Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bad Day

It was a slow few hours on the Bitterroot this afternoon. Cody, Chris and I headed down near Hamilton to try and entice some fish to hit slow moving streamers. We fished some great looking water but didn't get into many fish. Cody landed a small brown way upstream and Chris missed a fish nymphing. The only fish I saw was one that I spooked in very shallow water . Other than that, I didn't even have any strikes nymphing or on streamers. I was very surprised because I fished some very nice looking water.

What did happen to me today was probably the worst thing that's happened all season (2011 included). I put my nymphing rod down on the bank while I streamer fished this one pool. As I moved down the run I completely forgot I had laid it down........Snap!.......goes my favorite rod. I literally almost started crying. Stupidity? Possibly. At that point, disappointed and 'heartbroken' that I had just snapped my favorite rod in half, I slowly walked back downstream to the car. I believe it has a lifetime warranty.....hopefully. As Chris said after we were done "You win some and you lose some. You really lost that one."

The only thing that made my day a little less depressing was the view of the Selway-Bitterroot Mountains. They never fail to impress.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Mighty Mo

If I could choose 3 words to describe the Missouri, they would have to be Relentless, Tough and Remarkable. Relentless, because as if the "Mo" was an actual cruel, cold hearted person, it'll knock you down and not let you get back up. Tough, because there is always a moment that is rough on the Missouri. Whether its snapping off a big fish on 6x tippet or getting hit in the back of the head with a heavy streamer because of a random wind gust, there is always at least one moment where the going gets tough. And finally, Remarkable. The Missouri is remarkable simply because it is what it is. The fish are powerful, in abundance and if presented to in the right way, will take a fly.

There are no shortage of great days on the Missouri. I have only been to the Mo less than a handful of times and I've experienced a wide variety of harsh conditions including 30mph winds that make casting almost impossible, rogue thunder storms, super hot days, and in this case, bitter cold ones. But never have I had a terrible day on the Mo. I've always landed fish and had a great time with my friends. Going back to Relentless, I think that the key to being successful on the Missouri during harsh conditions is to not let those conditions ruin the mood. Keep the hopes up and eventually you'll have a better day than you expected.

Our trip started yesterday afternoon. Chris, Cody and I packed up our floats and gear and left around 2:30. The drive to the Mo is a beautiful one and especially when the sun is setting.

We spent a little time searching for a hotel when we got to Craig but were unsuccessful. We stayed at the campground in Craig. The nice part was that we had a fire. We spent the evening eating ramen and cheez-its and we even went across the street to the local bar where I played some guitar. The locals really seemed to like it. One of the locals even offered us a place to stay for the next time that we take a trip to the Mo. Very generous people.

It was a cold night and I don't think either of us managed to get much sleep. I guess that's what makes it an adventure though. We woke pretty early and made a stop at Headhunters fly shop to set up our shuttle. We decided to float from Holter dam to the Craig boat launch. It would be a good distance to float. We got to the dam and assembled our boats and gear.

We started on a nice side braid of the river and Cody and I immediately spotted some fish rising to midges. On a high bank, we watched a big fish feeding. Cody tied on some 6x tippet and went at it. A few casts later, he broke the fish off on the hook set. I moved down the braid to where Chris was. We witnessed a feeding frenzy of midges and wouldn't you know it.....we didn't have any midges to fish with. We were so prepared. We watched the fish feeding for a while and then headed back up to our rafts.

We rowed on through flocks of hundreds of geese and ducks. I've never seen so many waterfowl in one place. I had seen a ton of shot gun shells on the side braid. About a mile below the dam, Cody stopped near a guy who was telling him how he was catching fish on every cast. I got on the bank downstream and just as Chris was going by me, he hooked into a very nice fish with a flashy streamer. He somehow managed to row to shore while fighting the fish. It was a beautiful fish and a big one at that. It looked more like a mini steelhead than a rainbow, with big red gill plates and a big red stripe. We estimated the fish was around 20 or 21 inches. I snapped a couple pics and a release vid of the fish with Chris' new olympus tough camera.

