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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 …

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 …

Clearwater

October means steelhead season, time to make the annual drive to Idaho.  I've been doing this for ten years.  I left a fog shrouded Gallatin Valley, full of hope and anticipation, as usual. After a summer of fishing with a three weight fly rod and minuscule trout flies, it was time for a change. Big rod, bigger flies.  Tippet?  No more screwing around with 6X or 7X.  It's ten pound test Maxima.
It's a simple routine.  Up early, out late, usually.  I perk coffee in the predawn dark.  The little single burner propane stove and lantern soon warm the tent and add cheer.  Caffeinated, I drive to the selected morning spot and wait for the light.  






It usually takes me a week of wading, casting, and occasionally falling in just to catch nothing.  So, first morning, I fish a new run.  It's showery, so I don't sling my camera.  Half way through I get a pull.  Line peels from the reel.  The fish jumps, a big one.  He's going downriver, cartwheeling, taking line, backing.…

Silver Creek Interlude

Spring creeks are singularly beautiful, and Silver Creek in Idaho is no exception. The Silver Creek Preserve is managed by the Nature Conservancy.  It's open to the public for a nominal five dollar daily donation.  While fishing is the main draw, many folks come to bird watch, canoe, walk the trails and take in the scenery.  It's also a photographers dream.












Silver Creek should be on the life list of any spring creek fisher.  And, as a devotee of spring creeks, it's one that I'd wanted to visit.  With a few days off, that fortuitously coincided with a favorable weather window,  I made the drive and was rewarded with a couple of delightful nights of camping.










Daytime temperatures still touched into the eighties and warranted an afternoon break from fishing.  The September nights were most comfortable and capped off with a moonlight serenade of distant bugling elk. A bull moose also included the Hayspur campground in his after dark wanderings.








I only spent two days on Sil…