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Testing The Waters

Just checking out wordpress from my phone. Heading to Florida to chase Silver Kings / Tarpon in a few hours. Wanted to set up mobile blogging from my Blackberry. Consider this tested.

Fish More Trout Spey

Trout Spey in MontanaThe Lance Gleason 406 Productions short for the Simms Ice Out Shoot Out was filmed on the Missouri River between Great Falls and Helena Montana.  This is my home water from late October to late May.  Notice the Fish More knuckles when you watch the video.  Despite wintery weather hanging on, that’s what I’m always intending to do.  I can’t get enough of Trout Spey action on the Missouri.  The one positive to the colder weather, is that fish are still taking streamers on the swing.  A little action can help, but its still a tight line pull instead of an active cast and strip.  I love the anticipation and the resulting grabs.  These are not gentle plucks, but jolting yanks.

Weapons

KK battles a chomper

KK with a chomper

Traveling to the next T Spey zoneT-Spey'd

I’m writing an article for Fish Alaska Magazine with Trout Spey as the topic.  I’ve got a deadline, so I’d better get back to it.  Looking forward to bending on Big Alaska Rainbows soon.

Simms Ice Out Guide EventIce Out is more a state of mind than an actual occurrence this year in Montana.  Simms has a great motto: What’s the weather forecast?  Who cares…  When it comes to being ensconced in the best gear in the industry, Simms has us covered.  If it was December, I’d be fine with today’s weather, but I’d really like to fish in some water that at least pushed into the mid 40s.  It’s been snowing since I got back yesterday evening. This morning, my truck looked like a cripple with a white shuck that would not break free.Madison River Brewing Company

This years event started on Thursday with a stop at Simms for registration and factory tour followed by an open house (with Montana Beer) at the The Rivers Edge Fly Shop.  The Hop Juice IPA works for me.  Then it was on to the Ellen Theater for an evening with Brian O’keefe and Todd Moen from Catch Magazine.  If you fly fish, you likely know about Catch Magazine, but if you don’t, here is an example.

On Friday, we had several morning sessions and then it was off to the Copper Springs Ranch for the Guide Olympics.  No one was really quite sure what to expect and there were a few spectator only guides.  I tried two events and made it to the final round of the rod rigging.  Thanks to Eric Neufeld for heckling me and saving me from a possible win.  As it turned out, there were great prizes for each event and a gold, silver, bronze award for the most points accrued. Congratulations to Mike “AG” for being the 1st guide gold medal winner.

Saturday was packed with informative sessions and a product feedback working group.  I submerged the urge to sneak out and fish the Gallatin and attended all the sessions throughout the weekend.  I also talked with Andrew Bennett from Deneki Outdoors.  Who wants to join me at Andros South March 24-31, 2012?  The final evening wrap up was again at the Ellen Theater.  It included the Simms Shootout, co hosted by Tom Bie and The Drake along with the awards for the guide olympics.  There were also a few articles of flying swag.

RA Beattie took first place, but all four films were great

Adopose Boat WorksAfter the films, we hit the street in Bozeman for late night fun.  Mike Ward from Adipose Boatworks brought along the wheelchair from his Project Healing Waters Driftboat to keep things interesting.  My friends  Stephen Paulding and  Natalia Aulenbacher from Cooper Landing, AK managed to duck out about midnight, but I was still ready to take them fishing by 8am.  We cruised up past Helena and walked into some good water on the Missouri.  I got a chance to break in my new G4Z waders and River Tech boots. Missouri River Rainbow It was fun watching Steve and Natalia catch fish in Montana.  My Sage 6119 has been officially broken in and is sweet with either the Rio 6/7 Switch Line or a 425 grain Rio Skagit Flight.  We fought some wind, but caught plenty of fish to polish off a great Ice Out weekend.

Simms Ice Out Begins

Simms Ice Out Guide Event 2011

On my way down to Bozeman.  Might drop a line in the MO for a few fish first.

I had a great time at Ice Out in 2010.  I’ll be meeting up with a few fellow Alaskan guides and plenty of folks from Montana and across the states.  The beer will flow, the flap will be interesting and the energy will be fishy.

