Saturday, June 23, 2012

Subspecies slam?

Two subspecies of cutthroat trout are native to Montana: westslope and Yellowstone. I learned yesterday that the lake I fished has been stocked with both in the past decade and I think I caught both.

From the Montana Field Guide website:
"It can be difficult to visually distinguish westslope from other cutthroat trout subspecies, but the westslope cutthroat trout tends to have more small spots by the tail and none by the pectoral fin and the fish is more of a silvery or greenish color. The only way to be certain about identification of this subspecies is by genetic testing (AFS website 2003)."
And this:
"The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is visually distinguished ... from other cutthroat trout subspecies by its medium-large, black spots that tend to be concentrated posteriorly, and its drab brownish, yellowish, or silvery coloration, with brighter colors generally absent even in mature fish (Behnke 1992, Baxter and Stone 1995) (AFS website 2003). "
Being from the same lake with no other apparent influence, I'd say these two have to be different subspecies. What do you think?
And just for fun, some are huge in this lake:
 Even if I could get that guy to eat, I don't see how I'd have a shot at landing him. Therein is the fun.
Happy summer 2012!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I start each day

I start each outing hoping to catch one trout. Because I still think it's still kind of magic or miraculous that you can catch a wild trout on a fly, and because skunks stink. Catch one trout and I'm happy.
After one, however, I reevaluate. Depending on how that went, I will adjust my goal to five, 10, 12, 20, 500 .... whatever. And I never reach my goal because once I catch 12, I want 15 etc.
Yesterday my goal never got very high because I only caught one. As we'd heard, the upper Madison is fishing a bit slow right now.

But we fished new water: the slide, the islands upstream of Lyons, and the West Fork. The slide is particularly fun because if you hook a decent fish, you have to land it quick lest it take into the HEAVY water. You'll lose that battle. You have about a yard along the bank where you can let the fish play, but they know the game and will run away. And fish-god knows there are some bigguns in there. It's exciting.

But salmonflies will be on Varney Bridge soon and angling fortunes should flip. And the fish should be hungry because they don't seem to be eating much right now. May your goals be on the constant rise. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I won't name the magazine as I intend to take the medium-high road, but a national fly fishing magazine recently credited a photo of mine to an unknown person. I alerted the editorial staff (who I respect greatly), and was told a correction would be run. It wasn't. I talked to the staff and they said their requests fell on deaf ears. I e-mailed the publisher and the deafness continued.

I recently saw a photo-credit correction on Midcurrent, and it was handled with aplomb and courtesy. Anyone who works in the publishing industry understands that typos, errors, and miscellaneous mistakes will happen, even to the best (and are not the end of the world despite the beliefs of  internet hecklers). I have made my share. But running a correction on a miscredited photo is the right thing to do.

How should I handle this? Thus far, my stance has been to let bygones be bygones, but never contribute to this magazine again and talk shit about it (privately). It is a kind of a big deal, as I need to protect my intellectual property, but I want to be understanding and not get a reputation as a  pain-in-the-ass prima donna. And in theory, I'd like to contribute to this magazine again.

Thoughts? Has this happened to you? Do I have any recourse, or am I at the mercy of the publisher?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ora to Vernon again

If you want to know what makes Henry's Fork of the Snake River Henry's Fork, go.
I've only gotten wet there a couple times for a couple hours for a couple stonefly hatches, and I only landed one small rainbow.
But yesterday, Brady clued us in as we floated Ora to Vernon. Twice. It's a short float, and the streamer bite had picked up at the end of the first run. By the time we bellied up at the TroutHunter, we'd all caught fish on nymphs, dries and streamers, and moved big fish, hooked nice ones, and landed one good fish.
Now repeat after me...
My motivation to revisit is strong. Everything a trout fisher hopes for is at Henry's Fork (except complete solitude, but I'm guessing it exists sometime, somewhere).
Photos of the day:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To live and die in MT

Montanans have all heard it - the first $20,000 of your salary comes in scenery. Is it worth it?

Depends what you value. If it's perpetual vacation (not really, but kind of), lots of area per capita, trout, and smiling, and can tolerate distance from your family (or not - some people were apparently born here), high property values and no retirement plan, you might like Montana. If it's professional sporting events, headliner music concerts, a respectable income, bluegill, white picket fence and can tolerate concrete, lots of capita per area, bluegill, family... maybe look elsewhere. Obviously these factors don't apply to everyone or everywhere, but they illustrate the point.

As further compensation for Montanans, you'll probably become friends with a fishing guide or two. As such, this Friday I've been offered a free "trip" on either Henry's Fork or the upper Madison to "help" a friend get in regular-season form. I'll probably have to pack my own lunch, though, which is kind of a ripoff.
No situation is perfect, and each has its pros and cons. But for me and my dog, we'll take the scenic, fishy compensation.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Funny river, funny hatch

The Lower Madison is a funny river. It has big fish and varied hatches, but it has a hard time bringing it all together. For example, when I first moved to Montana, I caught one of my nicest trout there on a dry fly (kind of - a sunken Sunken Stone) during the salmonfly hatch. Then in subsequent years the hatch became sparse and fickle - not really fishable. I stopped fishing Girdle Bugs there entirely. Caddis one year, virtually none the next. Then came the period when the trout would simply not rise, and don't forget the potato hatch.

Salmonflies are a funny bug. Hatches occur on most western freestones, but if conditions get too harsh (pollution, water temps, miscellaneous), they'll discontinue for a stint. There's never a guarantee. Timing is a huge part of hitting a hatch right - staying ahead, but not too far ahead of the main emergence, finding keyed-but-not-gorged's not easy. To hit it right, however, is an incredible occurrence.
Even funnier after a couple.
Last night, I got a text message. "Salmon flies on the lower, and it fished very well..." I cancelled my plans, tied some flies and was on the road by 8 this morning. Well, I saw 10 to 15 salmonfly adults (many more shucks), four to six of them on the water. But I couldn't even get a tug on a nymph. I tried three different patterns, then a dry with a nymph trailer off the bank. I was able to avoid the skunk, but via the Lower Madison crutch (a crayfish).

Ha ha.