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Showing posts with the label fly fishing

All Day Long

Some days are tough, the fish tougher.
On spring creeks, it's the season of in between hatches.
The day starts with great promise.
Blue sky.  Warm.  Calm.
It doesn't last.
The bugs fail to make their appointment.  It doesn't matter.  If they show they'd get blown off the water anyway.
Still, one doesn't quit for fear of missing something.  Maybe there will be a window.  An opportunity.
So you persist.
Squalls come through.  As if conditions aren't tough enough already.




But you hang in there.  You've made it this far.
Four o'clock.  Lunch time. 
Can't call it a day yet.  
Maybe the wind will lie down at dusk.
Maybe, anything.  A crumb.
Just one shot.
Please.
The sun pops out, now low on the horizon.



What's that? A dimple.  Up against the bank.
The fish eats on the first cast.
A gift.
All day for one shot.
It was worth it.




Bighorn River Day....

Every angler visits a piece of water for the first time.  These are my impressions as a first timer to the Bighorn.  I imply no level expertise.
It's a bit of a haul for a day trip, but doable for the young and the tough.  I left Bozeman around 4:30 a.m. and met up with Satoshi in Livingston.  He was the young and tough part of the venture. For Satoshi, it was a guides day off.  Of course he ended up rowing the boat.
As I'd lamented in recent posts, spring has been slow to appear in Montana.  It was equally slow in appearing as we headed east.  Patches of snow still lay in gullies as we drove through the Crow Reservation.  Frozen fields were covered with sheets of water from the slowly melting snow.  It was raining when we arrived at Ft. Smith.  In no hurry to launch, we took our time, visited a couple of the fly shops, decided on a float strategy, and arranged for a shuttle. 
No secret, the Bighorn is a known quantity among the western fly fishing crowd. Folks either fish wh…

March Minimalism

I like March.  It's an awakening of sorts.  After a winter of introspection, I revert to childhood.  It's time to get out and play in the water.  Except of course when one fishes a spring creek.  Then, it's best to stay out of the pool if possible.
Winter and spring in Montana.  One season morphs into the other, often with no discernible difference between the days.  In spite of the snow, a few fish nose their way into the creek from the Yellowstone.  Maybe the weeds start to grow.  A little green on the stream bottom is most welcome.  It's important too, bugs need something to eat, a place to hide.  So do the fish.



My fly rod has been strung for weeks.  Once fishing starts in earnest, it stays strung. All season.    After all, it's important to have a nice straight leader.  There's a fly attached too.  Now we know that a prudent angler doesn't tie on a fly until getting to the water.  But let's face it, the process of bug elimination is a short one.
T…

In Days Of Yore.....

Indulge me, I'm reminiscing.
We're looking at an old film photo from the late 1970's.  Kodachrome, just like the Paul Simon song.
This is Montana, before the river (and everyone else) ran through it.
The camera was set on self timer and rested on streamside rocks.

A selfie if you will.  I was way ahead of todays kids and their cell phones.
More nimble and quicker then, I had ten seconds to run for the water while making the resulting shot look like I was fishing.  I think that I was shooting around twelve feet of line.  Backwards.
Back then my dry fly arsenal consisted of a few crudely tied Humpy's.  Some folks called them Goofus Bugs.  For me, matching the hatch was pretty simple.  Open fly box.  Ponder.  Which one?  Hmm...   I think I'll pick a Humpy.  
Graphite rods were in their infancy.  I couldn't afford one made of bamboo by Orvis. So, the fly rod was fiberglass.  I built it.  Now really, who "builds" a fly rod?  I just bought the blank from D…

Butter Sandwiches.....

I've gotten to the point where fishing has become an increasingly less important part of fishing.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.  There must be something to it as I keep going fishing without engaging in the act.  Indeed, I'd spent the previous four creek visits dawdling, reading, hiking and taking photos.  The trips weren't a complete loss, I may have dozed off a time or two as well.
However, this day I'd rig a rod and wet a fly.  It was time to justify the moniker of fisherman and use some of the accumulated dust gathering gear.  It was time to catch a fish.
Remarkably, the fishing rust hadn't settled too deeply.  I got a couple out of a sheltered run. Thinking that I could handle another fish or two, I meandered downstream on the snowy deer-tracked trail. The creek, here a straightaway, was considerably more exposed.  The wind had managed to gather the proverbial steam, albeit, without the requisite warmth.
Whitecaps rolled on the normally pla…

Few Don't Mean None....

Not much of a steelhead run forecast for the Upper Columbia River tributaries this year.  Maybe the worst in forty years according to some.  But, I went anyway.  
Someone assumed that he'd packed the leader wallet containing tips for his spey rod. Alas, they were four hundred miles away.
I had a back-up.
This fish, the first morning, was caught while swinging a fly on a single handed eight weight.
Luck is a good thing.

It's A Long Way To The Top...If You Want To Catch A Fish

Hot.  Dry.  Smoky.  Summer.
I woke to a hint of frost the past two Sunday's, camped as I was high in the mountains.  It didn't last long.  The frost was gone with the first touch of sun. 
I backpacked both weekends just to see if I still could.  Just to see if I still enjoyed it.  And to be in the high country. 
I missed the simplicity of camp life. 
Wherein life is reduced to the barest of essentials.
Find a nice level spot.  Pitch the tent.  Fetch water.  Take in the view.  Just be.
I needed to check on the last of the flowers.  And catch a few fish.












