Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It’s 0500 on Christmas morning and all is quiet, but I am about 80% deaf so that helps. I do love my silent world. No longer do I have the little ones at home to wake me every hour after the stroke of midnight on Christmas morn. Instead it is the ghosts of Christmas past that have dragged me from my slumber and kept me from sleep. Okay so my bladder had something to do with it to. I got up to take a leak and lay awake remembering when my children were children. Finally I succumbed to the restlessness and quietly as possible made my way past the guest room were, you guessed it, one of the guests is sleeping. Then past the other guest who is sleeping on the couch. I made coffee as quietly as one can with an electric coffee grinder and no ground coffee in the house. Bagel and lox will provide my sustenance this morn on which the Christ child was born. It’s to early for bourbon even for me but the coffee is quite good. I will soon be getting into the humidor to smoke my Christmas cigar which was a gift on my birthday a week ago today. First I will start with my pipe though. It seems that early mornings lend themselves more to the pipe than the stogie. Oh how I do miss the early morning ritual on the river. The pipe is my companion on the drive to the river but not until I have finished fueling the truck. Then once at the river I always begin with the lighting of the stogie. I then move on to rigging rod and line, and finish with prepping the drift boat. Several anglers arrive and launch in the time I spend getting everything ready. To me this is a time of transition that should be savored. Enjoy the cigar, relish memories of past trips, an occasional swallow of now lukewarm coffee, the sounds of nature until the next angler pulls up with boat in tow, and then a brief social moment until the other angler becomes absorbed in his own morning ritual. Some will show good manners and proper upbringing by asking my permission to put in before me since I was there first Others like some of the guides will show good manners in spite of not so good an upbringing ( at no fault of their parents who tried to get them to get real jobs). I recently read an interview done with Gary Lafontaine when he was near the end of his life, and he referred to memories of perfect moments. I guess that is what it is all about for me these days. It isn’t just the catching of fish but creating an opus of perfect moments to sustain me after I have made the last “last cast”. My wish for you my reader is that you will have a truly Merry Christmas and if you are not Christian then please do not be offended that I am, as I am not offended that you are not, and therefore are not bound by the social and spiritual obligations and can go fishing this morning. It pleases me to think that one of the great things about belonging to the fraternity of anglers is that it encompasses us all, and provides a common place for us to share thoughts, ideals, theology, beer, whiskey, lies, and etc.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yes I'm still here and still fishing just not posting as often as I should

When I started this blog I told myself I would post every week, but it has been just over a month since my last post. I will blame it on starting a new job since that is the best excuse I can come up with at the moment. Since my last post I took my wife Gigi to Belt Creek for some small stream fishing. That was a good move as we caught several fish surprisingly large for the water we were fishing. I think my wife has become a nymph junky as a result though. We started early in the morning using dry flies since the spruce moths were out and we caught some nice fish on an Elk Hair Caddis pattern. Then as the sun got higher and the dry fly action petered out I tied a smallish stone fly nymph on Gigi’s tippet. She started catching fish in every spot she I told her to fish. She also began asking why we didn’t use the nymph sooner. It reminded my of something I read about how to drive your fishing guide nuts. One of the ways was to ask the guide what his favorite fly was and then ask why we weren’t using it. The highlight of the trip was watching Gigi catch her first fish without any assistance from me or anyone else. I even got it on video. When we finally decided to stop fishing and hike back to the truck we found that the parking lot which was empty when we left was packed with vehicles and there was a splash and giggle crowed that bordered on frightening. Rods were broken down and gear stowed asap. Then we got out of there. My experience with crowd like that has been that alcohol and young boys and girls make for trouble. I wanted to get away before any trouble started. Besides this trip to Belt Creek I have made several of the usual trips to the MO with the usual great results. Last weekend was really special because my dad came with me. It was the first time he had ever been in a drift boat. It was great spending a day introducing my dad to something that is such a big part of my life. Hopefully I will be posting more often. Maybe even add more photos over the winter when I will have more time to learn some new geek stuff from my wife. This is a picture of Gigi with one of the nice brown’s we caught.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Check off one more from the bucket list

