Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The dude still abides....

Greetings everyone.  What originally started out as a short hiatus from posting has turned out to be an extended break that brought me to the point of wondering whether to just do away with my little blog completely or trying to resurrect it with (at least in my mind) meaningful content.  The last thing I wanted to do was keep posting on a quasi-regular basis just for the sake of posting like so many blogs I've followed seemed to come down to.  There are many reasons my break became as extended as it did; life happens, time slips by quicker than expected, and to be honest, I've been lazy.

All of that being said, I've continued chasing trout in my home waters of Montana, expanded my growing obsession and pursuit of steelhead, and have fostered a new warmwater obsession, namely sight fishing for pike in the shallows (which, while very fun in its own right, is kind of a surrogate for sight fishing tarpon until I can organize a trip south-so for any of my followers from Florida/Mexico/Belize that chase tarpon and wouldn't mind some company I'm available!).

I'm also planning a DIY roosterfish trip to the east cape area of Baja Mexico next summer.

In the next series of posts I'll chronicle my hiatus exploits-in no particular order.  Stick around, I promise at least semi-compelling reads, plenty of laughs, some missed attempts at humor, and (most importantly) plenty of my attempts at photography....

I'll leave you this time with a couple of pictures from my latest trip.  I felt the need to kind of reconnect with my small water roots.  A few days ago I began driving upstream on a very famous trout river here in western Montana, for whatever reason I just kept heading upstream until I ran out of people, the water got much smaller but the fish didn't.  There were plenty of cutthroat willing to take dry flies, which is exactly what I was hoping for...

All to myself

Chunky Cutthroat dry fly muncher

Monday, August 19, 2013

Old Haunts, New Faces or How to Fish with Someone New

So it all started with a facebook friend of a personal friend.  You know the drill, friend requests are sent, accepted, blah blah blah, everything's is same same.  You check out their page-seems like a cool enough guy-niceties are exchanged "dude I dig the fish in your profile pic"  "Yeah bro, you got some nice pics on your page".  Fast forward to "we should fish sometime" turns into an inaugural if abbreviated trip to the home waters.   Just enough to get a little feel for the guy.  So starts the story with Giorgio (name changed to protect the innocent, or, more likely in this case, so his friends and family don't know he has stooped so low as to keep my company).  He seems like a decent enough guy, funny at least and that's huge in the complicated algorithm that determines whether an acquaintance becomes a fishing buddy.
Fast forward again, a longer trip is planned, this one to a riper peach.  Good water by Montana standards, which pretty much ranks it as good water almost anywhere.  The last part of June and the first couple weeks of July saw temperatures routinely rise into the high 90's, and with nights rarely cooling below 60.  So when the forecast on the day of the planned trip called for rain and a high in the 60s, fishing could prove the best of the season since the salmonflies.
The plan was to pick Ra----, fuck I mean Giorgio up at dawn, head into Missoula for last minute supplies and head for an old haunt.
I roll up at the appointed time (well, close enough).  Okay, I think to myself, let's get this show on the road.  Fumble around for the sticky note list...... well shit let's put this guy to the test.
Sure enough, he has a mug of coffee, check the first item off the list-oh wait, he's packin a thermos? extra credit on number one, fuck yeah.
We throw his shit in and off we go.  Where did I put that list?   Doesn't matter, I know what's on the list, I just thought it would be cool to physically check shit off the list, well whatever.
Bottom out Evaro hill and approach the freeway.... wait, what?  Mention of strip club?  Hell I didn't even put that one on the list.  Well played Giorgio, well played.
Before we even hit the Rock Creek exit, I had played some dude tunes, told a favorite joke, all of which were met favorably, if this was a test this guy was passing with flying colors...
The forecast brought out plenty of people midweek, even for Rock Creek, I admit I was more than a little worried about getting first fly on any of my favorite runs.  Creep over the hill, spy the parking area, FUCKIN A!  empty.  Right on.  Let's get this shit show on stage!
Being familiar with the water I let Giorgio hit the "good" water first.  The fuck is this??  Apparently high water had altered the run significantly.  No worries, just head upriver, the next run is better anyway.  I slip off to hit the next run first and pluck the low fruit, I know what you're thinking, a dick move but you have to realize, this dude was still a new guy, so I was well within protocol.  Not much happening yet, with the air temperature still hovering in the low 50s and the water being not much warmer everything  was still a little lethargic.  At least the wind came up as promised, everyone knows wind is one of the most important ingredients of an epic hatch. The rain started right on cue as well, lightly at first, then gradually turned into a downpour.  A cow pissin on a flat rock is how I believe one of my gear-chuckin acquaintances refers to it.  (I know, really dude?  A gear-chuckin friend?  No.... bullshit.  Read it closely, I said acquaintance.  Besides, really?  The dude's a purist not a prick).
Rainy day on Rock Creek

