Thursday, August 30, 2012

Off to BC!

Our camping gear is packed and we're loading up the trucks as we prepare for our adventure to British Columbia! We'll be leaving in just a few hours and returning Monday evening. During our time in Canada, I will not be available by cell phone, email, or any other form of communication. That goes for the other guys as well (Garret, Cody, Trevor and Paden). 

I'd like to wish my good friend Chris Lider luck in his first Collegiate game ever! Chris is the starting kicker this year and will play a pretty big role for the Griz this season. Good luck Chris!

We are all filled with excitement for the big cutties and bull trout that await us.Wish us luck as we head into the wild lands of BC! Until Monday, later America!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sullivan's Net

My grandfather has always had a great impact on my life, not only because he was part of the reason I became interested in Fly Fishing, but because he has thousands of stories about his life that have led me to seek the same kind of adventures that he once embarked on.

Even though I have listened to many of my grandpas stories, I feel like I have only hit the tip of the iceberg with how many stories he actually has. While home in New York after spring semester of school, I visited my grandparents and was surprised when my grandpa presented me with a object that I barely ever use (probably because I could never afford a decent one during school). I was very excited about the thought of having a net because all of the times I wished I had one while trying to handle a decent sized trout at my feet, only to have the hook pop out and the fish escapes.

The net was an interesting one, made with old mesh and a red varnished wood, engraved with the name, Tom Sullivan.  Of course I knew the net would come with a story, which my grandpa had written about many years ago....

Tom Sullivan (Sully) was my grandpas best friend and fishing partner. In the summer of 1947, while attending Cortland, Tom and grandpa embarked on an adventure into the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate NY, in search of wild brook trout. Their destination was Cold River, near the headwaters of the Hudson River.

Water conditions that summer were very low and the guys struggled to find fishable water. They hiked upstream for miles until they found a very long pool, surrounded by steep rock ledges. The deep, dark pool was fittingly named 'the Black Hole" by grandpa and Sully. 

Sully began fishing and landed some very nice brookies, all being about 8-12 inches long (a very nice native brook trout for today's standards). Grandpa decided to hike around to the other side of the Black Hole. He scrambled along the steep cliffs of the pool and eventually began fishing from the other side. It wasn't long until he was hooked up with a large brook trout, a true trophy. He yelled to Sully for assistance. 

When sully arrived, grandpa had the fish close to the rock wall. With no net, Sully took off his hat and got ready to try and land the fish. He tried to scoop the fish up against the rock wall with his hat but the leader snapped and the fish quickly swam into the depths of the Black Hole as grandpa furiously screamed at Sully for losing the fish. 

From that summer on, Sully and my grandpa remained close friends. The saying they used for a joke for many years after the trip was "get the net!" Last Christmas, over 60 years later, grandpa sent Sully the story of their adventure to Cold River. A few weeks later my grandpa received a package in the mail. It was Sully's net with a message explaining the net was for him, in case he ever fished again.

A few days ago my grandpa called with the sad news that Tom Sullivan had passed away. I felt it was necessary to tell the story that my grandpa once told me and explain that the net is being put to good use these days. I hope that Tom can see that his net has ended up in good hands and has helped me land many trout already.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rock Creek

Got out on the water with Chris today for the first time since before school ended. We fished Rock for a few hours today and had some OK dry fly action. Some decent browns and my first bully in a long time (no picture this time). It was nice to fish with Chris again.

Smoke from surrounding wildfires in the Missoula area has been filling the valley on a daily basis. Hopefully they are under control soon.  Until then the ash will keep fallin! Looks like this weekend the whole crew will be leaving Missoula on a big adventure to the North...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seeking Solitude

School begins tomorrow and all of us are probably trying to avoid thinking about it. I've had a lot of fun in the past few days, getting out to fish when I can and seeing friends that I haven't seen since school got out. Today Cody and I decided to seek some solitude and get away from Missoula in order to keep school thoughts out of our heads.

We headed for the mountains in search of some remote, pure cutthroat streams that we have never fished before. It was a blast catching small cutties all afternoon, in such a beautiful setting. 

The grind starts tomorrow! Looking forward to a great year of school...and fishing. Mostly fishing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back in Action

Finally back in Missoula and settling in to the new house. Garret's new investment over the summer, a Baltik 13 foot raft, has been used frequently since everybody's return to zoo town. Today Cody, Garret and I headed out early for the Blackfoot.

A beautiful morning to be on the water

Needless to say, fishing hoppers and small attractors was very decent when the water warmed up a little. We caught many averaged sized cutties in the couple hour float that we did. 

Cutty by Garret

Melch being Melch

I had a tough day myself and missed a bunch of fish. It seems like I am still used to the slow takes of fish on the Missouri. My timing was off the entire day. Still had a great time and it was fun getting to fish with my buddies again.

