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

Mar 7, 2022

Mar 4, 2022

Meat and midges

My old Clacka, still in the hands of Dutch John full-timer Trevor Mattinson.  

Bluebird days trying to break the fish out of their winter slump, but not helping the BWO's too much.  Just a light showing on A, none on B.  Afternoon streamers better than mornings.

Getting back to normal, enjoying the few days of warm before the storm, following the coldest airmass of the season.  Streamers turned some nice fish.  Tim couldn't keep 'em off the midge larvae.  Just one-timers on dries for the most part.

Been a rough stretch.  Three brushes with death in the last 12 years.  Cancer in '09. Two seconds from certain death from a reckless boater in '20. Now a heart attack while on the lake Jan. 26.  Air-lifted out, but not reaching the hospital for over 3 hours.  How many more lives can I have left?😕

Worst part was that doctors advised against foreign air travel and tarpon fishing in remote areas within two weeks of the event.  Fucked up a perfectly planned repeat of last Feb. with  perfect tides.  I coulda done it.  Shoulda?  Hindsight.  Death is one thing, but missing 8 days in Campeche will haunt for months.

Now I'm fishing local a little, working a treadmill and bike over an hour at a whack, and counting down to June.  Just had a shot in the shoulder to hopefully buy some time for the nagging torn rotator cuff that cut into my casting hours last season.  I'll be bringing home a new fishing buddy this weekend too.  


Live every day.  Don't put off 'till tomorrow what you can do today.  The best quote I ever got from a client: "Jimmy, you aren't going to be laying there on your death bed saying, 'boy, I sure wish I would have worked that week instead of taking off and going fishing.' "  Covid got him 13 months ago.

100 percent blocked for over 3 hours.

Modern medicine in about 45 minutes.  (And people say the costs are too high!🙄)

Pedal to the metal . . . 

Nov 5, 2021

Warm Bay

What do they say, "It was just nice to get out there?"  It was, for the most part.  Spent 8 days fishing with my amigo Juan.  Learned a couple new tricks.  Caught a couple of tarpon.  Well, a few more than that but not many.  Enjoyed the 80's and 90's.  No rain.

We did have two closed harbor days due to wind.  I caught one of those bacterial things that put me down for the count for 2 1/2 days before the antibiotic kicked in, but one of those was a windy day anyway.  Champoton was very so-so, with too much wind to fish the mouth, and some baby babies up the river if you got your fly deep enough.  Ughh. 

Long runs to the fish most days.  There were some schools of fish close to La Jaina, but fast moving and it was always breezy there.  Same for north of Piedra.  Saw Alejandro's boats up there daily as well.  Offshore of Isla Lote there were some schools of juveniles, but again they were truckin' along and shots were hard to come by.  It was windy out there every time.  Just never did find the magic spot at the right time.

I think I jumped more fish each single day back in February that I jumped this whole trip, but Bryan and I both knew we would never match that week, and only occasionally even have a day like the 7 in a row we had last trip.  I tried to set myself up for reality, but this week seemed especially tough compared to most, and we never even got one or two of those magic days where it's like Disneyland for a few hours.  I should know this happens better than anybody, and I do, but I don't have to like it.  Dues paid though.  That's what I tell everybody when the fishing is shitty on my boat.

Had to fish a lot of lead-eyes

Flip Flop Gurgler did get a few

I got an eat or two on all of these, but nothing stood out.

Oct 15, 2021

Cold Creek

From Beaverhead clear to Silver Creek clear.  A clear water contrast.  Dad's old saying, "If you can see them, they can see you" rings true.  Hell, they can see you before you ever think of seeing them.  Sometimes they just tolerate it.  You see their wake or their body fly past you.

Let me first say that fishing in the cold rain/snow mix is not all what it's hyped up to be.  Sure, it keeps crowds down a little, makes the fish a bit more approachable, and keeps the bugs on the water longer.  However, those things don't offset having to powder your fly every three or four casts to maybe keep it floating, doing so with numb fingers, and fighting the extra layers just to move and cast.  That's how day one went.

