Friday, May 29, 2009

Josh Hooking Up on the Upper Madison

We now have a YouTube Channel, Zoo City Aquarium TV. Didn't get a separate one cause I really don't use mine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Browntown in Zootown? Go to Georgetown!

Hit Georgetown yesterday and had a pretty good time all by my lonesome. I'd never fished it before, but was inspired by my friend Brady last weekend. He chose to fish Hebgen exclusively, instead of accompanying us to the Firehole. Hand twist retrieve with a Hare's Ear under an indicator. Sounds easy.

First, I learned that while tons of fish are congregated on the east shore it is closed to fishing until the end of June. Bummer. I would let them go but I guess other people don't. So I went to find a weedy bay somewhere else.

Stopped at the first spot that looked good and used some of the drifting techniques I developed for bass in Ontario. There was a good wind going so I rowed up to one end of the bay and drifted back down, mending and retrieving a #8 Olive Bugger with a Hare's Ear dropper. Hooked up a lot but nothing huge. Best was a 17 inch 'bow. But you can't beat the view of the Pintlers. Unreal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend '09: YNP and the Madison

I think this weekend's trip to the Firehole and the Upper Madison was one of the best adventures I can remember in quite a while. Normally the Firehole on opening day provides the most memorable moments, but this time the Madison below Slide Inn will stick in my mind. It always amazes me how well the Maddy fishes when it appears to be blown out. The fish are tight to the banks and structure, munching nymphs and eggs and bold wading is rewarded with taught lines and jumping rainbows.

Brin Mar, Coates and I set out Friday morning from Missoula, bound for a camping spot on the south side of Hebgen Lake. We decided to stop and fish the Madison on our way, stopping in at Kelly Galloup's Slide Inn to chat first and buy our park licenses. I bought his streamer book and it's pretty good. I'll review it on the blog soon.

We hit the Raynolds Bridge area and did well nymphing. On the way back down to the car, we decided to streamer fish and every body hooked up big time. I landed some nice browns, including this monster after wading out onto an island and missed shots at several more.

Afterward we went to meet Josh and Zach Duchateau and our friend Brady, who generously saved our camp spot on the lake. After a meal and too much whiskey we passed out dreaming of the Firehole.

At 5 am Josh drove his Tahoe into camp honking his horn to rouse the troops and we were off to the Park. Needless to say, I had a not-so-good morning. I promptly caught the first fish, then proceeded to lose 6 of my 10 specialized Firehole Buggers and didn't catch a fish for an hour. Coates was on fire, whacking trout. I eventually got my bearings and caught some fish, but it got hot quickly and I hiked back to the car after catching 20 or so. As Brin Mar put it, you can only catch so many 8-14 inch trout before you need to eat and drink some water when it's blazing sun at 7,000 feet.

On Sunday, we hit Three Dollar Bridge on the Maddy with Josh. I hiked past everybody, planning on streamer fishing. I saw a great looking eddy near the bank and started dead drifting one of my Galloup-inspired articulated bugs. An enormous brown engulfed my bug and rolled on the surface. I thought I had him. I carefully stepped back around the bushes without falling and tried to steer him into the eddy. After 45 seconds or so, the hook pulled out.

Devastation on my third cast. After taking time to recover, I caught back up to the guys and we hit fish hard all day on eggs and stonefly nymphs. Back in Missoula before 9pm. What a great weekend! Here are some more shots from the Maddy:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Runoff Begins For Real

So the brief window that was open is rapidly closing. Highs the 70s and 80s and warm nights are forecast, with a little cool down for a day during the week. Then it looks like more sunny 70s through next weekend.