One of the items on my bucket list has been to fish the Madison River. I have lived in Montana all my life and although I have fished the Madison before I hadn’t really fished it. My dad said I caught my first fish on the Madison, but I don’t have any memory of the event. I was probably about 5 years old and I wasn’t using a fly rod. In fact according to my dad I didn’t even reel the fish in. I just ran up the bank with the pole in hand until the fish was dragged ashore. The only other time I had fished the Madison was when I took a short excursion out of Bozeman after purchasing a new pair of waders from a fly shop there. I fished along the bank for a couple of hours. I caught several fish in the 6 inch range and did get one brown that was probably 10 or 12 inches. Oh yea I just remembered another time I fished the Madison in the park during a rain that had been going on non-stop for a few days. The river was muddy and pretty much no visibility. Zip caught that day! So now I had just quit my job and didn’t have to start my new job for 10 days. I figured this would be a great opportunity to spend some serious fishing time on the Madison. Then I was informed that because I had filled out a health questionnaire for my soon to be employer and mentioned having gone to a doctor a couple of years ago which resulted in a diagnosis of gout I was required to be checked out by an occupational therapist to make sure I was physically able to perform the functions of my new job. My original plan was to leave Friday after my last day at the old job and head for Ennis MT. Now I would have to be home Monday to show up for the earliest possible appointment with the OT. I reverted to plan B. I went fishing for the weekend on the MO and had a good time then returned home Sunday night. The next morning I left for the appointment and passed the physical requirements to continue as a gainfully employed wanabe trout bum. The trip was still a success as far as getting to do some serious fishing on the Madison. However catching fish was another thing. All my fishing guide books tout the Madison as a great river for beginners because it is fast riffles and the fish don’t have a lot of time to scrutinize your fly. The fish take the fly and a bad cast doesn’t necessarily bother them. Someone forgot to tell the fish and apparently fish can’t read. No one was catching any fish to amount to much including me. I did some reconnaissance at the fly shops in Ennis and at the local drinking holes. Yep it was confirmed that no one else was catching much either. In fact it was rumored that a lot of guides were having clients cancel after a trip or two down the river. The most common theory was that since the salmon fly hatch had just recently passed through the fish were to full to eat any more. I had trouble buying into this because I have often caught fish that took my fly even though they were so full of hoppers they still had one in their mouth because they were to full to get it down their throat. As one guy at a fly shop said even after pigging out on thanksgiving you still eat the next day. Another guy in a fly shop said the fishing was good early in the morning before the water temperature rose. It’s just that the tourists didn’t want to get up early enough to fish and wanted to be off the water in time for the cocktail hour. This made more sense to me so I decided to check his theory out by hitting the water as early as possible. As early as possible was a little later than planned since I over slept a bit. I woke up an hour later than intended and was afraid the shuttle I had arranged would get to the put-in before I did. I was amazed how fast I could break camp when motivated. I got the boat in the water before the shuttle driver showed up to pick up my vehicle and plenty early to fish before the sun was up enough to put the fish down. Another theory shot to hell. I did manage to catch the one fish of the whole trip worth mentioning though. It was a nice 18 inch brown that took my nymph on the second cast. Other than this one fish I did catch a smattering of other fish ranging from 2 to 6 inches. No kidding I think I did catch the smallest fish I ever caught. It was 2 or maybe if I really stretch it 3 inches. I couldn’t figure out how it got the hook in its mouth. As for why the fish weren’t biting that is another of those mysteries that only explain why I always bring a few good cigars and a flask of bourbon with me when I go fishing. The trip was a huge success in spite of the lack of catching. What really made the trip a great adventure was the people I met. One night a Mustang convertible pulled into the camp site next to me and a couple got out and started setting up a tent. The tent was big enough for four people and maybe a couple of dogs, but there was only the two of them. The next morning I had made a full pot of coffee and was doing the breakfast dishes when I noticed the guy wondering around aimlessly outside the tent as us guys do when we’re waiting for our dream girl to finish what ever it is they do that makes them our dream girl. (My wife reads this ya know)  So anyway I grabbed a couple of extra cups and went next door to offer the coffee I wasn’t going to drink myself anyway. A tactic I usually use on other fishing persons to ply them for Intel. Obviously these were not fishing persons but I wasn’t going to drink all that coffee myself anyway. As it turned out he was from Quebec Canada and she was a French lady who currently lived in Italy. We had a very interesting conversation and enjoyed each other’s company for just the appropriate amount of time to not keep them from there adventures or me from my fishing. Another interesting incident occurred on the river as I was fishing the inside of a big bend in the river. I noticed a real cowboy trying to move some cattle across the river. I know he was a real cowboy because he was trying to move cattle using a horse. The horse was a pretty good cutting horse to. Also I could tell he was a real cowboy for two other reasons. One his cowboy’s hat had that worn and sweat stained look that only a serious working  man gets, and two because after he finally got the cattle to cross the river he rode up to me and asked if I had a beer in my cooler he could buy from me. I told him that not only did I have a beer in the cooler but that I would give it to him. In fact I had one my self, imagine that. I didn’t mention that I also had cigars and bourbon though. After all he was on the job. I really enjoyed visiting with him and it was nice to see a real cowboy and a real cattle ranch still existed in this part of Montana that has been pretty much invaded by the rich and famous. Then there was the two couples that invited me to share their campfire my last night on the river. In the end the trip was a smashing success because of the great people I met and the knowledge of the Madison I gained. I can’t wait to take Gigi there. Speaking of Gigi what a great time we had last Sunday on Belt Creek. Well I’ll save that story to next time. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it. I did.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to almost flip your boat