Meanwhile, Cody was upstream just wrecking the fish. The guy who had told him about the numbers of fish there was not lying. Cody had hooked about 20 fish in an hour and had landed about 6 or 7 fish in the one spot that he was fishing, with the biggest being around 20 inches. Supposedly there was hundreds of fish stacked up there. I was still just trying to get hooked up! I started fishing a streamer. I had a few follows and then landed one 12 inch bow. Not quite the fish I was looking for, but a fish is a fish. I was happy.

From then on, streamer fishing was the game. It was very slow streamer fishing though, with small strips and pauses in between. 90% of the time the fish would hit on the pause. It was very difficult to pick up a strike unless you could feel the tightness of your line. I missed a bunch of fish and lost about 4 nice ones. I was getting discouraged but then I hooked into a decent bow which I brought to shore and snapped a couple pictures of.

After stopping at wolf creek campground to eat a snack, we realized that we had some river to cover. We had only gone two miles out of the 7 mile float and it was already 2pm. We quickly ate and returned to our boats. Cody Immediately hooked up with a nice bow.

We got to a point where we were all pretty cold and we wanted to get off the river before dark. Me especially because I couldn't feel my feet. I basically gave up fishing (to save my feet), and rowed the last 3 miles or so to our takeout. The temps were dropping fast and the wind was picking up. I was very relieved(and tired) when I got to the boat launch and was able to get off the water. It was miserable conditions, but a great day of fishing. I only landed 2 fish and lost a handful. Not too bad of a day. Cody landed around 12 fish and Chris landed the fish of the day.

Although I've had a couple rough times on the Missouri so far, there's something about the Mo that keeps me coming back for more. It's almost like the Mo is a calling. To those who will go through the harsh conditions and frustration. The Relentlessness and toughness......just to have one of those Remarkable days.

Friday, January 27, 2012

To the MO!

Cody, Chris and I are off to the Missouri! We'll be departing campus at approximately 1400 hours! The reports have been good over at the Mo (like always) and we're hoping that braving the cold will reward us with some nice fish. We'll be back tomorrow evening! stay tuned for the report.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Chris and I hit the Clark Fork today just below Missoula for a few hours after class. It was pretty warm and we were stoked to see if we could hook into some fish. The winds and sporadic rain showers tried to stop us. As soon as we got to the river the winds picked up and it was tough going for the first half hour. I fished a small pocket pool for a while and finally got hooked up with a chunky little rainbow.

It felt good to catch a fish in some harsh conditions. The winds were blowing pretty hard and the temps were dropping fast. I fished about another hour and then headed downstream to Chris. We were both pretty cold so we called it a day. Despite the tough conditions, it was still a nice few hours on the stream. We weren't the only ones fishing either.

5000 Hits!

The blog has recently hit the 5000 mark for pageviews! I want to thank all of you for your support. The blog has been in existence for just over 5 months. Thats an average of about 1000 hits a month with January being the best month yet for views! Thanks again people!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Warm weather bring the Fish

Chris and I headed over to an access that we really like fishing and have done well at in the past. It was warm today (around 40 degrees), and there was little to no ice flowing on the Clark Fork. We split up and I headed downstream to a run that I knew held fish. It was tough to get there with more than a foot of snow on the ground. When I finally did get there, I was sweating just from trouncing through the heavy snow.

I had two rods with me today, my Helios and my brand new Hydros from Orvis. Yes, just in case you haven't noticed, I rep the east coast company well and the majority of my rods are Orvis rods. I brought the new Hydros to (1) fish with it for the first time and (2) see how well it would cast my 5wt full sinking line. Cody and I will be heading over to the Missouri this weekend so I needed to figure out if I would have to buy a new 6wt sinking line.

I started nymphing the run and I immediately spooked a big whitefish that was laying in the shallows. So much for being stealth. About halfway down the run, on the edge of the drop off, I went to pick up for my next cast and I felt some weight. I set the hook and a small rainbow started to go nuts. The fish was a pretty feisty, even though it was only about 13 inches.

The release video didn't come out as well as I had hoped....again. This time I'm thinking that it was just the silty colored water of the Clark Fork. Still I was happy to finally get a fish. I went back up to the head of the run and grabbed the Hydros. I was very impressed with the rod and it easily casted the 5 weight line. It was a little light, but I was very happy with the way it casted. I twitched an olive colored streamer through the run and on about the 5th cast it was nailed by a nice fish. I fought the fish for a while and I could see that it was a nice cuttbow. However, the hook pulled out before I could get the fish in the shallows. I wasn't too angry, but it was a decent fish lost.

