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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 …

Five Days in October

It's midge season, again. Time to get back to spring creek fishing. The mornings are extraordinary.  Most days, I spend the better part of the first few hours just gawking, watching the light change, snapping photos.





The game starts once the the fish start rising.  Nothing visible in the current, little on top.  Midge adults skitter sporadically on surface.  Is that what they're really eating?  The fishing is challenging and frustrating.  In a perverse way, I prefer it to all other fly fishing.  Heaven forbid that I get a sore arm from catching too many.  
I while away the hours.  Get a fish or two.  It's the usual routine.  Hook a few.  Break a few off. Some are really good ones.  It's shallow water fishing.  The fish know that they're vulnerable. Once hooked, they vacate the area in a hurry and put extreme strain on the delicate rigging. Often, the departure is sudden and leaves me questioning the tippet, my knots, both.  At home I tie up a new leader, test the …

First Day Blues

Another year.  Another first day of September.  The traditional opening day of mountain grouse season in Montana.  Older dogs.  Older humans too.  And a pup just to round things out.

Typically, it's warm.  No exception this day. Fortunately a breeze and a few clouds early on  would make for pleasant walking.

Birds?  Not many.  Addie pointed a couple of blue grouse around mid-day.  They gave us the slip.

No shots fired.







For the pup, just another day of adventure........











For the older dogs, another day at the "office".  But it sure beats work!










I later bumped and flushed a single.  A big male blue.  Of course he lit in a tree and peered down at us defiantly.  Treed birds aren't fair game.  When they fly, ok.  He flew.






Shots fired.  He's probably still flying.  At least Katie got a whiff of bird.

One final mid afternoon walk and we were played out.  Katie found part of a deer leg.  She proudly carried it back to the truck.  In her mind the day was a resounding succe…

Of Peaks and Pachyderms.....

Today I sat atop a pachyderm of epic proportions.  That being one Elephanthead Mountain, elevation 9,430 feet.
Given the spate of hot weather and hoot owl restrictions, hiking would be the order of the day, sans fishing tackle. I wanted to hit the trail early.  But alas, I dallied and made it to the trailhead by 8:30.  Much later than preferred.  I was still recovering from Saturdays extravaganza, wherein I was up at 2:30 and out the door by three, trying to make it to a trailhead in the Beartooths for a morning hike and to catch a fish or two.
So, todays hike would be hiking for the sake of hiking.  Just a little exercise.  Take in a little scenery along the way.

It's a nice hike, maybe nine miles round trip, with a few thousand feet of vertical thrown in.  The road to the trailhead is a little bumpy.  En route, it passes the historic 63 Ranch.
In spite of the late start, I got lucky, much of the trail was still shaded.  It was still comfortably cool, even walking through the op…

Cutts

Summer, hiking season.  Time to head to the high country and a visual drink of mountain scenery.  Recently, a couple of hours of steady uphill hiking brought me to the shore of a lovely alpine lake.  I'd been here before.  It was a check up of sorts, to see how the fish were doing.  Like going to a doctor, but hopefully more fun.
There would be a reprieve from the summer biting bugs.  The wind blew all day.  Just enough to keep the little blood sucking bastards at bay.  I never saw a mosquito.  The flies didn't have it in them to harass me either.  So, the DEET stayed in the pack.
There were a few fish rising when I arrived at the lake.   I promptly took a couple on a bead head prince that I twitched back slowly.  What the fish think it represents is beyond me.  A free swimming caddis with a shiny head perhaps.  Regardless, they eat it readily.
Most of the fish appeared to be two year olds.  Quite healthy.  Fat.  Colorful. Scrappy.  West slope cutthroats with a bright red ba…

Mr. Foster

I started this post this winter, while sitting and listening to the pop and crackle of a wood stove.  I was leafing through some magazines, occasionally looking out at the mountains, waiting out the wind. While thumbing through one issue, I paused and took note of the editors piece.  I remembered some old correspondence with this particular magazine editor.  Sometimes a brief distant collaboration will leave a lasting memory. His did.
Now, most folks tend to ignore the editors piece, but it's the first thing that I've always read when a new issue comes to print. Some years back I'd established a relationship of sorts with a few magazine editors.  That was back when they all required film.  I was just starting to get a handle on the medium, and was beginning to get a feel for what they wanted as regards photocopy.  But I digress.  David Foster, then editor of Gray's Sporting Journal and I had exchanged a few emails. I'd sent a few basic timid inquiries as to any in…