Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Go Eags! Fly Tying Contest

2010 Championship Bug

It's that time of year again!  FCS playoffs are underway, and Eastern Washington University rolled through SDSU last weekend on the inferno.  This week the 3rd ranked eagles take on Jacksonville State, again at home.  As an EWU Alum this is always an exciting time of year, especially with the great teams that have followed since my graduation (MURP, 2009).  This year we will be continuing our tradition of wrapping up championship quality "inferno" flies, but with a new twist.  We are going to be teaming up with Big Mills and running a contest where you can win some great flies tied by me and Millsy.

All you have to do to enter is wrap up a steelhead fly that incorporates red (the more red the better) and email it to me, joe@evoanglers.com, post it on our facebook page, or (the preferred method) post it on Instagram and tag it #infernoflies and @evoanglers and @millsfly.  Friday evening after mills and I have tossed back a couple we will have a very serious text message conversation (since we live 5 hours apart) and decide what our favorite fly is.  The winner will be announced Saturday morning.  The flies that we tie will be shipped to your door Monday morning.  Make sure to check out our social media outlets to see the flies you'll win, they will be posted before the end of the week.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Technique Tuesday: Sink-Tips

C-squad, loading.

Spending as much time as I have shirking responsibility fishing over the last 15 years, I end up getting a lot of questions about what gear to purchase.  This past week I had two different friends as about what sink tips they should get for their spey rod, so figured it would be a great topic for Technique Tuesday.  The type of tip you are using can make a huge impact on your fishing, and with all of the different options that are out there these days it can be really confusing which tip to use.  For a frame of reference, these are the sink tips that I use for steelhead fishing with a skagit line, for both winter and summer fish.

Like most, I don't want to spend $ on a bunch of different lines that I don't need.  Because of this I have simplified my sinktip selection to a kit that will cost around $150 and cover just about every situation you would likely encounter.  The key to being able to use such few tips is adjusting your presentation based on the water youre fishing, which I will cover in future technique Tuesdays.

15 ft. RIO Spey Versileader Kit

The RIO Spey Versileader Kit is my go to set of tips for summer run fishing once the water cools down.  At 15' and a variety of sink rates from floating to extra fast (7"/second) these tips make it very simple for fall fishing options.  As polyleaders and not true sink tips they have a taper and thinner core than a sink tip, but will turn over any fly that you should be throwing for summer runs.  Attached to a Compact Skagit line and they are very comfortable to cast and easy to use.  I also like the 15' foot length for two reasons.  The first being that I am tall, and it is much nicer to fish 15' foot tips and have a little extra anchor hanging in there then a sink tip that I have to be careful not to pop out of the water.  The second reason being the "grab" that a 15' tip has in the water.  Once you get a 15' tip sunk it tends to stay down and swing consistently at that depth.  Most of the summer run rivers that I fish have big, classic runs and not as much pocket water.  A 15' tip is perfect length for getting down and staying down in a long swing with less depth variation than a pocketwater run.

14 ft. Airflo CCT T-10 Sink Tip

This is my go-to winter sink tip.  The package comes with 20' of sinktip so you get 6' extra after you make your 14' tip, which is a good small tip when combined with a cheater and a heavy fly for pocket water that many winter run rivers have.  The Airflo tips are my choice because they come with a welded loop built in, so they are very easy to use, and they have a very strong core.  I have yet to lose one in the rocks.  Like the 15' tips mentioned above, I like a 14' tip because it stays down in wide runs and is easy to cast as a tall guy. In a shallower run I will use this tip with an unweighted fly and when more depth is needed I will throw on something with a cone.  This combination has worked flawlessly for me, and I would say the last 5 or so winter fish I have caught came on this tip with a conehead fly.

14 ft. Airflo CCT T-14 Sink Tip

When I really need to get down this is what I have on the end of the string.  When combined with a weighted fly this is as heavy as I go during the winter.  If I need to get down really deep I will simply adjust where I cast and how I present (upstream cast, big mend, step during swing) and get it down as deep as needed.  I am also a big believer in tying flies that sink.  Using materials that are not bulky and get to the bottom quickly allow for much better all-day casting.  Who wants to throw 15' of t-18 anyways?  At that point i'll just get out the bobber rod.
The end result of a properly selected sink tip.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Technique Tuesday: Bonk Your Hatchery Fish

Purple and Blue, a personal favorite hatchery fish removal tool.

