Monday, December 27, 2010

Backyard Flow

The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders. - Edward Abbey

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Santa with a nice winter fish from last year.
Merry Christmas from Evolution Anglers!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 10 worst gifts to give the fisherman in your life

With Christmas being three days away I thought I might touch on an important subject; the giving of gifts to a fisherman. While it has never happened to me I have heard the horror stories of gifts given by a certain in-law/neighbor/crazy uncle/stalker in your life who know that you love to fly fish. I figured I would help the fore-mentioned with their gift giving this year by composing a list of gifts NOT to give to ANY flyfisherman. ever.

10. The Nogin' Net
9. Big Mouth Billy Bass

Because Americans don't waste enough plastic as is!

8. Shirt with a stupid fishing saying.

"A bad day fishing . . . "

"Born to fish, forced to work"

7. Fake fishing creel
Not only does the modern fisherman never use a creel. But it looks just plain stupid to decorate with one!

6. the Rocket Fishing Rod

Not so much fun when Dad chucks it across the lake when it brakes for the 14th time.

5. The RC Fishing Pole

As most gear fisherman know, most species of fish are attracted to whirling of tiny motors

4. Bass-O-Matic '76

Ok this actually might be a good gift.

3.A stupid fishing hat
(implied face palm)

2. Rapala We Fish

What you couldn't find a NASCAR game? Plus you know id rather spend an entire day yelling at middle schoolers online while playing Call of Duty.

1. The Wunder Boner

Just watch the video

Steelhead; Rat Terriers, Hate Blue.

I've been cleaning up and organizing my fly tying room, and had a nice pile of random feathers and flash on the ground the other day when I took off and left the door open.  Seizing an opportunity my rat terrier Ruby started exploring a room she isn't often allowed into.  With many different colorful and shiny options for a chew toy, Ruby went straight for a Kingfisher Blue grizzly saddle.  Fortunately no serious damage was done, and only a handful of feathers were plucked from the saddle, none ruined.
The aftermath.

This is not the first time that some blue materials have been attacked by Ruby, the first was a pack of blue guinea that got strewn across my living room.  Both times she had the opportunity to chew on a bunch of different steelhead colors,  and both times she chose blue. Apparently steelhead aren't the only things out there that have to crush blue when given the opportunity.
Sure, I look innocent crashed in the bow of a skiff, but wait till there's some blue feathers around.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Backyard Flow

Evening on the Beaverhead in our backyard captured by my wife, the fish therapist.
“You can’t watch a sunset and then go set fire to your neighbor’s teepee. Living close to nature is good for your mental health.”- Ishmael

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Semifinals Steelhead Bug!

Eastern goes up against Villanova tomorrow at 5:05 pm in the FCS semifinals, at home in the inferno.  Tying a red fly the past few weeks as they have made their playoff run has been good luck, so here is this weeks:  Howell's signature intruder, inferno edition.  'Yard over at the shootinghead threw up a clip of Scott Howell tying his signature intruder, and I have always dug the pattern although don't fish it much.  You can just tell by looking at it, and knowing who the creator is, that is a fishy bug. Hopefully I'll be tying a championship inferno fly soon. Go Eagles!
Inferno Howell Signature Intruder.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Calm before the storm

Yesterday I finally took advantage of the warm front that has been blowing out all of the steelhead rivers back home, but has been making for some great fishing weather in SWMT, and ran up to the Ruby.  A small stream compared to the other local waters, the Ruby is very intimate and as a tailwater that acts like a freestone has nice trout and is unfrozen all winter.  It's a great escape when it is above the 0 degree mark, and especially nice on days like yesterday when there isn't a gust of wind.  As I was leaving I checked the weather to find a winter storm warning, and went ahead as planned.  I got lucky and enjoyed 2 hours of calm, warm fishing and ran into the nasty on my way home.

Winter water, slower is better.

Cold Brown

Better than the couch

Made it home before this caught up to me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Taggers in the Big Hole

This past 12 months Montana FWP partnered with the Big Hole Watershed Committee and the Big Hole River Foundation and tagged approximately 2500 trout in the Big Hole River.  When you caught a tagged fish you were encouraged to write down the number from the tag place it in a drop box located at all of the various takeouts and public access points.  FWP would then take the data for their use and send you information about the trout you caught.

I had forgotten about the program until I got my mail on Saturday and there was an envelope from FWP with information from one of the tagged trout I reported.  This trout was a brown caught on August 31st in the Melrose area and was originally tagged March 30, 2010.  At the time I caught it we taped it at 15".  The FWP data from March had the trout recorded at 14.4" and weighing .93 lbs.
Nice surprise in the mail.  Also, one of the better misspellings of my last name.

Wanting more info about this trout and the program I called the local fisheries bio who was nice enough to answer some questions for me.  The bio said that fish in the Big Hole were tagged in the fall of 2009, spring of 2010 and fall of 2010.  He said that the growth of .6" was typical for trout through out the system and that the growth rate was higher in the lower Big Hole than the upper.  The bio also said that the higher growth rate in the lower Big Hole is due to several different factors including water temps, food sources (mmm, crayfish) and fish population densities.

Dave showing what a 15" Big Hole brown in the Melrose stretch looks like.
It's pretty cool to see a state agency working with local conservation groups to help manage a resource and using the public to gather information.  The letter that I received said that data from the project will be available in late spring, and I think it should be pretty interesting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eagles win again!