After fishing the run again with a san juan worm, I headed back up to the car to meet Chris. He had landed a bow himself, of about 14 inches. Cody had fished a little bit in town today and I called him on the way home to see how he did. He had landed about a 16 inch bow. Looks like it was one fish for each of us today.

I'm very excited for this weekend. The weather is looking nice and warm and I'm ready to get back to the Missouri! I've missed it a bunch and I'd like to try and land a big fish. We'll see if it happens.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stocking Up

I have recently complained about my fly supply being so low. The temps were pretty cold today (only about 9 degrees around noon), and the Clark Fork was a giant slushy, so Chris and I decided not to head out. Instead we had a little tying sesh and cranked out a bunch of San Juans. These aquatic worm imitations have proved deadly so far this fall/winter. And the great news is.... I've been told it only gets better as winter subsides and temps get warmer! I'm very excited to see how these worms produce in spring. The tying sessions will continue. I still need to stock up for when the fishing really picks up.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gratton in Action

It was the first day of classes for spring semester at U of M today! What better way to kill the stress than to get out on the water? Chris and I headed to the Clark Fork to fish a run for a few hours before the light started to fade. Because of the lack of time we had, we decided to fish a run right in town. I began nymphing while Chris chucked some streamers. We fished for a while with no results. About 40 minutes into fishing, Chris hooked up with a nice fish. I walked upstream to see what he had and all I heard him yell was "Its a bully!"
It was about a 16 inch bull trout and a beautiful one at that. The fish had very nice colors and I took a quick release video.

The video didn't come out as good as I had hoped. Looks like I'm gonna need a little practice. However, it was still a great fish and Chris was stoked. I was just stoked to see a Bull Trout down in Missoula! I think its a good sign that the population might be increasing.

I managed to miss a couple fish (which seems like the only thing I'm good at lately), and I'm pretty sure I broke one fish off on the hook set. Not good. Tomorrow Chris, Cody, Garret and I will probably be heading out to fish on the Clark Fork somewhere. Hopefully that's when I'll actually land a fish for a change.

Dad doing Well

My dad emailed me some more pics from his latest trip in Cody Wyoming. He's been working there for the past few days and he managed to get out on the water for a few hours on Saturday. He landed some nice browns, bows and cutties.

Good to see that he's catching some quality fish. I hope that I can fish with him in the Cody area the next time he's there. The fishing looks pretty awesome.

Bitterroot 1/21- Bill Bradt

On Friday I headed south, up the Bitterroot to see if I could entice some fish to eat. The weather started out beautiful, being almost 50 degrees. I nymphed a nice deep run that I have fished before and didn't even have a strike. The sun left and out of nowhere came a rainstorm from hell. High winds and pelting rain made for miserable conditions. However, I decided to fish the run again, this time with my full sinking line and a streamer. I quickly switched reels and began slowly twitching the streamer through the run. Half way down and I had a fish take right in front of me. I saw a the flash of the fish and I actually had it hooked for a few seconds. The hook pulled out. I got the strike on the GoPro and in the video I just yelled, "God Damnit!" It was actually pretty funny to watch, especially when its yourself who's getting frustrated. I did see a few fish rise for midges and I made some casts to them after switching back to my floating line. They didn't play. Still a good day to be out on the water though.

On the way home I called up one of my Grandpas old friends who happens to live in Stevensville. My grandpa had told me about Bill Bradt, and how he is one of the nicest people I would ever meet. He sure was right.....

I called up Bill and asked if he was busy. He kindly invited me up to his house which lies in the widest part of the Bitterroot Valley. I made the small detour to his beautiful property and had a great conversation with him for about an hour. Bill was as nice as my Grandpa said and I enjoyed talking to him about life in the west. It was wonderful to hear how he had come west in the early stages of his life like me, and he exclaimed, "I never regretted it". I feel the same way. The best part about Bill is his personality. As I talked to him about the rainstorm from hell, he said, "Well as long as you're doing what you love." I've never felt so fortunate to have met a person like Bill, who thinks exactly the way that I do. People out west are just so damn cool!