 It's gotta be past noon and I've yet to see many bugs hatching, let alone a fish rise.  So much for low hanging fruit.  Hell I even had to dredge up the first fish, much to my chagrin.  Giorgio made his way up to the run I was working and next thing you know, bugs.  I'm not just talking a few either, but a full-on hatch.  Before long the bugs had whipped the fish into a surface feeding frenzy.  We stood in one run until our fingers were numb.  Here it was an afternoon in the middle of July and I was downright chilly.  I finally called uncle around 6.  Hells yeah, this guy was still hard at it.  A stubborn fucker, which if memory serves was the last item on my list, I'm known to be a little stubborn so it helps if guys I fish with are at least a little stubborn.
 Rarely do I count fish, but when the action started I figured "what the fuck" might as well see how many we bring to hand.  Hell I lost count after 27, needless to say it was a good day for sure and a good start to gaining another fishing buddy.  In all actuality the dude enjoys fishing with just about everybody who flicks feathers, it's just that this guy happens to be funny as fuck, turns out he's good company!
I must also admit there never was a real list on a sticky note, although it would have been a lot cooler if there was!
As much as I enjoy fishing, and plenty of times fishing alone, there is something to be said for company.  There's also much to be said for company on the water. I enjoy each twist in the river and on the road of life, as well as new faces that turn into new fishing buddies!

Giorgio with Rock Creek trout, take 27
One last thing, the whole logarithm to determine likeliness of any random guy becoming a fishing buddy... shit I don't even remember what I called it, anyway, it's mostly bullshit, but I won't say there aren't some numbers crunching and synapses firing to see if said guy is within acceptable ranges somewhere between asshole and douchebag, again I kid.... but seriously, the majority of you fuckers can't deny it.  Til next time

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hump Day Fish Porn - late vintage

I don't exactly remember how this all started, I'm just glad it did.  Sometime this past May, my buddy Brooks and I were kind of moping around, feeling a little sorry for ourselves.  As good as May started with mild temperatures, the second half of the month had kind of gone to shit.  The excitement of the pre-runoff fishing (which was pretty good this year) was seriously waning, temperatures took a dive and we were already jonesin for some fishing.  Fuck we're spoiled.
One thing we knew for certain was that shit seemed to be happening a week or two early this year-peak flows were the first week of May (or at least we were keeping our fingers crossed), and there was rumored to be a muffled conversation of  "my cousin's sister's boyfriend knows a guy who overheard a guide in the bathroom at Charlie B's after one too many instert name of current beer-du-jour for douchebag guides who are trying to look cool here or PBRs, a solid-if not completely safe to the point of making me want to puke choice for someone who is afraid they may accidentally order last year's cool guide beer, slip up and tell his equally drunk buddy that he had seen an adult salmonfly on lower Rock Creek earlier in the day". 
After hearing a solid tip like that we were more than ready to drop everything and haul the raft up to Rock Creek and start slamming the banks with giant orange foam "flies".  Well, as it turns out, and as it is wont to, one thing led to another and the instructions got all fouled up..... anyway last minute turned into very last minute and before we knew it we had decided that the report may have been a little too "second cousin once removed on Uncle Slayton's side" to completely trust, so we called an audible and decided to hit the lower Blackfoot.  We had convinced ourselves that the river was probably dropping back into "fishable" levels, I mean it had been a full 24 hours since that inch-and-a-half of rain downpour we had the previous afternoon. 
And  so it was decided, even though we had hemmed and hawed all morning and half of the afternoon, that we could still get the boat on the water by 2:30 for a short float.  OK, stop by the house, throw my shit in the trusty 4runner and head south.  Halfway to Missoula...."damn, did I remember to throw in my 8 wt?   Fuggit, too late now.  Wait, there may be an upside to this...didn't Brooks tell me he bought an Orvis H2 in 7 or 8 wt?"  I hope so.  This could turn into a good thing. (I swear that's how it went down Brooks, I didn't 'forget' my 8 wt. on purpose). 
Regardless, after meeting Brooks and dropping my rig off at the takeout, we rushed upriver to get the boat on the water.  The whole way up the conversation went down like this:

Me:  So, do you think the water has gone down?

