Monday, August 29, 2011

Literally Addicted

I have now fished 9 strait days and I've estimated I've fished at least 45 hours. That's a lot of fishing, an average of 5 hours a day. The only thing that amazes me is that I do not want to stop at all. I am still looking to be out there every day, enjoying the sport that made me decide to go to the University of Montana in the first place. I can honestly say, I am addicted to fly fishing.
Today was my first day of classes and I had 5 of them. It was a pretty busy day, but after I got out of my last class around 3:30, Cody was ready to head up to the Blackfoot in search of new water to fish. We found a nice access point at a raft launch. It was a deep bend of the river, headed by a nice riffle and deep run. Cody started with hopper patterns and I nymphed again. The stretch of river didn't turn out to be too promising and we each landed a few small fish. It was nice to get out though. Tomorrow I have only 2 classes and my second one ends at noon. I'll probably fish the Clark Fork tomorrow... stay tuned.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Bull

Got out early this morning on the Blackfoot. I started at the access area where I caught the nice cutthroat a few days ago. I was fishing streamers with an add on sink tip. I fished a deep run and only managed to have 1 small take. Then I decided to drive to an access point further upstream. I drove about 30 miles and when I got there, there was a good number of people fishing. I stood on the bridge and watched a while and noticed there was a nice riffle and deep run downstream.

I walked down there and began nymphing. I landed a few small rainbows and then worked my way to the edge of the deeper water. I hooked up with a few nice fish and landed 2 whitefish. I continued to work my way down the run. It was a deep drop off and I nymphed right on the edge. On the second drift I hooked into a nice rainbow. The fish was acting a little crazy and I saw it dive down deep into the run. Then I saw a huge dark flash on the bottom. My line pulsed and tightened up and it felt like the trout had gotten hooked on a log... A moving log. At first I thought a river otter had grabbed on the trout. But then I had other thoughts of what might be going on. One thing came to mind....Bull trout. I didn't know for sure it was one, but whatever it was, it was big. I fought the fish for a very long time and it kept making very slow runs back out into the current. It was like an anchor and it was a very strong fish. I fought the fish for about another 10 minutes and then I could clearly see that it was a nice sized Bull Trout. I couldn't see the rainbow yet so I figured the fish was already down the bullies throat. As I brought the fish closer I took a few underwater snapshots and a video of the fish.

I noticed that somehow the fish had managed to get hooked in the back just behind the head. The rainbow and my other nymph was gone so I figured the fish had broken off as the Bull Trout had attacked. Being an endangered species I wanted to release the fish as safely as possible. After taking a good look at the fish I estimated it to be about 24 or 25 inches.  I grabbed my hemos and the fish was very cooperative. The hook came right out and the fish swam off strongly. I was extremely happy and I had a lot of adrenaline from landing the big fish. It was a weird happening, but a great one at that. I couldn't believed what had just happened and I know I'll never forget it, for it may never happen again. After that I actually was a little tired. The foul hooked fish was a big challenge on my 5 wt. Orvis Helios. I headed back to the car very satisfied.

When I got back to campus Cody was there ready to go and explore the Bitteroot. We took my car and started driving. We found ourselves on some back roads going along the river, checking out access points along the way. We didn't find any good looking water so when we got to Stevensville we stopped at the local fly shop to ask where a good section of river is to fish. The guys in the shop were very helpful and they told us to head upstream. We did and we walked a good half mile downstream of a campground. We found a very nice deep run and we immediately got into fish. Cody fished the hopper, while I followed up with nymphs. It was a good strategy and both dries and nymphs produced strikes. I landed a very nice rainbow and Cody missed a couple really nice fish. They seemed to be short striking the dries today. It was a nice run and we were thankful for the guys in the fly shop and their generosity of telling us a great spot to fish. We will probably be exploring the bitteroot more as summer subsides. Today was a great day with a great surprise. Tomorrow classes begin and I have 5 classes. Hopefully I'll be able to get out before they start and after they end. Either way, Life is Great. Stay tuned......