I've been out of commission between studying for finals and nursing a pulled muscle in my right shoulder. Think I hurt it trying to pole my 13ft. raft through the bull rushes after pike. The Creek is up 200cfs in the past 24 hours and it is rising fast. Veterans of Don Potts will recall that we are about to witness an example of time of concentration, as the water makes it way down the watershed. If you are fishing, the Worm has been taking more fish than anything, right behind a big salmonfly nymph imitation of some kind. Think black brown and leggy. Lots of caddis, March Browns and a few remnant Skwalas around, but in two days it won't matter.

Next weekend, after I finish these tests, Brin Mar, Coates and I are going to the YNP for Opening Day on the Firehole. Should produce some excellent pics and stories galore. I'm also planning a mid-week pike trip so stay tuned. We will be back at full strength soon giving you something to do while the rivers rage!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Belated Mothers Day Caddis Hatch.

Well not that the Yellowstone is any where close to the Zoo town, the caddis hatch over in this neck of the woods has held steady for the past few weeks. Not really truning on full blast until yesterday. We will see if it holds with the warmer weather this week and showers predicted.

Last Sunday I fell asleep on the couch from a long day of lifting and organizing rocks in our garden as part of my honey-do list. I awoke after about 20 minutes of a deep slumber to sun shine and Tyra Banks being her superficial self on a rerun of “Americas Next Top Model”. Thinking to myself I got to get the hell out of here and on the river I packed my gear a plain bagel some PBR and headed out the door.

While loading the truck, James Anderson a local guide for the Yellowstone Angler and fisherman extraordinaire gave me a call to accompany him on a float on the Stone. Gladly I said “Hell yeah!” and I picked him up at Springdale where we drove to our put in at ”East End” (exit 350 of I-90)

Picking off the few medium sized rainbows we saw rising along the banks we started off on a good note only to get better. After a couple of fish to the boat, I took my turn at the oars, while James grabbed his streamer rig. Within 2 minutes he had hooked himself a 24 & 2/8 inch monster brown trout. Yes we measured… All the while a perched Bald Eagle screeched the whole time we fought and landed this beauty.

After that James was content, and let me take many stabs at trying to hook into my own monster. I did have one on for a split second but it shook me on a tail walk and was off. Bummer…
I have never seen that big of a fish on the Stone and only have heard of them. Now the spark is on and I will land a few by the years end.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here's a couple pike pics from Sunday

Hi yall. After I heard Bill did alright, I went to get some pike on Sunday. Weather was partly cloudy and we didn't get out until about 12:30. Boated about a dozen pike, but no serious pigs. I did manage to fill up the freezer, though. Although they are slimy and smell like shit, they are quite delicious after they're cooked. Much better than trout, in my opinion.

Finals Week(s)

Sorry for the lack of posting this week and (maybe) next week folks, but I'm in law school finals mode. We have two weeks of finals. Yippie. Not much time for fishing or writing.

Pike fishing was great on Saturday but we forgot to bring a camera. The old red-and-white bunny proved to be the winning fly, not a surprise. This time of year pike like the sun a little more because it raises the water temp and makes them more aggressive. They are moving into the shallow flooded areas so it might be good to have a pole in your boat for pushing around the reed flats. I use my spare oar but I think you could improve on that with a cheap trip to the lumber yard.

Oh, and the rivers are still pretty high but back on the drop, so keep on tying summer stuff, go pike fishing, or bang the banks with big weighted black stuff cause those salmonflies are in the drift and easy for fish to find. Risers in the quiet water are a possibility as well until the rollercoaster starts up again. Please be careful on the moving water. It's running hard.

As I knock these tests out I will probably post more. I've got four more left. Maybe the rest of the crew can help fill in for me?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rafting Victim Identified

Just a terrible tragedy in Hamilton. A well-known rod builder and fly shop owner, Dick Galli, 72, was identified as the sole victim in raft accident that occurred yesterday just below Angler's Roost. He and his family are in our prayers.

I can't say enough how easy it is to underestimate the Bitterroot. Those sweepers and snags are twice as dangerous as any big rock. Sounds like they just got stuck on a sweeper. If you get hit in the head by an oar on your way overboard, it's all over. After our accident in my raft, I bought several books on whitewater boating and rescue. While I've never taken a class, this certainly got me thinking about it again.