Brooks:  Um, yeah, maybe a little.... I mean, ok, yeah it has, some.

Me:  There's at least, what.... 2 feet of visibility?

Brooks:  Well, foot and a half anyway.

My first step into the water, my flip flops and maybe my ankles were covered with water.....shit, really?  I can barely see my toes!  More like 4 inches of visibility!  I was in my flip flops because not only had I forgot my 8 wt., but my waders and wading boots as well.  At least the sun was out and it was pretty warm. 
Soon enough we were on the water and all worries suddenly aside.  Anticipation was high, I've caught some big browns on the Blackfoot, especially in this time of year, so I put on a streamer and started looking for any inside soft water.  The slots were almost non-existent, the Blackfoot was still a BIG river at the moment.  There were some, but they were small and we were rocketing by them in a hurry.  One shot at each spot, if I was lucky AND made a good cast. Fuck's sake, this fishing was asking alot out of my limited skill set.  As luck would have it, Brooks had indeed bought a new Orvis H2 Helios 7 wt., and without turning this post into a thinly veiled endorsement in hopes that, against all odds an Orvis rep will read this and think not only is the greatest blog and also the most epic story he's ever read, but deicide that at all costs he must find me and not only hook me up with some rods, but pay invite me to write for the Orvis website-let me say that money spent on this rod is well spent.  (Allow me to clarify that if that indeed were to happen, I most certainly wouldn't bitch!)   Even I could make semi-accurate and at least Mary Ann-cute if not Ginger-beautiful casts with this stick! 
Halfway through the float we had landed a couple of respectable browns, with Brooks having brought a solid 20 inch plus buck to hand.  Brooks had told me to be at the ready, he thought there would be a good slot around this next bend, with some skillful oar work, he set me up to lay a medium length cast to a promising looking slot amongst the willows.  "Dude, don't fuck this up" I thought to myself, it was as fishy of a looking spot as we had seen all afternoon and something told me I needed to make this one count. 
Ok, strip out a little extra, lift, lay it out.... nice cast if I say so myself.  One twitch and whoa, it just stopped, like completely stopped.  I instinctively lifted to set, whether it was an unseen log or a fish I was going to take the "set first and ask questions later" mentality. 
It didn't take long for the fish to answer that question for me!  "Brooks!"  I half shouted, half squealed, "I've got a big fish on here, a REAL big fish!"  The fight was most definitely on.  Fortunately for me there wasn't much visibility and I wasn't able to see the fish until right as Brooks was getting it in the net.  "HOE-LEE FAWK dude, is that what I think it is?" 

meet Mr. Blackfoot Bull Trout

"No shit bro, big bull trout".  We were right at the bank as Brooks netted the fish. I jumped out, wet my hands and nervously hoisted the fish just long enough for Brooks to snap a couple of quick pictures.  I eased him back into the chilly waters of the Blackfoot, thanked him and wished him well.  With an indignant flick of his tail, he retreated to the murky depths of his river haunt.  After an obligatory high-five and hand shake with my buddy, I quietly reflect at the beauty and power that was the rare and wonderful opportunity I just held in my hands momentarily.  My ancestors have plied these very same waters and subsisted on these fish for time immemorial, in my own tiny insignificant way, I have shared a moment with them.  My soul is replenished and my bond with these waters is reaffirmed......

Thank you Mr. Blackfoot Bull Trout, and hopefully many more generations will be fortunate enough to have the same experience I just did.

Friday, July 26, 2013

summertime, and the livin's easy

It must be full-on mid-summertime, daytime highs have been over 90 degrees for almost all month, bugs all over the windshield...  I ain't bitchin' though, I'll be shoveling snow before I know it.  For now I'll kick back, enjoy the heat and the long days.

Fuck yeah.