The MO continues to drop and the dry fly fishing continues in get better. As I write this the MO is in the 6000 cfs range. Last weekend was good and I caught several fish and had several tugs that I didn’t hook up with. The majority of the fish were 20+ inch bows. I big event was me learning how to flip a drift boat on a flat river. No I didn’t actually flip the boat but it was close. I left the oars dangling while putting some gear away and the down stream oar hit bottom and wedged itself in the oar lock. It then lifted the boat up and almost over. I had to use my spare oar to pry the oar out of the oar lock and all was good after that. No more letting the oars dangle on their own.

Tomorrow is my last day at my current job and I will start a new job on August 9th. This gives me a little more than a week off. I am taking a Montana fishing road trip. I plan to fish the MO, Madison, and Yellowstone rivers. I may fish a few small streams or other rivers if I get the whim to do. No set schedule or destinations just stress free and enjoying Montana. The only definite is that cigars, bourbon, and fly fishing will be involved.

I have been researching different options for my road trip and have come to realize I could spend a lifetime in Montana and never see all it has to offer. The more I read other fishing blogs the more I appreciate how fortunate I am to live where I do. Montana is a great place to live. I enjoy meeting others who appreciate this great place and am always glad to help others enjoy the great opportunities Montana offers. If you ever find yourself in the Helena/Great Falls area or thinking of coming this way let me know and I would gladly share a boat with you on the MO. I will post a report on how the road trip went when I get back.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The River Drops

In case anyone has noticed I changed my display name to Montana Wooly Bugger. Skeeter was my nick name when I was a kid. I thought it might make a good display name but it just didn’t feel right. With my beard I figure I look a little wooly and I live in Montana. The wooly bugger is my go to fly that usually will work for me when all else has failed. This wasn’t the case yesterday. I fished the MO which recently has dropped to 13,400 cfs. I hoped fishing would be a bit better as a result and it was. I started out with my usual routine of deep water nymphing and then running a streamer over the water before moving on. Early in the day I lost the wooly bugger I was using to a bad snag. A bad snag is one where you can’t get the fly free and resort to breaking it off. You get a lot of snags deep water nymphing or in this case streamer fishing. If you aren’t on the bottom you aren’t going to catch fish. So after losing the bugger I decided to try a flashy coffee colored streamer. It was fish on from there I caught a couple on the nymph rig, but the streamer accounted for the vast majority of the fish caught. Like the nice brown, and a 21 inch rainbow. I had probably 25 to 30 strikes and hooked around 20 fish. I landed somewhere around 10. It seemed like every time I tossed the streamer into fishy looking water I got a tug. I’m not counting on spot that about drove me nuts. I fished a spot and got a tug on every second or third cast but when I tried to set the hook there was nothing there. I did notice a few small (really small for the MO) fish probably 6 to 8 inches rising and figured it was these small fish hitting the streamer which was about half as big as the fish. The fish probably weren’t able get the hook into their mouth. Whatever was going on I go a bunch of tugs but only once was anything there when I set the hook. That was the one time I did feel something solid. I think I just pulled the hook out of the fish’s mouth because I hadn’t hesitated to allow the fish to turn after the strike. A great day of fishing and catching was had. The usually cigar and bourbon on the porch at the end of the day was had of course. Thanks to anyone taking the time to read this and if I can stop fishing long enough I’ll figure out how to put picture in here to make this a little more interesting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do I still have it or just how good am I?