Honestly folks, the fishing just isn't any good when the water is high most of the time, so think about other options during the high water season. As this accident shows, no matter how much experience you have, it's easy to get into a bad situation. Be safe on the sticks during the coming month or stay on the bank and wade safely.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tragedy on the 'Root

Just got word that a man died on the Bitterroot today. Our thoughts are with his family. As someone who has had some close calls on the 'Root, I must say it is one of the most dangerous rivers in Montana. Please be careful during this high water season. This is not the time to teach anyone to row. I found out the hard way and managed to survive, so please stay safe out there and use caution.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Skwala Insanity!

Yesterday, Kiel and I experienced an incredible egg laying flight of Skwalas on the Upper Clark Fork. At one point I counted at least 10 beating the water within a 30 foot radius of where I was standing. While the water clarity kept it from being totally crazy, we had a solid two-hour window from 3-5 where the cliff wall banks gave it up big time.

Things started out pretty slow before we found some fish sporadically munching Gray Drakes in a big eddy. The LaFontaine Gray Drake Wiggle Nymph whacked several nice 'bows. The Mother's Day Caddis were out and about all day, but we only got risers on the banks during the Skwala explosion.

The streamer action was also pretty slow, although I did miss one big brown in one of those cliff bank buckets. Kiel somehow managed to hook not just one, but two large suckers in the dorsal fin with his streamer! Super buzz kill. You always think this could be the big one and instead...

Anyway good luck out there this week. The window is closing rapidly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Issue of Catch Magazine Out Now!

The latest issue of Catch Magazine
is out and it is totally awesome as usual. I recommend checking out the videos as well!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Blackfoot Update and Other Stuff

On Friday, Trapper, Entztrix and I streamer fished the crap out of the lower Blackfoot. We each caught a bull trout, all around 14 inches (crazy!) and several mid-sized rainbows. The prize of the day was Trapper's 19-inch 'bow. No browns. I guess they took the day off. All in all the fishing was not quite as fast as we thought it would be, even though the water was still dropping and the temps were great. On the wildlife watch, we saw a confused flock of American Avocets who weren't accustomed to moving water.

Folks who fished on Saturday and today have reported that it's been picking up. Bryan was out today and caught this nice brown:

In other news, one of our guiding buddies reported that the Bitterroot was fishing lights out on top with Mother's Day caddis, gray drakes and skwalas, until an unknown washout muddied the water a bit. No word on whether that subsided today but if we hear what the cause is, we'll let you know. Not that you could do a damn thing about it, but it's nice to drop that kind of stuff in conversation. "Did you hear about the washout up Tin Cup?"

The Creek is also reportedly in full-effect with fish munching up top and underneath. We are in that danger zone. Things will be silly good until they go south quickly when the sun comes out in force again. Don't forget your caddis box!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Weekend Preview

Get out there this weekend kids, cause you don't know how long this will last. All the area rivers, with the exception of the Clarkie near town are looking sweet for the weekend. I hit it up the lower Blackfoot last night with Kiel and we moved some nice fish and landed a few good ones. Dead drifting streamers and big stonefly nymphs proved to be most effective. Heading up today and anticipate it will be even better.

If you're going to the 'Root, sounds like there could still be some skwala madness yet, and Gray Drakes will also be a main item on the trout menu. Up on the Creek, stonefly nymphs will be the anchor for any good subsurface action and you could see some dry action up top as well during the heat of the day.

Dark mayflys in #12-14, BWOs #16-18 and smaller skwalas should be effective and keep your eyes peeled for those Grannom Caddis. Maybe it won't get blown out this year! Hope everyone has fun out there. Be safe wading and boating as the water is still ripping pretty good. I'll have a full Blackfoot update this evening.