Another sure sign of mid-summer, foam hoppers on the visor.  I know what you're thinking "Really dude?  Really?  Flies on the visor?  Don't be that guy!".  Trust me, the extent of douchery this tactic exudes is not lost on me.  It's just sooo damn easy and handy!  Get back to the rig well past dark after an evening of fishing, you're tired and probably have to work the next day, whaddya do?  Clip the fly and stick it to your visor, voila! Plus if you forget your shit the next time out, and by shit I mean your fanny waist pack and your fuckin lanyard (I don't think I can pull it off so I'm not on the lanyard bandwagon.....yet.  So for now, on certain people, in certain circumstances, I'm calling the lanyard a douchy move.... refer to next paragraph)

So the lesson learned here is (pay attention Brooks Jessen) even though people may do douchy things (i.e. the flies on the visor) doesn't necessarily mean they're douchebags.  On the other hand, someone can just be a douchebag and not necessarily do douchy things - You keeping up?  Wait, maybe I'm not even keeping up.

Actually, (and most of those that know me personally will attest to this), I'm a nice-as-fuck guy, and only refer to people (mostly some of my friends) as douchebags, out of pure love. 

Well..... fuck it.  Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stealth Mission

Every year I look forward to the summer full moons.  It's become somewhat of a tradition for me to hit my home waters late in the evening of a full moon.  I usually get on the water an hour before sunset or so, the magic hour when the sun is off the water and the bugs are popping.  I start off with a small dry, maybe a purple haze or an x-caddis.  I work my way upstream throwing to risers, my anticipation level rising in direct correlation to the sun setting.  Soon after the sun sets, the full moon climbs over the mountains........

I'm not necessarily out there fishing after dark to become a bona fide night fisherman, from what limited knowledge I have it seems that they typically wait for the dark of a full moon, many of them throw mouse imitations in hopes of very few but very large fish.  I'm there as much to enjoy even more solitude than usual, and to immerse myself in the river and bond with the fish in a different level as I am to catch more or larger fish.  I typically continue to throw dries as long as fish are actively feeding on the surface.  As corny as it sounds, something changes after dark, my senses heighten.  My vision becomes crisper, my hearing sharpens, etc.  Another transformation also takes place.....the feeling I have that the rod, line, leader, tippet and fly are an extension of my hand and arm increases along with my senses.  I lay out a cast and even though I may catch a fleeting glimpse of the white parachute of my #16 purple haze, it's quickly out of sight.  I instinctively move my gaze downstream as though I can still see the fly.  When my timing is really good, I lay out a cast in cadence with the rising fish, I track the drift without seeing my fly, and everything comes together and the fish rises on cue.  I lift the rod and feel the familiar heft of a fish.  It truly is a zen-like experience.

Once the surface activity begins to die down (which in my experience and in my neck of the woods usually happens to be somewhere between 10:45 and 11:15) I switch to an unweighted muddler minnow, one of my go-to flies, especially for evenings and after dark.  This particular night I go with a #4.  I begin working my way back down to a favorite run.  Two casts in with the muddler and I'm tight to a scrappy 14" brown.  Halfway to the run and a dozen casts later I have another brown to hand, this one in the 17" range, a respectable fish on any Montana river and especially on my rather small home river.  As I approach the top of the run I want to end up on, I miss what seems to be a rather small fish.  Typical.  (One thing that I've grown accustomed to whilst fishing a muddler is a fair number of fish, especially smaller fish, short-stroking my fly as the swing apexes, or after I've begun to strip the fly back upstream).  I methodically work down the run-nothing.  I move back up to the middle of the run and mix things up-stripping speed, casting angle etc.  After a good ten minutes of working the run over I lay a cast downstream at approximately a 45 degree angle and almost immediately as the fly begins to swing i feel the tug of a good fish.  I set the hook with a downstream sweep when all of a sudden the world erupts.  Before I know it the fish is in the middle of it's third jump, easily clearing the water each time by three or four feet.  After a few strong runs I have the broad shouldered rainbow to hand.  It stretches just beyond the 21" mark that was hastily made on my rod with  hemostats a couple of years ago (another story).  I snap a couple of quick pictures without completely removing him from the water, after all it's late July and the water temps are hovering in the mid 60's even at 11 pm.

I look at my phone and it is only 11:10.  I have brought a total of 7 fish to hand and farmed a few others, a decent night in anyone's book.  After a moment of reflection, I decide to clip my fly and head back to my rig.  Every so often there are obvious signs that it's time to call it a night......