As I was walking through Bills living room towards the front door to leave, Bill pointed to a trout carving with the initials JU on it. It was comforting to see something that my Grandpa made, all the way out in Montana. Today was a great day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Going to Bozeman

Chris Gratton's flights got messed up and now me and Cody are headed over to Bozeman to rescue him. However, we're gonna fish a little on the way. Chris might have to wait a little if we start getting into fish! (sorry Chris). A report from my time on the Bitterroot yesterday will be posted tonight as well as the report from today. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Too Icy

I fished the Clark Fork in town for a couple hours. It was a little too icy. I fished a nice run where I was sure I was going to hook up. However, it was pretty tough to get flies down. Probably 1 in every 15 casts I would get a good drift. As time went on, more ice came and it got increasingly harder to present correctly. It was still a beautiful day though with temps in the mid 30's and it was nice to be out on the water. I saw a good number of midges flying around but I didn't see any fish rising.

If you click the "watch on YouTube" button below the video you can choose to watch all my videos in HD on YouTube. Trust me, the quality is a lot better.

Welcome to my Place

Headed to the Clark Fork for a few hours. Stay tuned for my next vid.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Back In Missoula

Just got in to Missoula after staying the night in Denver. I was greeted with a lot of snow. This picture of my car and Chris Gratton's car explains itself.

It took me an hour to shovel out our cars. The good news is that my car started! Bad news.....I will not be driving anywhere until the roads are clear...or clear-er. I saw lots of people sliding around with their cars today and they were mostly AWD vehicles. I can only imagine how it would be to drive around with my front wheel drive passat.

The Clark Fork is an icy mess. Hopefully some of it clears out after this storm subsides. Going to Idaho is a no go for now. The driving conditions on the Lost Trail Pass are pretty bad. Hopefully the snow gets cleared soon.

Stuck in Denver

After being told that my flight from Denver to Missoula would probably be redirected to Bozeman or even Salt Lake City, I decided to stay in Denver for the night. Besides, when the flight attendants explain that the reason that they're putting suitcases in empty seats is to solve a "wing balance problem", you don't really feel comfortable about the flight you're about to go on. After sitting in the plane on the ground for over 40 minutes, they asked for a third set of volunteers to stay the night in Denver and I got the hell off the plane.

Wow was that a great decision. I cant believe all the vouchers they gave me. They put me up in a great hotel, gave me a meal voucher and best of all......$400 to use on a flight within the next year!! Fishing trip?? I THINK YES!

I have taken advantage of this great decision that I've made and hit the hotel restaurant already. Prime Rib! It was delicious.

My flight that I'm on standby for leaves tomorrow at 10:20am which will put me back in the ZOO by 1pm. Maybe that will give me enough time to go catch some cuttbows on the Clark Fork. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jon Swartwout- Rustic Adirondack Style Artist

Over the past couple years I've had the privilege of meeting a guy that is not only an extremely talented artist, but a great friend and fishing buddy. Jon Swartwout grew up in the southern Adirondacks of upstate NY and has excelled as an artist ever since his grandfather taught him how to paint when he was young. Jon was coached by my grandfather in High School and a few years back I was introduced to Jon through him. I had the opportunity to fish with Jon on his home river and I was very impressed with his knowledge of the water. Its safe to say that Jon is as talented a fly fisherman as an artist. The best thing (to me) about Jon's work, is that he relates much of it to the sport that he loves, Fly Fishing. It's amazing when somebody can bring two of their passions together to make something beautiful. And that's exactly what Jon does. A few months ago, a few of Jon's paintings were chosen by Orvis for a line of graphic T-shirts by various artists. He generously gave me a couple shirts for a Christmas present on Monday when we fished the Salmon River.

However, Jon's paintings are just a small portion of what he does. He also creates rustic Adirondack style works such as chairs, cabinets, desks, tables, dressers, carvings and interior details. Here are a few examples of Jon's artwork.

If you would like to check out more of Jon's work, check out his studio Fisher of the Berry. Jon sells many of his pieces and is always working on new artwork.

