Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Contentment without fishing

I'm concerned.

Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe it's that I'm celebrating Christmas a little heartier this year. But I suspect it's mostly that I have a nice alternative to standing in the water in winter - staying at home, snuggled up on the couch with my Christmas cookie. I'm struggling to find the motivation to fish this December.

As life changes, so do fishing habits. Over the past year, my life has beelined for the positive and I am able to find contentment within walls more often. That's a good thing, right?

Looks cold, right? 
While fishing still appeals to me almost daily, once I get to snuggling on the warm couch in front of the glowing cube and some Netflix, motivation goes the way of hot-chocolate steam. If I was ever hardcore, I'm not now.

Especially when it seems boring to go that known hole, drift a known fly down a known seam, and catch a known trout. I could commit to the streamer or Griffith's Gnat to make it interesting, or go try to find a new spot. But winter's not the best time for exploring, and it's so cozy inside...

Go to hell, iced-up guides.
I'm sure I'll still hike up Bear Trap Canyon a time or two, and there's plenty of hope for a trip to $3/Raynolds, LaDuke, Depuy, LOtG, and a few other winter hot spots. But maybe only if it hits 45 degrees instead of my normal threshold of about 20.

Or maybe I'm just overreacting to a couple weeks of contentment without fishing. Or maybe I just needed something about which to blog ;)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Montana celebrity sightings

Fly anglers hear it all the time: "I've always wanted to try fly fishing. It looks so rhythmic/peaceful/poetic... " So when some people get rich and have time, they make a run at it. I would too.

Tom Brokaw getting crocked at the Livingston Rodeo.
And sometimes, these celebrities come to Montana for a taste - and why wouldn't they? Here's a brief list that I've come across from Montana recently.
Tell me who I'm missing! Who've you seen fishing?

Monday, December 2, 2013

The water's fine

There is a rumor that access to Milesnick's spring creeks (Benhart and Thompson) are closing to public access beginning January 1 (which really means November 30 since they close with the Montana general season). The fishing pages on Milesnick's website are down, and the phone number to Milesnick Recreation Company has been disconnected.

C'mon in - the water's fine. 
The Milesnick's are a great family and our community is better off for having them around, no doubt. They have been great stewards of the land and fisheries, and are extremely warm and generous people.
But this is potentially good news for anglers, in my opinion. This does not mean that the creeks are inaccessible - quite the contrary. For whatever reason, when landowners put a rod fee and limit rods on their property, anglers are expected to respect their right to economic opportunity, and not "poach" that otherwise legally accessible water. But if they're discontinuing the rod fees, it de-taboos the idea of hiking to and up them, within the high-water marks. They won't be legally open again until late May.
If you do go, it's of the utmost importance to show the waters the same respect afforded by the Milesnick family. Absolutely stay within the high-water marks (as with anywhere else on private land), treat the fish well, and do your best to leave the resource better than you found it. It's the least we as anglers can do, when afforded such access.
See you there (but not if I see you first!).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Darkness descends on another Montana general fishing season. Most of the big valley-bottom mainstems have a winter whitefish or catch-and-release season, but most of the smaller waters are closed beginning December 1 to give them a break from angling pressure, since many will freeze up soon anyway, and to protect spawners. They reopen the third Saturday in May, 2014.
With this in mind, a friend and I set out to fish an old favorite, and to investigate a tributary that will be closed soon.
An early morning harbinger signaled a possible long day - Brady questioned why there was so much beer coverage in the new Drake. But he actually grabbed a copy of Draft magazine. It wasn't the last "uff da" moment that day.

And we fished. After a few hours of disappointing fishing, we cruised up to the smaller fishery. It was slightly more fruitful, offering decent-sized trout for the size of water. Mostly though, it was a day of old-fashioned investigative fishing like neither of us had done in a while, and catching up. It happens sporadically anymore.
The sun seems to set more often nowadays.
As the daylight dwindled that afternoon, we enjoyed a pale ale at Brady's vehicle before spending the rest of the evening watching slideshows from past trips. And as the sun sets on another general fishing season, this sort of inventory taking can be good for the soul.
It's appropriate that we collectively give thanks right around the end of every Montana fishing general season. Here's to more reasons for thanks.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fading into winter

During the week, life takes its toll. But at the end, we fish places like the Firehole River and concerns fade as the circles of a trout rise fade into the geyser steam. We cast our flies at these circles among the peaks, cliffs, fields, pines, boulders, smells and sulphury mist within a couple hours of our home.
About a week ago, in fact, we fished the Firehole River for Yellowstone National Park's closer. Even in November and probably well into the high-country winter, the Firehole is reliable for mayflies and low angler density (it closes the first Sunday, to be sure). Muleshoe Bend is the only place to be this weekend.
Then we gorge on a giant calzone, drive north through the Gallatin Canyon, and the week starts again...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

6,000 and 40

I've had a account for years, and I've never had a photo hit 500 views - even the ones up since 2007. But in one day - yesterday, to be exact - one photo went over 6,000 views with 40 favorites. Any theories on how this happens? Maybe through the "Explore" feature?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Redington Sonic-Pro Ultra Packable Wader

It's not the easiest thing in the world to wear another brand of waders in Simms country. You have to be willing to take a bit of grief, so it better be worth it. This, I learned while wearing the Redington Sonic-Pro Ultra Packable Wader this past year.