I might fish a night or two on either side of the full moon but it's not quite the same, enjoyable regardless though.  One thing is for certain, even though my home river is not crowded by most people's standards, I'm beginning to run into quite a few more people lately.  It probably sounds ridiculous, but even if I can just see someone else while I'm fishing, they're too close!   Luckily I've yet to run into anyone else after the magical time-after the sun sets but the west sky is still pink and the full moon ascends in the east.

Another summer full moon stealth mission accomplished!

Sunday, July 14, 2013


So I've been on an unannounced, self-imposed and indefinite hiatus.  To both of you that enjoy read my blog, I apologize.  Rest assured I plan to continue writing, albeit at my own leisure.  I didn't want my blog to turn into one of those blogs that posted every week for the sake of posting.  You know, posted every week on a Wednesday in the afternoon, since statistics show that is the prime time to create a new post so it is most likely to be read, or some bullshit like that.  Regardless, I didn't want my blog to turn into that (don't get me wrong, there are plenty of blogs that post weekly, if not multiple times a week, and many, many of them are great reads).  I write this blog first and foremost for myself.  I don't censor content, I write about whatever the fuck I feel like (for the most part it is flyfishing), I post pictures I like and I am unapologetic about any of it.  The second I began to feel the slightest bit of pressure to post, I quit.  Granted it was a knee-jerk reaction but I feel it was the best one for this situation.  With that being said, I welcome you back to my realm.

Meanwhile, the dude abides....

fine cigar by Arturo Fuente

This is a shot from early this spring on the Bitterroot.  Photo courtesy of Joe Cummings from Classic Journey 

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far.  Rest assured the writing bug is hitting me again so I should be posting on a quasi-regular basis.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Of shorter days and longer trips

It seems that October has lasted about all of a week.  I've been fishing a fair amount and writing very little.  A couple of weeks ago I made a quick trip to the upper Salmon.  No steelhead were harassed during my short stay but I had a good time fishing new water.  Last week the plan was to head back to the Clearwater for a couple of days then meet up with my buddy Mike on the lower Salmon for a couple more days.  The weather had taken a turn for the worse and with falling snow and rising rivers, I hoped this would be the trip that would turn my steelhead luck around.

