Friday, October 30, 2009

Montana Getaway!


I just returned from a long overdue fishing binge in Montana with good friends, Ben Brennan and Mike Patron. We managed to slip away from the wives unscathed and journeyed north to start the trip on the Missouri River near Craig, MT, this is a very well known tailwater emerging from the Holter Dam in Wolf Creek, MT. I have only fished this river in late October and in general it has always treated me to some of the finest "technical" dry fly fishing around. Technical just means small imitations of BWO's and midges(#18-22) combined with lighter tippets, demanding drifts and "hot", picky rainbows! The overall feel of this river is that of a giant spring creek(3500cfs) with long slow glides and bottoms mostly covered with aquatic vegetation-an insect machine! Our weather was a mixed October bag of warm, overcast wind on the first day then colder gusty winds on the second and lastly a cold calm snowy day... our final day was our best with steady snow and temps near freezing all day- Pod mania! Rainbows and browns scattered on flats and banks sipping and rolling all around... it was surreal, especially since we were one of two boats on the entire river. If you have never experienced a fishery like the "Mo", make sure it is high on you list and go during the off-season, traffic is very high there mid-summer.

Mo-Bows are wild and hot!
Casting streamers between pods works out nicely.

A Jefferson October Double!
Our final day after exploring the MO landed us just south on a river not too many ever get to fish or have that much to say about, the Jefferson River. This river is formed by some of the most acclaimed rivers in all of Montana, the Ruby, the Big Hole and the Beaverhead. Our knowledge of the river before launching was minimal... in fact, it was hard to get any report on this fairly large freestone stream not far from Bozeman. We had always heard low numbers but chance for true trophies existed. Well, we went for it and had good streamer fishing near mid-day in long slow runs. The water was very cold, high and off-color. When we started we actually thought it could end up being just a nice float with a few beers... but we were persistent with the streamers and figured out quickly that all the trout were not asleep yet. Slow retrieves with sink-tips caught the fish and some were nice, no hogs this go-round but I aim to return. Nice river with no crowds... my kinda place!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guide Season 2009 Ending-

The 2009 Guide season came to a screaching halt this week as October ushered in some significantly cooler weather with wind and snow covering the region for several days. Up until now we had nearly 8-10 boats daily heading out for folks to try their luck on our wily fall cutthroats and now with the weather change only 1-2 are brave enough to go for it... this is tough on guides' late season income but the flip side is that we finally get a chance to head out and play on some of the rivers we know so well. Guide friends Ben Brennan & Mark Fuller teamed up with Louie and I as we saw the weather break and headed to the lower South Fork on 10/7. Conditions were pleasant and much warmer than Jackson Hole, therefore our streamer fishing suffered somewhat( it was still good just no jumbo trout) but near noon a wonderful BWO hatch brought out the cutthroats & browns in big numbers but substantial size was not found(best fish nearing 18")... hey, I loved it; I drank beer and caught beautiful trout on dries all afternoon... I have to practice what I preach(read my entry from August 12th)!
This week many of the local river flows are dropping to winter levels so when the seasonal weather returns there should be some excellent fishing to be had in the afternoons. I have several fun trips planned throughout the fall so I will post updates as the stories come in.
Had a fun day with my father-in-law, Bob Allen from Spartanburg, SC last week on the upper Snake as we found fantastic morning dry fly action and then later pulled this real nice "river Mac" from the depths... this fish is the largest I've seen in the net on the Snake... it measured nearly 29" and was 8lbs according to the weigh net.