It's getting towards the end of November, which means all of the 509/208/541 area rivers are loaded with hatchery fish that are prime smoker fodder, and the really shiny pond monkey hatchery fish are just starting to trickle in to coastal streams and ready for your grill.  This is a great time of year to catch both and put some food on the table so that your co-workers will quit asking "why do you go fishing if you just throw them back?".  Besides, that's what hatchery fish are put into the river for, and if you give a crap about wild fish you should be bonking every hatchery fish you catch.  Here are a few tips for helping to kill your hatchery fish with respect, and in a manner that creates the best table fare.

1:  Bring the fish to the rock.

I still remember standing at the top of a run with my buddy Dave watching Brazda hook and land a chrome bright hatchery fish on his spey rod, grab it by the tail, and smash it's head against the rocks on the side of the Calawah as if he was chopping a piece of wood.  At this point in my steelhead career I had probably killed 5 hatchery fish, all of which involved me searching the banks for the perfect club-stick, and then nearly bashing my thumb.  Watching what we then dubbed "The Brazda Bonk" made so much more sense, and became the quick and efficient way to dispatch of hatchery fish.  The simple technique of holding the fish like an ax and hitting it against a rock provides a quick and clean kill that respects the fish, and keeps you from fishing the rest of the day with bruised digits.

Bring the fish to the rock, not the rock to the fish.

2: Bleed'em Out.

Whether you are going to filet them or clean them, a quick slice to each gill will bleed your fish out, which makes for a clean tasting fresh fish.  I don't have the exact science behind bleeding them out, but when every AK guide I know does it (and they clean A LOT of fish), it is for a reason.

Chone, bleeing one out and channeling his inner Paul Mclean.
3. Bring the right stuff to finish the job.

The first tool for taking care of hatchery fish once they are dispatched of is a good sharp filet knife.  I have cleaned enough fish with a gerber tool that I kick myself every time I forget the filet knife at home.  One your fish is cleaned, trash bags, large Ziploc bags and a bunch of ice make for transporting your fresh catch home much easier.  Fish into the Ziploc bags, guts in the trash bags, and a pile of ice to keep your fish nice and cold.  Make sure you know your regulations about when it is OK to filet and when it's not.  Now it's time to find your favorite recipe and enjoy the tasty benefits of protecting wild fish.

Friday, November 15, 2013

So, what's your Dad think.....

Dad with is first steelhead.

I will preface this post with the fact that of roughly 1200 guide days I have had 3 anglers that I would never guide again.  So when I say "one of the biggest dipshits I've ever had in my boat" know that the dipshit:awesome fun anglers ratio is correct, and I'm not some angry guide drinking away my winter at the Blue Anchor.

So.....I have one of the biggest dipshits that I have ever guided in the boat, and half way through a full-can-of-chew-day he asks me the most condescending question I have ever been asked on a guide trip "So, what's your Dad think about you being a fish guide?"  Several years later now I don't remember what I said, but it was polite, and I continued to work through the day, knowing that a cold beer was getting closer by the minute.

I have never once questioned what my Dad thinks about my decision to guide, as he has supported me in everything I do, and is particularly fond of my guiding as he routinely reaps the benefits as an avid fly fisherman.  This week we cranked it up a notch.
Working on the rigging of what turned out to be the money fly.
Dad has been learning to spey cast since last spring, and given our distance apart I haven't been able to provide as much on-the-water help as I would like.  Numerous texts, calls and pictures have been exchanged.  Do this, don't do that, why are you stopping there?  Spey-instruction by iPhone.  This fall Dad has been making a weekly trip to a river that we grew up trout fishing, swinging his brains out, and having very little success.  As many of you know this is pretty normal as you start to cast a two-handed rod, and is what makes that first fish so special.

Along with learning to cast, Dad began tying his own swinging bugs.  Any steelhead angler knows that the fly doesn't matter, but given that my tying time is currently more available than angling time I sent out a package that included 12 swing bugs hot out of the vice.  The flies arrived on a Saturday, just in time to be soaked that monday afternoon and Tuesday as my Dad and brother were going to meet on our favorite river.

