Friday, April 27, 2012

To the Mo...again.

A fairly large skwala managed to make it into our room (which is on the 5th floor of Aber Hall) yesterday. Only  in Montana....

Tomorrow, Trevor, Cody and I are headed to the Mo once again. However, this time Cody and I will be working a few hours in the Trout Shop. Trevor is going to pick us up after that so we can float with him for a short stretch. Streamer fishing looks....pretty awesome. The forecast calls for cloudy skies. I'm pretty excited. Stay tuned for the full report.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stream restoration- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Yesterday morning I headed out with fisheries management biologist Ladd Knotek to start my volunteer internship with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Recently, landowners caused some damage to the stream bank of a pure westslope cutthroat creek about 45 minutes west of Missoula. A water pipe was added to the stream bed, but major damage was done to the bank and surrounding areas of the stream. Our job was to oversee the project of reconstructing the bank and seeding the damaged area.
The reconstruction of the bank was pretty tough and it took a lot of logs, willow branches, and sod to create a sturdy bank that would withstand the flow of the stream when the water was diverted back to its natural path. The land owners working on the project had a few bulldozers and excavators which really helped with moving logs, boulders etc. After a few hours of chopping sod, shoveling dirt and removing rocks, the bank had been somewhat restored. I wish I had taken "before and after" pictures to show how much of a difference we made. I feel like we did a pretty good job.

The restored bank on the right

Our second task was to seed all of the damaged areas around the stream. It took a few hours to cover the seeds with hay and downed logs/brush. Our final task was to cover a steep slope near the stream to prevent erosion of the bank and to re-grow grass. Towards the end of the day we began to let water flow into the original stream bed once again. The stream looked good.

It was a very long day and I learned a lot about the process of restoring a damaged riparian area. Although it wasn't the usual fisheries project like radio telemetry, electro-shocking or redd counts, I still had a great experience and we did do something to help the fish out. I was pretty tired afterwards, and I know I haven't worked that hard in a while. I'm looking forward to other outings with MFWP.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Suicide Run to the Mo

After no thought at all, Cody, Garret and I arose early in the morning to make a suicide run to the Mo.The reason for calling it suicide is that by the time we get back to Missoula at night, we are quite literally (almost) dead. I compare us to that of the walking dead in most zombie movies.

We stopped at McDonald's for the usual fisherman's breakfast and hit the road. Arriving in Craig, we had no idea that our employers would allow us to take out one of the most expensive (and amazing) drift boats; a brand new Adipose flow. How fortunate are we? Very fortunate I would say.

We talked with the guys at the shop for a while and picked up some flies. Personally my trip budget was about 5 dollars, so I chose one fly that I thought would be the fly of the day. Turns out I was correct!
It didn't take long for the large black sculpin fly to produce a quality Mo-Bow.

As we continued downstream, Cody found some rising fish and found success with a crippled midge imitation.

Streamer fishing remained good with black producing the most strikes.

As we were most of the way through the float we experienced the largest gathering of midges I have ever seen. We literally were breathing in midges (Cody definitely inhaled a few), and at times it was hard to concentrate with thousands of these small insects crawling in your hair, down your shirt, in your ears, and in my case, one of my eyes.

One billionth of the amount of midges we experienced

Our toy for the day was nothing less than outstanding. The adipose flow was as smooth as can be, easy to row and holds in swift current with ease. Man would I love to have one someday.

A true masterpiece. (The boat, not Cody)

G-Money Vis had a pretty tough day and didn't land a fish. It happens to the best of us and today just wasn't his day. Despite getting skunked, Garret made up for it by taking some amazing photos. As you can see above, he was a pro today, capturing some awesome shots. It was also nice to fish with Garret because I haven't fished with him in a long time.

It was a nice day on the water with some quality fish landed. The drive back was a long one and we are in much need of a good night of sleep, which I will be starting

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Summer Plans

After a lot of thought, I have decided to remain out west for most of the summer. It brings me great pleasure to announce, that I will be employed by The Trout Shop in Craig, MT from the end of May until school begins for fall semester. I am very excited to become part of the fly fishing community in Craig. Best of all, Melch will be joining me on this summer adventure. He was the one who helped me obtain the position, so I owe a lot of thanks to him. Thanks Cody.

And so now it is set in stone. I will be working hard (and fishing hard), every single day of the summer. I hope that Cody and I can bring some character to this already amazing fly shop. All I know is that we will enjoy ourselves, no matter what.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Page!

Incase you didn't notice the new tab, I have created a new page dedicated to the people I call my friends. Just a little information on the dudes that I frequently fish with. Check it out by clicking on "The Crew", above.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Frustrating Takes

Got up early to fish the Root this morning with one thought in my mind.....its a streamer day. The rain was coming down and I was pretty excited to get on the water. Equipped with a full arsenal of streamers I fished for more than 6 hours today...and managed one fish. Yes, that's right, only one. I've never had such a frustrating day of streamer fishing.