While hanging out on the porch at Headhunters fly shop after a day on the MO one of the owners asked when I was going to start guiding. I asked a few questions about how to get started as a guide and eventually asked how many fish a guide would be expected to catch in current high water conditions. The answer was 10 to 20. On my best day lately I have caught 5. Mark, one of the owners and a guide himself, told me that 10 to 20 is “to hand” and that you could expect to lose just as many. My 5 are hooked, not necessarily to hand. So I told him that right there would rule me out as a guide. Mark assured me he could teach me to catch the 10 to 20 “to hand”. He said it was a totally different program fishing as a guide and that as a guide you would oar the boat back up river to re-fish a run several times making changes to the setup being used until you figured out what would work on that run at that time. He implied this was not what the typical recreational (do it yourself) fisher would do and was why a guide would catch more fish. I’m not a competitive person but have been known to go to some pretty extreme lengths to catch fish. I’m not competitive but I do love a challenge. So this last weekend I decided to see just how many fish I could catch if I really put forth the effort. Saturday was my dad’s 75th birthday so I did fish but didn’t have the time to “really put forth the effort”, that had to wait until Sunday. Saturday was a short version of my typical day on the river fishing the usual spots but spending less time at each. I managed to catch 2 fish “to hand”, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. A great time was spent with dad, friends, and family. Sunday I showed up at the put in ready to give it my best effort. I fished the usual spots and spent more time at each. I also wondered a bit and tried some spots I haven’t fished before, at least not in this high water. I changed my set-up several times and tried several different flies. Including some I had purchased over the years that where highly recommended or just looked good. Some of these flies have been sitting in the dark recesses of my fly box for years waiting for me to deviate from my tried and true and take a chance on the new guy. I even drank a little less to spend more time fishing and to keep my mind sharp. I did smoke the usual number of cigars though. At one point I took a channel that in normal summer flows is to shallow to bother with. I anchored the boat just inside the channel and the water was flowing pretty fast. I thought to my self that the water was probably a little to fast to find a fish in but decided to give it a try. On the second cast I hooked up with a beautiful rainbow. It would have been close to the 20 inch mark. I didn’t bring him “to hand”, but I know how beautifully colored it was and how big it was because the channel was narrow and the fish leaped from the water several times giving me several good looks at it before my knot failed. It was spectacular and a sight that is well burned into my memory. It was a huge disappointment to have lost such a fish on such a day because of a rookie mistake, but I still have the memory and after a day of fishing really memories are all you have any way. Well at least it sounds good. The final body count was 5 hookups with 3 to hand. I fish solo most of the time as was the case on this trip and anchor the boat to fish. I was talking with one of the guides that night on the porch and he said that not having someone oaring the boat is why I didn’t do better. He said you need to get the long drift to get the fly down and keep it down for an extended period of time. It makes sense and I do use more weight than most to get the fly down quickly. At any rate as I said at least it sounds good. No matter how many fish I catch I am always happy when I am on or near trout water. I have had many 30 fish to hand days over the years and the body count is not the issue most days, but it is fun to see just what can be accomplished now and then when you really apply yourself. Maybe I’ve just become an old guy that needs to see if he still has it or not. Either way fishing is always good, it’s the catching that is better or worse and the catching is just the bonus anyway.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

