Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fish Porn

It has recently come to my attention that my blog lacks somewhat in the fish porn department.  I guess after viewing it myself objectively there may be some validity to that point.  Soooooo....  here's the fish that originally started that burning deep in my gut that would grow and become the consuming steelhead obsession that I'm now burdened with....

That same trip (which happened to be our very first steelhead trip) my son was able to land his first steelhead.

From now on I will dig through the old fish porn files, see what may be of interest and post some periodically.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surface action

As much as I love fall and everything about it, the sun cresting over the mountains further and further south each day signals one thing that I do not look forward to; the unofficial end of the dry fly season.  Yesterday I was able to get out on the home waters with my son for a short afternoon trip.  My hopes were not high for surface action, the wind was blowing, the sun was bright let alone the fact that usually by November 9th dry fly opportunity is over on our little home river.
I decided to try a small canyon stretch, hoping the canyon walls would block some wind and keep direct sunlight off the water thereby increasing our odds.  We arrived in the early afternoon and promptly had a change of plans.  A cursory glance showed no bugs hatching and the wind had actually picked up.  After picking through the fly box and the usual "what are you going to tie on" conversation I decided to try a streamer while Marshall was going to go with a double nymph setup.  My hopes dashed and patience running thin, I left Marshall to his indicator and multiple double surgeons loops knot-fest.  I no sooner descended the small canyon to the water's edge and promptly saw a fish surface in the foam line six feet from the bank.  I decided to wait for Marshall to chase the riser so I halfheartedly ran my streamer through the next run downstream.  When Marshall made it down we decided to take turns throwing to what turned out to be 3 or 4 fish feeding somewhat rhythmically on the surface.  The fish were in a pool that was deep enough to preclude us from telling exactly what they were feeding on.  There were a smattering of sizable mahoganies (fairly late in the year I know, but then again everything was behind this year after the prolonged winter and spring)  some little caddis, and very few tiny mayflies.  I assumed they were blue-winged olives although the few we did see somewhat close didn't look much like bwo's.  Oh well, fish were feeding on top and I'm no entomologist so with a size 14 mahogany cripple I went to work.  Cast after agonizing cast I watched as my cripple drifted right through the foam without a look.  I decided next that a 6x and size 20 mahogany was necessary.  Different fly, same result.  Same result with a goddard caddis.  Finally Marshall spotted a ratty old parachute adams in my box and suggested I try it.  I silently questioned myself about how well I taught my son about flyfishing, surely he knows that fish this late in the fall requires matching the hatch with a fair amount of precision.  That being said with mounting frustration and daylight fading I thought "what could it hurt?"  After all a parachute adams is one of my go-to flies.  So I tied on the adams and cast my hope to catch one more fish on a dry this year.  After what seemed like an hour I finally got a decent drift in the swirling foam line and saw a snout break the surface and my fly disappear.  Far from a trophy, the average size cuttbow was exactly what I needed on this particular November afternoon.

After taking the picture and offering congratulations (without so much as a "I told you" or "aren't you glad you tied on that adams?") Marshall was eager to try for one last fish on the dry.  Marshall dried the fly off, laid out a decent cast and promptly stuck a fish!  After a picture and a high five (again not a word even though it took him exactly one cast and his fish was bigger)  and
without really any discussion we both knew it was time to call it a day.  We had asked a lot of our home river, a lot of the patron saint of dry fly fishing, and a lot of the fish gods period, better to not press our luck! 

As the sun sets on our dry fly season I now look forward to feeding my steelhead obsession next week!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Distractions, Part II

Thank you (both of you) for entertaining my rant about crowding on "my" river.  I would like to have brought you a report of another trip to the Clearwater river in Idaho, with news of multiple steelhead caught on the swing.  Distractions.  Not that all distractions are bad.  This past weekend's distraction was going to the Univ. of Montana's football game.
This also happened to be the first Griz game I was able to attend this year, and the first one for my two youngest grandsons...
Landon, the oldest is the ham, and has been to a few games, Talon is the middle one, the shy one
Braylon, the youngest, was a trooper.....
I also finally filled my freezer this year, although it was with a spike, and was not until October.  Sooo the streak of September bulls comes to an end.  Perhaps as one streak ends, another one will begin?  Maybe a steelhead on the surface every September?  I can only hope....
By the way, I was hunting with a buddy of mine so I'm not an indiscriminate killer, only the spike is mine. 

It has been too long since I've been on a river, even a home water (long being relative) I think almost 2 weeks, so even though I am in a wedding this weekend, which will preclude a steelhead trip, I plan on taking a day off of work this week to somewhat satiate my fishing appetite, it probably won't be until the weekend of the 18th that I will be able to truly feed my steelhead obsession..........

