Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tis the Season

The Holiday season is really something to behold. On one hand we look forward to time spent with family, to traditional meals, to parties, giving gifts and all the rest. In the other, we can find ourselves dreading the mere concept of all of it. When examined in it's entirety, it's a full load and complex in many ways.
      Much like a day on the river, surviving the Holiday Season requires strategy - with careful thought and an awareness of our surroundings, we can simplify our tactics and mindset allowing us to focus on the task at hand. For example, when an angler spots a pod of rising fish, it's common to let emotion take over. Instead of picking one fish from the group and making each move count, it's all too easy to try to catch them all at the same time. Water boils, knots break, women and children run for cover - this approach doesn't work. Think of Holiday planning in the same manner - keep it simple. Seems I have to relearn this lesson every year.
     Just yesterday, I put a basic, surefire plan to work. A simple list, two big stores - my holiday shopping would be licked in no time and everyone would be happy. First, I planned an early start to the day understanding that most consumers would be at work or in bed. Charlie and I went to Costco - needing survival supplies such as sugar, flour, milk and bread and a bag of 96 rolls. Apparently no one was at work or asleep. Most of Bozeman was there and all of the honey baked hams were gone. Not good. I was forced to visit several more stores - each time purchasing more items I had not planned on. And still no ham. Seems the bone-in style is not cool anymore. And, since whoever works the hams took the time to remove the bone, the price is now twice what it used to be. So we'll be eating elk on Christmas eve which is better anyway.
    Now 2:00 with little chance of accomplishing much more, I decided to make my last move, one surely destined to put a nail in the coffin of my remaining Christmas shopping. It was off to Kmart for serious shopping. This store, because it sucks, was virtually empty. Still, with everything from auto parts and garden supplies to candy, cooking and sporting goods, it appears the perfect place to find gifts for even the most discerning on the list. I found a great selection of ice fishing jigs that I needed and some Season Salt that I'll use on fried potatoes. Found nothing else that I, or anyone else, needed there. After several more useless stops, I was home, exhausted with little to show. My strategy had failed me - a day that could have been spent shooting ducks had been frittered away in the quest for ham.
    Once again, it's back to the basics -I will be tying flies for everyone's gift and serving up venison as the main course. Guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Basics, Simplicity - this works and let's us focus on what's really important. Good luck out there and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

heres the photo

Snow is Here

Awesome snowfall yesterday - maybe 6 inches in town - wet, heavy stuff that makes for a good skiing base and does wonders for the snowpack and ultimately our future river conditions. With the snow and cold it seems time now to get crankin on the vise to replace the casualties from the past season and to rebuild and, possibly, reinvent the arsenal for 2013.
Too many, the concept of tying 700 dozen flies would define insanity. And while it may lead to it, I find it therapuetic in many ways. Creating things that catch fish is cool in my opinion but aside from that, I enjoy the time, while tying, that I have to plan future strategy and, once in a while, think back on great moments of the past season. The brown in the photo, caught by Mark Engstrom, defines one of those spectacular events.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


After several months of technical difficulty it appears that I have managed to get the blog up and running again. Let me rephrase that. I couldnt figure out how the get this blog site to operate correctly last February. Then fishing season started and I never looked back as I'd much rather concentrate on fish than computers and the issues they present me. In the presence of technological deficiencies, it dawns on me that I may have spent too much time day dreaming about the river when I should have been paying attention in class. I'm afraid my son Jack, battling the pike in the photo, may suffer a similar fate. Either way, as the snowpack builds and the temperatures drop, I am back to my chores. If, I can manage to get this computer to work I will be posting blog entries on a much more frequent basis.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Great week of fishing

Sunday afternoon - sun is shining on about four inches of new snow from the storm yesterday afternoon and last night. It's good to see it looking like winter out there for a change. The mountains have been gettting some snow (snowpacks seem to be averaging 70-90% of normal) but we've had very little in town.
As a result, people who would often be focused on skiing are feeling the spring fishing bug creep in a bit earlier than normal. As several of these folks learned this week, the fishing is outstanding right now. More typical winter conditions have set in - it'd colder than it has been but not too cold. Instead of the 40s even 50s, we've seen high temps in high 20s to mid 30s. Warm weather seems nice but it brings wind, big wind. For the most part, in the past week, we've experienced calm conditions - exactly what we want.
Hit both the Madison and Gallatin in the past few days with excellent results in both locales. Still haven't found much in way of surface activity with midges but that will come in the weeks ahead.
So we've been nymphing primarily and while several patterns have worked well - the San Juan Worm and Shrimp Cocktail have been the most productive - no surprise as these are often my two best winter bugs. We've found fish deep, found them in the heads if the runs, really found them everywhere - they have been on the feed from about 11:30 -4:00. And while there are certainly some folks out there, we haven't run into any. Just rainbows and browns - mostly 12-15" with a few larger and a few smaller. Winter fishing is such a novelty - to be out there in a blizzard like yesterday afternoon, to be covered in snow and catching fish to beat the band - it's hysterical - fun. Size, numbers? Who cares. It's about much more than that.
I continue to hear good reports coming from the Missouri and Big Horn as well the Yellowstone when winds are down. Basically, fishing seems to be good most places right now and will likely stay that way until it gets really warm or really cold bring either wind at one extreme or floating ice on the other.
Don't give up on the skiing - it's pretty good and is just getting better. Tell that to everyone you know then head for the river.

Monday, February 6, 2012


30 dregrees at the moment, calm and overcast - absolutely primo conditions for an afternoon on the river. It's been an unusual one to say the least - very little snow in the Bozeman area (though the Yellowstone and Madison snowpacks are looking pretty good) and fairly warm temps. As a result, fishing has been excellent. The Madison, both upper and lower have been good when the wind has been down. I've had some wind myself which simply means nymphing instead of throwing dries though I know there's been some calm days and good midge fishing. Reports coming from the Reynolds Pass area on the upper Madison have been really good.
Really the story is much the same everywhere else - when the wind is down, fishing has been terrific. The Bighorn is experiencing great dry fly fishing with baetis and midges and NO people and I've heard from the Trout Shop in Craig that the streamer fishing below the dam is red hot. I'm sure the nymphing is good up there too - it usually is.
And while I haven't hit the Yellowstone in recent weeks due to the wind which blows down there most days during the winter, I'm sure the midge fishing would be good if you hit the right day. And there's the spring creeks - always a great option this time of year.
If there was ever a winter to fish, this is it. Often times our options are limited due to ice and other obstacles routine with a hard winter. This year however, those obstacles don't exist - at least not so far. Like most folks who live here - I feel that we're still gonna get it - just hope it's not in May and June.
I plan to be on water later this week, my son has the itch and he won't let it drop until we make the trip - most likely to the Madison or Gallatin which suit a 5 yr olds wading ability and patience level well.
Until then, I'll keep restocking the boxes and working on my winter order for Blue Ribbon Flies up in West Yellowstone. Still have Green Drake Emergers, Flav Sparkle Duns, Improved Zelon Midges and a host of others on the list. I cheated today and tied a bunch of PMD cripples, Callibaetis and March Brown Comparaduns for my box.
I'll be checking back in soon.