Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not always easy

A flip of the coin decided the river today. I was excited to fish in the September-like weather that we have right now (almost 60 degrees today), but it didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. I couldn't seem to land a decent fish today. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't land a fish over 10 inches. Still, it makes me appreciate all the small fish that will be big someday. 

Gotta love Rock

Monday, October 29, 2012


Last fall, the northeast got hit pretty bad by Hurricane Irene. This season, Hurricane Sandy has been called everything from "the perfect storm" to "Frankenstorm" as it has made its way to the Northeast. But how bad will the storm be compared to Irene? It has already claimed several lives in the Caribbean. Hopefully the storm won't cause as much inland destruction from flooding as Irene did.

Hurricane Sandy headed up the U.S. coastline (image from Yahoo images)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Slowing Down

On Saturday I joined Bob once again for some more streamer fishing. We were hoping for another awesome day like last weekend, but it just didn't happen. In the past week, the Bitterroot valley has seen some pretty cold temps and some snow too. This change in weather definitely slowed things down. I struggled to even land a fish on Saturday as Bob stuck one awesome bow with a kype. I was saved by a small brown in one of the last runs that we fished. It looks like nymphing will be starting sooner than I had hoped.

Today, Riley and I hiked mount Jumbo and it's ridge towards the lower Rattlesnake Wilderness. It was nice to take a break from fishing for once.

The zoo

Friday, October 26, 2012


It seemed like just last week was the beginning of fall. Today snow covers the ground as Missoula was hit last night with a small storm. I did miss the snow, but it also indicates what is coming; WINTER.

Winter fishing in MT is a somewhat boring game that most of us hate...nymphing. However, we all have to admit, it is an easy game and by far the most effective technique as trout begin to stack up in that slow, deep water. I am not looking forward to nymphing, but eventually I know I'll have to loop on that thingamabobber and tie on those san juan worms. For now I'll be sticking with streamer fishing for as long as I can. 

Some recent photos: 

A beautiful, colored up rainbow

A snowy day on the water

The first covering of snow in Missoula

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jon Swartwout

Here is an article that was recently published about my good friend Jon Swartwout. As I've posted before about Jon, he is an amazingly talented artist and creates pieces that are of a very unique rustic Adirondack style....

Check out Jon's website for his studio, at

One of Jon's more recent paintings.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Predatory Perfectionists

All of you streamer junkies know the feeling. You watch your streamer swing through the depths of a run as you strip the fly from a high bank. You are watching patiently, waiting for your reflexes to react to what is about to happen. All of the sudden, your eyes change focus to the figure emerging from the depths, trailing your fly. You strip faster, as if you are making your fly imitate a fleeing fish. The missile aimed at your fly accelerates for the kill. You pause, and watch as the fish engulfs your fly...

Fall is by far my favorite time of year as I spend the majority of it throwing streamers for aggressive fish. To me, nothing excites me more than a big predatory trout. They know exactly what they want, and when they want your fly, they will get it. I have had some great fishing in the past couple weeks and it has just gotten better and better.

On Sunday, I headed out with Bob, of the blog Bum Trout. I've been fortunate enough to fish with Bob more often now than earlier in the year, and I have to say, Bob knows his stuff. After having slow fishing for most of the frigid morning, Bob suggested another section of river. It was only a matter of time before the streamer fishing lit up in a fashion that rarely happens... Fish, after fish, after fish in the same run.

Bob with a beautifully colored brown

Bob working the tail out of a nice pool

After landing several solid fish, I decided to switch things up and go bigger. It wasn't long until something smashed the 6 inch articulated streamer I had tied on. It just happened to be that big predatory brown, probably the largest I've landed in Montana.

A predatory perfectionist

The big brown was the icing on the cake for a great afternoon of streamer fishing. Every fish that we landed was a decent one and one that hit hard, like a true aggressive predator. Thanks to Bob for a great day of fishing and for capturing some great shots of the big brown. Make sure to check out Bob's blog at you won't be disappointed. 

Fall on the Bitterroot

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MFWP Bears

I recently have begun work with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks again. But instead of helping the fisheries crew, I'll be working with wildlife management specialist Bob Wiesner. On Saturday morning, Bob called me to see if I'd like to go on a bear call. A sow was killed the previous night, leaving two orphaned cubs. Our job was to get the dead sow out of the trap and then transport the cubs to Helena.

Not quite as friendly as they seem

Bob Wiesner estimating the age of the sow.

After separating the sow from the cubs, we transported the cubs part way to Helena. In Helena, the cubs will be taken care of probably until spring when they will be released. It was a great experience getting to be so close to the cubs and examining the dead sow. I'm looking forward to doing more work with Bob in the future.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Save Bristol Bay

If you are a fly fisherman, then you've probably heard about the proposed pebble mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, at some point in the past few years. It's being called the most controversial environmental topic of our time and for good reason...

For the past 10 years or so, mining corporations Northern Dynasty and Anglo American have formed a partnership to plan and construct the largest open pit mine in the entire world due to the huge deposit of gold and copper that was found by Northern Dynasty in the early 2000's. The mine would be constructed at the headwaters of two of the eight major rivers that feed into Bristol Bay.

The mine poses many threats to the Bristol Bay watershed, including the threat of 2.5 billion tons of toxic waste that will be produced from the mine. How Pebble plans to contain that much toxic waste correctly, without letting any of it into the watershed is beyond me.