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Sooner or later I knew it was inevitable.  I cut my teeth on a small river near home (not that it's that great of fishing, however it will remain nameless for nostalgic purposes).  It was truly a rare day indeed to see another vehicle at any of my usual haunts, an even rarer occurrence to actually see someone else on the water.  My home water even weathered the storm that was "The Movie" (for those of you that are not aware I"m referring to A River Runs Through It) without so much as a slight bump in pressure.  Everyone wanted to come to Montana, luckily for me and my home waters, everyone wanted to fish the "Big Blackfoot" like the McLean's and live their own part of the movie (little did they know the movie wasn't even filmed on the Blackfoot).  And so my little slice of Montana flyfishing heaven has remained relatively unknown.  Until very recently the locals that did fish it knew each other's rigs and would gladly move on if they spotted someone else's rig at an access.  One day this summer I was to meet my buddy for an evening of fishing, when I arrived at the predetermined spot, I saw my buddy's subaru (that's another story entirely), what I didn't expect was to walk to the river's edge and see this...
Admittedly the closest guy in the water was my buddy, but to see three people in view on the same stretch of my home waters was enough to bring me to the brink of tears.
Fast forward to yesterday.  I took yesterday off of work, knowing although it may not be the best day for fall fishing (sunny and mild) I was planning on hitting the home waters in hopes of enjoying what was sure to be one of the last nice days this year and perhaps to catch a couple of more fish on dries.  As I arrived at my first choice, there was a pickup parked there, albeit with local plates.  No problem, I didn't recognize the truck but figured one of the locals had the same idea as I did.  My backup plan quickly fizzled as I drove by and could see two vehicles parked at the access.  Again no problem, I know a stretch nearly as good and not as well known as the first two choices.  As I drove over the bridge I got a knot in my gut.  In my third choice, standing out like a dick in a women's locker room, was a Porsche Cayenne.  No shit a Porsche Cayenne.  It just gets better, upon closer inspection the douche dude was still at the vehicle, stringing up a rod.  I couldn't help myself.  I pulled up next to his rig and asked him (knowing full well the answer, as his brand-new Orvis waders weren't wet) if he was just getting done or just heading out.  "Just getting ready to go" he said, in his best Western Montana accent (whatever that is).  At this point I see a rod all strung up and ready to go leaning against his rig, one put together but not strung up inside his crossover SUV or whatever the hell they're referred to as and he's is in the process of stringing a third rod up.  I'm completely befuddled at this point (I don't think i've ever had to cast more than 30' on this river) and ask the guy how many rods he plans on taking with him.  "Probably just two" he says, kind of like he would prefer all three but, whether he wanted to appear like he could get the job done with just two rods, or not wanting to look like a total , douche, noob, rookie, I honestly couldn't tell which.  He proceeds to tell me that he may want to throw a streamer or two (I didn't look, maybe the other rod was a two-hander!)  Perhaps the humor is lost on me but the thought of a guy carrying two and perhaps even three rods to fish this particular river (which is perhaps 30' at its widest) just really got to me.  I bid the guy good luck and decided to go deer hunting.
This brings me to my last thought.  George Carlin once said something to the effect of any driver who drives faster than you are is crazy, and anyone driving slower than you are is a fucking idiot.  I've noticed that this kind of parallels fly fishing.  Anybody with nicer stuff than you or someone with all the goodies (especially on smaller home waters) new Orvis waders, wading staff, lanyard, vest, fancy wooden net etc. (you get the hint) is obviously either a noob or a snob or both.  Conversely anybody in tennis shoes, cut-off jeans carrying an eagle claw rod from K-mart is either a redneck or a dumbass or both.  Perhaps those were just my feelings, although I have a sneaking suspicion that many more of you (and you five people reading this know who you are) have had he same type of feelings at one point in time.  I have recently decided (perhaps maturity had something to do with it?) that regardless we all share the same passion.
But I'm sorry, the douche in the Porsche Cayenne was too much........I'm just sorry I didn't have my camera

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Invariably things come along that detract from fishing.  Luckily one of them is hunting.  Even more lucky is that one of those distractions is elk hunting.  I'll admit to being somewhat spoiled in that for the last 7 years in a row I have been fortunate enough to harvest a bull, and even more fortunate in that I have been able to harvest the aforementioned bulls in September, during the rut, which is the hunting equivalent of taking a steelhead on the dry (or so I can only imagine!)  Well this year was strange here in Montana in that the lingering effects of la nina made for a much colder and wetter spring, which (when this la nina cycle came to an end) turned into a warmer and drier than average September.  This, coupled with a banner year of fishing (due in part to la nina) made for very few days in September in which I felt comfortable hunting elk.  I do not hunt elk when the forecast calls for highs above 70, and even when the forecast is for highs in the 60's I will only hunt early morning and late evening.  The last thing I want is for an elk to spoil because I cannot retrieve it in time.  Well of the 4 days we hunted in September, one morning everything came together....... for my son that is.  We were able to call this bull in very close, and when I say very close I mean 3 yards of close, 9 feet of close, I'm talking NINE FEET!  Take into account the 24" barrel and Marshall took his 2011 elk at 7 FEET.  It was definitely the closest I've ever been to an elk, and one of if not THE most exciting hunt I've ever been on.  So Marshall  has a full freezer and a hell of a story to tell my grandchildren!