Rock Creek

Fished rock creek today with my new friend Cody. We drove in about 20 miles on rock creek road and got in the water just before noon. We both started with dry fly patterns and did well to start. I managed a few fish on a hopper pattern while Cody landed several fish with a small caddis. However, soon after fishing I started nymphing the nice pockets on our first stretch of river. Rock creek, as we discovered, is full of nice riffles and pocket water, along with the occasional deep runs. Those deep runs are what we tried to focus on and it payed off well. The first run I fished I had many nice fish nymphing, including a nice cutthroat that I lost. After finishing up with the first stretch we moved on upstream. The road that follows is very steep and I was glad that I didn't take my own Volkswagen passat. The second stretch we fished also produced several fish on dries and nymphs. We continued upstream again looking for more good water. We found a nice braid section in a meadow and it proved to be an awesome stretch. Again I stuck with the nymphs and the first fish I hooked into happened to be a small brook trout. I continued to fish the braid down to a nice deep chute where I hooked up with a brown and a few nice cutthroats.

Just before calling it quits I had a nice strike and I landed a decent 14 inch rainbow. I had completed the rock creek grand slam of a brown, brook, rainbow and cutt. It was the first time I've ever done so. When I met back up with Cody he told me he had managed a few nice cutthroats and lost a real nice fish on the same caddis pattern. It was a decent day of fishing and we both had double digit creels. Not bad for just exploring Rock Creek for the first time. Tomorrow is the last day before classes begin, so I plan on getting out on the water somewhere. Will maybe check out the Bitteroot with Cody to get a feel of where things are. Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blackfoot Produces

The Clark Fork remains in good condition with many different hatches going on. Plenty of PMD's, Tricos and even some caddis in the evening. Hoppers produced some fish today while parachute patterns also enticed fish to strike. Around 4 pm I headed to the Blackfoot to fish some hoppers. The lower part of the river is temporarily closed because of a recent forrest fire. I found a nice section with a deep run. I started with a big hopper and then downsized to a smaller. Immediately I was getting takes. The fish seemed to be short striking the fly and I kept missing fish. I had one big Cutt nail the fly but I missed him. After fishing up the run I crossed the river to fish a deep edge along a steep rock wall. I switched to a heavy stonefly and phesant tail nymph dropper. Halfway down the run I hooked up with a nice fish. I could see some nice color and when I led the fish into shallower water I could see it was a beautiful westslope cutt of about 16 inches. The fish had taken the stonefly and it felt good to land a trout nymphing instead of a damn whitefish.

                                                     Hooked up with a nice Blackfoot River Cutt

I had a few more strikes on a stimulator but didnt hook up with anymore fish.
Later in the evening I fished the campus section of the Clark Fork again with my roomate. I'm glad that I've found a few kids already that like to fly fish also. We fished right into darkness and I managed to land 1 bow and a few smaller whitefish. It seems like prime time on the the Clark Fork right now is around 12pm-4pm and hopper action is great mid day. I might throw some streamers tomorrow morning with a sink tip to try and bring out a big fish. Stay tuned for tomorrows report...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hopper Dropper

My morning on the Clark Fork started off a little slow. I fished the same stretch of river I fished last night and it proved to be the same result....whitefish. Now I can honestly say that out of all freshwater fish species, I hate whitefish the most. I landed 4 of them in a deep slow run and on every one of them I was hoping it would be a trout. I couldn't seem to find any trout at all and about 2 hours into fishing I decided that I needed to switch to a dry fly. I am not a dry fly fisherman at all. I mostly nymph but I will throw dries if that's what the fish are calling for. There was some good hatches of PMD's and tricos but I decided to tie on an attractor fly. I started with a stimulator and fished the same deep run for about 20 minutes. My hopes of landing my first trout on the Clark Fork were slowly fading. I walked back towards the trail and remembered seeing some fish in the braid that runs near campus. Its a long slow braid with a deep slot towards the near bank. I started on the far bank and immediately had a fish come up and smack my fly. I was very surprised and I missed the fish. I then put on a size 14 pheasant tail nymph as a dropper. On the next cast I hooked up with a tiny rainbow. It was my first trout on the Clark Fork. After that I switched to a hopper which floated way better than the stimulator. I had a few strikes from small fish but didn't hook up. Then as I was mending my line and the hopper was downstream of me, the mend actually caused the hopper to have a natural twitch. I saw a big swirl and then the fly was engulfed by a nice fish. The fight was on and I could tell it was a beautiful fish. I could see a nice red stripe and as I brought the fish into slower water I found out it was a nice cuttbow of about 15 inches. I took some nice pics and then released the fish.

