Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter fishing on the Mo

My buddy Ben and I had been planning to fish this past Saturday for a couple of months, as he was out in Big Sky from Chicagoland on an annual ski trip (his buddies Ski, he fishes).  After a couple of weeks of debating where we should go, and watching the weather, we decided on the Missouri around Craig.  Friday I hauled the skiff up to Dillon for some localized global warming at the car wash, and crushed the glacier that had been growing in the bottom of the boat for the past couple or months so that it was ready for Saturday.  I picked Ben up in Cardwell and we started heading north in warm 40 degree weather.

We made quick time to Craig in the new fishing rig (more on this in the future) and as we dropped through the canyon from Helena to Craig the temp followed suit and we arrived at Headhunter's to temps somewhere around 36 degrees.  Mark and John at Headhunters were helpful as always and we chatted about what a great city Tacoma, WA is, bought some bugs and a shuttle, and went up to launch at Wolf Creek.
Ben picking out the right bug.

It definitely took us a little while to figure out what type of water would be successful, and following the winter rule of fishing the slowest water you can find eventually paid off.  As we cruised down a small (for the Mo) drop Ben popped a little rainbow, so we got out of the boat and proceeded to educate a few of the Mo's trout in training.  After just enough fish to really freeze our hands the temp continued it's drop, and we retreated to the boat for what ended up to be a life saver for our afternoon.
Mmmm, hot soup and snow.
After our hot lunch we got to fishing on the move again, a decision that was good in the fact that we got to Craig before dark, but bad because it dramatically reduced our fish catching.  Not helping the cause was my anchor rope freezing to my boat, making a boat stop more hassle than it was worth.  Floating to the take out we found a couple more fish, let a couple go prematurely, and found Ben a fish that made our decision to come north worth it.
Ben with a nice snowcovered Missouri winter trout.
 The bug of the day turned out to be anything pink, as predicted by Headhunters, and although we found a couple of fish in shallower riffles, the 4-5 deep slow drops were the ticket, as was stopping when you found a fish (when your anchor line wasn't frozen).  At the takeout in Craig we loaded up the boat and gear, chiseled off our wading boots that were now completely frozen, and adjusted the heater about 20 times between Craig and Helena because of the 20 different levels of cold we had experienced.  Definitely a successful day for floating in January, and if it gets above freezing again before I head west (currently -1 in TB Town) I might head back up to the big river.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yellowdog Blog

Check out the new blog from Yellowdog fly fishing, Dogfish.  Ian and Jim run an awesome booking agency, and  have good info on any fly fishing destination that you can ever think of.  They have some great authors on board including Stu Apte, guides from all over the country and the knowledgeable Yellowdog Staff.  Dogfish is just getting started, but I would expect some pretty awesome stuff once it gets going.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Patagonian Experience

Wrapping chernobyls for big dumb browns
Good friend, fellow guide and amateur model Brett Seng flew out to Chilean Patagonia yesterday to go work with our other buddy Greg Bricker for the winter (summer?) at Patagonian Basecamp.  He just started up a blog, Patagonian Experience, that should have some quality shots of some monster trout.  As with most blogs ran by fishing guides during the season I can't imagine it will be updated everyday, but when he gets a chance to get in front of a computer it should be worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter fishing on the Beav

It's been consistently above freezing for the past couple afternoons and yesterday I finally got out in a drift boat for the first time this year.  Mine is good and frozen, but fortunately Seth was smart enough to tilt his up a little sooner than I did and his was thawed enough to go float.  We were lucky to get a shuttle up in Dillon, as the shop guy made it clear that not many people are fishing around here this time of year saying "Yeah, you guys will be the only rig in the parking lot crazy enough to be fishing."
The little bit of snow actually made this crappy launch better.
We were pretty well screwed fishing wise from the get go when Seth caught a small brown on one of his first casts.  Never a good sign, it was a while before we caught another fish, which ended up being a pointy head.
Proper fish holding technique: Elbows in, hands forward, goofy smile.  Bonus points for squatting like your about to dump.
The weather turned out to be great, which is a good thing because I left the extra pair of waders I had for Christina at my house, and I didn't even have to bust out the Das Parka.  Cracking a cold one improved our mojo a little bit, and although the weather has been warming it is still cold out, and the trout were lethargic and few and far between.
Breaking in the new foam dome.
I think it will be a while before we go float the Beav again, but it was nice to get on the sticks for a bit, mend some line, stare at a bobber, and drink some beer in a beautiful setting.
One of not very many, but at least they were small.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Double Rainbow from YGF.

