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The Greatest Outdoor Show (Ever)

Before the days of instant gratification, the internet, cable tv and the like, there was this thing called paper.  As a kid I remember leafing through Orvis catalogs and admiring bamboo fly rods.  There were Dan Bailey catalogs from a mythical place called Montana, a place that would later become my home.  Of course, these came in the mail, and it took awhile.  Getting a response necessitated scrawling out a letter on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of notebook paper, stuffing it into an envelope, and blowing a nickel on a postage stamp.  Weeks later, if the addressee didn't figure out that the letter came from a kid, they responded.  Getting a letter was a big deal.

On weekends I looked forward to shows like Walt Disney and Wild Kingdom.  We had network TV, there was no cable.   Outdoor programming was limited.  There was a show called the Flying Fisherman, hosted by an elderly gentleman(Gadabout Gaddis), who flew around the country and bought us fishing on TV.  I was thrilled.  Imagin…
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More On Fishing Midges...

I started one recent day by waiting out the wind.  The forecast said it would blow.  I hoped that it would stop.  I whiled away the morning by reading.  I had no choice. Lunch would have to wait because I'd bought along a portable barbecue.  And, wieners don't barbecue very well in a gale.





Well, sometime after two the water surface calmed and fish started rising.  
I got a couple right off, then couldn't get a sniff.  I thought that I'd found and tied the perfect fly.  Dummy me.  The fish deemed otherwise.  They kept rising, and ignored my presentations.  I dubbed these the "untouchables".  I kept trying, then moved a short distance and picked off a few more.





But, I couldn't resist one more shot at the "untouchables".  Still fickle, they had no qualms about resisting my offerings.  So, I moved on and played with some of their more willing brethren.   And oh yes, I got to barbecue.





Another day started and stayed windless.  Fish rose steadily thr…

Just Lift

The fishing reflexes are either dulled or inappropriately heightened after a winter of accumulated rust.    The excitement of a surface take often prompts a "halibut hook set", something that is not conducive to a fruitful relationship with a fish.  A little practice is all it takes.  Soon we remember to "just lift".





We fished yesterday.  It was a once yearly gathering on the spring creek.  The enthusiasm is still there.  Although I have noticed that bending over to net fish isn't as easy as it used to be.  I can hear a distinct creak as the knees strain and fail to bend.  No wonder we have back problems.





Larry and Kirk drove down from Helena and, we met for breakfast at the Western Cafe in Bozeman.  Great atmosphere and food too.  A few enormous trout that had been snaked out of local fishing holes in "days of yore" grace the walls and add to the fishing ambience.  Properly fortified with breakfast, we made the drive "over the pass".
We ar…

Annual Report 2016

I'll start this post with a scene to warm the holiday season.  A summer pond reflection from near Cooke City, Montana.  Only the mosquitos are missing.
The year started and ended frosty.   Sub zero temperatures in January and December bookended the year.  Other than minor inconvenience, the cold weather was short lived and offered a brief respite from fishing.
I've grown to prefer fishing midges.  Often, they're a most reliable hatch.  And, mid-winter, the only game if one desires casting to rising trout.  Thankfully, February and March were both nice and offered several pleasant days and opportunities for squinting at the waters surface. Midges continued to fish well into May.
In spite of declining visual acuity, fishing with twenty-two's became routine.  I comfortably ventured into the use of 7X and now view 6X as a luxury.  Five X is nearly suitable for dredging up halibut.





Lucy, the matriarch of the sofa claiming dog clan made it beyond sixteen.  She left behind …

On A Cold December Morning.....

On a subzero Montana morning.
Perhaps my favorite image from 2016.
If for no other reason than it captures an idyllic moment.
It was definitely warmer.
Dead calm.
Bugs in the air.
Bird sounds.
A lone angler casting to rising fish. 
May is not so far away......


The Magic Hour

A nice day recently.  In contrast to a windy previous day, this day was calm.  A quiet morning, with light snow gave way to a pleasant day with peeks of sunshine.

I nymphed half heartedly in the morning, then quit by eleven, hoping to find a few rising fish.

I broke for tea.  Settled in, and waited.

And waited some more.

After an hour, a fish rose.

Eventually, another.

After a half hour three fish were working.  Something had their attention.  It was time to slip into the water for a closer look.
A few midges buzzed but the fish weren't interested in my offerings.  
Midge cluster.  Nope.
Hatching midge.  Nope.
Pupa.  Nope.
A blue winged olive drifted by.  Well now.  I better take a look in my fly box.





The fish were rising more steadily now.  Their rises more enthusiastic.  Not the soft dimple of midging fish.
A fish ate on the first cast with the cdc olive.  It was a beautiful cutthroat.
I dried the fly, waited.  The next target rose, close.  Another cast.  Another eat.  This ti…

Spring Creek Twig Eater

One recent day, with the days fishing done, I sat and watched this fellow as he munched on the streamside dogwood and willow.  Isn't it amazing that an animal could get so big on a diet of twigs?
The young bull moose seems to have found the spring creek riparian areas to his liking. He's been a local resident for at least a month.   I hope he spends the winter.

One Colossal Brown Trout

I noticed this big dead brown trout on DePuy Spring Creek a week ago.  It was longer than two of my size 12 wading boots, and would have been the fish of a lifetime for most any fly fisher.  I concluded that the likelihood of landing such a fish on a three weight, small fly and light tippet was virtually zero.  At least I got my hands on a big one, even if it was dead!
I encounter a few such big browns each fall.  They're covered with a white fuzzy fungal growth known as Saprolegnia, which attacks fish that are stressed and weakened.  Spawning takes a toll as fish jostle on redds, chasing and biting each other, removing protective mucus and thus opening the door for the fungus to take hold.