Tonight’s program is an “Evening with Catch Magazine” hosted by Brian O’keefe and Todd Moen.

Its guide fun time before the work begins.

Fly anglers love to debate stuff.  Do fish see color? (Absolutely) Does fly line color matter? (Sometimes) Is fishing a dry fly the only true form of fly fishing? (Absolutely…not) Is dry fly fishing better than anything else? (Sometimes)  Do trout on the Missouri River really think a pink Ray Charles is an egg? (Are you kidding me?) Do these waders make my butt look big? (Who Cares?)  What is the best state for fly fishing? The Fly Talk Blog at Field&Stream just wanted to pick a fight.

Wild King SalmonObviously, the best state depends on species and how you like to fish, but I’m soundly in the top five in any event.  Michigan ranked #1.  I was born in Michigan and caught my first wild char (brook trout) there.  I’m now a resident of Montana, because I live here for more than 6 months of the year.  Montana ranked #5.  I caught my first cutthroat here about 30yrs ago.  There is something about this place that gets into your head and your heart.  Then there is Alaska. Alaska is ranked #4 and that is where I guide, because, well, it’s Alaska.  Somehow, Wyoming and Louisiana got in there ahead of AK and MT.  I have fished a bit in Wyoming, but never in Louisiana, though I’d certainly give it a try.

Wyoming does have some great water and a low population density.  Those are two of my keys to fly fishing greatness.  I just don’t think it edges out Montana.  Michigan does have tremendous variety, including transplanted salmon and steelhead, but Alaska has something no other state has.  Pure, indigenous, wild fish!  For me, that puts it squarely at Number 1.  You can call me a snob. I will chase any fish, anytime, on the fly, but I prefer wild native fish in their natural range and waters.

 

Troutzilla

Not a great lakes steelhead.

If I want to catch a steelhead, do I really care weather I go to Oregon or Washington or Idaho?  If I want to catch a bass, I can do that just about anywhere.  If I want to catch a redfish, I can do that from Texas to the Keys to the Carolinas. If I want to chase troutzilla; I’m not talking about some freak of science triploid fish, but a real native rainbow the size of a King Salmon; I go to Alaska!

Of course, Alaska is also blessed with lots of tasty, healthy, wild, salmon. (Say no to Pebble Mine)

Not available in the marsh.

I also think another key to the question of crowning the best fly fishing state is this.  Where do you most want to go?  Lets hear it.

It may not feel like spring in much of the country (I awoke to snow flurries), but the days are certainly getting longer. Fred is still in Montana and keeps fishing the Missouri River between Craig and Great Falls. Stacy is stalking the beaches and off-shore reaches of the southern Baja Peninsula, chasing Rooter Fish and whatever else will eat a fly.  Baja Beach Rooster FishHe now has a 23’ Cobia in the Cabo harbor to base from.  I know he made it down safely, after driving up and back from Tucson to fetch it.  I’m waiting for the first fishing report.  Stacy will be ready to host some trips on the Baja in 2012 and I hope to join him along with some of you.

Get Connected

Facebook for those that fishMystic Waters is connected on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Blogger. The Social Network is unavoidable these days and truly is a useful way to follow and connect with your friends, the businesses you support and the topics (like fly fishing) that you love.  If you are on Facebook, please stop by and “Like” Mystic Waters Fly Fishing. Even if you are not on Facebook, you can still check out the Mystic Waters Fly Fishing Page to see what is happening.

I have been maintaining this blog for a couple years now. I also feature a site for seasonal fishing reports at http://www.kenairiverfishingreport.com Using a smart phone, I will be able to update regularly this coming season.  Over the next few weeks, I plan to rebuild mysticfishing.com to include the blog and a storefront for some upcoming logo apparel.  I hope you follow along.  Look for the new mysticwaters.com very soon.

Dates to Consider for 2011

Searching for SalmonYou are going to need a shoe horn to find space from mid August through September.  There are still some open dates scattered between June 11 and August 18. October remains an excellent month to fish the Kenai and we are taking reservations to the 15th.  Some of our best rainbows come in the late fall as well as some impressive silvers.

