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Showing posts with the label trout

A February Float

Floating, fishing, February and Montana usually don't end up in the same sentence.  Other than wishful thinking, riverbanks clad in aufweis and or totally frozen rivers usually guarantee that river craft stay in their rightful place in the garage.
So given our mild winter and recent spate of fifty and sixty degree days, I gave it a go.  I was on the water by 10:30 a.m.  It was still a bit chilly, overcast too.  The promise was for fifty plus, not much wind.  A perfectly comfortable day I hoped. And, I dearly hoped for a midge hatch.  But what the heck, at least I'd be on the water, floating to boot.  Did I say February?
Fish activity wise, not much was happening as I bobbed downstream.  I stopped at a promising spot and rigged up with a single Possie bugger.  It's a pattern that struck my fancy a few years ago while perusing The Caddis Fly:  Oregon Fly Fishing Blog (their tying video can be found here.) For some reason, I never got around to using it.  This day it was a g…

Thanks…..For One More (Nice) Day

One more trip to the creek yesterday.  It was blowing hard in Livingston.  To my delight, it was still when I arrived at the "Big House" to sign in for the day.  The "DePuy door greeter" was on hand to welcome me as I rang the bell.  This sheep, the last of several, was the sole survivor of a mountain lions mutton quest.  Betty informed me that the sheep didn't venture far, and spent a good deal of time looking in the window.  

I set up shop at the lower cabin.  My previous visits had been to the two upper ones.  It's good to move around and keep tabs on the different sections of the creek.  The conditions are changing constantly, much like the seasons. 
Fire building skills came into play.  I know, it's tough wadding up newspaper, adding kindling, and tossing in a match.  It's a simple pleasure, and one that I look forward to.  An event that will be repeated many times over the next several months.   

Cabin time would be minimal today however. The…

The Last Best Day

Yesterday, Tuesday, with the temperature forecast for a toasty sixty plus, I had to make a run over to the Paradise Valley. I tried on Sunday, but gave up after a couple of hours.  Truth is, I spent most of the morning sitting and watching.  Lots of mallards.  Muskrats too.  Quite a few anglers. Not much surface activity by trout though.

This day, I'd try to hang in there for the full day.  Maybe take a break mid-day. Take off the waders. Stretch.  Today would have to last.  We likely wouldn't see sixty in southwest Montana again anytime soon.
It was twenty-six at the house, forty-three and blowing like hell in Livingston, and twenty-six at the Big House on the pond at DePuy's when I arrived a little after eight a.m.  The pond was still, fish were rising.
I drove towards Eva's, a warming hut on the lower part of the creek, but stopped on the edge of the field.  A small whitetail buck was out walking the fenceline, likely looking for a girlfriend.  The binoculars were h…

Afternoon at the Flat Ranch

I needed to get out of town yesterday. So……I drove to Idaho.  I had an unused Idaho fishing license, and had never fished the Henry's Lake area.  Armed with Mike Lawson's book, off to the Flat Ranch I went.

Purchased by the Nature Conservancy nearly twenty years ago, the Flat Ranch property is located just south of Henry's Lake in Idaho. It's about fifteen miles from West Yellowstone, Montana. More info here.

It's primarily a nature preserve, with the opportunity to fish thrown in. There's a nifty visitors center. The porch is a nice place to kick back and take in the views.  I grabbed my cooler and had lunch before heading out to explore the property.

There are cows too.  It's still a working cattle ranch.  There are several large fenced pastures. Livestock are managed in some sort of rest rotation system.  Overall, the riparian areas appear to be in good shape.
During summer, speakers deliver weekly lectures on topics of local interest.

As for the fishin…

A Summer Day on the Missouri River

After a few days of backpacking, we decided that a vacation day of fishing would be nice.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  When I contacted the folks at Crosscurrents in Craig, we knew that hooking up with a guide on such short notice would be pretty tough.  But, they soon called back. Done deal.  Just show up.  Tomorrow morning.

We arrived in Craig at 6:30, met our guide, Mike Geary, and were promptly on our way to the put in.
We lucked out.  Jo and I are both pretty low key anglers.  Mike, pleasant, easy going and affable, also happens to be an outfitter and owner of Lewis and Clark Expeditions.  He runs trips on Montana's Smith River and is most active in Project Healing Waters.  Quite a guy.  Once we got on the water, it didn't take long to realize that sitting in a boat is a hell of a lot easier than lugging a pack up a trail.

It was a bright, blue sky, August day. With temperatures forecast in the eighties, it would be a wet wading day. Other than a few stray puf…

The Dilemma

Here's a little problem.  For most of my fishing career I'd fished without a net.  Why?  Heck, I didn't think that I needed one.  My attitude towards landing fish was…."I'll just grab 'em".  Well, even little fish have quite a bit of spunk in them.  Just when I'd be ready to "grab 'em", they would dart away. Four, five, six times.  That's a lot of spunk.  Frustrating for the fisherman, probably for the fish too. Not to mention the needless tiring, especially when the process could be expedited.

I started spring creek fishing a couple of years ago.  In a compassionate, conservation minded moment, I decided that it was time for a change.  Actually, I got tired of not being able to land fish that were already at hand.  So, I invested in a net.  Good move.  Get them close, one scoop, done. No more of this darting away business.

Now the problem.  See if you can figure it out.

Small fish from our mountain creeklets pose little problem.  No…

Morning Walk

It's not much to look at.  Hell to get to.  No trail.  Blowdowns. Once there, it's just a puddle.

The water is perpetually murky.  There are a few submerged snags.  Above and behind, trees nudge the shoulder, as if to say…. "remember me?"  No problem. No fancy backcasts here.  Roll casts rule.
The tug on the line is always a surprise.  Rarely is there a rise to hint at the few modest resident rainbows that manage to scratch out a living.  Still, they're pretty.  Feisty and fat, another surprise for so early in the season.  They must eat well.

The fly du jour is a bead head prince.  Not a classic for fishing still water.  Today it's the ticket.  With just enough weight to carry it out on a roll cast, it disappears into the murk.  Twitched back slowly, the fish confirm that it looks like…

It's usually a mosquito factory.  Not today.   The bugs have yet to appear. One can sit in peace.  No need to keep moving.  No frantic arm waving while slapping a…


Winter and what passes as spring can be painfully slow and cruel to the angler.  I had anxiously waited for the opportunity to ply some small freestone stream for a trout. The catch?  Would there be any clear water to fish?  Most of our nearby rivers had already blown.  The small creeks likely not far behind.

A short drive would put me in touch with an old friend, a little stream that I'd neglected for so many years.  I stood in this same spot, some thirty plus years ago.  It was the same Saturday in May. The traditional opening day for fishing our small Montana streams.

Up early, I arrived at the stream and found it quite fishable, a pleasant surprise.  Near heaven, it was the most perfect of mornings.  I've said it before.  Give me a fifty degree day, overcast and light mist.  What could be better?

The first pool produced a fish on the first cast.  The next three casts resulted in solid hookups with streamside vegetation.  One tree and two bushes.  Not bad, four casts and …