About noon on their second day fishing together I got a text from Dad as I filled out my TPS reports.  A simple one line message:  STEEL!  He had broken the skunk with my brother, on a fly I tied for him.  To say he was ecstatic was a understatement.  I have never been so excited about a fish that I didn't catch, let alone didn't even witness or net or see till hours later.

To answer the question, "What's your Dad think about you being a fish guide?".  I think he's ok with it, the smile above says it all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You Veterans!

I am holding this pole like I caught this steelhead, but Dave actually picked my pocket with it, harder than it's ever been picked before (or since).
As I sit in my office on Veterans Day today, and think about how lucky we are to live in the greatest country on earth, and what it takes for us to live this way, I can't help but think of the veterans out there that make this happen.  My grandfather served in the Korean War, and my Dad in the Coast Guard, and to them along with every other veteran, thank you!

Of my friends who have served, one in particular stands out, my all-time best fishing buddy Dave.  Dave and I met in college and after I forgave him for his rocking the boat style of casting and he forgave me for my control issues while fishing we became best friends.  There is nobody that I have spent more time driving around with (listening to the same CD because his CD player was broken), chasing all sorts of fish and having a blast.  After 4 years at Ft. Leonard-Wood, Missouri, Dave got stationed in Hawaii, and I am beyond excited for our next adventure  this spring (more details soon).  Thanks for being a great friend Dave, and thank you for your service!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Back at it

First trip in the new Clackacraft for both.
As I updated briefly her this past spring, 2013 has been a year of change for us.  The biggest and best change being the birth of our daughter, Harper.  We had no idea what this would entail, and had no idea how well we operated on such little sleep (some days better than others).

Although guide season usually cut into fishing time for Ke'lah and me, we would typically make it out for a few days while the weather was nice and the fish were looking up.  This year was an exception as we didn't make it out a single day from early April to this past Saturday.

With a forecast of 55 degrees this seemed like our last chance of getting H in the boat and having a float that didn't result in one of us getting pneumonia.  The weather held nicely and Ke'lah didn't miss a beat, catching her first fish of the day in the first spot she threw it in.  The resulting fish skipped across the surface twice on the right side of the boat, sounded underneath new blue, and then rocketed into the boat on the left side, missing H's carseat and a well-sleeping baby by inches.  Once she figured out what happened we died laughing, in the quietest manner possible to not disturb the peaceful boat.

As the wind picked up, and we already had a couple of fish in the net, we decided to coast down river, looking for animals and enjoying our home float.  The day couldn't have gone any better, and we began what is going to be a great introduction to our daughter and the great outdoors that we're so fortunate to have in our backyard.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Technique Tuesday: Netting Steelhead (And Other Big Fish)

Clearly this guide doesn't know shit about netting big fish.

Using a net while steelheading is something that some believe in and some that don't.  When I'm wading I'm in the no-net category, but if I've got my boat I've got my net.  A big, soft mesh net is a great asset for landing and safely releasing steelhead.  The amount of stress is substantially less by using a net than no-net, no matter how good you are at landing them without a net.  Here are a few tips for safely and successfully landing steelhead with a net.
Note the giant basket of the net, ready for a steelhead under a double rainbow.  Kirk Werner Photo.

1.  Get a big, fish friendly net:  This fact is obviously number one on the list, but is often overlooked.  I can't tell you how many time I have seen people with a net that is too small or is that old, green knotted material that is like the bad kind of loofah for the scales of a steelhead.  Your steelhead net should be larger than you think you need, and the bag should be rubber or fine, soft mesh, similar to your Air Jordan basketball shorts.  Ideally you will find one like the above rainbow picture.  The basket on this net is 38" and the mesh is fine and coated with soft rubber so that it is fish and hook friendly.  Once a fish hits this net you can hold the rim at the surface of the water while the fish sits in the water like a live well.  This gives you a great station for hook removal and pictures if need be.