I am entering my fourth spring in Montana. Despite some lousy weather this year, I love it here. Several Mystic Waters guests and friends have dropped by and fished with me on the Missouri River.  I will soon have my Montana Guide license and plan to do some guiding here before the Kenai calls again.

The Good Stuff

If you fish often, then you certainly love great fly fishing gear.  When you join Mystic Waters, you get to use the good stuff.

For 2011, our primary brands are SageRossBeulahRio, Airflo, and Simms.  This is not to say we don’t use others, but that we feature these premium brands to help make your time on the water more enjoyable.

Deathstar RainbowLast season, I picked up a Sage 10’7wt TCX.  It fished great for large trout and silvers and was my favorite single hand streamer rod.  I also fished with the infamous “Deathstar”; the 12’6” 7wt. spey rod that George Cook nicknamed, because it can cast line to a far off galaxy.  It worked on everything from Anchor River Kings to Sockeye and big Rainbows and Silvers on the Kenai.  It even pulled some nice browns from the Missouri River in Montana.  This year, I am adding the new TCX 11’9” 6wt Switch Rod.

Ross has unveiled the new “revolutionary” F1 Reel.  Can’t wait to see how it rolls. We feature many great Ross Reels on our fly rods.  I’ve been fishing the 8wt Essence FW for several seasons and it continues to be one of the most pleasant casting 9’ 8 weights I have thrown.  We also fished the 12’6” 6wt Reach Spey rod.  It was deadly for sockeye salmon and worked out well for a fair number of big trout and silvers.  Ross also added some new 5 and 6wt Reach rods to the line up that look interesting.

Leaping Silver Salmon on the Kenai RiverBeulah is a great company for switch and spey rods at a reasonable price. I fished the 11’7” 5wt Platinum Spey last season.  It quickly became my favorite trout rod for nymphing and swinging lighter streamers.  From the drift boat, it became the favored rod of any guest who fished it, and was responsible for landing some impressive fish throughout the season. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on the Missouri River with Bruce Berry (pro staff/rep) for Beulah, and had my spey casting tuned up a bit.

Rio continues to offer the largest variety of specialty lines. I had great success with the clear intermediate Outbound.  I have also found that the 8wt Rio Grand works well as a switch line for spey casting with my 10’ 6wt XPs.  This year, Rio has added a Switch Line to their inventory, and I can’t wait to run it.  I just ordered the complete set of MOW (spey) Tips in the Medium and Heavy weights to cover all water levels and sinking tip needs.

Airflo – Ridge lines have become my standard on the trout rods and I love them.  I started using the Supple Impact last season.  The ridge design works very well and they are durable and perform day after day without constant attention.  They cast and fish like no other.  On the spey side, the Skagit Compact designed by my friend Tom Larimer is the bomb for launching sink tips.

Proudly wearing Simms WadersSimms – Simms is the king when it comes to the soft gear that I rely on day in and day out.  I can’t imagine working through the fishing season without them.  I use the G4 waders and jacket. I rotate several soft shells and the River Tech top is one of my all-time favorites.  The Rivershed Boot with the new streamtread soles has been my footwear of choice.  I like the long sleeved solarflex shirts for any day of the season.  They work for layering in cold weather and as the perfect sun shield layer when it gets hot.

What Else:

I’m becoming a regular contributor to Fish Alaska Magazine.  My third article is coming out in May, with others soon to follow.  Since you enjoy Alaska Fishing, you might enjoy checking out Fish Alaska’s interactive website.

Simms Fish BowlI’m heading down to Bozeman in a week for the 2011 Simms Ice Out Guide Event.  It was great fun last year and looks to be even more action packed this time around.  I look forward to meeting up with guide associates and friends from Alaska, Montana and around the country.

At the end of the month, I am flying to Florida to meet up with my buddy Captain Eric Lund.  Eric and two other guide associates will be hosting me along with a small party of Mystic Waters Fly Fishing guests.  We will be chasing Tarpon on-the-fly along with all the other inshore and flats glamor species.

