Stalking trout with dry flies. Floating, wading, and camping along the rivers. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Winter trips to Mexico.

May 23, 2018

The Roads


Nobody but me.  If only it could look like this in coming weeks.  Not!
So I’ve been debating whether to take the high road or the low road in preserving this trip.  The high road is always best.  The low road is more realistic.   But I’ll start with the high road.  Everything is green!  And wet.  Summer is coming.  So are the bugs.  
#14 Dun Variant.  Sparse.  Realistic.  Love the old school.  So do the trout.

The Fork was running a nice clean 600 cfs.  No weeds, no people, and very few bugs or rising fish.  But there were a few.  March Browns!  Caddis.  Nice to throw a #14 again, and have it be eaten every time.  Just not many targets, and not many quality ones.  It felt right though, to be home again, and imagine 3 weeks down the (high) road.

Not much company here either
Depuys was ok.  No weeds!  A different river with no weeds.  I managed to find a fish or two up in the slow pool until the wind came up late-morning.  So, a few hours of casting to some sporadic risers to midges.  A few ate, and it was a nice $80 morning. The re-entry run was like a lake, I assume due to the high water on the Yellowstone?   Got some Harrop flies at Anderson’s, and had a good Blizzard at DQ!  I like Livingston.  There were a couple guys nymphing the riffles, and . . . killin’ it!
Flooded due to high water on Yellowstone?
The Wyoming spring creek I pass coming and going was windy as hell both ways, and I didn’t see a single rise in two full passes up and down it.  Didn’t even see a fish.
3 hours--No bugs
The Beaverhead was as clear as I’ve seen it in years.  No weeds.  The bobber guys were killin’ it, but I never saw a fish rise in two days.  So goes the Beav. in May I guess.  But it sure did look nice, and the nymph guys were . . . well . . . Ya.

And there we have it.  I didn’t make many casts.  $2.86 gas.  Rain every day.  A fair share of wind.  Furnace running in the trailer nightly. Got my Montana and Idaho licenses for the season.  Had a nice chat with Rene at the overlook.  Grabbed some nice salmonflies for July from Kelly’s before they sell out.  Passed on a new partridge and some other soft-hackle skins at Blue Ribbon, for now. Montana is still there, though still quite snowcapped.  Most everything at flood stage.  I stayed on the high road, but I sensed my wheels might be going slightly out of alignment.  I mean, I gotta fish, and it’s nice to catch a few on occasion.

After lots of driving and meandering around with hours to give it careful, deep thought, I’ve decided that if I ever exit the high road, I won’t sugar-coat it with some kind of dry-dropper, denial kind of shit.  Nope, I’ll put on a bright bobber like the other clowns, and some bottom-dredging contraption under it, and rip the shit out of ‘em.  I have some distant memories of the 80’s, one fish after another, and can probably still do it.  Doesn’t look too hard.  Sling, mend, jerk, repeat.  Every hacker on the Beaverhead had a bent rod.  Nice fish too!

But those beads, God I hate the idea of using a hook with a damn bead on it.  That’s the ditch on the side of the low road.  And the idea of crimping or otherwise attaching weight to my leader makes me want to puke.  I won’t go eggs and worms.  So how do I fish a sparse little nymph with a fucking bobber but no weight?  If I tie some with weight on a hook, then they’re too fat, like all the nymphs I disposed of decades ago.  I guess I could just fish the bigger freestones with big weighted stonies or the venerable Pat’s Rubber Leg.  But those rivers are all flooding, so that wouldn’t have done me any good.  Maybe a sparse, weightless nymph with just enough yarn to suspend it in a long dead drift?  That low road is complicated stuff.
Well, the good news is that my next departure date is June 13.  The Ranch.  Drakes, PMD’s, Salmonflies, caddis, the usual June menu of big bugs.  I’ve got 4 days in early July on the creeks.  Lock!  Silver Creek will be open. The high road awaits.  I hope the other rivers drop into shape sooner than expected. I hope we are in for a few years of drought. (I love drought years—not one river I’ve ever fished has dried up in the worst drought cycles of my life!) Maybe I’ll rant in another post about that.  But mainly I hope to keep steering straight down the high road. 

May 16, 2018

Now What Coach?

Hmmm.  Leaving home for a week.  What to do.  There's a spring creek on the way north, but it probably won't have a hatch.  Henry’s Fork Salmonfly hatch around Ashton with all the rest of the western fly fishing world?  Craig Caddis Fest @13,900 just to see if all the accesses are closed due to flooding and find a deal on something I don't need?  Won't be wading.  Long drive just for that.

Opening day on the Beaverhead Saturday @650 with the other half of all the rest of the western fly fishing world.  Wait, the site says Clark Canyon 100 percent full, inflow is 700, and outflow is 600.  ???  Where’s that other 100 going?