First Impressions...

It's deliciously cool in the pre-dawn of this summer morning.  I sip coffee and hastily pack a cooler for the day.  Last night I'd packed an inflatable pontoon boat into the back of my little car along with some fishing gear.
Hebgen.  After more than four decades I was finally getting around to wetting a line. I'd rolled the thought of fishing it around in my mind for a long time. Like the Henry's Fork or upper Madison, it was another backyard piece of water that I'd neglected for too long.
I'd heard about them, seen videos.  Fish cruising, vacuuming their dinner from the lake surface.
Gulpers.
How hard could it be to catch a few?  It was time to find out.
I hit the road early.  Driving along the Gallatin, then through the northwest part of Yellowstone on the road to West.  There was a bit of fog, the temperature dipped to thirty-six along a low-lying stretch of highway.
Out of the park and north of West Yellowstone, I turned onto gravel.
It was warm by eight,…

Unforked, At Last

Let it be known. The curse has been lifted.
I finally got a "real" fish out of the Henry's Fork.
One fish is no big deal for the fly fishing luminaries out there who stack twenty inch rainbows like cord wood.  My light doesn't glow so bright.
With clouds forecast for the day I made a run for Last Chance.  Overcast summer days are a rarity out here.  I hoped the fish and the bugs that they dine on would like the forecast as well.
A cloudy day invariably feels a hell of a lot more comfortable than a sunny one with similar temperatures.  The only issue is that the glare on cloudy days gives me fits. Sunglasses don't help.  There's no best angle to look at the surface of the water either. There's a uniform funky brightness caused by light reflecting from clouds to water surface that makes it virtually impossible to see and track a fly.  So, I squint a lot, guess where my fly is based on water speed and basically fish by braille.  I make a point of lifting ge…

Come Monday....

An opportunity. The creek books a year or more in advance for the prime dry fly fishing period. There was a last minute cancellation on the spring creek on Monday.  I grabbed it.

It's still PMD time. If they want to show.  By 7:30 a.m. spinners were dancing in the sun.  It took a while for them to start dropping.  Hatch?  So-so.  Actually not much.  I'd heard that it had been inconsistent. As far as the catching goes, it was no free for all.  By mid-July the fish have been worked over pretty good by a number of credible anglers.     The fish have seen all manner of patterns and presentations, some good and some not so.  I got some nice ones.  Pretty much all rainbows. But, as I said, I had to work for them.  No one pattern was the clear winner. 
I took a break at 1:30 when a squall came through. It was burger time anyway.

I was back creekside in an hour.  The squalls continued to roll through.  It rained and/or hailed, on and off for the rest of the day.  In and out of the ca…

MO

There's no shortage of folks on the Missouri now.  It's clear but still a little high for wading.  Just a tad over 8000 c.f.s yesterday.  I had to go and take a look just to see for myself what those water levels meant. Well, what it means is that it's fishable for a wading angler, although one needs to pick their spots.  Boaters on the other hand have lots of spots to choose from.



The biggest issue is not in finding fish, but rather in what happens after hooking one. They're just harder if not impossible to chase with the deeper water and flooded banks.  So one hopes, as I did, often, that there's enough backing.  One fish took me down to the last few turns of the spool before the knot gave out at the fly.  I was relieved to see the fly line after having recovered my backing.  That fish might be to Great Falls by now. 



So, it's PMD time.  Finally.  A sparse hatch yesterday, but there were plenty of spinners. They kept the fish interested and eating on top for…

After The Hail.....

I made an impromptu stop along the Firehole River a few weeks ago.  I'd spent the morning fruitlessly poking around the Henry's Fork.  Outside of seeing one good fish porpoise a couple of times, there was nothing doing.  So, rather than wait out the day and hope for some sort of a hatch, I pulled out and headed home.  I was driving through West Yellowstone around 4 p.m. and decided "what the heck" and detoured through the Park gate.
The Madison, as advertised, was running a bit high and off color.  I continued on to the Firehole.  I pulled over, made a sandwich and commenced to watch the water.  A few fish rose sporadically.
What the heck?  Might as well fish I thought.  After all, I felt obligated.  You see, I'd tied up a dozen soft hackles a couple of days earlier.
So, I rigged up and went for a little walk.   I found a spot with fish rising in nice soft bank water.  A few white miller caddis buzzed along the surface.  Just as I was about to step into the wate…

Last Minute Substitution

I didn't need the alarm this morning, I was up at 3:30.  Maybe I was excited to get out and go fishing.  I nursed a pot of coffee for a couple of hours. When I started the second pot, I knew that I wasn't getting anywhere.  Motivation?  Well, I got up didn't I?  I just couldn't bring myself to make the drive to the Park.  You see, the fishing season in Yellowstone was to open today.  With high water everywhere I had visions of hoards of anglers pounding the few trickles with any visibility.  At 6:30, I made a big breakfast.  A guy can get mighty hungry procrastinating.
So, I took a little hike instead.  I'd made a dry run earlier in the week with just a fanny pack.  I was surprised to find open water.  Naturally I'd neglected to bring the fly rod.



Different story today.  I had my pack, camera, rod, some munchies.



It was a little breezy when I arrived at the lakeshore.  I promptly rigged up and caught a couple on a Zug Bug.  Then, thinking that the fish needed …