2.  Get downstream of the fish:  I guess this tip should start with get out of the boat if you are in a boat.  I assumed that was a given but have seen enough gear heads yard beautiful fish into the middle of a Willies (even with Sparky's law) that if stating it here gets to one boat-netter, mission accomplished.  So, after you are out of the boat, get downstream of the fish, or at least quartered down from the fish.  Make the angler pull firmly up above you (sideways pressure!), and when the net is in position to the downstream and side of the fish, have the angler gently release pressure.  This should let the fish coast back into the net with its head turning towards you, and then gently lift up (keeping the fish in the water!).  If you get to far below the fish and try to scoop at the tail the net-job will likely be unsuccessful as the fish will feel you and power away.

Schpanky agrees that a full net is a happy net. Kirk Werner Photo.

3.  Don't rush:  I haven't seen a fist fight break out at the end of a botched net job, but I'm sure it's happened.  Patience is key when netting fish, and getting in a hurry often leads to a fish swimming away and an empty net.  Take your time, make sure that the angler is pulling hard enough, and wait till the fish is near the surface and ready to be netted.  It is the responsibility of the angler to pull hard and make sure the fish is landed quickly and safely.  Trying to dig a fish out of the bottom or jabbing with the net is never a good thing.

4.  Communicate:  Although this is another good spot that could lead to a fight, hopefully you and your buddy that is currently fighting said steel are close enough that he is open to a little help at this point.  By communicating with the angler about what you see the fish doing you can ensure that the fish hits the net cleanly and safely.  Giving good advice at this point will put smiles on both of your faces when the net is full.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Technique Tuesdays: My (Current) Favorite Tying Tool

Random steelhead picture.  The fly this fish ate was tied using my favorite tying tool.

In the hopes that forming a new regular segment will motivate me to blog a little more consistently I am starting "Technique Tuesday's".  A new technique shared every week, ranging from tying to rowing to fishing and possibly even beer drinking and winter surviving (can it be April yet?).  I am very fortunate to have spent too much a lot of time over the past 15 years doing all things fly fishing, and spend a ton of time with other guides and great fisherman who have all sort of good tips that help make you (and me) a better angler.

The first in this series of posts is a highlight of what is currently my favorite tying tool, a cat hair brush. Available for under 5$ at your local pet store, the cat hair brush is an amazing tool for evening out fibers on steelhead flies and streamers that use any long, wavy material such as ice dubbing, artic fox, angle hair, etc.  Any of my buddies know that one of my mainstays for tying is flashy materials.  After getting some huge confidence in the prom dress I have been tweaking with all sorts of different flashy things.  Along with flash, I really like tying dubbing loops, weather it's with flash, bunny, fox, ostrich, you name it.  The above cat hair brush is the perfect tool for evening out fibers in a loop once they are spun, and then for final prep once the loop is wrapped on the hook. Here are a few pics for the process of making a dubbing brush using the cat hair comb, and the final product on a tube style intruder.
A custom blend of Blue,  Black and Pearl (minnow hue) Flashy Dubbings, wrapped in wire to form a brush.  Notice the combed out even look.
Previous dubbing brush wrapped on the tube, before being combed and primped.
Dubbing brush after being combed and primped.  Great "bump" for soft materials.
A second "bump" of flashy dubbing on the front of the tube, post combing.  All that is needed now is your favorite flavor of palmered Marabou and accessories!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Making the Report

"Spey casters take a lot of casting pictures."  quoted by the best spey caster I know.  This fly photo can be a substitute for the casting shot.
As a steelhead fisherman it is easy to follow reports and numbers and myths about where the fish are and what's going on.  Especially early in ones steelhead career the lure of "the report" fish is as tempting as anything. Sometimes chasing the stories pays off, and often times it leads to a lot of anglers and few fish.  This past weekend a couple of us decided to ignore the fact that there wasn't a single steelhead reported in the creel survey for the river and go make our own luck.

About 10 casts in to our first run I got the subtle tap that sends a light jolt up your tip, into the hand, that signals something is on the end that isn't a rock.  Amazingly I held off from the immediate yank and about the 3rd grab placed the hookset meter on stun and lifted towards the bank.  There is always the lag that feels like an eternity where you can't tell wether you just set the hook on the bottom or something shinier.  After the lag there was the familiar throb that tells you it's not a rock or lumber or anything but a steelhead on the end of the line.  I couldn't help but yell out "suck it" after the species was confirmed; not as much to my buddy in front of me but to the steelhead gods and terrible reports and a long summer of fishing incredibly low water for too-warm trout.  This arrogance caught up to me quickly.  After a strong run into the head of the run a quick turn and wrap around the rock I hooked her off of and that was that.  Two perfection loops at the end of my sinktip were all that remained; a sharp reminder to keep my steelhead-god thoughts to myself.