Sure, streamer fishing was great, but the fish were not. Almost every take I had on the day came at the tail end of my swings and the fish (much like that of the Beaverhead last week) were not fully grabbing the fly. By the end of the day I must have stung about 20 fish which hit sporadically. It's almost like they were playing with my mind. But then again, maybe I'm over thinking all of it. Fish are supposed to be dumb right?

The worst take of the day came when I reached an awesome looking run. I had a good feeling that this is where the big guy would be hiding. It looked like "big fish water". Sure enough on the first cast, I watched as a large figure came charging after my streamer from the depths. The fish chased my streamer almost to my feet and I stopped my fly dead in the current. The fish  did not slow down or hesitate. It smacked the fly harder than I expected. My heart jumped out of my chest as I set the hook and the fish popped off. As I stung the fish, it did a roll and I got a good look at what could have been my fish of the year; a very, very large brown. There's no way to describe how much adrenaline I had going. I was also, as one would expect, quite pissed off.

Streamer fishing slowed down as the day progressed. After a while I decided to head back. It was a long walk back, playing the moment where the brown chased my fly over and over again in my mind. I have to say, for 6 hours of chucking streamers, just seeing that thing come out of nowhere with a single purpose of demolishing my fly, made my day. Sounds crazy, but for real, it was awesome to witness, even if I did lose the fish.

The bullet holes make this sign awesome

Still had a great time today, despite missing a bunch of fish. Now it's back to school...Only 26 more days until I am a free man. School can't end soon enough.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rock Creek, Bitterroot

The past couple days I've fished with Riley, once on Rock Creek and today on the Root. Rock creek on Friday fished alright. I spoke with  few other anglers who had a tough day. I was able to find fish in some slow moving back eddies. The fish really seemed to key in on moving stonefly nymphs and I found the most success by crinkling my nymphs slowly through eddies without a strike indicator. Weird technique but it seemed to work well. The water levels were up from a few days before.

Today Riley and I made our way to the upper Bitterroot in search of some skwala eating cutties. We found them, but not in the style that we had hoped. Saw one fish rise the entire time. We stuck to nymphing and had a pretty successful afternoon of fishing. I nymphed up 4 trout and a few whitefish and Riley landed a few cutties as well. It was a beautiful day in the Bitterroot valley.

Riley's cutty

Halfway through the fishing I spooked a goose off of its nest. I've never seen goose eggs before, and let me say, they are freaking huge.

Tomorrow is just the weather that I've been waiting for; NOAA is predicting cloud cover all day and a 50% chance of showers. This can only mean one thing....

!!!S T R E A M E R S!!!

Can you tell that I'm excited? Hopefully the big guys come out to play tomorrow. A big fish is much needed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Got out on the Bitterroot the other afternoon to go chase some pike. Could I finally catch a Montana pike? The answer was no. I found some awesome looking pike water, including some cool back braids. I threw big stuff and some trout streamers as well. No takers. I was sure I was going to see a pike somewhere in that shallow slow moving back braid but I surprisingly didn't.

Got a call from Trevor a while later telling me that he was up near Hamilton. I headed south and we nymphed up quite a bit of cutties and a few bows too. Temps were in the low 70's and it felt great. This T-shirt weather really brought out some hatches. Cody and Garret found some great dry fly fishing upstream of us. March Browns and some skwala action. Unfortunately, the fish were not too active for dries on the stretch of river Trevor and I fished. We still each managed to land close to double digits of fish. No big fish but it was a great afternoon in paradise.

A pretty Brown landed by Trevor

A fish is a fish, is a fish.
The school grind has been tough and yesterday was one of the busiest days I've had in a while. It was also my birthday! With classes all day, my advising meeting in the evening, and needing to schedule classes for fall semester, there was little time for me to do what I love on my birthday. Sadly enough, I did not fish.

This weekend looks pretty nice with temps in the mid-upper 50's and mostly sunny. I'm thinking about switching it up and heading north to fish. We'll see...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Beevahead 4/7

After a couple days of recuperating from our Missouri adventure, Cody, our new fishing buddy Trevor, and I decided to make a day run to the Beaverhead river near Dillon, MT. The beaverhead is known for its great brown trout population and I was very excited to fish some new water. Trevor owns his own drift boat (which is awesome), and I'm surprised that we haven't fished with him prior to this month considering that we've seen him over at the Mo several times and he is also a freshman at the U.

We stopped for some food in Butte (MacDonald's of course), and returned to the car to find we had a flat tire. Just our luck. It reminded me of the False Casts and Flat Tires crew. We quickly hit a Les Schwab and they repaired it for a small price. We were on our way in a little under an hour. We were in no rush.....It was 7 degrees in Butte.

Dirty Boat

Got to the river and in the water around 11. The river was smaller than expected but I liked the small riffles and slots where we knew fish would be. Cody immediately hooked up with a few fish in a nice run.

Nymphing was hot to start but as the day wore on, some cloud cover came in and it was time to switch to streamers. I had been fishing streamers all day and had only landed one brown. When we began fishing some rip-rap on the lower sections of the float, we started getting grabs like crazy. Only one problem; the fish would not fully commit to the flies we were throwing. We tried different colors, we tried different sizes.....the fish would simply not grab our flies.