EWU won their second playoff game yesterday in OT against North Dakota State (who beat MSU Bozeman) and advanced to the Division I FCS semifinals against Villanova in Cheney, WA next weekend.  Like last week I wrapped a red fly Friday afternoon, this time a red hohbo spey.  If they keep winning I'm going to actually start fishing red steelhead flies, just because I'll have a bunch.  Go Eags!

Red Hohbo Spey.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Copper and Steel

This past fall I had an experience that I was hoping to share here, but didn't have enough of the pieces to write about it.  Well, yesterday while cleaning out my tying stuff I found one of the pieces, an old copper vibrax spinner, and so here we go.

I was guiding a 509 area steelhead river 5 years ago at the beginning of November on one of those days that are perfect and make you realize why fall is the best time of year.  There was a light haze in the sky, warm enough to fish in a hoody and not a soul on the river.  About midway through the day we got a bite in a zone that we missed one in the day before, but our luck was better the second time, and we buttoned her up.  Only about a 4 pound fish it was not the biggest steelhead of the day, in fact it was the smallest, but it was a beauty of a little tributary hen and fought like a wild fish should.  When I went to unhook the fly from her mouth I noticed something that was not ours in the corner of it's jaw: a copper vibrax spinner.
Yeah, that is not the fly we were fishing.
I carefully removed our fly as well as her other, more punk, lip piercing and sent her on here way.  This fish with the copper spinner in its mouth got me thinking about steelhead behavior.  To start with, I was amazed that with the vibrax in her grill, this fish was still biting things.  This seemed to me to be a good testament at how effective catch and release fishing can be.  If a fish can still eat with a #4 vibrax in it's lip, a quick, friendly release probably does little harm (if done properly).  Secondly, I knew that copper spoons and the such work, but there is nothing like pulling a fly, or spinner in this case, out of a steelheads mouth to give you instant confidence.  I started thinking about copper swinging flies, and a way to immitate that vibrax.
Brothers from another mother.
Fast forward to 5 years later.  I had not forgotten about the copper spinner 5 years prior, but had not really focused on such flashy bugs.  After a summer of fishing ridiculously shiny streamers for trout and finding a fly called the Prom Dress from Scotty Howell, I started tying some copper and super flashy streamers for fall steelhead fishing.  The copper version turned out particularly well, and was sure to see some action.

The first two days of November this fall I planned on spending 2 days on the same river with my buddy Steve.  After finding a couple of fish, Steve and I were swinging the run that the copper-eating fish rested in before we got her 5 years ago.  Although I wanted to run the copper fly I tied for nostalgia, I opted for an egg sucker that I had much more confidence in.  In this particular run there is a large boulder in the riffle above it that creates a nice buttery seam down the middle of the river.  There is also a slow cut bank on the far side, and a boulder pile in the bottom left corner, which is where I routinely hook fish if they are there.  About halfway through the run, and almost to the sweet spot, I let go of my running line at the wrong time and send my leech into the tree on the far bank (sounds cool, but really not that far of a cast).  After a good firm yank and the snapping sound of 10lb maxima losing it's arm wrestling match to a tree limb, I reached for the copper fly as a replacement.
About 10 casts later I got that familiar tug, right in the sweet outside corner pocket.  One of those pulls that really doesn't feel much different than the bottom, but somehow you can tell it's not an aggressive rock.  I let a small amount of loop go and came tight to that great feeling of a steelhead shaking it's head.  Unfortunately that feeling did not last much longer, and after a quick run down and across the tailout the fish bum rushed me up the inside bank, and slacked off before I could come tight again.  I would like to think that it was another spunky little hen, like the one that inspired me to tie the fly it had just inhaled, but who knows.  Although the fish did not come to hand, or even give me a show, it was rewarding to hook a fish on a copper fly in the same spot that inspired me to tie the fly.  Besides, I had just read a great article on Coach K  who said you remember the losses more than the wins.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Go Eagles!

The Inferno Leech, ala EWU's new red turf.

With football in Washington State being incredibly weak the the past few years, and the upcoming apple cup that everyone is so excited about (Last place Cougs vs. fifth place Huskies, woohoo, yawn!) I would like to point out that there is a Washington football team that is playing for something important this weekend.  And it's a college team, playing in a football tournament, the way it should be! (suck it BCS). The Eastern Washington University Eagles play their first round playoff game at home on the red turf known as The Inferno this Saturday 1:05pm against Southeast Missouri St.  The Eagles are coming in seeded 5th and with a win will play the winner of ND State/Montana State, which could potentially be in Bozeman.  As an Eagle Alum and long time Washington resident it is great to see a team playing this year for something other than a bid to the Preparation H Bowl.  In honor of the playoff game I wrapped up a couple of winter swinging bugs in Red, and you can also find a clip of the red turf below.  Go Eagles!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keeping the lights on.

While I think it's great that there has been a big push of younger anglers the past few years, it is definitely not the 20-30 year old "trout bums" that are keeping the lights on in your local fly shop.  The Kingfisher in Missoula (a great fly shop with friendly shop guys and one of the best tying sections in the state) recognizes who pays their bills, as is evidenced in their bathroom.

Like any good fly shop, neither of them were on the right time.