                                                             First decent fish on the Clark fork

I was so happy and then I noticed I had literally caught the fish On campus. In about 20 minutes I had gone from not liking dry fly fishing to loving it! After catching a few more fish I called it a morning. I had landed 3 trout and 4 whitefish and it was a good morning considering I'm just starting to learn this complex river. Will probably be out on the river again tonight. Stay tuned....

Great Morning on the Madison

After having a rough night on the Madison in Ennis last night, I was out for revenge this morning. I woke up at 5:30 and was on the river by 6:00. It was still dark but I began to fish. I knew the fish were going to be a lot more active than last night because the water temps had cooled off. I decided to stick to the same stretch of stream and I began to fish my way down to the seam where I hooked up with a few nice fish last night. By the time I got down to the seam the sun was beginning to rise and I could now see a lot better. I decided to stick with nymphing again because there wasn't anything hatching yet. On the second drift I hooked into a really nice fish. One thing that has impressed me is the shear power of these fish compared to eastern fish. After a couple beautiful jumps and about a 5 minute fight the fish let up and I beached the fish in some shallow water. It was a beautiful rainbow of about 16 inches and it was a great way to start the day. I released the fish and headed back to the seam. A few more drifts and I was hooked up again with  very large fish. This one went nuts and almost took me into my backing. I gave chase and led the fish to some slack water. The fish didn't show itself and I knew it was a whitefish. I quickly released it and headed back again. A few more drifts and I was hooked up yet again! The seam was just perfect. Again the fish did not show itself which led me to believe it was another whitefish (I'm really starting to hate them). However the fish was very sporadic and as I led the fish into the slack water I realized it was actually a really nice Brown. After about a 15 minute fight (he was a strong one), I beached the fish. It was a beautiful brown and a fat one at that. I estimated the fish to be around 18 inches.

                                                                 A healthy Madison brown.

After getting some nice pics I released him to fight another day.

After a great next couple hours I had a total of 7 browns, 3 rainbows and 3 whitefish. It was a great morning and I was happy that I landed one very decent trout. After calling it a morning I headed back to the hotel where we packed up to head to the University of Montana. Before heading out I stopped at the Madison River Fly Fishing Company and got a brand new pair of Simms Freestone waders. They were affordable and I needed a new pair because the seams on my old pair were tearing.

Later on that afternoon, after unpacking a lot of my stuff and putting it into my dorm room, I decided to walk up the Clary Fork River, which is only 354 meters away from my residence hall (yes I measured exactly). The river splits near the campus and I followed the slower closer braid. A small bridge over the braid gave me a birds eye view of the river bottom. I was not surprised to count more than 20 trout swaying in the current, ranging from 5 inches to around 20. At that moment I realized I was in fly fishing heaven. I headed out just before dark and I stuck with nymphing because I was going to fish a big drop off upstream of the campus. It seemed like I was still rusty because within an hour I had only managed to land 1 whitefish and lost 3 other fish that were of decent size. To top it all off, when fishing a slow seam near the bank just before calling it quits I had a massive strike when my nymphs were directly downstream of me. The fish hit so hard that it snapped my nymph off immediately. It was a bad way to end the night. It was a good day though and nymphing really produced. A lot of the fish today hit a relatively new pattern of mine I call the red assassin nymph. The fish really seemed to key in on the color red today.

I' am so happy to finally be at my new home the University of Montana. Fishing today showed me that I still have about a million fish to catch in the next 4 years and that I can't be disappointed just because of a few lost fish. Overall it was still a great day and I'll start tomorrow morning the same way I started this morning..... Looking for redemption.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A tough Day