I've really enjoyed these past few years of knowing Jon and being able to fish with him. He has been a great friend and I've learned a lot just from fishing with him. I hope that I will see him out west someday so that I can put him on some western trout.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seven Below Steelies

Chris Stiles and I were not in a hurry to get to the Salmon River on Sunday. Besides, it was only going to be a high of 10 degrees! We arrived in Altmar around 1:30pm and quickly geared up. There weren't too many guys braving the cold and we easily found our own water in the upper part of the lower fly zone. I found some nice slower moving water behind a fallen tree and drifted my globug along a soft seam. After a few minutes I watched as my strike indicator shot below the surface. I set the hook and my reel screamed as the fish shot downstream. The fish kept going and I was in a bad place, up high on a bank above some swift current (not in the water). The fish came to the surface and rolled. It was a decent dark colored steelie. That was the last time I saw the fish as it threw the hook. Despite the loss, I was stoked! I had already hooked up with a steelie in the first ten minutes!

Stiles hooked up twice in the next hour but lost both of his fish. I missed a few takes and then we began to run out of daylight. We headed back to the truck, ohhhh for 3! We were glad to get back to the truck because it was only seven degrees. And yes, our guides iced up pretty often. To say that it was cold today would be a huge understatement. Chris said he didn't even get feeling back into his feet until a few hours after we were done fishing. I was pretty dysfunctional myself and I even had trouble untying my boots because my fingers just wouldn't work. Here's a few (of the few) pictures that I took while freezing my ass off.

Approximately 30 seconds after getting out of the water.....Instant Freeze

We stayed the night at a place owned by Chris's friend Patrick, who generously let us stay there while he was away. We spent a while tying up some more glo bugs and then got to bed early. My friend Jon Swartwout called and let me know that he'd be making the drive to fish with us in the morning. The weather for Monday was supposed to be a lot warmer, so our hopes were high that the fish would be more active.

Fresh eggs from the vice.

We woke at 5:30 am and packed up all our stuff. I really thought it was going to be warm-er in the morning, but the wall of cold air that hit me when I stepped out the door told me that I was sorely mistaken. We grabbed some fishing food at the golden arches and then headed to the river. We waited a little while for Jon to get there. Again, we weren't in a rush because first off, nobody was even there yet and second, it was COLD. Really cold.

It didn't take long for Jon to arrive and then we headed upstream into the lower fly zone again. Before we started walking upstream, Jon told us that it was negative seven degrees. Yes that's right..... -7 degrees. SEVEN BELOW ZERO!

It was an extremely slow and miserable first couple of hours. My goal for the day (besides catching a steelie), was to get some good video footage with my GoPro. I'm gonna be completely honest... It was too cold to take videos. Way too cold. Even trying to tie different flies on was like torture.

I ended up breaking a fish off after a few hours of fishing the same run. There was definitely fish there, it was just a matter of finding the right fly. I only witnessed two other fish being caught while we were in the lower fly zone. It was safe to say that today was much slower than yesterday. I did see some remaining kings and cohos swimming around including one that actually looked pretty fresh. Surprising to see these guys still swimming in January.

A spawned out Coho

We headed back to the trucks to warm our feet up and then drove downriver to fish a different section.

We fished for maybe an hour and a half and then called it a day. The temperature when we finished was about 14 degrees with a windchill of five degrees. Its pretty tough to keep your effort level up when it's that cold. The fishing today was really slow, but that's steelheading. I didn't land my first steelhead so now I know my first one will be a western steelie.

It was a good last trip in that I broke my record for coldest temperature that I've fished in. I'm glad that I got to fish with Jon and catch up with him. Thank you Patrick for the hospitality and of course, thank you Chris for a great last trip and for being a great friend.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The last day of Ice Fishing

Headed over to fish Loon Lake today with my friends Dennis and Tim. It didn't take us long to find fish and within the first 10 minutes we had a skinny 15 or 16 inch pike. It looked like a really unhealthy fish, unlike the pike from my home pond.

We had some consistent action throughout the day with a flag every once in a while. A smaller pickerel that we landed we had to kill because the hook was buried deep in the fishes gills. I'm sure he made the eagles in the area very happy. It was pretty cold out today and the fish froze solid within minutes. I took a very iconic looking image of him......