Lolo pass was covered in a blanket of fresh snow and as I crested the pass and began my descent into the Lochsa the ever present and all too familiar obsession for steel and the draw of the Clearwater became almost overwhelming.  Damn Idaho and it's 50 mph speed limit on highway 12! 
Having packed the GoPro, the olympus waterproof digital and the trusty iphone, I originally planned to document the entire trip, complete with the campy travel scene video cruising down the highway with the soundtrack straight from my stereo blaring in the background (did I seriously just admit that in writing?  Fuck it, I'll still include it when I get around to making my "movie").  I had visions of self-shot GoPro video of the sloppy spey casting, the hookup, the fight and the release.  Some artsy abstract closeup stills of the tail, maybe the eye (wait wasn't that in the last post?  Again fuck it, this would be a steelhead so I would pull out all the stops)  Splash in some scenery and mood footage and maybe a short bit about Poppy and the Red Shed, hell I might even post it on vimeo and who knows, maybe it would end up on Moldy Chum but I digress.
The longer I paralleled the Clearwater and finally rolled past Kooskia, nearing the first run I planned on fishing, I began to get the feeling that the steelhead gods may not appreciate my greed for glory and recognition.  It harkened back to last year and how after pampering ourselves with soft beds at hotel rooms and promptly getting skunked, Marshall and I decided it was time to suffer a little and see if it would please the steelhead gods.  On the very next trip and after an uncomfortable night in the back of the 4runner, I raised a steelhead to a skated fly and although I didn't hook the fish, I was hooked and consequently knew that our bit of sacrifice the night before appeased the steelhead gods.  With that thought in my mind I pulled over, got ready and promptly left all of my camera equipment (even the iphone) in the 4runner on purpose.
As I hurriedly walked dashed to the river, my excitement was palpable (hell maybe it was the gut-bomb burrito from the convenience store in Lolo, steelheading requires sacrifice and sensible eating habits when you're hurrying to the Clearwater is one of them!)  Regardless I was excited to once again be plying the waters for steel. 
Being fairly new to steelhead fishing and having never fished this run, I guess I started at the top of the run and was mildly impressed with my ability to "read" steelhead water.  As I fell into the familiar rhythym-cast, mend, swing, two steps- I found myself waiting for that tug.  It's absolutely true; The Swing is the Thing and The Tug is the Drug!  Every cast brings another fresh batch of anticipation, and when the din of monotony and repetition begins creeping in a muffed cast is surely a sign from the steelhead gods.  The sign manifests itself as a voice inside my head "wake up, you're about to hook a steelhead" and my anticipation is full-on once again.  A few casts later I recognize a slight change in the run, a slightly different chop, perhaps a tiny change in pace and my excitement somehow elevates another notch.  I'm into what I'm pretty sure is the "bucket" of the run.  At least it's where I feel that if I'm going to feel a tug, this is the place.  Sure enough, some words of advice from Poppy, Dale and my buddy Mike creep into my head "slow down, pull with the bottom hand, make a good stop" and I manage a decent cast in anybody's book and one I'm downright proud of.  Midway through the swing I feel "the tug" and I undoubtedly have a steelhead that not only has hooked itself, but has gone well into my backing on the take and subsequent run downstream.  I somehow manage to make it to the bank without swimming and begin following the fish downstream.  After I get back to my fly line and almost parallel to the fish, I start to lean on it a little to gain more line.  This prompts a scorching upstream run and some impressive aerial displays and I am once again into the backing.  After what seems like an eternity but in reality is probably no more than 10 minutes or so I am now charged with the daunting task of trying to land what I guess to be 3 feet and 14 lbs. or so of a bright Clearwater b-run hen steelhead that is thrashing near my feet.  Before I get to make myself look like too big of a dumbass trying to land the fish, she manages to spit the barbless hook and defiantly fin back to the comforts of her run.  I sit down and spend a couple minutes replaying the whole scene in my mind. I'm completely in awe of the sheer power and beauty of this fish and although I didn't handle it, I'm satisfied in knowing that I hooked the fish on my terms.
Although this is not the first steelhead I hooked this year (I hooked up twice in one day on an earlier trip) this is by far the closest I have come to getting one to hand.  It is still satisfying to know that I have brought each one of the magnificent fish to my fly on my terms. 
Even though I haven't fished the entire run, I decide to call it good for now and head back to the rig.  With only a little daylight remaining I drive downriver and make it to another run in time to fish part of it before darkness settles in and I call it a day.
While I don't know for sure, I like to think that I played a small role in my success by my conscious choice to not bring a camera to the river with me, that I made yet another sacrifice and was therefore rewarded by the steelhead gods.  More than likely I luckily bumbled into a player and somehow put the fly in the right spot at the right time, but who knows?  Not to worry, I'm not swearing off of pictures and I fully intend on one day posting some hero, grip and grin shots, if and when the opportunity arises.  I'm just happy that I don't need that justification.  For now, I know, and that's good enough for me.
 After a celebratory dinner out and a cramped night in back of the 4runner, circumstances arise that preclude me from finishing my trip so I pack up and head back to Montana the next day.  Although I am truly happy with the trip and my obsession is once again satiated for the time being, I know it won't be long until I make plans to return and search for steel and feel that tug of a fish that has come to my fly on my terms.... 

Monday, October 22, 2012


I know I've been relentless not only in my pursuit of steel, but also in rambling about it.  Don't worry the dude is still obsessed.  However I have recently felt the need, not the desire but the NEED to ply the waters closer to home, to re-connect not only physically but spiritually with my home waters.  So with a sky firmly in the grips of autumn and the trees in all their colorful glory I found myself slipping back into an old rhythm, one that I had, dare I say, neglected as of late.  I brought my 5 wt. and a few streamers to my little home river and I have to admit, it all fell into place.  With perhaps an hour of daylight left I walked the tracks to a favorite run.....

Upon entering the water I got the feeling that the river was almost welcoming me home.  I assured the river and it's denizens that I would not forget my roots, no matter how much time I spent elsewhere.  I am connected to this land and these waters.  With the sun setting in the southwestern sky and the leaves in all of their brilliant hues, I knew the time of year had come when one can toss caution to the wind, put away the delicate dry flies and tie on a big gnarly streamer (not that there is no more hatches, just that one has this option and I for one look forward to it).  Sure enough, halfway through the run I got a violent take at the apex of the swing.  After a spirited battle I brought this beautiful brown to hand, 17 or 18", a nice sized fish on most any water and a great fish for this river.  After a quick picture I wiggle his tail once and he disappears to the depths....