4th of July Weedend

My brother’s birthday is July 2nd which fell on Saturday. My dad has a place on Holter Lake (which is actually a reservoir) above Holter Dam. The Missouri flows out of the dam, currently at a rate of 22,000 cfs rather than the normal 4,000 to 6,000. Dad was grilling steaks at the cabin and dinner was at 5pm. My wife Gigi was away for the weekend to a family gathering. I decided that it would be better to leave Friday after work and head to Craig and drink bourbon with the gang at Headhunters, than to sit at home alone. I planned to fish the river Saturday and get out about 4pm giving me time to be at the cabin in time for dinner. I left the bar in Craig at 11pm or so after the usual cigar, bourbon, and BS. I crashed for the night at the cabin and got up and headed for Craig, with a mild hangover, about 6am hoping I could find breakfast, Gaitoraid, and some form of analgesic for my headache. Nothing was open when I got there. I snoozed in the truck waiting for something to open. Mark, one of the owners and guides at Headhunters fly shop stopped by the shop early to grab a quick coffee before heading back out to shoot some early morning photos. He graciously gave me a complimentary Gaitoraid, and asked if one was enough. Gaitoraid is one of the primary ingredients of my standard hangover cure. Food is the other. Mark also had some aspirin in his rig and gave me some for the headache. By this time a trailer dispensing food had opened across the street so I bid Mark a farewell and went across the street and got a cinnamon roll for breakfast. I had arranged my shuttle the night before, between bourbons, and was set to head for the put in. It was a typical day of chucking heavy artillery in high water which rewarded me with two rainbows. After which I made it to my take out at Craig by 4pm and made it to dinner at the cabin on time. I enjoyed a great meal and some quality time with dad, mom, and bro. My dad and brother would shuttle my vehicle the next two days. Sunday was pretty much the same as Saturday with lots of splash and gigglers on the river. Again two rainbows were caught. The one difference from Saturday is that a family floating the river had taken a channel with a low bridge that could not be floated under at current high water levels and ended up flipping their raft. I managed to rescue their cooler which didn’t even have a beer to reward my effort. Someone told me no one was injured in the mishap. One other event did set the day apart from the previous one. As I floated silently around a corner approaching one of my usual fishing spots I saw a drift boat with no one in it on the bank. I looked to see where its occupants were and no one was in sight. Then a young man stood up out of the tall grass with only a pair of shorts on. He was then followed by a young female (both were in their 20’s) she was similarly attired. She had on a bikini bottom but no top. She casually looked around then spotted me spotting her. We starred at each other much like a deer stares into the headlights of an oncoming vehicle just before being struck. Then a look of realization came across her face and she plummeted back into the tall grass. The angler in me over rode the gentleman in me and I stopped just down stream to fish not wanting to pass up one of my usual fishing spots just to save the vanity of some young damsel. One must have priorities and one of mine is fishing. I fished again the next day and did a bit better in the body count department catching 3 trout, 1 walleye, and a sucker. It was a great time on the river with a lot less pressure than was expected for a holiday weekend. Cocktails on the porch at Headhunters were great with Mark doing his usual great fob of cooking up dogs and burgers on the Weber grill. I am looking forward to another great time on the river this weekend. It will be my dads turn as birthday boy as he will turn 75 this Saturday. The party starts at 2pm so I will pass on the hangover this time and get an early start on the river. Not sure that I will pass on the cocktails though since Gigi will be attending another family function. Here’s hoping everyone has a great time fishing and the river drops soon.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fly & Drive 2011

OK so Fly & Drive 2011 is done and over with. It is always good but could have been better. The dam guys let out 2000 more cfs just before we set out on our first day of fishing. This made a mess of the water and really put a damper on the fishing. I did manage to hook into a fish with a streamer but didn’t land it. It was my first 30 inch brown and I didn’t even get a look at him. (That is a joke by the way) a guy on the porch at the fly shop wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was saying and got all excited for a bit. His friend laughing hysterically must have clued him into the fact that I was pulling his chain. So as you have surmised by now fishing was good but catching was slow. Day one was spent working what soft water we could find, but to no avail. Towards the end of the float there is a side channel with a low bridge that in high water, as we are currently experiencing, can not be floated under. While casting in vain trying to get a fish to take my streamer Gigi said “isn’t that the channel with the low bridge?” I said yeah as I looked up and saw a boat floating well into it. We watched as the boat stopped and some poor bastard started rowing his ass off to get back up the channel. They did finally make it. Day two, and still fishing, we had a pretty uneventful day, but the same drift boat with the same 3 guys again provided the day’s main entertainment. I had seen the boat and three guys across the river. They had anchored the boat and where standing on a bank a few feet above the river. (This bank is usually five to eight feet above the river) They were casting except for one guy I saw running along the bank with his dog chasing after him. My first thought was that he was playing with his dog, but then I noticed the drift boat drifting. There wasn’t anyone in the boat. I didn’t think they would be able to retrieve the boat with the water running at 22,000+ cfs. Worst, I was afraid one of them would drown in the attempt. I put my rod down and told Gigi to get ready to haul ass. I was the only other boat in sight and figured I would have to chase the boat down and possibly rescue someone from the high water. Just as I was about to pull up the anchor one of the guys grab the boat while standing in waist deep water. He got back to shore ok with the boat. We wrapped up the second day of fishing early and went to the bar-b-que and festivities in Craig. A great time was had talking with some tourists and product reps, and then we took in the movies on the outdoor deck. We spent the next two days in Ennis, MT on the bank of the raging Madison River. Fishing was not an option so we played golf, and spent too much money in the shops in Ennis. It has been a great experience being married to Gigi for the last 19 years. I am lucky to have such an adventurous and fun sole mate. I can’t wait to see what great adventures await us in the next 19 years.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fly & Drive