Photo: Ben Pierce Photography
These waders weigh about 1.5 pounds and roll up to about the size of half of a loaf of bread. They are easy to pack for camping or stuff in the backpack for a hike (most boots are still not as convenient, however), and would be great space savers for airborne fishing trips. They are quite comfortable due to their light, pliable material, and don't look particularly dweeby like some brands (although Liz tells me they're almost as flattering as another popular brand).

They use the Orvis sonic-seam technology which seems to work well, and are made of a four-layer breathable nylon apparently called High Density Mini Oxford Fabric.

Focus on the waders, not the fish...
Aside from their packability, they make a great shoulder-season option when it's a touch cold for wet-wading, but a touch warm for five-layer Gore-Tex. They include a detachable front pocket that is extremely convenient in certain situations, like when float fishing. You can take the pocket out of the equation when you're bobbing downriver, and put it back on when you need to hike over to the run opposite the island.
One draw-back, however, is the warranty. It's the limited that fly-fishing industry "service fee". It's only $30 with Redington, but it still gets to me a little. That said, all companies have this, so there's no disadvantage with these waders.

Ideal for hiking, too. 
Ultimately, these waders are fully recommendable. They're more affordable than other brands ($289.95), and they sprung exactly zero major leaks over a season of use (pinholes notwithstanding - they are inevitable and don't really leak, anyway). They're comfortable, packable, look fine, and most of all, functional. They might not be my go-to wader for January, but they might be for the rest of the year.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Like gypsies

Fly anglers move, if just for a weekend at a time. Water gets stale, and the pots need stirring. Doesn't matter if the fishing was bananas yesterday, we abandon it to let it remain fruitful. Said Sir Paul in Uncle Albert Admiral Halsey: "Live a little, be a gypsy, get around; Get your feet up off the ground, live a little get around..." I agree.
Low light and low fish tallies.
One aspect of this rambling that seems rarely employed is knocking on the doors of riparian-land owners, especially by grouches like me who rarely exude friendliness (or so I'm told...grumble...). Females and octogenarians are more likely than young or mid-aged males to be trusted to trespass. And frankly, and while rare, you risk a negative encounter that might preclude you from jumping on that river legally and hiking to the desired spot, due to distrustful and watchful bourgeois or plutocratic landowners (guess who was on this morning?).
We did such a thing this weekend, though it wasn't completely random. We accessed a pastoral small-water canyon that was a treat to fish, in spite of the slow fishing.

Fishy green, but weedy and shallow. 
Us: Knock, knock. Them: Who's there?
Us: Polite and stewardly anglers. Them: Make yourselves at home...
In my limited experience, most door-answerers are trusting, if only because the angler took the time to be respectful initially. Maybe we'll try more often in the future, especially if Liz is willing to bat her eyelashes ;)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The people we meet

"I've been thinking lately 'bout the people I meet..." - Fish and Whistle, John Prine

People to whom fly-fishing has introduced me, or with whom fishing has strengthened our bond.

Whether or not visitors fish, we share time on the water. Really, what better way to experience a slice of Montana or to share a memory than to convene at the waterside, the same places our ancestors first settled? As visitor season winds down, we have a chance to reflect on the relationships.

Blogger friends who I'd never met, fellow writers, Wilderness Adventures Press' authors, guides helping research articles, fishy friends of friends, brothers-in-laws of college friends, traveling photographers, friends and family... Cheers to you all. I hope to see you again streamside.

Jed from Sula Mountain Fly Fishing showing us how to fish skwalas.
Liz's brother Eric, privy to a once-in-a-lifetime
brown-drake hatch his first time fly fishing.
Ok, this was in Wyoming... but connecting with fish and
 friends along the upper Green was a treat.
Brady getting into some root-snag rainbows a day after
Yellowstone's Black Canyon.
Russ fishing dries (and why wouldn't he?)
while comparing industry notes.
Lindsey making use of a dropper while out-fishing the "fishers". 
Casting ants on the Missouri, "impressing" Liz's father.
Charlie, on a previous trip. Didn't get to fish with him this time,
but it was good to catch up.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Don't believe the kype

You lie, and no one's buyin' it. That's not true - some people are. But I'm calling your "30-incher" about 19. Unless you have been diagnosed with bozoenae digititus (common name: clown fingers), that fish isn't as big as you'd like us to believe.
What. It's true. 
But that's okay because ultimately, dishonesty as much a part of fishing as foul hooking and hero shots. Otherwise upstanding people lie like whitefish under a foam line. And that dishonesty can maintain fishing friendships well beyond truthfulness. Be it an agreed-upon "rounding up" of inches, misleading directions to the honey-hole for the uninitiated, or outright lies about where you've been, fishing lies can show your angling integrity.

Fib wisely.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

See Boges fish

This guy, hard at work at the daily take your dog fishing day:

At the cutthroat lake...
and in the wilderness...
on the Yellowstone...
and at secret creek...
Researching an article...
and corralling grayling...
with Liz...
During skwalas...
Harassing the guide...
and fish...
"Do, you, want ..." 
" chase some ducks?"

For hoppers on the Missouri...
...or runoff on the upper Madison...
...or Christmas on the lower Madison...
Always "helping" me land.
Trudging through the hopper grass (see it?)...
...and when it's too cold to fish...
... and just barely warm enough.
Just a pup, taking to the locals....(that's him ^ ;))
Even just fly tyin'...
Before I knew how to fish ...
Spotting rises on Fairy Lake...
Hunting predators...
Sniffing out the neighborhood drakes...
Overlooking the Gibbon...
For mahogany duns....
Rain, sleet, or snow...

My dog is there.