Dennis landed a nice pickerel of about 17 inches when we went to pick up our gear. Overall it was a good day. However, the temps never even rose above 18 degrees and the windchill was freezing. Still a very fun day though. I've had a great time ice fishing while I've been home and I'm glad that I got to spend some time with friends and also catch some quality fish.

Tomorrow morning I'll be headed out with Chris Stiles for my last trip in the east! We're off to the Salmon River to try and hook up with some Lake Ontario run steelies. Can I finally land my first steelhead? I hope so. It has taken me too long. Tomorrow is supposed to be freezing too but hopefully our efforts pay off and we both land some chromers.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Need a Program- Help me out!

I have done a fine job at taking care of my laptop that I've had for the past 3 years. There's only 1 problem.....It's a Toshiba with a windows setup and it lacks a good movie editing program. I can honestly say I am broke right now and do not have nearly enough money to pay for a program, especially one like final cut. Yes I wish I had a macbook, but did I mention I have no money? I'll be getting a job when I get back to Missoula but for now I'm in a bit of a dilemma with all of these new videos I've shot with my GoPro, but no sufficient program to make some videos. I have searched all over the place for free movie editors on the web and have only found either trial programs or sucky ones(ones that suck). Do any of you know of any free movie editing programs that I could use? If you do then please leave a comment! It would help me out a lot! Hopefully soon I can get started on making some sweet videos. Thanks!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nymph Supply Low

I just looked at my nymph box.......WOW..... Not good. I've got a couple dozen stoneflies in various sizes, a few pheasant tails, princes, san juans, and a dozen of my one of a kind sparkle nymphs (customized for the Battenkill River. They did surprisingly well in western streams.) Needless to say there isn't much variety in that box. My streamer box is looking fine, as well as my steelhead boxes. My dries are back in Montana so I'll have to do an inventory on those when I get back.

So nymphs......my favorites. In 2010, I was a crazy nympher and that's basically all I did. I love nymphing with no indicator. I feel like if you get good enough to see the strike without an indicator, then good for you. It really does take a good eye. However, since I've been out west, I've been using an indicator more often. On Monday I'll be chasing my first steelhead ever with Chris. Hopefully nymphing the deep runs on the Salmon River will pay off.

So now its time to tie. It doesn't help that most of my tying supplies are in Montana right now. I did bring a bunch of glo bug yarn home, so I guess I'm limited to tying egg patterns. Either way, I need to get tying. I'll have to wait until I get back to MT to tie "trout-like" nymphs.

Some True Upstate NY Weather

The first 'real' Noreastern of the year has begun to hit many northeastern states. Snow accumulations in my driveway are about 4 inches already and its only gonna go up. We're expecting to get the worst. Freezing rain, sleet and best of all, high winds that will bring down power lines! So excited......not really.

Would you look at that radar map!!!
Driving conditions are more than sketchy. I had a doctors appointment in Glens Falls today and we were slipping and sliding a lot.On the way back we saw a jeep that had smashed into a boulder on the side of the road and had flipped over. This is a common sight in upstate NY, for the roads up here can be as bad as any roads in the country when we get snow, sleet and rain, all in one day. For now I'm staying home. T-6 days until I arrive in Missoula!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pike, rootbeer and my best friend.

After an absolutely horrible day on the ice yesterday (see previous post), Timmy decided that he wanted to stay overnight to fish the morning in order to get revenge on some of those feisty pike. We hit the bait shop early to pick up shiners and got out on the lake by 7:15 am. Equipped with many cans of root beer (our ice fishing tradition) and chocolate chip cookies, we were well prepared to stay as long as it took to get a fish. However, it didn't take very long. Within the first ten minutes we had a flag and Timmy iced a nice 20+ inch pike.

When we got our next flag, something pretty exciting happened. Something that's never happened to me before while ice fishing. We got a flag a while after the initial one and I ran over and set the hook on the fish. I pulled in the line quickly, feeling no weight or fight on the end of the line. The shiner came up through the hole and I immediately threw the shiner back in. When I finished winding up the line on the tip up, I tried pulling the line up and felt some tension. It turns out that the small 14 inch pike had chased the shiner back in after I missed the hook set, and had eaten it when I threw it back in. This time I was ready and the pike didn't get away.