Double Rainbow Trout on the Mo from Ivan Orsic on Vimeo.

Check out this sweet vid from Ivan over at Yukon Goes Fishing, killer double rainbow from the Mo.  He has a bunch of other cool videos on Vimeo as well, definitely worth taking a look.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Backyard Flow

The Hoh at Spruce Creek.

"A River to itself has very few friends, and a river without friends isn't protected." - Scott Howell in Skagit Master 2

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shawnage report from Hawaii

Just got this report from bro Shawn over in Maui.  Shawn and I have been fishing buddies since high school, and a good portion of my best fishing memories have him in them.  I need to make it over there and chase some fish soon.  Sounds a hell of a lot better than watching the Beav freeze behind my house.
Shawnage with a little trevally known as a Papio.

Here is what Shawn had to say:  Got these fish on a small flat in kihei, have hooked 2 bones there but one came unbuttoned and the other broke off. Fly have been using is a Veverka's mantis shrimp. Waiting for the water to clean up before I go out again. We have had a lot of rain lately and the sharks attacks usually occur in murky conditions, also I'm sure the fish couldn't see my shit. Owen Wilson's bro just got bit by one recently. Saw him at the Paia flatbread co. the other day btw. Come visit!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sandy river flood footage

The Sandy River from alexandra erickson on Vimeo.

Saw this video floating around on facebook of the Sandy River in Oregon blowing out from the recent warming weather and rain.  The footage and music is awesome, but it is great to see what a river does at such high flows.  With as damned and diked and controlled as many of our rivers are, I love seeing a river tear shit up and do what they are supposed to.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Evolution Anglers Stickers

I recently ordered some stickers from, a Seattle based company specializing in die cut vinyl stickers, and they arrived Saturday, and are now ready to get mailed out.  I'll be doing some contests in the near future and giving some away, but if you want one the easy way ($2), shoot me an email and I'll get you the details,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Backyard Flow

Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish... will slam the living shit out of my double bunny...-Norman Mclean, adapted by Brett Seng

This weeks Backyard Flow comes from Brett Seng.  Brett lives in Bozeman and works with me during the summer months at The Stonefly.  He is a damn good photographer, and every bit as good a fishing guide, but I would not hire him to guide your wife or daughter, because he is a beautiful man.  This shot is actually of the Smith River canyon, not the Blackfoot, but the quote fits nicely anyways.

On another note, if you would like to contribute to Backyard Flow and have a good river or fish picture and matching quote, feel free to send them along to

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tying Room Clean-up 2011: Complete

About twice a year I finally get tired of the amount of random marabou, gold sparkles and hooks floating around the house and do a fly tying room overhaul.  This year I started shortly before Christmas, but took off for home and didn't get to complete the project until yesterday.  Those of you who know me understand that a little bit of clutter has never slowed me down, but it sure is nice to have a clean, organized tying area. I also took the time to reorganize all of my material bins.  Completing the tying room clean-up I always learn a little about my self, how I look at tying flies, and conduct a mental inventory of what I have.  Here's the knowledge gained from the clean-up session.
1.  I never need to buy yellow rubber legs again, and apparently don't use them much but like to buy them.
2.  I have an entire tying materials drawer dedicated to san juan worm chenille, draw your own conclusion on that one.
3.  Well over half of my materials are synthetic.
4.  You can never have enough black thread.
5.  I love polar chenille, and don't know if there is a color out there that I don't have.
6.  It is easier to clean your tying area when you are not tying on carpet.
7.  I need to start throwing away bags with one good feather left in them on a regular basis.
8.  Dubbing boxes are the shit.
9.  I have enough random "test" patterns lying around to fill at least one big fly box, likely two.
10.  I need to do a better job of being organized.
Post cleanup celebratory fly

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Punk Rock

Check out these awesome flies wrapped by Pat Cohen over at Got Bronze.  Pat clearly has some serious wrapping ability and very creative mind.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Championship steelhead bug!