Wow! How life can get away from you if you let it. Sorry I haven’t written anything in a while.  That’s assuming there’s anyone reading this to care. Well since my last post about Gigi and me taking our first trip together in the new boat we have gone fishing again over Father’s Day. The river is still running rampant but the tributaries are clearing up and leaving more of the river fishable. We both caught several fish and had a great time. How could you not have a great time fishing? That is barring the serious tragedies. I can’t think of a single time when I was fishing that I didn’t have a good time. Even the times when I was fishing by some other means than fly fishing, which is dam seldom. Not that I am a purist or anything I just enjoy fly fishing way more than any other type of fishing. Although it is a bit of a stretch to call the fishing I’ve been doing lately fly fishing. I mean really! I fish with a bobber (called a strike indicator by fly fishers) and put split shot on my line, then I use a fly tied to resemble a worm. If I wasn’t using a fly rod, fly line, and worm created in a fly tying vise it wouldn’t be fly fishing. Personally I think all fishing is good, but will fly fish over all others if given a choice. I am so looking forward to the next 5 days. It is my 19th wedding anniversary we are going to spend the next two days fishing ending with a fly fishing film festival/tour thing in the trout town of Craig, MT. The films will be shown on an outdoor deck with plenty of adult beverages. It amounts to a great small town street party in a trout town (my favorite kind). Then we will head to Ennis, MT (another trout town but with unfishable water due to the horrendous amount of run off) and will spend two days running fly shops and playing golf. Gigi has taken a pretty strong liking to golf and fly fishing is my true second love. So every year on our anniversary we do our annual “Fly & Drive” trip. Fly fishing and driving golf balls. Usually we do the fishing farther from home but our home water is the only fishable water in the state right now. I have a pretty deadly cast out to 40 feet and not to bad beyond that, but I can’t hit a golf ball for shit. For me golf is a great way to send time outdoors with my wife and, what else, smoke cigars and drink bourbon. The weather is going to cooperate that is if the weather man is not full of horse pucky. Well Gigi just came home and read what I have just written. She (in a way only my wife could do) informed me she can think of several times that I didn’t enjoy going fishing when I was “cussing and swearing”. Well those were portions of trips when she was rowing or not fishing correctly, but that is another story for another time. I did enjoy those trips though even though there might have been some shall we say tense moments. I have since mellowed and all is well going into year twenty. I need to go now. There are leaders to tie and mend as well as other chores to prepare for the Fly & Drive like making sure the cigars and bourbon got put in the camper. Here’s hoping to see you on the river.

Monday, June 6, 2011

First trip together in the new boat

I am sitting on my patio doing my usual, smoking a cigar and drinking bourbon. It’s what I do when I can’t go fishing and don’t have to work. Come to think of it it’s what I do when I can go fishing and don’t have to work. I just fish while I’m doing it. This weekend a great time was had on the river. My wife and I spent Saturday fishing the MO. It was her first trip of the year and in the new drift boat. We took along a bottle of Champaign that we’ve had lying around for several years. Don’t remember where we stole it from. Must have been a wedding, but I just don’t remember. Maybe I’ve drank to much bourbon, or not enough.  It was a pretty standard day on the river caught some fish and celebrated our first day of sunshine and first trip in the new boat together drinking Champaign and eating strawberries for lunch. My wife the, wine snob, gave me a short but sweet lesson on Champaign informing me that what we were drinking was not REAL Champaign. It was instead a sparkling wine from California. She said REAL Champaign comes from the Champaign region of France. Whatever! The cork popped loudly and it was bubbly.  The weather was true summer weather. Hot 70 something and sunshine. The river was still flowing at 14,000 plus cfs. The fishing was deep nymphing with lots of split shop. We did get a nice rainbow that measured 19 ¾ inches. After reaching our takeout we head for the porch at Headhunters and drank more, ate tacos, and caught up on the latest BS. Another couple from Idaho was there and we swapped fish stories (otherwise known as lies outside fishing circles) and shared a few opinions. All said it was a great time.

