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Best of All...

“Best of all he loved the fall the fall with the tawny and grey the leaves yellow on the cottonwoods leaves floating on the trout streams and above the hills the high blue windless skies"

by Ernest Hemingway


I've waited a long time to have the time to enjoy my favorite season.  There's never been enough time.  Too many competing interests.  A longbow and rifle required regular mountain walks.  They now gather dust.  Work, well what can be said.  It demanded a lot of time and effort too.  Well, I've retired my counting tray and spatula and shut off the part of my brain that had been devoted to work.    My mind and body can now be re-purposed.  A fly rod beckons.  Make that several.  And fish.  There are too many uncaught trout.  If they're lucky, they'll stay that way.  I plan to have a little say in that matter though. 




So, two weeks into this next life what have I to show?   Well, gas.  You know, for the car.  There's been a half dozen trips to the creek.  Mos…

What They Eat....

In spite of all of the regional hype and hoopla, I'm not real big on fishing terrestrials.  I do pack a few simple hoppers to the river.  A few small black beetles too.  Ocassionally I'll even knot one on.  Ants? Never fished them.  Of course I've tied a few.  For a recent high country trip I tied a few more.  You see, I've never fished dry flies for high country trout.  Why bother I thought.  Too much work.  Those fish will usually eat anything.
But I'd read that golden trout were fond of ants.  And, on the first afternoon, with fish rising, I put the little ant to work.  Now, I'd seen no ants around the lake, nor any other bugs floating on the surface.  But, enough of something was getting the attention of those goldens.
As it turned out, I could have packed a single fly for the first day of fishing.  Not one pattern, but rather, one measly fly. A dozen or so scrappy willing golden trout enthusiastically ate it.  It seemed odd sitting lakeside, drying the fl…

Where They Live.....

With privilege comes price. 
 The cost?
  A three thousand foot climb.
The reward?
The purest gold in Montana.






Cool Change...

A few days sandwiched between the nineties of summer make for glorious hiking and camping conditions.  Rarely can one backpack on a mid sixty degree August afternoon.  Imagine, summer hiking without breaking a sweat, what a luxury.  Such was the weekend past.
And, like my last trip, bugs were a non issue.  Two mosquitos lit on the back of my hand. That's right, two, the entire weekend.  They took too long working up the nerve to bite and consequently were cheerfully squashed.  Like the saying goes, snooze you lose.  Being able to sit outside and in the tent with the screen door unzipped, sans bugs, was ok by me.
A few clouds and showers rolled through during the afternoon and evening.  Barely enough to wet things down.  The peaceful patter of raindrops on the tent fly made for a relaxing night.
And of course, a few nice fish iced the proverbial weekend cake.


























The Waiting Game

A lone angler waits for the arrival of brown drakes in the magical light of an early evening.  Whether they show or not, immersion in the scene is reward enough.

Silver Creek Mornings.....

Last week it was time for another quick road trip.  Wanting to check out the brown drake hatch, I tried to get to Silver Creek earlier.  They came and went.  I didn't.
So, another good looking weather window opened.  An opportunity to chase clear water, do a little camping.  My tent erecting skills needed the practice.
The best thing about Silver Creek is getting there at sunrise and listening to the birds.  I love watching the hills and valley light up with the first morning rays.  Besides, what else is a guy supposed to do when he gets up at 4:30 and drinks all of the coffee?




First morning.  Blue-winged olives.  A smattering of PMD's.  There was a flight of what looked to be white miller caddis like those seen on the Firehole in Yellowstone.

Fish?  Loads of little ones.  Most chased the white miller.  A few on the olive.  Best fish of the morning was a brown that mouthed a small rainbow.  One credible brown ate the olive but it came loose when it rolled and I couldn't …

Window

In between rain drops, a spur of the moment road trip to scratch the fishing itch.  Our local rivers are flooding.  Angling options are few.  With dam discharges on the Bighorn temporarily curtailed to a fishable 6000 c.f.s. this presented a brief window of fishing opportunity. 








The reward for making the drive?
Midges, blue-winged olives and brown trout.  Enough to keep this dry fly fisher happy.



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…