Depuys has open days all week except for one day.  Wonder why?  Madison below the lake, or between the lakes?  That river sure is fast.  Park is closed until Memorial Day weekend.  So is Silver Creek.

I have three very good fishable waters within 90 minutes of home, but what fun is that?
Maybe I’ll just go fish Last Chance @900 for a few days and hope to see some big March Browns, and then go sight-seeing or something.  Should go to Oregon.  Deschutes redsides and salmonflies?  Owyhee @ a nice 170?  Hmmm.  I’ve got a few hours to decide.

Mar 20, 2018

One Traditional Fly (1830 cfs)

Cloudy.  Windy at times.  2:00 hatch.  Fish up. One fly.  Here's why.
This is how it started!

The only fly I tied on all afternoon.  It caught, and caught, and caught.

Even some "Bows today.

Glass smooth downstream presentations with the wind blowing down.

The "PHD" channel was challenging.  Cloud cover let it happen.

"Splashdown" rock even yielded a fish or two

This flat boiled whenever the wind stopped

Mar 13, 2018

One More Time

I needed to get a couple of fish I didn't get two days ago.  You know, it's just unfinished business.  Same place, different flies, different day, lighter hatch, less wind, warmer.  I couldn't take a decent fish picture today to save my life.  Cold water, lost grips, shitty angles, stirring up silt, just poor execution.  I kinda gave up on that, but fishing and catching was ok.

Tried to do a good deed and return a lost bottle of floatant to an upstream angler, and it kinda backfired.  Oh well, I stayed on the high road, and got the last chuckle catching the "uncatchable" fish from the "uncatchable" angle as the guy stood upstream of me at the head of the riffle, with his arms folded like I did something wrong.  I fished straight upstream, inches from the bank, in 6 inches of water.  It worked. The Brits do it too. 

Killer on the Mo, worked here too.

Worked as a BWO emerger too

Mar 11, 2018

March at Home (1770 cfs)

Its been a whole year since I fished the trout-filled river that's my "home water" by definition.  It's a winter thing, and I've been busy or unable most of the winter.  In addition, the water has been at 2,800 cfs, about twice my liking.  Now it is down during the day, so back to the familiar water, the familiar run, with the familiar flies.  A little bit of adjusting after two weeks of tarpon fishing, but like riding a bike, it came back quick.  "Forage," my friend Don calls 'em, but when the forage is foraging on top to midges and baetis, I still like fishing to the forage.  More than like it, it's a part of me, and a necessary part of my existence.

The wind blew constantly 5-10 straight upstream, so all the fishing was upstream, right over the fish.  Greased leader and all, no problems.  Midges were sparse, as were risers, until the BWO's started up around 1 pm.  It was steady action from there despite clear skies and constant wind.  Just like it usually is, and is supposed to be.  Fairly easy and therapeutic.  There were a few I couldn't get to eat, but that is a good thing too.  They entertained me for quite some time.
Bank Feeders

Of Course

A few ate it!

All the way up in the afternoon

Just enough

Cheating, but they loved it

Feb 21, 2018

The Traditional Return

Early February is generally the deepest, darkest point of winter, so that's when Campeche pulls the hardest, and I've learned to anticipate it and book early!  This year, well, winter hadn't come yet, but sunny and 85 still has it's draw.  As does the greatest sport fish on the planet.  So off we went.

We hit it perfect this week.  7 days of light winds, good tides early on, warm temperatures, and abundant tarpon just offshore of the mangroves.  For a couple of the days we made the long 90-minute run to hit the area at the right time, the offshore grass flats were loaded with fish, sometimes acres of them!  The inshore creeks had fish when the water was moving, as did the lagoons close to Campeche.  The biggest ones got away this trip, but that's the way it works, usually.   I'll remember them. 

It has become familiar, expected, and sometimes even predictable as we cruise into a creek or flat and the first rollers appear.  "Everything's ok, I'm home now."  Its a comfortable familiarity, like walking down the ranch trail, or driving into one of the spring creeks. I can't imagine ever getting tired of it, or bored with it, or being less challenged to get it right.  These tarpon are still too far from home to become "regular fish," but it's kinda cool to recognize the sweet spots from one year to the next, and just get "that" feeling as we pole in that the most magnificant events in sport fishing are about to happen.  I still get weak knees, buck fever, and intense euphorea.

Some have attemped to describe it, TV has attempted to illustrate it and take you there, but its nothing seeing that roll, making that cast, seeing the Silver King turn and eat your fly, stripping that line for all your worth, and the eruption that always follows.   You have to be there.  I was there.  It happened.  Great week with another addict just crazy enough to spend 7 days on a boat with.  We scarily think alike at times.  Makes for a fun week.  We shall continue to return.
"Nine-Jump" Tarpon.  Had to be there.