Roland Martin

We will be staying on a property owned by Roland Martin.  Talk about legendary.  I can’t wait, and I’ll be providing blog and social media updates during and after the trip.

In 2012, we are planning a trip to the incredible bonefish flats of Andros South. We are also considering a Fly Fishing for Kings option in Western Alaska and of course Stacy will be dialed in for Baja.  Stay tuned and let us know if you would like us to put you on a list for specific details on any or all of these options.

Let’s Stay Connected

Kenai Moose CalvesIf you avoid all the social connectivity tools, you can still fire me an email or a text. Even if you are not planning to fish with Mystic Waters this season, I’d love to hear about where you are going.  If you have time to share a story from a previous trip, I’d love to hear about it and possibly use it for a new blog post.  I know there are lots of great stories and pictures out there among you.

Tight Lines and I hope to see you on the Mystic Waters very soon!

Mystic Waters Fly Fishing
Call or Text 907-227-0549
Website: http://www.mysticfishing.com
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I’ve been hooked a few times myself, but never like this.

The Legendary Suick Muskie Thriller

Suick Muskie Thriller

This may not be a fly fishing video, but I got my start as an angler chucking huge treble hook laden chunks of wood in Northern Wisconsin.  As a boy, there was something awesome about the big splash down those old plugs would make.  As a trout / flats fly fisherman now, that’s no longer an approach I use.  I’d love to get back to some of my old familiar waters and chase muskie again on-the-fly.

I once had to defend myself from a pack of wild dogs with my muskie rod and a big triple treble hooked plug like the Suick.  It got me out of a very precarious predicament.  I also still bear a scar where one of those 3X trebles buried through my knuckle while attached to a thrashing 40″ Muskie.  Good times.

Salmon Parr and Smolt for Alaska Fly Fishing: Part 3

This is the third part of my salmon cycle outline for Alaska Fly fishing.  This is not an in depth how to, but rather a sampler to get anglers thinking about ways to approach Alaskan trout throughout the season.

Salmon Parr are available to trout and Dolly Varden somewhere on a year-round basis.  During their first year, the little salmon are called fry.  Those that remain in a river or lake for more than a year are called Parr.  Each salmon species has slightly different requirements.  Sockeye fry typically migrate to lakes and feed on plankton and develop into larger Parr.  Coincidentally, many rainbows and dollies migrate into the lakes for the winter months.  King Salmon typically spend their youth in the main-stem of their natal river.  This makes them a target for larger trout throughout the summer.  Silver salmon behave like Kings their first year, but then often move up smaller tributaries and back waters where they will spend from one to three more years in relative safety.

The most obvious physical trait of salmon Parr are the vertical bars they exhibit called Parr markings.  These markings are important to note when creating streamers meant to imitate them.

Note the wounded (white spots) Parr.  They won’t last long…chomp.

Every spring, an amazing transformation takes place within the juvenile salmon.  The process is called smoltification.  Its a good word to know when one of your buddy’s starts spouting off the Latin name of some stupid bug.

“You see those terns diving? I’m guessing smoltification is in full swing.  The way they are pounding those aggregations suggests I should tumble a cripple off that shelf.”

Smoltificaiton is the internal metabolic process which enables the juvenile parr to adapt from fresh to salt water.  There is some kind of kidney function reverse osmosis thing going on.  At the onset, they become less territorial and begin forming aggregations, grouping themselves by similar size. During smoltification they will lose the dark vertical bars on their sides (Parr marks or river camo) and develop their metallic sheen (open water camouflage).

Salmon SmoltOutgoing smolt migrations generally occur in spring and early summer.  The window tends to get later and more concentrated further north in the salmon’s range.  In large rivers, outgoing smolt can concentrate in balls similar to saltwater baitfish such as herring.  Birds and hungry trout will not miss this opportunity and finding a smolt ball can lead to some very exciting fishing.

While smolt may rest in slower waters, it is important to understand that in the main current, smolt are moving downstream.  A deep swing across the current with a smolt fly pattern (steelhead style) is not the best way to imitate the migration.  Casting up and across and stripping with a downstream angle will be more realistic.  In fast water, it is often best to just drift your pattern as these little fella’s are going with the flow.