Currently, the commercial and sport fishing industries generate over 500 million dollars a year and provide a way of living for native Alaskans. Bristol Bay provides the largest runs of King and Sockeye salmon in the world and has a huge impact on commercial fishing every year. The salmon are also a key factor in the ecosystem, as animals and plants rely on them for food and nutrients. It would hurt badly to see this fishery ruined because of the greediness of these international mining corporations.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with a watershed assessment of Bristol Bay. The scientific report that was conducted for more than a year, states that even without a major accident, the mine would block miles and miles of salmon habitat.

The EPA, Under Section 404C of the Clean Water Act, is authorized, "after public hearings, and a science review process, to protect rivers and wetlands that are important to for fish spawning and wildlife habitat." It seems as though it is now up to the EPA to save the Bristol Bay area from being damaged or destroyed forever.

I have been following this controversy for several years now and have written about it quite a lot. A few weeks ago I took the initiative to donate to Save Bristol Bay, part of Trout Unlimited's Alaska program.  By buying an awesome no pebble mine sticker, not only are saying screw the pebble mine, you will also be helping because the money that you pay for the sticker goes towards fighting the mine. Get yours today at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beautiful day on the Bitterroot

Fished with Chris for a few hours on the root today. It was a decent afternoon and we were even payed a close visit from a pair of bald eagles. It never gets old.

Chris and the Eagle

Being Sneaky

The colors of fall

We weren't the only ones fishing

Such a beautiful day in the Bitterroot valley makes me really appreciate where I live. Ready for a weekend of fishing... Just like every weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


On Tuesday I decided against fishing simply because it was a little too windy out there. Reports of 60 mph winds over at the Mo and 35 mph gusts in the Missoula area actually made me feel great that I wasn't out on the water trying to throw big cone headed woolly buggers against strong gusts.

Today I headed for the Clark Fork and found it to be up and off colored. Managed to hook one fish but lost it near my feet. It looks like I'll be back to the root this weekend for some aggressive pre-spawn/post spawn brownies.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Streamer Madness Continues

The fishing is ridiculous, the weather is perfect, and the rivers are beautiful with golden cottonwood trees. Could it get any better? Today was another short, but great day of streamer fishing. I landed eight fish in the first 15 or 20 minutes of fishing! Fish, after fish, after fish. Then I didn't land a fish for the rest of the day, probably because I explored a bunch of new water that was a little too skinny to hold fish. Nevertheless, eight fish in that amount of time is pretty damn good to me. 

I also finally learned how to smile

The streamer fishing continues to be fantastic. The last three days have been the best three days of streamer fishing that I've had this entire year. Could it possibly get better? We will have to wait and see tomorrow!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yet another great day

I woke up early hoping that today would be as good as the previous. Little did I know that it would rival yesterday to be yet another amazing day of streamer fishing. I'm not sure what it was today, and I hate to brag, but I was on fire with streamers. Nine browns, a few rainbows and a pure cutty in just a few hours. And best of all, probably 7 of those fish were between 15-18 inches including a beautiful New Zealand-looking male brown with a forming kype. It was just a great morning of nonstop action.

Not only was the fishing great, but we got a clear view of the Selway-Bitterroot mountains for the first time since spring. There was barely any smoke in the air today.

Riley and Chris joined me on the river today. I owe Riley a big thanks for helping me get some of these photos. It looks like the overcast weather will continue this week. Looking forward to some more great streamer fishing on both the Bitterroot and Blackfoot.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A great day

The scattered showers and overcast skies this morning told me all that I needed to know; it was going to be a streamer day. I hoped to find some BWO's along the way too but the winds definitely affected the number of bugs landing on the water. I stuck to streamers for most of the morning as I fished some brand new water that turned out to be awesomely productive. 

I covered a lot of water before turning around and fishing my way back up. It wasn't long until I hooked up with the fattest brown trout I have ever landed and my largest of the year so far.

The female was probably full of eggs so I made sure to return her to the water quickly. My day was made so I headed back to the car. Over a dozen fish in a few hours is a pretty good streamer day. It was great to find new water and hopefully tomorrow will be as good as today was. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chris, Dad, doing well back home

This past Sunday, Chris Stiles called me in frantic fashion, explaining that he had just landed a huge wild Landlocked Salmon very close to my home. Stiles landed the fish after an epic fight on a 5wt with 5x tippet. The fish launched out of the water seven times! What was even more impressive was that he landed the fish in a small tributary of one of the major lakes back home. It is no doubt a huge LLS for the area in which he caught the fish, one that most people hope to catch just once in their lifetime. Check out his blog post at

My dad also called me the other day to tell me of his fishing news. Every fall, Lake Ontario tribs host huge runs of inland pacific salmon. This year the run has been amazing. My dad made a day trip out to Pulaski on the Salmon River and landed a few big kings. Good work dad.

The weather this weekend is....should I say....PERFECT! Cloudy with a good chance of rain on both Saturday and Sunday. Baetis and streamers. A wonderful combo it shall be.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall on the Blackfoot

Fished with Chris for a few hours today on the Blackfoot. Less than ideal streamer conditions. Found some great new water takers? Switched up colors and everything, fish just wouldn't move. I took some time to actually sit down and enjoy the Blackfoot when it's at its most beautiful: Autumn.