I am going to have to spend some time learning how to incorporate pictures into my blogs to make it a little more interesting. Please hang in there anyone who is reading this and I will try to make things more interesting.

The wife is gone on business this week and will be spending next weekend visiting siblings so I will be playing bachelor this week. Next weekend I will most likely be back on the river as it is what I love and live for. A guy I was talking to commented that we should be home mowing the lawn, and I agreed saying how bad I was feeling about that. Oh well maybe another day. For now I guess I will just have to have another drink, smoke another cigar, and wait for the next chance to hit the river.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anxiously awaiting the weekend

I am really looking forward to this weekend. According to the weather report it will be the first really nice weekend we’ve had this year. Temps are supposed to be in the 70s with a high of 80 for Sunday. If all goes as planned Saturday will be my wife’s first trip in the new drift boat. The water will still be high and fast, but fishing should be decent. It will be deep nymphing watching the thing-a-ma-bobber strike indicator. Personally I like all methods of fly fishing, but my favorite is catching big fish on streamers. Dry fly fishing is what most fishers prefer, but I love swinging streamers and the feel of a big fish slamming the fly. One of the best experiences for me is to target a specific fish and catch it. I have done this with all techniques, and no matter what technique you use it is always a thrill. You get more of a sense that you caught the fish because of your skill instead of just a chance encounter. Last Sunday I was fishing a tandem fly setup on a 12 ft 2X leader with 2 BB split shots.   I caught several fish, but the best was the last. I was about to call it quits when a nice bow rolled just within casting range. I couldn’t let the challenge go unanswered. On the second cast the fish took my fly. After a good fight the fish was landed and released. I am hoping to get my wife into several good fish. I have as much fun putting others into good fish as I do catching them myself. As usual I am also looking forward to a good cigar and a couple of bourbons on the porch at Headhunter fly shop at the end of the day. If you are ever in the neighborhood let me know and I’ll be glad to point you in the right direction. If I can I will even join you. One of the best parts of fishing here in Montana is the people you meet. Being a world class fishery people come from all over to fish the MO. You meet a lot of really interesting folks on the river and in the local watering holes. Hope to see you on the water, porch, or watering hole. If your not into chucking and ducking with heavy artillery you may want to wait until August though. Fishing is always good!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

Cool I got my first follower! Wow someone is actually reading this. I guess I am going to have to start getting serious about my writing now. This Memorial Day weekend was all about fishing. The Missouri river is my home water and the only fishable water in Montana right now as I understand. The Big Horn should be fishable since it is also a tail-water with a large reservoir to act as a settling pond. The Missouri (or MO as we affectionately call it) is running at just under 14,000 (yes 14 thousand) cfs right now. The weather was pretty good on Saturday, and the traffic on the river was heavier than I have seen it this year. I floated from Holter dam to the town of Craig. Saturday was the second voyage in the new boat, and she handled the high water like a champ. The fishing was good, but then as I always say fishing is always good. I am still learning the finer points of putting in and taking out a drift boat. Putting in below the dam was a bit of a challenge as the large amount of water being released caused a lot of wave action which bounced the boat against the rocks and boat ramp. I ended up blocking the ramp for a few minutes while I parked the truck and trailer then sprinted back to the boat. Sorry guys I will do better in the future. That must have been a sight watching this fat guy running in waders across the parking lot. I rigged my 5 weight Sage rod for deeeeep nymphing and my 8 wt Winston for streamers. Hooked 6 and lost 2 nymphing. Zip with the streamers. Sunday floated from Wolf Creek Bridge to Craig and just used the Sage 5wt and nymph setup. Hooked 5 and lost 2. Great time fishing, drinking beer, and smoking cigars on the river. Also enjoyed bourbon and cigar both evenings on the porch at my favorite fly shop in Craig (Headhunters). Headhunter’s porch and Yetti cooler have become legendary in Craig. If you are ever in Craig some evening and see a guy smoking a cigar and BSing with the guides stop and say hi. I am that guy! I guess that makes me that guy at the porch. Most evenings in Craig you can find several guides and an assortment of others, like me, hanging out, drinking an assortment of concoctions, and BSing on the porch at Headhunters. I highly recommend Headhunters for your fly-fishing needs whether it’s a guide or DIY trip. Anyway enough with the plug for Headhunters fly shop. Monday I was too tired to do anything. Just slept in and did some grocery shopping with the wife. I can’t wait until next weekend to get back to the MO and the porch. The weather is supposed to be nicer and hopefully I can get my wife to come along. I need someone to oar the boat.