The mahoganies led things off about 11am, and were followed by the little olives a couple hours later.  Both lasted into late afternoon.  There were just enough mahoganies to get the fish eatin' 'em.  The baetis brought up the steady risers.  There were a lot of 13-15 inch fish to be had, but the bigger ones stayed in the near-impossible lies and deeper holes in the weedy muck.  I did get a couple, and broke off/weeded a couple of dandies.  6X gets some really great drifts and eats.  5X passes, and gives you a punchers chance.  

Day two dawned bright and sunny, and the air seemed much warmer, though in fact was only in the low 40's all day.  The hatches were nearly identical to day one, though the bugs had a little more spunk to them and they could dry their wings.  Both bugs were on schedule, and didn't really slow down until mid afternoon.  Some wind made its presence, so only certain bends remained fishable though the afternoon.  There was always a target or three to cast to.  I could feel my fingers and keep my flies up and visible. Made for a more enjoyable day.  I lost or missed the 3 or 4 big fish eats today.  A couple of heartbreakers.  No break offs though.

Day three had all kinds of promise with light cloud cover and no wind.  Well, for a while anyway.  I walked in to the confluence where I had it all to myself.  There were no mahoganies though, and just as the baetis started and a few fish began to rise, the wind came up and put the fish back down.  I did manage a nice brown before the wind.  Lots of walking downstream and back out.  I fished just downstream of point of rocks after my afternoon BLT at Picabo Angler, and got some regular sized ones in the wind.  Just a tough day overall.

Day four?  The pattern continues.  Fishing the middle section below the visitor center, mahoganies started, a few baetis, and then the wind just when things looked like they were going to happen.  Biggest winds of the last four days.  Made it a short day, and was out of there by 1pm.  It was 35 degrees on the truck thermometer driving back to camp.  The weekend is coming.  Just not quite enough bugs to bring the bigger fish up.  

Not quite a long enough window to head to the Owyhee.  Not really feeling the crowds on the Boise.  It's cold as ice up on the Fork.  (Tempting though, really tempting)  Time to call it a trip.  End of fall.  Rest the back and shoulder for a few days.  See a chiropractor.  Tarpon are calling.  7 and 8 weights.  I think I can . . . 

Creek was just below snow level

My foul weather day of the fall.  All day.  Won't make a habit out of it!

I could make a habit out of these though.

Mahoganies in the house at 11am.

Rainbows eating them too

One of the few I could keep floating for a few casts in the rain

Building a new visitor's center, but parking has been added below it

Ate my mahogany softie, dry for a few casts

This one

And to think, they don't want the browns in here.

Gray and rainy all day 

More new "habitat improvements."  There are now official access points to enter the stream to minimize bank erosion.  Probably a good thing given the pressure.  

Sometimes its not worth getting the hands wet again.

This one floated a little longer with more to hold the powder

Another access point.  There are 26 of these now on the Conservancy stretch.

There are new walkways to many of the access points. I've never fished the British chalk streams, but I can imagine they're a bit like this, although you can't even wade in a lot of their creeks.  Will that day ever come to the states?  Probably not for a while, but one has to wonder if we're trampling our hatches to death.

This one got some eats too

Drying everything out in the trailer after the wet day.

Let their be sunshine

The baetis still hatched

The big mole worked great for the mahoganies, the #20 for the baetis.

And a daily leaf hatch

Had to do it a few times

When the air was calm, bit fish ate in the weeds

They ate this little baetis well.

Most of the big fish were in these tough lies between the weeds and the bank, or in between weed mats.  They know.

The approach to the junction pool

Cloudy and calm, looking perfect.

One of the junction residents

Just when the baetis are about to start

Decent 'bow.

Then the westerly started, and never stopped.

But what a beautiful face they have

This was the mahogany winner.  Dubbed, ribbed, dubbed some more, and flared.

What I've floated the past few weeks.

Another great face.

These scared the shit out of me!  I was watching the bank on the right, heard a loud splash to my left, and looked over to see mama, two calves, and a young bull all entering the stream a medium cast below me.  OH FUCK!  I never saw any of 'em until she was in the water.  Mom turned toward me and looked right at me for several seconds that seemed like an hour.  Fortunately, they see people here daily, and she didn't pay too much more attention to me once she got about halfway across the creek.  But still, I stayed facing her, backed upstream away without falling on my face, and grabbed the camera as they all went to exit the creek.  I never saw another fish rise, and the adrenalin rush kinda took me out of the zone.  I took it as a signal.