The first day of Fly fishing in the great west......was an "ok" day. Could have been a whole lot better had I not been so rusty. The first stop on the day was the Gallitan River just outside of Bozeman, MT. It was about 2:30 pm and to say it was hot out was a huge understatement. The thermometer of my car read 100 degrees just before we got to Bozeman. I don't really even know why I bothered to fish in such hot weather. I think I just wanted to get in the water to fish. I fished upstream from a very popular access point. I found a very large deep pool and after nymphing it with no strikes I decided to strip a streamer through the pool. Halfway down the pool I had a very nice brown swipe at my fly and then return to the depths. After working the rest of the pool I decided to head back to the car so my mom and I could drive strait to Ennis to fish the Madison for the evening.
I started fishing around 7 after a quick dinner at the Ennis Cafe (which is famous for their strawberry pie. I highly recommend getting one if you ever find yourself in Ennis.) The winds were crazy for the first hour and I tried to nymph the best I could without getting the drag effect on my flies. Then as the winds began to die down, the fishing started to pick up. There was a nice hatch of what looked like PMD's but I wasn't sure. I wasn't seeing any rising fish so I stuck with the nymphs and continued to work my way downstream. I found a very small slot along the edge of the bank. There was a bit of slack water past the slot so I worked that really well. I had one strike but missed the fish. Halfway down the slot I hooked into a very small trout and the fish flew out of the water and off of my fly when I set the hook. The next cast I hooked into a little bigger fish. I finally landed the first one! It was about a 7 inch brown. Still a beautiful fish though.

After finishing up fishing that run, I turned around and saw a very nice slower stretch of water just downstream from a riffle. As I waded closer I realized it was quite deep. I began to nymph and on the third drift I hooked into a big fish. immediately a huge slab of golden brown went flying out of the water in the opposite direction of me. The fish rocketed downstream and I had the fish on the reel almost instantly. However, like I said, today I was rusty. My drag was set a little too tight (way too tight) and the fish broke all three of my nymphs off about 10 seconds into the fight. I felt like a complete idiot. I was now even more determined to redeem myself. Two more casts and I missed another nice strike. I was really blowing the opportunities tonight. The sun was going down so I continued to fish the hell out of the deep run. A few more casts and then SMACK! a really huge take and the fight was on. The fish shot downstream but this time my drag was set nicely and I played the fish very conservatively. It was either a huge fish or a foul hooked fish. It felt like I had foul hooked him because the fish was extremely powerful. The fish continued to move downstream and I let him run for a little bit. During the fight of about 15 minutes, I had a very nice thought. The sun was setting, my reel was literally screaming from time to time, and it was just me vs. the fish. It was a great moment and I remember thinking to myself, this is where I belong. I fought the fish into the shallows and then found out why he was fighting so hard. It was indeed a large fish, but not a trout. It was a big whitefish, which was really disappointing considering he had just basically wasted 15 minutes of fishing! However, it was a nice fish of about 20 inches and it was good to get the feeling of fighting a very decent fish back.

     A Nice Whitefish

That fish ended my night on a good note and I am somewhat pleased with the way things turned out today. Could have been a lot better though. I'll be up very early tommorow to fish the same stretch of the Madison. I suspect the morning fishing will be far better. Stay tuned for day 2 reports.......

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Long Road

The drive to the University of Montana is a lot longer than it seems. The trip is surprisingly going by fast so far and after driving over 850 miles for both of the last 2 days we are now spending the night in Spearfish, South Dakota, not far from Wyoming. The drive has not been too interesting and for most of the way its been flat lands and plains. Before reaching Spearfish my mom and I decided to make the quick detour to Mount Rushmore. It was really worth it and we got there just as the sun was setting behind the monument.

                                                  Sunset near Mount Rushmore                                                                         

Tomorrow we'll be on the way through the corner of Wyoming and into Montana. Once there, I'll finally start to enjoy this trip the way I know how catching fish! I plan on wetting lines in the Bighorn, Gallitan and Madison Rivers. We will be stopping for the night in Ennis, MT (a slight detour) so that I can fish the Madison on the same run where I experienced the most amazing evening of fly fishing I've ever had, more than 3 years ago with my dad. I am "itching" with anticipation to just step in a river and I can't wait to get back on the rivers that I've been missing terribly for the past few years.

Stay tuned for the first fishing report from out west!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Goodbye N.Y.

Time to say goodbye to the place where I was born and where I have lived my entire life. I've had many great fishing experiences and countless moments that are still as clear in my memory as the days that they happened. There's no doubt that I do love this place and I will definitely miss it a lot while studying in Montana. I'll never forget all the fish that I've caught, and who I caught them with as well as the ones that I have lost.