Kenai River Alaska June Rainbow

Smoltified Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Up:  When the Adult Salmon Return

Maybe it’s the cold, windy and gray of another not quite spring day that has me in a funk.  Tomorrow I’m buying a ticket to Miami.  Today; this is on my mind.

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Transocean cites safety record in doling out bonuses despite 11 deaths and totally screwing up the Gulf

“Never, ever, let it be said that mere facts will come between an executive and his or her bonus. Transocean which – along with BP – is responsible for 11 deaths while creating the worst environmental disaster in US history, used its safety record as the reason for giving out exec bonuses.”

View the full story from Collateral Damage

Lets not make an Ass out of U and Me – Assume

Cyanide leach bill approved

“The Montana House Thursday endorsed the bill that would allow cyanide-leaching of ore from new open-pit gold or silver mines in the state, and thus amend a 1998 voter-passed initiative that banned such mines.”

“The House endorsed Senate Bill 306 on a 63-37 vote, largely along party lines, with Republicans in favor. After a final vote on the measure, likely today, it will go to the desk of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign it into law.”

View the full story at HelenaIR.com

Montana SB 306 goes to the Governor

“Now if I didn’t know better, I’d say that Montana SB 306 looks like a full blown mining bill that leaves the taxpayers in the same place with mining operations that they have always been- picking up the tab. Jobs? There are no jobs here, just a huge liability for more mining cleanups, legal litigation, infrastructure liabilities and a tortured landscape that taxpayers will have to live in and pay for while the mining companies take the profit elsewhere.”

View the full story at Will Fish For Work

I sent my letter to Governor Schweitzer this morning.  I sure hope he can do the right thing.

A Cloud Hangs Over Our Hunting and Fishing Future

“One rider that hunters and anglers should be most concerned about strikes at the heart of the Clean Water Act. Recent Supreme Court decisions have resulted in the loss of Clean Water Act protection for at least 20 million acres of wetlands that are essential to waterfowl populations. The rider blocks the federal government from restoring lost protections for small streams, adjacent wetlands and geographically isolated waters that provide much of the habitat needed by fish and wildlife. These headwaters and wetlands are also the source of most of the water that flows through the nation’s waterways.”

View the Full Story at Cool Green Science

No PebbleIs it worth the risk?  Hell NO!  In some places you just have to say NO.  Look at what just happened in Japan.  A quake like that will happen again and it could easily happen in the zone of the proposed Pebble Mine project.  You would have to be living in a cave not to know about Pebble Mine and most likely, you have seen this Red Gold trailer.  Its worth a look again so the cause is not forgotten.  These Pebble Folks will hang around for a long long time, because they have lots and lots of money invested and plenty more to use.  There is actually some hope right now that  positive choices will be made, but our voices must continue to be heard.

Save Bristol Bay

Excerpts from TUs most recent Press Release…

“The EPA has the tools to protect Bristol Bay, where more than 40 million salmon migrated last year,” said Paul Greenberg, an author and recreational fisherman. “This is one of our last remaining watersheds for healthy, wild salmon. Even trace amounts of toxic metals from mine waste can interfere with salmon’s ability to navigate and spawn, endangering their survival and the future of this fishery.”

There are now tens of thousands of individuals and thousands of organizations and businesses who represent Alaska Natives, anglers, outdoor equipment manufacturers, commercial fishermen, jewelers, chefs, restaurant owners and people of faith who are asking for the federal agency to protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine.

The EPA took the first step toward protecting the Bristol Bay watershed in southwest Alaska on Feb. 7, when the agency announced plans to initiate a scientific study of the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects could affect Bristol Bay’s water quality, fisheries, and communities.

“We are confident that after the science and other public input are considered, the EPA and the Obama Administration will join Alaska Natives, commercial and sport fishermen, chefs, restaurant owners, and outdoor enthusiasts to protect Bristol Bay, its fisheries, resources and jobs,” said former Alaska State Senate President Rick Halford.

TU makes it really easy to Take Action, so please do.

Take Action: Alaska Residents // Save Bristol Bay

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