Saturday, May 31, 2014

Caddis Festival 2014

I had a three day weekend over the 17th, 18th, & 19th which I spent camped out near the trout town of Craig, Montana. Saturday was the opening day of general fishing season and the annual Caddis Festival was being held in Craig. The Caddis Festival is a barbecue and street party held annually to raise money for the volunteer fire department. The festivities didn’t start until 4:00pm so there was ample time for anglers to get in some fishing without missing out on the festivities. I spent the earlier part of the day fishing with my oldest grandson, while my wife took our younger grandson on a geocaching adventure. If you don’t know what geocaching is feel free to google it. The short definition is a treasure hunt with a GPS. Fishing with the grandson is a new thing for both of us. He’s tried fly fishing only one other time which was last year. I’m not gifted with a great deal of patients with kids and was concerned how my nerves would hold up. Overall things went well. The only fish to hand for the day was caught by accident next to the boat ramp while I was giving some basic instructions. We fished with a wire worm and nymphs under a strike indicator, and the indicator did go down on many occasions. Most were probably caused by bumping the bottom but at least one was a fish that was on the line momentarily. It was a pretty uneventful day with slow catching. Saw bald eagles, pelicans, geese, and deer and I learned a lot about fishing with kids. The lack of fish caught was a bit disappointing but a good time was had. We got in at the takeout about 1:00pm which was earlier than I had anticipated. I usually fish alone and use the boat to get from one spot to the next stopping the boat to fish a run or hole until ready to move on. So I wasn’t sure just how long the float would take especially with the water running faster than normal at over 8,000 cfs. Everything worked out pretty well though. Our getting to the take out earlier than expected allowed time to load the boat, put fishing gear away, and for me to get out of my waders. It was at this point I discovered I had left on a three day trip and had forgotten my shoes. I put my waders on before leaving the house and left my shoes at home. I’d been considering purchasing a pair of wading shoes from Headhunter Fly Shop and the decision just became a lot easier. My memory just isn’t what it used to be; at least I don’t think it is. Maybe I just don’t remember how it was. Too many years and too much whiskey or is it not enough whiskey? After getting the fishing gear stowed away, donning pants and new shoes, and cracking open a cold beer I was ready for the festival even though it didn’t officially start for a while yet. About this time my wife and other grandson joined up with us. We chatted and gave each other accounts of our day’s adventures then the wife and both grandsons left to go on more adventures of the geocaching sort. I was left to drink beer, smoke cigars, mingle with the crowd, and in general allow my nerves to unravel. The festival was a great hit with way more people in town than usual. The weather was perfect and a lot of people where out including a motorcycle club and a Corvette club. I checked out all 3 fly shops and visited with the venders. My wife and grandsons eventually showed up and gave more accounts of their adventures. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the parade, which the grandkids where in, and eating barbeque. As it got into late evening my wife and grandsons headed back to Great Falls and I stayed behind to fish again the next day. I ran into some fishing buddies at Izaak’s and we drank beer together while discussing fishing & other manly subjects. A conversation sprang up with a group of gals and at one point a couple of the gals took my buddies onto the deck where the music was, to do some dancing. I was left there standing next to a really nice young lady named Molly. After a moment she struck up a conversation by asking me where I was from and what had brought me to Craig. I told her I was there for the festival and to do some fishing. She asked me what I was floating. I was puzzled not sure what exactly she was asking. Obviously I was floating the Missouri River. I asked if she meant what stretch of river I was floating. She said no, what boat do you float. So I went into my normal spiel about my drift boat which is a predecessor of the Adipose Flow. It struck me that only in a trout town in Montana would a sweet young girl ask a guy (even a well seasoned one such as myself) what drift boat he owned. About 11:00pm my buddies and I bid each other farewell and strolled off to our camps for the night. Here it is two weeks later and I have another three day weekend. This time I am taking the younger grandson fishing. We’ll see how it goes with the water bumped up to over 10,000 cfs. There’s supposed to be more cloud cover though so maybe the fishing will be a bit better. You can read about this adventure in my next post.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Day With Nick And The Fish Magnet

This year’s trip started the night before with us making sure all our needed gear and then some was packed and ready to go. We packed two 5 wt graphite rods; one was my old reliable workhorse rod a Sage RPL that has been with me over 25 years now, and the other my wife Gigi’s Winston. Then just in case this happened to be the day the fish started poking their noses out and sipping on midges and BWO’s I threw in the Sweetgrass Mantra bamboo rod I bought last October and haven’t had much opportunity to fish with yet. Then I gave some serious thought to throwing in the 8wt streamer rod for good measure. I couldn’t help at least thinking about it. It’s the streamer junkie in me. The rods where then followed with an assortment of other items deemed necessary for a day on the water in late April. Hats, gloves, handwamers, rain gear, and of course the condiments: wine (for her), bourbon, and cigars.

We arrived Sunday morning at 8am in the thriving metro Craig area, well at least the parking and driveway around Headhunters fly shop was thriving. To be honest I really didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the town except for a brief whimsical gaze in the direction of Joe’s Bar. We met up with Nick, our guide for the day, who was already there and exchange pleasantries, decided on section of river to float, and transferred gear from our vehicle to his.

We started at the Wolf Creek Bridge without incident just the usual trips to the little unisex room. I have to admit it is nice having someone rigging rods for you and putting the boat in the water while you light a cigar and enjoy the view. Or in Gigi’s case wonder around the area contemplating possible hiding places for a geocache reportedly in the immediate area.

The boat was launched and so began our day on the water. It was a great day of nymphing with a long leash and some scud imitations. Gigi as usual caught at least 2 fish to my one, and probably even better than that but who’s counting? On many occasions Gigi had a fish on before I even had my line all the way out. Chicks rule and she was a fish magnet on the water. The fish are definitely becoming more energetic with the warming water temps. Didn’t get a look at the backing but came close on a couple of occasions. We were into fish all day long with mostly sunny skies and cool temps 40 to 50 degrees. The big “W” reared its ugly head at times but had an adequate number of merciful reprieves to keep the day fun. Half way through the float I was thinking this was going to be to short of a day that we should have chosen a longer float, but by the time we reached spite hill to take out I had caught plenty of fish and was more than ready to bring a great time to a great end. Of course Gigi being the show off fish magnet she is caught one last fish as we headed in to the takeout.

Once again I ended a day of guided fishing as a slightly better angler then I started with a few more tidbits of knowledge added to my 35 plus years of experience. It never ceases to amaze me how little I know. After fishing the Missouri River 50 plus days a year for 35 plus years I still am learn new things every time I fish with someone else or read a book. This was my fourth guided trip in my life and my third on the Missouri and I have ended each trip a little better angler than when I started. Thanks Nick for a great day.