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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…

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…

Another Day

Young, dumb and crazy.  Not me anymore.  I pulled the plug on a fishing venture the other day.  I set out to hike to a mountain lake.  I figured that it should have had a few nice ones just ripe for the catching.  
Most of the hike was uneventful, as most trail hikes are.  But the trail ran out.  It was time to bushwhack.  I made my approach and took the direct route, right up the outlet stream that ran through a defile in the mountain.  It was plugged with a large snowfield. No problem I thought. I'll just cross the creek between patches of snow, go as high as possible.  Surely there will be an opening and I'll  be able to rock hop and squirt on through to the lake.
No go.  It just got steeper.  The rocks got wetter.  Crossing the creek got a little more dicy.  I eyed up the rocks.  If its wet I won't jump.  A couple of feet maybe.  Six feet, no way, even with my long gangly legs.  
I got across again.  There appeared to be a gap between the rock wall and the snowfield. …

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…