That was the only steelhead hooked all weekend.  Two days of casting practice and sunshine  and Butte Moonshine (poor choice).  We couldn't even count it on the creel report, as hooked and lost fish don't count for much anyways.  But it fuels the fire.  And has me back at the vice, ready to head back out when the water cools a little more.  Ready to get some more casting photos.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Goodbye to an Old (blue) Friend

Saw this one rising the week before.  Nice when they're right were they should be.

After 6 years, a couple thousand river miles and a pile of trout I finally got rid of Ol' Blue, my Clackacraft Skiff.  I originally traded my high-side clack for it in '08, and have guided out of it since.  This year I wanted to upgrade to the Clack Eddy, and so Ol' Blue had to go.

Gus has his fish hold dialed.  This one was the best eat we saw all day.
Love fishing with old friends, especially when fish like this are eating the chubby.
To send off a legend of a boat, you can't simply have another day down the river.  For this trip it just so happened that my old friend Gus was in town for a few days of fishing.  Not only have Gus and I been fishing buddies for over a decade, he was one of the two guys who taught me how to row.  In fact it was Gus' Clackacraft that was the first driftboat I ever set foot in.  Since Gus hadn't fished much around Twin we elected to do an unusual float down the Beaverhead, which paid big dividends.  Dry droppers, a good thunderstorm and tons of laughs were had.  I couldn't imagine a better way to send Ol' Blue off.  She's now residing in Helena, and will be seen on the Mo, so if you see her floating around be careful not to follow too close, blue's mojo is incredible.
New Blue

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Swing the Fly: Issue 1.2

The new issue of Swing the Fly dropped this morning thanks to the hard work, vision and dedication of the crew over at Chi Wulff.  Great articles abound, including a ton of awesome photography, and a short piece by me about a steelhead trip that got saved by some stupid aggressive smallmouth bass.  Put down the TPS reports for an hour this afternoon and take a look, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A cause worth supporting: Wild Reverence

Film projects on kickstarter are a dime a dozen.  The crowd funding site is certainly a popular way to raise funds for this medium, and frankly Wild Reverence is the first film that I have ever put any money towards.  Filmed by Shane Anderson, Wild Reverence chronicles steelhead fishing from California to BC, and features an amazing cast of speakers including Frank Moore, Jeff Hickman, April Vokey and many more.  The swag for donating is awesome too, including a couple of great t-shirt designs, a movie poster that would accent any tying room and a one of a kind Burkheimer spey rod that would have instant mojo.  Click the link here and go help out a great project: Wild Reverence.  (we already have!).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A brown trout picture

Good friend Paul with a cool streamer fish
I've been fishing some, and working some but haven't been doing much that was blog worthy lately.  I got to fish with my buddy Gus, and will write a report that is up to par for the amount of fun we had, but that amount of time has been limited lately.  I also have a couple of good gear reviews coming up as well, including a water bottle, a couple of fly lines, and maybe even a rod.  Probably will write about my new boat I got two weeks ago.  Spoiler alert, it's a Clackacraft Eddy and it's sick.  Even in the signature color.  In the mean check out this cool swung streamer brown my buddy Paul got today.  I'll throw up a pic of the big one FB tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two Shots

I was able to spend a day with my good friend Larry at the beginning of the month and here are two sweet shots that he sent me afterwards.

This first shot is of a Beav Brown that swallowed up a hopper like it was his last meal.  Right off of the bow of the boat.  After we set it free we gave a high five and rowed to the finish line.  A great end to the day.

After our day of fishing Larry took off on a road trip and sent me this shot when he got home.  Said the lake was full of cutties.  Such a peaceful and beautiful photo.  Thanks for the great shots Larry!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Non-traditional fishing dog: Roxy and Ool

Roxy and Ool living the dream
Perusing the facespace this afternoon while I work on some tps reports, I noticed the great picture posted above of two great dogs doing what they do best.  As an owner of a very small and large dog, I had to find out some more info.  The two dogs pictured are Roxy, a Dachshund/Yorky (Dorky) and Ool, a siberian Husky, owned by Monte Ward of Portland.  Quite the pair, and sure to get some admiration on the local rivers.  Thanks for letting me share your non-traditional fishing dogs Monte!