See you on the porch with cigars, bourbon, and fly-fishing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My First Drift Boat

I have a raft that has been my fishing vessel of choice for many, many years and always thought I would like to someday have a drift boat. I hadn’t seriously considered buying a drift boat because the raft was more versatile. It allowed me to take family and occasionally friends out for a day of recreational floating, otherwise known as the splash and giggle crowd, as well as being a platform from which to fish. In my own defense I have to say that no one was wearing a two piece swim suit that shouldn’t be wearing a two piece swimsuit in my boat. That is unless you are the father of the young girl wearing the two piece swimsuit as I was at time. I was only concerned about the dangers of skin cancer, as any father would be. Honest! Then in later years after the kids grew up and moved out (and away) I didn’t seriously consider a drift boat because I didn’t have anyone to help oar the boat. My old fishing buddies either moved away and/or had kids of their own which lead to spending time going to soccer games and etc. instead of going fishing. I did purchase a watermaster inflatable which is a great way to fish because it allows you to controlling the boat with your lower extremities like the one person pontoon boats. Still I kept thinking that it would be nice to have a drift boat. A few months ago I decided to buy a drift boat and started doing researching. I talked to some local fishing guides/fly shop owners, and spent many hours on the web looking at boats and finally decided on the boat and features I wanted. Then I searched for just the right boat. I finally found it. It was a used boat for sale by a boat manufacturer in a town 100 miles away. I called and arranged to meet the seller one evening, and drove an hour and a half one way after work to look at it. The owner had been a fishing guide prior to becoming a boat builder. The boat was just what I wanted but had some minor damage which the owner agreed to fix and he agreed to make some slight modification. He said the work would be done a week later. Here is where the story gets interesting. I called the seller on a Thursday to verify that the boat would be ready for me to pick up Saturday and he assured me it would be. Beginning to get the picture aren’t you? My plan was to pick the boat up Saturday morning at 8am, and since this would mean driving past one of the best trout fishing rivers in the world I would have to incorporate some fishing time into the itinerary. Some things just can’t be helped. This meant I had to be on the road by 6:30am which meant I had to get up by 4:00am (I had to make lunch, pack fishing gear, cigars, and bourbon). On the way home with the boat I was going to stop and spend the day fishing. I arrived promptly at 8am, but as you have already guessed the boat was not ready. I didn’t even get a phone call to save me the hour and a half drive, one way, past a world famous trout fishery. Damn! Apparently the two owner/boat builders decided the day before that they should take some time off to go fishing and left an employee behind to finish the work on my boat. These guys arrived back at their place of business, as the story goes, about 3:30 am and found their, not so trusty, employee hadn’t finished the work as promised. When I arrived these same two where awaiting my arrival very sheepish looking (one very hung over looking hopefully not the designated driver) and apologized for not having the boat ready. I was quite disappointed and a little pissed about this as you can imagine. They offered to give me a loaner boat so I could at least still go fishing and switch boats later. I declined and told them that I would be back tomorrow to get the boat and we could adjust the price accordingly. Later, after a couple of bourbons and a cigar, I called the seller. We arranged to meet Sunday at mid point and I would pick up the boat. A significant reduction in price was agreed to along with a few smaller concessions. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get him to agree to throw in a bottle of bourbon and some cigars. I now am the proud and happy owner of my first drift boat. What I have learned from this experience is don’t plan on taking delivery Saturday morning from a couple of ex fishing guides that are likely to do on a Friday what I would have done if I would have thought of it. I should have made arrangements to meet them in the little trout town that was the halfway point and let them buy the drinks with the money I gave them for the boat. By the way anyone want to by a raft? Oar a boat?
If you’re on a river or in a bar on a river in Montana and see a guy smoking a cigar while drinking bourbon be sure to say hello and how’s the boat. You can ask about the fishing but the answer is always the same. It’s always a good day to go fishing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just getting started

Hi and thanks to anyone who happens to stumble onto this. This is my first attempt at creating a blog. I hope you will enjoy what I write and  be patient while I learn. I have used computers as a business tool however I am pretty new to using them as a social media. I enjoy writting and especially about fly fishing, and intend this to be a way to share my stories and adventures with others. Thanks for stopping by and come back from time to time and see how things progress.