My reconnection complete, I sat on the bank and watched the sun dip behind the mountains, completely satisfied with the one fish and truly happy in that particular moment. 
As I walked back to my rig in the dark my thoughts drifted down to the Bitterroot, up Lolo Creek and over Lolo Pass, down along the Lochsa until it meets the Selway and becomes the Clearwater.  At that moment I realize that is the same path my Ancestors made from time immemorial, to ply the same waters and trade with our friends the Nez Perce, and that I am following in their footsteps.  The realization hits me that although this is my home, and these are my home waters, I also have deep physical and spiritual ties, I even dare to say (albeit somewhat shallower) roots in Clearwater country...

As I write this I am preparing to once again retrace the steps of my Ancestors to satiate my obsession in my continued quest for steel....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Still chasin' steel

It seems lately every weekend is another trip over Lolo pass to the Clearwater, I guess that's because every weened in September so far has been a trip to the Clearwater.  Admittedly it's been a difficult year for most people I've talked to.  To say this year has been difficult for Marshall and I would be an understatement!  Every trip we learn something though, and every trip we're confident.  With each trip so far proving unsuccessful, we know that we have banked more credit in the steelhead karma bank and it's only a matter of time before we can cash in on that!

Marshall skated up a boil in this run as the sun peeked over the ridge through the smoke, what a rush!  It was Marshall's first experience with a steelhead on the surface and he was STOKED!!

Another bright note was this stick was incredible!  There were numerous tasty stogies enjoyed on this trip, thanks Mike!

This was also the last trip that I used my single-hander, but that's another story I'll share soon....

It has served me well.... I also met a guy that had quite an interesting story on the green pack.  Saturday afternoon I decided to try a promising run we liked to fish.  After we crossed the side channel and crossed the island we found a couple of guys already working the run.  Oh well, who could blame them?  Just as we approached one of the guys decided to take a break.  After exchanging greetings we sit down to shoot the shit with the guy.  Turns out fishing had been very slow so far this year for them as well.  The topic went from fish to gear, and finally to my pack.  The guy commented that he used to have a pack just like that but one of his kids had lost it.  I admitted I found the pack on the Clearwater last year, that definitely piqued his curiosity.  He asked where I found it, I told him ironically just about where we were sitting, under the power line.  He asked what kind of gear was in it but he already knew, it was his pack!  I offered it back to him but he declined, stating that I had a new pack and he had a great story!  What a good guy!  I offered him to at least take some flies in return which he also declined.  He was glad a fellow fly flinging steelheader had found it and was putting it to good use!
I'm  hoping this only adds to the steelhead mojo, but for now we are still just chasing steel.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Temporary reprieve

So I admit that since my burgeoning steelhead obsession is slowly taking over my flyfishing life (which is a very large part of my overall life!)  I have spent less and less time plying the waters of my home state for resident trout.  Last week I decided it was time to rectify the situation, as short-lived as it may be.  Never the less I managed to get out for an afternoon/evening of what I cut my flyfishing teeth on, trout fishing in Montana.

Just as I suspected.  I missed the intimacy that comes with fishing for trout in smaller waters.... waters that are easily read and dissected-no guesswork here.  No surprises, just straight forward trout fishing.  I spent the first part of my trip just observing, looking for rising fish to cast to.  Other than a couple of tiny fish smacking caddis emergers I didn't see much surface activity.  So as the sun dipped behind the ridge I decided to try an old standby of a fly and hit a favorite run.  It wasn't long before I was rewarded with an ambitious take as my muddler skated along the foam line on the far bank, soon I brought the scrappy 12 incher to hand.

At that moment I realized what I had been neglecting and missing out on.  I realized that regardless of the amount of difference between this and chasing steel, they were both fun....not only fun but I'll stop just short of saying they're both necessary for me.....

With balance brought back into my life i let the fish slip back into the stream while my thoughts already  began drifting downstream like the yellow cottonwood leaf floating by, downstream to where steel lurks and I once again feel the inexplicable tug in the bottom of my gut.  The obsession grows...