If you have a favorite fishing dog that's a little out of the norm (not a lab or retriever) send me a pic and a story to joe@evoanglers.com.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

2 years later

Andrew, on his first day ever in a drift boat
Every summer I look forward to all of the cool people that I get to fish with, and few more than Andrew and his grandfather Joe.  I got the opportunity to take Andrew on his first ever drift boat trip 2 years ago down the Big Hole, and as you can tell he figured it out (crushing would be the correct term).

Summer 2013, old enough to not wear a life jacket!
Now two years later, nothing that swims is safe around Andrew.  We got to spend a couple of days together this year and his biggest problem is overcasting.  It's so much fun to watch anglers improve year-to-year, and it's even more impressive when it's a kid.  I can remember getting into fly fishing at the same age, and just how much fun it was to learn everything about it.  If you can't get excited fishing with a kid, you should probably take up another sport.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The photography of Brian Kuchynka

The master at work
A couple of years ago I met Brian and his wife Mary in Twin Bridges.  At the time I had just had knee surgery so I wasn't able to fish with them, but we kept in touch through Brian's awesome blog, Floatfisher.  Early July we finally got the opportunity to fish together, and had two great days around Twin in the middle of their two week SWMT adventure.
New decor in the living room
After our first day of fishing the Big Hole Brian handed me a large cardboard box that contained the beautiful piece of are pictured above.  I was beyond thrilled, and honored to have been given such a cool piece of art.  Brian displays his pieces around the Denver area, so keep your eyes on his blog for a chance to get some of his incredible work.
Brian's work on display

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fishing Pics in Hot Weather

Jane showing how to catch, shoot and release a great Madison brown during hot weather.

No question about it, it's a hot one out there right now.  This time of year fishing can be awesome with hoppers on the horizon and caddis in every shape and size bouncing around, but it's important to remember a few things about your trophy pic when hawg johnson makes it into the net.  Here are a few rules I follow in my boat, and are particularly mindful of this time of year.

Be quick:  This rule is mandatory steelhead fishing, and is a good one to adapt to the trout stream.  A fish in the water is happier than one out of the water, so if you can, take a pic with the fish in the drink.  If you do lift one up for the "in the boat" shot, make it quick.

Don't take a pic of every fish:  It's easy to get excited on a big annual trip, but a picture of the 10th 16" Beaverhead (insert your favorite awesome Montana river name here) fish really isn't necessary.  Besides, less pictures means more opportunities to lie to your buddies when you get back to your cubicle.

Carry a good rubber bagged net:  These nets are the greatest thing for a boat guide, and make it much easier to safely photograph fish.  When held off the side of your boat, or in the river while wading, they make a hell of a livewell, and provide a couple of extra seconds of safe fish handling.

No when to say no:  When you land your fish, if it takes a second longer than normal to unbutton them, put them back.  Every second counts when handling fish, and this is critical during hot weather.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but it's not worth taking the life of a trout for a picture on your facebook page.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Montana Honeymoon

Farrah enjoying some Beaverhead caddis fishing.
A couple of weeks ago the wife's cousin and his new wife came through Dillon celebrating their recent nuptials, and it worked out that I was able to jump in the boat with them for a day of caddis dry fishing down the Beav.  Ke'lah and Nathan are as close as siblings, and I tried for a week to find some parallel between going fishing with them and the infamous scene in a river runs through it with Norman's future brother-in-law.  Alas I couldn't, because Nathan is a great guy, awesome fisherman and enjoying his honeymoon, not a riverside escapade involving a lady with a tattoo (Buster here wants to fish).

Nathan went to UMW here in Dillon, and it's actually embarrassing to say that this is the first time we have gotten to fly fish together.  In fact his now wife Farrah made it into the blue skiff last summer for a trip down the lower end.  Hunting season is now what tends to draw these two to the area, and so fishing is not likely in our immediate future again, beer drinking and hunting stories are, which is the next best thing.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Traveling to trout fish.