We landed 2 more pike on the day, a 16 incher by Timmy and a 28 incher by me. The 28" was the second biggest fish I've iced this year and it was in the exact same place as the 36" pike I landed last week. It was a good fish.

Overall we were 4 for 5 on flags. I'll take a day like that any day on the ice. It was good seeing my friend Timmy and I was happy to fish and chill with him a few times over this winter break.


Tom called me today with some good news. Even with the icy conditions on the Salmon River, Tom managed to land his first steelie of the season. He said it was pretty tough to get his flies down with the ice flows, but with the help of some split shot he was able to find some faster moving water to swing his fly in and get his fly down to the fish. It was a nice steelie of about 28 inches and the fish took his fly towards the end of the swing. I'm excited to get out with Tom when I get back out west, for I will have 4 or 5 days to do whatever I want before classes start. So what will I do every day?..... FISH!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Sucky day on the ice today with Timmy Messina. Its not that we didn't get into fish. In total we had 7 flags and we missed every fish. It was disappointing and frustrating. The big shiners and new treble hooks that I used were definitely a problem. Several of the fish that hit would run with the shiner for a little bit and then drop the bait. Tomorrow Tim and I are headed to a different section of the lake, again in search of big pike.


Looks like my last trip here in NY will be for some steel. Chris Stiles and I will be heading over to Salmon River on Sunday afternoon and fishing the morning on Monday. I might manage to cross off one of my goals for the year already. We'll see...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jumpin Pike

Had an OK few hours on the ice today. Missed a few fish and landed a couple. It was a nice day with sun and no wind. I managed to land one 16 inch pike and a decent smallmouth bass jigging. The pike was a feisty one and it literally jumped out of the hole in the ice. I took a nice snapshot of the fish jumping from the video that I got. I've never had that happen before and it was very cool to see.

Timmy Messina will be on his way up tomorrow to fish the morning. Hopefully we'll get into a few fish and maybe even another big pike. We'll see....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Big and Mean

I had high hopes for today. I upgraded my bait yesterday and got some heavy shiners (5-6 inches) to see if I could entice a big pike...the one I've been looking for. I got up early (6:20) and headed out to the ice. I knew exactly where I was going to place my tip ups and I knew I would get into fish. I had a great feeling about today. I had a goal and I knew what I wanted. I thought for sure getting my lines in early would pay off and it did..... but getting a big fish to strike is only the first part. Landing one is a different story.

It was a rough first hour. I didn't have Chris Stiles' auger, so drilling holes was tough with my crappy old one. I did manage to get all five tip ups out before 8 am. I had a very strategic setup, with all five flags in very shallow water (less than 4 feet), and 2 of them positioned at the mouth of small incoming creeks. It didn't take long for a flag and I was not surprised that it was in the same exact location where Chris and I got robbed three times in a row last week. I was excited. I ran to the flag and watched as line was being ripped off the reel. I set the hook, felt some very heavy weight and snap! There it goes. I pulled in the line and found my leader sliced right through. I was pissed off. Could that have been the one? With the amount and speed of line the fish ripped off and the weight when I set the hook, I knew that I had missed my chance. I slowly and disappointingly walked back to get the bait bucket and re-bait the tip up.

The next 30 minutes went about as bad as the previous 30. I had 3 more flags and 2 more missed fish. The day was definitely not going as planned and I was very frustrated. I finally got to sit down and catch my breath after a while of running back and forth to flags and changing bait. Things slowed down and I sat for a while, losing hope. I decided it was time to actually start my fly fishing documentary with my new hero 2 GoPro. I began doing a little introductory clip and explaining that until I get back to Montana, I'll be ice fishing. As I was talking, I looked over and go "Shit. I got a flag." I quickly sprung out of my chair and strapped the GoPro (which was appropriately already on the head mount) to my noggin and sprinted to the flag. I quickly set the hook and felt some massive heavy weight and then my reel screamed as the fish ripped line away. The fight was on. I pulled in line until I got to the leader and then I saw the head of the fish. The video tells the story of my reaction (excuse my language).