The Inferno Intruder
Eastern Washington University is playing in tonight's FCS championship game against Delaware at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, TX, 6pm CST.  Continuing with my series of red patterns for Eagles playoffs games I decided to tie up a red and black Intruder for the championship game.  Like what is needed to win a championship tying a good intruder requires focus, attention to detail, and putting in time for a big reward when finished.  I don't tie a lot of intruders because of the amount of time it takes to make a quality one, but for a championship game fly, I couldn't think of a more appropriate pattern.  Go Eags!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sculpin Steve

what are you looking at? (obvious tag line for any streamer with big eyes).
I signed up for a "big trout streamer" swap of at yesterday that my buddy Mike is hosting, and decided that I will tie one of my all time favorite streamers, Sculpin Steve.  I am not a believer in the Kelly Galloup type of streamer fishing, and rather than have a light fly on a heavy line I much prefer a heavy fly on a floating line and about 9-10' leader.  I do spend about 98% of my time fishing streamers out of a drift boat, so this has a lot to do with how I like my set up.  Rather than the streamer twitching in a Galloup rig that comes from the density differences between fly and line along with line manipulation the heavy fly light line technique comes from more line and rod tip manipulation.  This set up was introduced to me by my old boss Jack Mitchell, and a have continued to tinker with it over the years.  The benefit of a heavy fly on a long leader is that it can be moved quickly, keeping the fly up on the surface, but can also slowed way down for more of a nymphy (technical term) presentation.  The long leader allows for a slow  tight line presentation that I can not get as well when fishing the Galloup style, and it also sinks quicker than waiting for a sink tip.
Sculpin Steve eater from 2004.

Sculpin Steve was created through the melding of several different patterns during my second and third years guiding on the Yakima, and continues to adapt especially now that I live in brown trout country and can see what really good streamer fishing is on a regular basis.  The name came from a fishing day on the upper Yakima and an old friend of mine and I came up with it as an honor to Scuba Steve, a character in Adam Sandler's movie Big Daddy.  Initially my streamers were tied on a size 4 streamer hook, had a narrow body and no rubber legs.  Below is a picture of "Kyle's Egg Sucking Sculpin," a fly one of my friends at the time swore by, and was my inspiration for tying bigger streamers.  My first big streamers were dumbed down versions of this fly with just marabou, rabbit and polar chenille and tied upside right.
The Inspiration.
After a while, and hanging with some other good streamer fisherman, namely an old yakima guide named Greg Chang, I added more material and got sculpin steve to where I fish it still today.  I also started tying the fly inverted so that with eyes on top of the hook it would ride hook point up and avoid snagging.  Now I will often tie an articulated version or the "Big Bird" version that Chang and I came up with, but the original still gets the job done for me on a regular basis.  I am always a fan of simple patterns, and with only 4 materials Steve is hard to beat.

Hook:  #2 Streamer hook, longer is better.
Eyes:  Large Gold Eyes
Tail: Olive Marabou
Body: Olive Polar Chenille
Legs:  Flat Rubber Legs, "Pumpkin" colored
Back:  Olive barred magnum bunny strip.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Twin Bridges Ice Flood: Amazing!





I'm not quite as excited as the narrator in the video, but there is a serious ice dam back behind the house on the beav that formed two nights ago.  The Beaverhead down here in town doesn't often freeze completely across, but because of the low gradient and meanders when it does it goes out of its banks pretty quickly.  Crews spent yesterday afternoon improving a couple of dikes, and so far no problems aside from some wet basements.  Hopefully the ice breaks up at the end of the week with the warm weather predicted, it should actually be warm enough to go fishing again.

Monday, January 3, 2011


So I'm a little late on this one, but definitely worth checking it out if you haven't yet.  The guys up at Headhunter's fly shop on the Mo have a new photo website out called Focalfish and is the equivalent of a daily installment of Catch Magazine.  The guys at headhunter are top notch, and their fly shop is exactly what I want when I go to a shop: A good fly selection, helpful knowledgeable staff, cold beer, and not 50 different casting blouses or over caffeinated shop dudes.  Make sure to stop in if you're up at trout disneyland.  Oh yeah, Focalfish features the photography of Dan "Rooster" Leavens, my outfitter in MT and close friend, check out his awesome pic below and link to his blog.
How many steelhead do you see?