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Another Day, Another Spring Creek....

With the valley rivers blown, and several days off, I needed an alternative if I wanted to fish.  I'd originally planned to fish the Missouri, but it doesn't offer much to the wading angler when it's flowing near 9000 c.f.s.  Given my soft spot for spring creeks, I booked a day on Nelson's Spring Creek.  It was a first for me, as I've spent my spring creek fishing career across the Yellowstone at Depuy's.








Nelson's is regarded as being the most difficult of the Paradise Valley spring creeks. Now tell me, who doesn't appreciate a little challenge?  Surely I could manage a fish or two.  Well the first piece of water that I looked into contained hundreds, maybe thousands of trout.  Did I mention that they also raise fish commercially for local restaurants?  Oh well, these fish weren't nearly as standoffish as their  spring creek brethren.





I spent the morning exploring while waiting for some sort of a hatch to come off. There were plenty of fish.  The c…

Bear Trap

It was warm.  Heat radiated off of the canyon walls.  The temperature on my car gauge stretched into the low 80's.
Geez, what's this?
Sweat.
I've avoided Bear Trap Canyon, outside of winter, for decades.  It can be hot.  Dry. Theres snakes.  The last summer hike that I took, I saw seven rattlers, on the trail.   That's plenty for one day, don't you think?
Then there's ticks, poison ivy too.
It's really not that bad.  One does need to watch where one places important appendages though.



Ah, poison ivy.  It's incorrectly been called poison oak.  What we have here is western poison ivy.  It  grows as an upright vine and can be found along the banks of the Madison.  While fishing, I've also seen it along the Missouri and Clark Fork Rivers in Montana, the Selway, Lochsa and Clearwater in Idaho, and the Grande Ronde in Washington.  I still have flashbacks to childhood summers spent broken out and itchy from rashes.  The rash on unmentionable body parts i…

About Time....

It took forty years, and then some.  I'd read about it.  Thought about it.  Driven by it.  Shot elk in the nearby mountains.  Regarded the flotillas of angler laden drift boats.  But fished it? 
Nope.
Until today.
I planned to hike up Beartrap Canyon on the lower Madison, but didn't stop. I kept on driving, all the way to Three Dollar Bridge. 
The upper Madison is, as they say, one big riffle.
And it contains fish. 
After all of the years, they missed me.
Thank you.

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…

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 …