I tried to turn the fished mouth upwards and failed to do so a couple times. Finally I got the fishes 'beak' coming up through the hole. The fish thrashed but I had its gills. I pulled the fish up through the hole and placed it upon the ice in disbelief. WOW. I was flipping out (like in the video). The pictures say it all.

This pike was huge and had extreme girth. The head on the fish was even more impressive and I estimated the fish to be close to 40 inches. I was extremely happy that my efforts payed off. After taking a few pictures, I laid the fish down near the tip up and made a mark for the length. Then I released the fish and it swam off strong. I had just landed the fish that I've been looking for, and my day was made. To top it all off, I got the entire fight on video. Check out the fight on YouTube.........

(Don't diss on my santa hat. Evidentally it brang me pretty good luck. Again, I apologize for my language. I'm in rare form when I get the fish)


I looked over after I was done releasing the fish and 2 flags went off simultaneously. I couldn't believe it. I checked one which the fish had left and then ran to the other and set the hook on another nice fish. It was about a 23 inch pike.

Just after I released the fish, my sister Ellie and brother in law Jamie walked out on the ice to visit. I explained to them that they had just missed the show. I was still full of adrenaline. I was sufficiently satisfied with the day and I would be fine with quitting right there and then. I didn't do that of course. I gave it about another hour with no action. I cleaned up and headed in. I checked the mark on the tip up when I got to the house. The fish taped out at 36 inches. Not quite the 40 incher that I know lurks somewhere in the lake, but still a great fish and the biggest pike that I've caught in the US of A. Despite missing fish early, it all payed off and I landed my trophy northern that I set out for. Maybe tomorrow I'll land a bigger one. I'd rather be out there again, than being bored.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sporadic Perch

Chris and I headed out early to Brant Lake to jig for some perch. The lake was pretty crowded but we were fortunate enough to have private access to our very own part of the lake. We got into fish early and Stiles was wrecking the fish. He had about 15 fish in the first 10 minutes. I really don't know how he was doing it. I had the same jig and everything. Maybe just location? or maybe he is just a master. Who knows.

After about the first 30 minutes we had iced about 25 perch and then, just like that, the bite was off. The next hour or so was pretty slow and we only landed a few perch and 1 nice pickerel on a tip up. The fish were very sporadic today and would bite in spurts. It was a nice couple of hours on the ice and it was good to see the fish being more active than the last couple of days. Still waiting to get out and fly fish somewhere. I may be testing some new line coming up this week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Ahead: Goals of 2012

The new year is here. Its time to start thinking of what will be in store for the year and what my angling goals will be. Here are a few of them I've thought of so far.....

1.) A monster Montana Brown- Although I had a handful of browns in 2011 that were 17+ inches, only one of them was 20+ which was a 24 inch hog from a stream in NY. However, I failed to land what I really worked hard for this fall; a monster Montana brown. I want one that is 25+ inches for the 2012 season.

2.) Explore New Water- Of course one of every anglers goals is to explore new water. I hope to get out and explore some of the rivers that I haven't fished yet in MT. These include the the South Fork of the Flathead, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Little Blackfoot, Ruby, Smith and Boulder Rivers.

3.) Steel- The longest I've ever had a steelhead on for was about 5 seconds. It was a great lakes Tributary steelie. Now, being so close to Idaho, I hope that with the help of my fishing buddy Tom (who knows the Salmon River very well), I can finally land my first steelie ever this spring. I hope it ends up being a B run fish.

4.) Use a Net- I don't know if its just the fact that I haven't bought a net or I just don't see the need for one. I was pretty fortunate this year to land almost every quality fish I had on without a net. In fact I don't even remember losing one decent fish because I didn't have a net. But I know the day will come when I wish I had one. I'm beginning to look for a quality net to prevent the mistake of not having one and losing a nice fish.

5.) Mini Documentary- Now That I have the HD Hero 2 GoPro, its time to start shooting footage and making a mini movie about my fly fishing experiences. I've wanted to do this for a while now, and with the high quality of this HD video Camera, I think I can do a great job of capturing my world.

That's all I have for now. More goals to come.