Trevor with a nice Beaverhead Bow

There's no need to make a long story short because the story was that not one of us managed to land a fish on a streamer for the entire rest of the float. It was quite frustrating. We did find some rising fish during a heavy BWO hatch. Trevor presented perfectly and landed a nice brown.

Overall, I really liked the Beaverhead. The water was just the type of water that I like to fish and its small enough so that you can find fish easily in the defined slots and runs. I really wish the fish would have cooperated with streamer fishing because I probably missed about 50 grabs on the day. I'm sure as the water warms up the streamer fishing will continue to improve which leads me to believe that we will be back to the beaverhead very soon.

Melcher nymphing the prestigious Beaverhead

On the way home we saw a huge heard of elk between Dillon and Butte. It was pretty cool to see, for I have not seen elk yet since I've been to college.

Thanks to Trevor for rowing most of the day. We experienced dead mans rapids (as Cody calls it), and Trevor had no trouble in maneuvering us through the narrow fast stretch of river. He is pretty experienced with the drift boat deal. We are glad to have another fishing buddy join our amazing group of friends.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Trout with Kelsey

Yesterday my girlfriend Kelsey returned from Washington and we decided to hit the water for a while. She's been dying to re-learn how to fly fish so I promised I would teach her what I could. Little did I know she would be such a pro. My ultimate goal was to have her land a fish. We drove a ways up a crowded Rock Creek in search of our own water and finally found an empty stretch that I've fished before.

With a bit of practice, Kelsey was casting really well, especially with roll casts. We walked downstream and found a small pool where there had to be fish. It wasn't long before she hooked up with a bow, fought it, and landed it, all by herself. I was pretty surprised at how well she played the fish and kept it from running down some faster water. Needless to say, I've never seen Kelsey that excited before.

We headed downstream further and Kelsey immediately picked out a soft pocket of water that she thought would hold a fish. After drifting some stoneflies through the pocket, she was hooked up again with nice bow.


It was a great afternoon and an awesome way to end spring break. I was glad that Kels caught some fish. Now, unfortunately, it's back to school for all of us. I cannot believe that there is only one month left of school. This whole year has flown by.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Break Mo Madness

On Saturday we headed off to the Mo for spring break. Not the usual college style of partying. For the next few days we aimed to live like hobos and fish all that we could. And that is exactly what we did.

We arrived to the prestigious Mo on Saturday afternoon and went out to fish a few hours. The streamer fishing was alright but the fish were picky for dries. I managed a decent sized bow and 2 other smaller fish.

On Sunday we woke early to fish. Chris and I headed to one of our favorite runs on the river. We were not disappointed. It was a crazy hour and a half of fishing. I streamer fished and landed close to 20 on black streamers. The fishing was unbelievable.


Monday we floated. The Trout Shop was super generous and let us borrow a brand new clackacraft for the day! The fishing was unusually slow but we still had a great time. Having the drift boat for the day was a luxury.
Tuesday the fishing was back to being great. Cody and I headed out early and found a pretty awesome little run that produced some nice fish, including my nicest Bow of the trip.
Melch with a nice bow

It was a great afternoon to fish due to the fact that there was literally NO WIND. That's wind. Such a rare afternoon and evening for the Mo could not be passed up. We fished all afternoon and then went back out later to fish the evening.

Chris Choosing wisely

Walking back through the fields of the Mo while the sun went down, I realized that I would rather be fishing than doing anything else in the world. I felt as though I was in paradise and for me it was. The fishing had been tough that evening, the trout being picky. I only managed one fish but I was still happy as one can be. I returned to find Chris and Cody still chasing some picky rising fish. Chris had missed a big fish and Cody had found a pattern that the fish really seemed to key in on.

Wednesday, we decided, would be our last day on the Mo. We were tired, hungry and were now running out of food. We definitely needed to get back to Missoula to recharge.

My Home

We all woke early to calm winds. We headed out for our last few hours of fishing. I went it alone while Cody and Chris fished a section downstream of where I was. The fishing was good, as expected.

How now brown trout

Despite fishing our asses off for 5 days, we had plenty of time to act stupid.....

"I like fish slime"
"I'm so cool because I wear a Buff"

"There's a midge on my apple"

It was a spring break to be remembered! Operation MOBITE was a huge success. The weather was beautiful and the fishing was awesome. A big thanks to the Mike, Jerry and Chris at The Trout Shop for letting us take out the Clacka. If you are ever fishing the Mo, be sure to stop by at The Trout Shop. These guys are some of the nicest guys I've met and run a beautiful shop. I'd also like to thank Cody and Chris for being such awesome friends. I couldn't of asked for a better spring break!

It was tough to say goodbye to the Mo but we are now living a healthy lifestyle back in Missoula (for now). Today is a chill day and we are all relaxing and recovering from the trip. The effects of the trip are shown on our faces as I ate breakfast with Chris and Cody this morning. We look like zombies. The next few days we will be fishing again. Stay tuned for more reports.