Now that I am permanently in Missoula, the blog will be updated way more often than when I was in the land of Craig. More posts coming soon!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A summer review: Craig, MT

It seems like only three weeks ago I was headed back out to Montana to work in a town with less than 50 permanent residents, on one of the most productive trout rivers in the United States. Who would have thought that in what seemed like three weeks, three full months flew by. My summer of work in Craig, MT, has now ended.

It was definitely a summer of remembrance. Working at the Trout Shop gave me the opportunity to explore, and most importantly, fish everyday. I had plenty of adventures this summer but also worked a lot. I learned so much about the process of a fly shop, interacting with clients, and helping those clients to have the best fly fishing experience possible.

Working in Craig specifically gave me a whole different view on the small town. The entire existence of the town all comes back to the sport that keeps it alive. With three fly shops, a restaurant, and lodging, Craig Montana is considered to some to be a small fly fishing oasis. But what I realized about Craig was that it's not the shops that make it such an oasis... it's the generous people.

I would like to thank Chris Goodman, Jerry Lappier, Mike Bushly, Karen Lappier, and Lily Goodman for the great experience I had this summer working at The Trout Shop. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in my life.

Goodbye to the Mo

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mountains, Cutties and Bears, Oh My

In the past couple of weeks on the Mo, the fishing has slowed down and the crowds have decreased. Working less has given me time to explore a little bit. I've been hitting some small streams lately and trying to stay off the larger waters. Finding and exploring new waters is always a fun gig, especially if you find that those waters are full of cutties, willing to take almost any attractor dry you choose to throw. 

Small but beautiful

My boss Chris has over 30 years of fly fishing knowledge that he occasionally gives out in small doses. He recently told me of a high mountain lake in the Bob Marshall Wilderness that was full of big Yellowstone cutties. With my camping gear in the car, I headed for the mountains.

It turned out to be one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. The fishing proved to be slow, with most of the fish in the lake being out in the middle.

I haven't seen a bear in Montana since my run in with a black bear on Rattlesnake Creek during my first week of college. Fortunately enough, as I walked down the steps of our front porch near Craig, I found a bear walking about 30 feet from me. It looked at me and continued on its way. I slowly walked to my car, got my camera and watched as the bear walked right up on some high rocks. It sat up there for a few minutes just watching me. Very cool to see. 

It's been a great couple of weeks and work is slowly but surely coming to an end. Garret just arrived in Missoula today from South Carolina as well as Chris Gratton who spent his summer back in Vermont. They both are very excited to be back in Montana again. 

My little sister Ellie and my Mom are headed out west to see me soon. Hopefully I'll get to show them what Montana is all about. My last day of work will be the 23rd, and then it's back to Missoula for good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MFWP Work Continues

Had another great day with Region 2 fisheries biologist Will and Jerrod on Monday. We met early and headed up to a small Clark Fork tributary to do a depletion. The object of a depletion is to get an estimate of the fish population in a specific section of a stream. Previous estimates had been made on the stream and in the past eight years, restoration work has been done to certain sections to see if it would have any effect on the population.

The process was quite simple (although my last electro-shocking experience did not seem simple at all). We first set up a block net at the bottom end of the section we were going to shock. This prevents any stunned fish from being carried downstream. We then began to make our first pass, working our way upstream through the thick brush. Jerrod was in charge of shocking, while Will used the dip net to collect the stunned fish. It didn't take long before we were into fish. My job was to transport the fish until we were done with the pass.

Will and Jerrod gettin' it done

After each pass, the fish would be placed in a live net in order to recover from the shock.

Our shocking of the stream produced almost all cutthroat x rainbow hybrids with many of them being under four inches long. A few fish were almost eight inches long, which was pretty impressive for the size of the creek.

When we were done with all three runs through the section, we compared the data to a 2008 figure. The numbers from the three passes were practically identical, the same amount of fish for the first two passes and only one fish more on the third pass. Will and Jerrod were amazed by the nearly identical counts and said "that never happens". It looks like the restoration work hasn't affected the population at all.

It was a great day with MFWP as I learned a ton of things. Working with Will and Jerrod is a lot of fun simply because they enjoy the work that they do (and they are really cool guys). I wish I had an actual position with MFWP, because doing jobs like this everyday would make for a very fun summer. Hopefully next summer will come with some opportunities to do so.

After resting for a few hours in Missoula, I met up with Mr. Anderson to do some fishing. We hit the Clark Fork for a few hours. The fish that we found were more than willing to take small attractor patterns and PMD's, as we enjoyed a nice evening of decent bows and browns.

The Youth of the Clark Fork

The Man Himself

All of the fish that we landed seemed to be fat and happy. They even put up good fights, despite the low flows and warm temperatures lately.

Fishing on the Mo may be picking up again as the prolific hatch of Tricos gets stronger every day. I'm looking forward to maybe getting out to do a night expedition on the Mo, in search of some big nocturnal browns. Stay tuned for the next post. Until then, I wish you great fishing!