Saturday, October 1, 2011

Streamer Express

The Missouri River for me (and probably many other fly fishermen), is a love/hate relationship. When conditions are good, I love it. When there's gusts of wind over 20 mph.....not so much. Cody, Garret and I met in the parking lot this morning at 6am. We already had the car loaded so we jumped in Garrets truck and started driving. More than 2 hours later our eyes were set on a very calm Missouri (unlike last time; read FUBAR post). We were pretty excited to have calm conditions. We made a quick stop at the fly shop and picked up some baetis nymphs and a couple hoppers for the day and set up a shuttle. When we got to our launch we immediately saw fish rising. What astounds me about the Missouri is that most of the fish that show themselves, show all of themselves (by launching out of the water), and all of the fish are of very decent size. We all started with nymphs and all three of us landed small fish pretty quickly. I then began streamer fishing and landed about a 12 inch bow who smacked my fly. I could tell it was going to turn out to be a good day for the three of us. A while later Garret hooked into and landed a really nice bow of about 19 or 20 inches on a streamer. He said he saw the fish take and it reminded him of catching redfish in his home state of South Carolina. We continued on, stopping to fish some nice spots on the way. Cody was getting into plenty of fish nymphing including a decent fish of about 18 inches. I landed 2 more fish on streamers and a few on nymphs also. Cody  also landed about a 20 inch bow upstream. There was plenty of other anglers on the water but everyone seemed to be hooking into fish. Just before stopping for shore lunch I hooked into a decent rainbow of about 15 inches while nymphing.

After a quick lunch we continued on. We kept picking up fish and I started to focus on streamer fishing more. We were more than half way through the run and I was working a deep slackwater eddy with my new streamer invention (olive bunny leach style) next to Cody. I was stripping the fly pretty fast and then it happened....My rod bent right over as a fish absolutely annihilated my fly, harder than almost any trout I've hooked on a streamer before. It was a nice fish and I got Cody to snap a picture of me and the fish, which was about 19 inches.

Cody told me after the release that he was right about to say I should try switching up colors of my streamer. I'm glad he didn't suggest it 1 cast earlier.
As I got resettled and back into the main current of the river, Cody and Garret were about 200 yards downstream when I heard Garret yell something like "big fish". As I turned to look I watched as a 20+ inch bow launched itself out of the water in a tremendous leap. We were all cursing with excitement as I yelled to Garret that I was coming with the camera. Garret somehow made it to shore and began to pursue the fish, running down the bank to a flat rock where he eased the fish out of the faster current. Cody had in the meanwhile, gotten to shore and was ready with the net. I managed to get some good pics of the fight before I got to shore myself.

                                                        Garret Fighting the fish of the Day

Cody netted the fish and Garret was full of excitement. I can honestly say Cody and I were also because it was a hell of a fish. It was a beautiful bow with great colors and spots. I estimated the fish to be around 21 inches, although it might have exceeded that. I took a few pics and then Garret released the fish.

                                                                 ^^ Happy Guy ^^

After the release Garret was ecstatic and he now says that he loves streamer fishing. We kept on moving downstream and we hit a wide section of the river. Cody and I could see some fish rising on the far side so we headed closer to the right bank and worked it with streamers. On about the 10th cast I had a nice take and hooked up with a good fish. I managed to get to shore by fighting the fish with my fly rod in my mouth and rowing at the same time ( it was pretty challenging). I landed the fish and took some nice pics. It was a very long but skinny fish. I estimated it at about 20 inches.

Once we got within a mile of our take out we basically rushed through the last section. The winds had picked up and there was a storm coming. It rained on us a little but we got to our take out just before the rain really picked up.
It was a great day on the Missouri. The conditions weren't bad and the fish were very active, especially on streamers. We each had over 10 fish and we each also had fish at 20" or more. Garret had the fish of the day which was a great fish. Six of my fish came on streamers which means the streamer fishing was pretty outstanding. And the great news is, the streamer fishing is only going to get better throughout the month of October. The three of us had a great time on our day run to the Missouri and today was honestly the funnest trip since I've been out west. I owe it to Cody and Garret for convincing me the trip to the Missouri would be worth it. Thanks guys!
Tomorrow I'll be up early again to go and fish the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. Stay tuned.

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