Carlo with the fish du jour.  Photo: Brett Seng
One of the funny things about living in a place like Twin Bridges is traveling to catch trout.  It has taken quite a while (6 years) of living here for me to finally want to leave the Big Hole or Beav when I have a day off to fish.  I've spent a little bit of time driving to other rivers while living in Twin, but always reluctantly with what we have in our backyard (literally). This year I have made two trips a whopping two hours away from home, the first to the Mo, the second last Friday on the Yellowstone (and there was some debate on the validity of driving to the Stone).  Spoiled, I believe, would be the correct word.
Photo: Brett Seng
 Anyway, I got to spend Friday with good friends Carlo from Helena and Brett Seng floating the lower Yellowstone.  I have spent a few days fishing The 'Stone since I moved out here, and frankly have always been unimpressed.  It's not necessarily fair to compare rivers against each other, but I had always heard of the epic days on the Yellowstone, and had never see anything remotely close to "epic".  While Friday wasn't epic, it was certainly a step in the right direction.  After a few bug switches in the morning we found the magic combination and proceeded to catch plenty of fish, with one riffle I slipped through in flip-flops that was particularly generous.  A day that was the beginning of a heatwave we are still enjoying, shared by friends on a beautiful stretch of river.  Definitely spoiled.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Swing the Fly is Live!

Old school trout on the spey pic
A project that I have been very pumped about for the last couple of months just went live this morning, Swing the Fly.  The brain child of the good folks at Chi Wulff, I could not be more impressed with how the final product turned out.  YOu'll find a brief article about swinging for trout from me, some great writing by PNW Spey guru, Marty Sheppard, and a bunch of other talented writers and photographers. I was super excited from the time I heard about the Mag, and honored that Mark and Jake asked me to be a part of it.  Thanks for all of the hard work team Chi Wulff and for putting out an awesome project!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Testing, testing.

As many of you know I enjoy wrapping just as much as I enjoy fishing.  Tying flies and coming up with new and exciting patterns helps make the winter go by as fast as a bottle of Neversweat whiskey (particularly when the two are combined).  This time of year it's great to crack open a box and start testing the whiskey infused creations that made the cut from winter.  The bug in the grill of the big hole brown is one I'm particularly stoked about, and will definitely get a few more adjustments before it is deemed complete.  Check back in a few weeks (and a few more fish) for the final rendition.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A 100% guaranteed way to catch more fish.

There is a reason you see the same guys with all of the fish.
We've all heard the line "10% of the fisherman catch 90% of the fish" but it's the truth.  Ask any guide you know (if you don't know any head to your local bar) and they will unilaterally agree that the guests who catch the most fish are the ones who go fishing the most.  This seems simple enough, but there are things that you can do to help improve your angling between big trips, and one in particular that will equate to the results like the fish above.

Practice! This seems so simple, but is never rarely seen.  Brett, pictured above, said something when he hopped in my boat for the sixth year in a row that I hear about once every two years.  "I've been practicing in the backyard" he said "and there is a tree limb that hangs down about 2.5' of the grass."  Cool, I thought, and asked "oh, have you been trying to hit it?"  "No, I've been trying to throw it as far underneath it as I can."  At this point I was quickly reminded why Brett and I never have bad fishing together, it's because he is damn good at it, and is always trying to get better!  You don't live somewhere with trout near by to go throw at?  Put a target in your back yard and go practice casting.  If the average angler that goes on a guided trip in Montana took 30 minutes a week and set their hat at one end of the backyard and practiced casting at it from the other, the trout would likely go on strike because they would be getting caught so much more regularly.  If nothing else, get practiced up a month before your next big trip, I think you'll be surprised at how much better you do.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Non-traditional fishing dog: Etta

It's been a while since I have done one of these segments, but found this great pic on my buddy Garrett's FB page the other day and his girlfriend Melissa gave me permission to share "Etta" here.  An austrailian sheppard, Etta gets her share of fishing in throughout SW MT.  Thanks for the submission Garrett and Melissa, and enjoy the summer Etta!

