Monday, October 10, 2011

Bull Trout Madness

The past few times I've fished the Blackfoot have been on a dirt road that provides tons of access away from the main access points on MT 200. The great thing about it is that you can find your own water to fish, as long as you're willing to walk upstream or downstream a while. Today Chris and I stopped in at the Kingfisher fly shop to pick up some streamers before heading to the Blackfoot. It was a really nice day out. We picked up some flies and headed to the river. We fished above an access that we fished a few days ago and about 20 minutes in when I was ripping my streamer behind a boulder a small fish smacked my fly. It was about a 10 inch juvenile Bull trout. It was a nice little fish that fought for about 20 seconds.

We got back in the car after a while longer and headed upstream again. We found an awesome looking pool near a campground and decided to fish it. I was very surprised nobody was fishing it. I started at the head and Chris at the tail. I missed a nice fish that swiped at my fly right in front of me. Chris spotted some fish rising so he switched to dries. I decided to head upstream where I could see a nice deep run. I got up to some big sub surface boulders that created some soft pockets. I tried some different stripping patterns other than ripping the fly through. No results. I went back to ripping the fly really hard and on the second cast a fish nailed my fly. I immediately could tell by the wide head of the fish that it was yet another bully. It was a better fish of about 14 inches.

I released the fish and watched it swim to a boulder right in front of me. I got a nice underwater video of the fish sitting in the current.

After taking the video I got back to the same spot and kept ripping my streamer. I took a few casts downstream and on the next cast another fish smashed my fly. Another bull trout! I was pretty surprised and this fish was a little better than the last. I neared the fish to shore and took a couple pics. I could clearly see that the fish was starting to develop some spawning colors. It was much darker than the other two smaller Bull Trout and had some nice orange spots. It was a beautiful fish.

What I've come to realize about Bull Trout is that what they lack in fighting capability they make up for in their strike. Each bull trout I've caught so far (excluding the one that attacked my rainbow trout), have hit extremely hard. If they want what they see being ripped above their heads, then they'll get it. The fun part about it is that you can fish as aggressively as you want to. I've come to love ripping streamers as fast as I can and having fish smack the fly so hard that they almost rip the rod out of your hands. There's no feeling like it.

Another realization I've come to today is that there is a secret to streamer fishing. And not to brag, but I have streamer fishing down to a science. I developed a quote today that I think every fly fisherman in the world should start applying to their streamer technique...... "Fish as aggressively as you want the fish to be." By fishing aggressively I mean that if you see a spot on the river that you know holds fish, then by all means, whatever way possible, get your fly to the spot. Don't rush, but fish actively and work new water after completing a few casts with different stripping patterns. Now it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to rip streamers as hard as you can like I do sometimes. All of my other time fishing streamers is spent using other stripping patterns that are a little less active, like twitching. But by fishing aggressively, you're presenting your fly in the fishes strike zone and will have a better chance at getting a reaction strike from the fish. You also cover more water with more casts. In a way you're moving through a run or a pool quicker than usual, but in another way you are covering more water.

After meeting up with Chris again he said he had landed 2 cutthroats of about 10 and 12 inches on a BWO pattern. We went to the car and drove up the road further to fish one more spot. We fished a deep pool and I had one follow from a nice bull trout who turned away at the last moment. We called it a day after a while longer and started to drive home. On the way back on the dirt road Chris said that he saw Garret fishing. We drove back and sure enough it was Garret casting to a picky cutthroat. We stayed with him and watched as the fish continually picked off midges on the surface. He put on the smallest nymph he had called the purple slushy and began casting at the fish. About 20 casts later the fish came up to eat a midge and Garret landed his nymph right where the fish was rising to. The fish adjusted its path and took his fly. It was an awesome thing to watch and a nice cutthroat. After that Garret was satisfied we all headed back to campus.

Today was a great day, even though the trout were not very active for streamers. The bull trout sure were though. I was happy to catch a few of my new favorite species and get some good pics of them. I'll be exploring more of the access road this week, in hopes of landing a monster brown or rainbow.....or another Bull trout. Either of the 3 would be great.

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