A Remote Adirondack Pond

This year was one of my most memorable years of fly fishing. My goals for the year seemed complex. A 20+ inch brown and a 20+ inch LLS were just a few that were on my list of goals. As the season went on I developed new goals such as discovering new native brook trout streams. For the past few months I have found 16 brand new brook trout streams, each with very healthy populations of wild brookies. Most of these streams were actually very close to where I live and had been right under my nose for years. I continued to fish brookies throughout my remaining time here and at this point in the year Brook Trout are easily in the lead for numbers of fish caught (which has never happened before). Other than the Brook trout, I did end up reaching all of my goals. I completed  my Brown Trout goal right off the bat on Easter Sunday with a mammoth 24" brown. The biggest surprise of the season was on July 20th when me and Chris fished a very remote brook trout stream and were stunned when we both landed huge wild Landlocked salmon, mine being 20 inches. Other great catches so far this year include a 13 inch native brookie from that same remote stream, a 19 inch Smallmouth Bass from Schroon Lake, and an 18 inch rainbow from Brant Lake.

My Big LLS

On Saturday I'll begin the voyage across the country, driving with my mom. When we reach Montana I'll be stopping along the way to Missoula to fish the Yellowstone, Big Horn, Madison, Gallitan and Beaverhead Rivers. It really has been a great year so far. However, I think its safe to say.....things are just getting started.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Getting Ready

Less than a week now and I'll be on my way to some of the most famous trout streams in North America. However, me being the procrastinator that I am, have only managed to pack about half of all my fly fishing gear and all of my fly tying materials and no actual normal college items(for example clothes).

I'm very excited to get out there and start learning the rivers in the area which include the Blackfoot River, North Fork of the Blackfoot River, Bitteroot River, Clearwater River and the Clark Fork River. The residence hall that I chose is less than 400 meters from the Clark Fork and I know I'll be spending a lot of time on it. I was fortunate enough to be able to fish the Bitteroot, Blackfoot and the North Fork last summer when visiting the University.  Water Conditions were still high so fishing was tough. I did manage to hook up with a BIG cutthroat on the Blackfoot but he ended up breaking me off. I also landed some really nice whitefish on the North Fork but couldn't seem to find the trout.
 North Fork of the Blackfoot

Good thing I'll have the next 4 years to learn the rivers thoroughly. The fishing reports for the Missoula area are great right now. Can't wait to get out there and get on those rivers!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Last Trip In NY- Battenkill

Next Friday I'll be headed across the country to the University of Montana. On Tuesday and Wednesday Chris Stiles and  I fished the Battenkill for my last trip in New York. We started fishing streamers. The flow was low, but with an add on sink tip I was able to get the fly down to the fish in the deeper runs and pools without bouncing on the bottom. While Chris drove downstream I decided to fish down to where he would be. I got to a nice riffle that runs into a deep run. I worked the head of the run and then began to fish the middle. I casted at a slight angle upstream and mended to give my fly time to sink. On about the third cast, just as my line tightened in the current and began to swing, I had a big take. It was very decent fish and I played him well into the shallows. I didn't put the tape to him but I estimated this brown to be around 17 inches, a very decent Brown for the Battenkill.

When I met up with Chris he told me he had missed a couple nice fish in a large pool. Later that evening as we continued to fish, the fish started to become much more active. We fished into the darkness and Chris and I both missed a couple nice fish. Then as the moon began to rise Chris hooked into a very nice fish. We only got one glimpse at the fish before it spat the hook. It was a big loss but it was overall a successful day/evening. It was very interesting fishing late at night. The winds we're really blowing and the only way we could really see was from the light of the moon. It was a great night fish.

Day 2 was not what we had hoped. We drifted a section of the river that we had never fished before. It was a beautiful stretch of river with many deep pools and nice runs. However, fish were scarce and we didn't experience many hits on the day. I had one nice fish on early in the morning but the hook pulled a few seconds into the fight. Overall it was a very slow day and the water temps were warmer than the upstream sections of the river, which could be the cause of the lack of fish.

Even though it was a slow second day, it was a great trip and I enjoyed every bit of it. I've had the privilege of fishing with Chris for the past 2 years and I have learned so many things from him. He's a great guy, great friend and great fishing partner. His knowledge of fly fishing the southern and central Adirondacks is second to none. Thank you Chris. And so ends my time in New York for now. I'll soon be off to Montana where I'll still be chasing fish, every day that I can.