If you have a non-traditional fishing dog that you would like to sumbit, send me a picture and bio of your Fido to joe@evoanglers.com

Monday, June 17, 2013

Local fishing and upper Beav report

Uncle Mike and a really nice yellow trout.
I got the opportunity to fish with some of my all time favorites this past weekend, the Z-crew from NYC.  One part of the group who wont be named ended up staying at home in the Bronx, but we were able to continue their tradition of having a great time, as well as introduce Montana fly fishing to a 12 year old boy who couldn't get enough.  You know a kid is having fun fishing when you pull into the get-out and just about have to physically pull them out of  the boat.  Fortunately Mike didn't jinx himself this year by catching a giant one as his first fish of the day, and waited till the appropriate time for crushing.
Fly fishing to get close to nature.
Oh yeah, how bout an upper Beav report?  Went up Friday for the first time since the opener and was not disappointed.  Made it from the dam to the bunker hole (250 yards) before we hooked up.  It was one of those days where you saw a net out all of the way from the top to high bridge, and most of the time below there.  The flows are up enough that SLC wasn't completely overrunning the place, with waders in the normal spots but a surprisingly low number elsewhere.

Bugs:  SplitBack of course, sows, scuds, tiny PT's, some cool PT thing that I got at Tollet's with an olive head and a flashy back.  Below the high bridge all of the above along with the prince variation of your choice, which happened to be Ronald McDonald for us.  Worms were good too the closer you got to Grass.  Definitely a variety of bugs flying, but not a lot of trout looking up, which is pretty typical for this time of year.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day Giveaway!

Help celebrate Father's Day by entering the contest that I am putting on with Promont Outdoors.  Send a picture of you and Dad fishing to me at joe@evoanglers.com to be entered.  Winner will be announced next Wednesday.  Promont is an up and coming lifestyle clothing company out of Bozeman, owned by Weston Paul, one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.  He is cranking out some awesome new designs, and his "PRO" hat can be seen rocked by yours truly, and many folks around SW MT.  Go check out his site, and make sure to enter the contest by next Tuesday!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekend on the Mo

We fished sitting down, to blend in.
You know you live in the right place when you choose to drive away from one of the best rivers in the state of Montana, right as it's about to pop with salmonflies, just to do something different (and avoid some crowds).  That's exactly what Seth and I did, setting out for the Mo friday morning in search of some small dry fly fishing and avoiding the crowds swarming like the big bugs they are looking for.
Pheasant tail, nailed it.
The first day we launched late at Wolf Creek and bobbered our way down to Craig.  Like two professional fishing guides, it took us about 75% of our float, with mixed results, to realize a pheasant tail was the bug to have on.  Two runs above Craig was about the time we got it figured out, and did the Mo  lap routine like you're supposed to (with fish every lap).  A burger and a cocktail at Izaak's and it was a short walk over to our tent at the Craig boat launch.

Day 2 we went and floated lower than Seth or I had ever fished the Mo.  The Headhunter's crew steered us away from where we planned on going, and it was the best call of the weekend.  after a few bobbered fished and switching time on the sticks, I looked down at a piece of water that looked like a great dry bank.  At the very bottom of the tailout (what's known as the lipout in the steelhead world) I spotted a rise near the bank, threw our double caddis dry rig and got hooked up and landed a nice brown, first cast.  The trend of first cast fish didn't continue, and we had our moments of straight up sucking when it came to sticking rising fish, but a bobber never hit the water again, and we got the opportunity to see why everyone raves about the Missouri as an amazing dry fly river.  For a period it really seemed like every riffle had fish rising in it, top to bottom.  The real sign to us that it had been a good day of fishing was when we rowed past a guide boat in a slow stretch, and he hollered out "What, are you guys tired of pounding on them?"
"We need to get lots of pictures so we can say we're crushing them!"
We decided prior to caddis crushfest that we would head back to the Big Hole for the citizens float on Sunday (stretch closed to outfitters).  We grabbed Seth's girlfriend Christina and launched at Maiden Rock amongst a hatch of rafters and anglers.  Fishing was as you would expect for the beginning of the hatch, actually probably worse.  After a few good runs of dry water we went to the darkside, and even the bobber fishing wasn't as good as we thought it should be.  We caught enough, and I farmed as good of one as I've seen in the canyon in a while, but overall it was a bit of a let down.  Fortunately, my wife and daughter get back from their vacation to the 206 tomorrow, so I've got much bigger things to look forward than fish.  Thanks to Seth and Christina for a fun weekend and a reminder of why we live in the last best place.