lot of fish in pretty much every direction.  They don't post pic's of P-burg brewery beers which sucks, but they post a crapload of huge browns from weird places which is awesome.

#worknafterwork floated tonight with @gfunkit, no trophies (except for that thar dip! ) rivers raging!!���� tons of fun and some sneaker fish were had by all #flyfishing #mt #floating #springtime #highwater #goodbuds #teammt #cametoparty

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Itch

From back in the day when I fished pretty flies.

I've been having a pretty good fall, catching some fish, working a lot and in general trying to ignore the itch that starts this time of year.  Spending a bulk of my adult life within a couple of hours of steelhead, I got spoiled.  Now that I have to wait for the waters to cool dramatically and fish to swim further inland than you would ever think they could, it makes the fall even more of a struggle.

Today was the tipping point.  A mildly successful day around the house that included enough chores to keep my wife happyish led to an hour of spey practice and a couple of cool fly pictures led to refining some muddlers that I've been thinking about for 11 months.  Sadly, these are flies that will never see a fish.  I should be tying bunny to a tube, with a small amount of flash, but it's not sexy.  I'll keep tying like I have the time to fish them in the warming water that elicits a strike.  The reality is  they'll collect dust, hopefully lucky enough to make the cut and end up in a box and not just die a lonely death on the tying desk when a better creation comes out.  But they are the small connection that keeps the fire burning, and when the fish do make it to the water that is closer to Montana than the ocean, I'll be ready with a fresh box of the grade A goods, ready for the pluck.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Catching Hawgs V.2.0

What did the 5 fingers say to the Trout?

So for all of you long time blog readers out there you unlikely remember 2 falls ago when I went over to Missoula and participated in the "catching hawgs" tournament that my buddy Ric puts on.  After taking a fall off I returned for a shot at the championship, this year in the recently minted "pro-division".  I was very fortunate to be partnered up with one of my closest friends and long time fishing buddy, Scott Wilson.  Scott is a guide on the Yak, and works with the guys at Troutwater, who would also be taking part in the action.
I don't know what to do with my hands???
 As part of the tourney your guide draws your team number out of a hat, and then gets to fish with you for two days.  This year Scott and I drew the long straw and had one of the best guides not only in the tournament, but in Missoula, Dan Mahoney of Missoula on the Fly.
Don't ever fucking let your guide fish.
We fished a couple of out of the way spots, including an awesome float on the Blackfoot, a river that has always been challenging to me.  It was great to see what a difference it made to have someone who knew where to go, what to throw and how things went down and the impact it had on the fishing.  As a long time fishing guide I can typically go to a new river and have good success, but the amount we had in two days was directly related to our guide know exactly where to go.  It was very cool to see it from the other side.
Apparently fishing with someone who knows the rivers better than you makes a difference?
After a summer of being the guider and not the guidee it was incredibly relaxing to sit in the boat and fish without worry about how many were catching or client expectations.  I imagine Dan had a pretty easy time too, pretty much making sure our beers didn't get empty and pointing out the sneakier spots that only the trained eye would recognize.  It was great to compare notes with a long time friend and another guide who has spent his time in a part of the state that I haven't.  While only a couple hours away it's amazing how different the fishing around Missoula is compared to Twin, starting with the fact that they get to throw dries a hell of a lot more.  I'll definitely be hitting up catching hawg's again next fall, and hopefully get to draw Dan for our guide again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The little things

The flats are littered with blue wings, their tiny wings etching the surface of the glassy water.  The waves come off in such strategic zones that if you are not in the right place at the right time, you'll never even know they're even around.  The fish know though, all of the time.  The first few days are always the best, and as the cold creeps in the bugs dissipate, signaling the finale of fall.  Those early days though, when the fish are dumb and the flies big, make for some of the best to be had all year.  With everything that can be done with a fly rod these days, and a constant barrage of exotic locales daily, I still think a 5wt, a # 12 parachute and rising fish is the best.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bozeman Premier of Wild Reverence

Montana folks, next Tuesday, the 16th, make sure to show up to the Montana premier of Wild Reverence, an incredible film by Shane Anderson about the plight of wild steelhead.  I'm particularly excited about this because I helped support this project when it was in the kickstarter phase.  Get your tickets here and hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Three Guides Fishing

Mountain/River pictures are like the spey casting shot of the trout world.  It means you didn't catch shit.
Several years ago (actually many years now) I came to the painful realization that anytime I was going to fish with two of my guide friends, fishing was likely going to really suck.  Through no fault of our own, and even under best guide behavior of conceding float choices, beer selections and bank locations, odds are not in our favor.    Three weeks ago (back when it was still sumer) I reaffirmed this hex by traveling to the Henry's Fork with two of my closest friends. With grand intentions of floating through the ranch and getting schooled by large trout on long leaders and tiny flies, schooled is exactly what we got.  Putting fish down would have been an expected and acceptable outcome, but after recent, first-hand reports of good fishing, and nary a trout looking towards the surface for the bugs that didn't materialize, our concept of schooled was upgraded.  A quick change of plans sent us up to the water that chubby-chucking guides from Montana can even catch fish out of, and resistant to throw a bobber we found a few.  Fortunately having few interruptions like landing fish and taking pictures, three guides have the opportunity to reconnect in the middle of the summer doldrums season, which is many times better than any trout on 14' of 12x and a perfect counterpart to the guides day off stink.