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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.

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While fishing is my number one passion, I do love watching football, especially on a cold and snowy February day when my favorite team is in the Super Bowl. And while I’m not superstitious, I decided to stay away from bananas and drink only a classic Wisconsin beer during the game.  Instead of being a couch potato, I paced behind the couch for the entire game, swilling PBR and wishing I had some sauerkraut.  The first half was fun, the second was tense and the outcome was perfect.  I treated myself to a Double Haul IPA during the celebration.

While I grew up in Wisconsin and learned to love beer there, Montana has quite the selection of choice malt beverages to choose from.  I knew I would love it here the first time I browsed the choices at a local grocery store.  Included were Dancing Trout, Trout Slayer Ale and several others with fly fishing themes or river names.

Dancing Trout AleTrout Slayer Beer

I recently visited the Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish Montana.  Not only are they becoming famous for their Black Star Beer, but they have Fred’s Black Ale on tap.  When you walk into a bar and see a tap with your name on it, what’s not to love?  On Saturday, they had a little contest.  What would you do for a years worth of beer?

Then there is the a fore mentioned Double Haul IPA.  Its actually available in 16oz cans for boaters on the Blackfoot River where glass is prohibited.  Seems to work pretty well elsewhere.  They fit nicely on the sides of my Fishpond pack.

Double Haul IPA

“Brewed with lots of hops and a solid body, Double Haul® IPA is a beer lover’s dream. After a couple of Double Haul®s you’ll feel like you’re out with your buddies and it’s FISH ON!”

Here is a link to 20 Montana Breweries. Not only are there more fishy and fly fishing theme named beers, but lots of animal themes like Moose Drool and even some skiing themes like Face Plant and Cold Smoke.

So you might be wondering about the title reference to no bananas.  That’s a post topic for another time.  Here is a link if you need a clue.  Bananas in the Boat.

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Cold Beer

Cold Day, Cold Troutslayer Beer

Tom Lackey just sent me this picture in remembrance of a very cold and blustery morning we spent on the MO a year ago today.  Soon after we held down bar stools at Issac’s in Craig for many hours, stories and a few more beers. It was like a refugee camp due to the weather and the fact that all the other rivers in Montana were blown with runoff.   Things are very different this year.  Water conditions are good on a number of rivers and fish on the MO have been eating very well on top. Here is a link to last years post.  While not as cold today, it was windy with some rain showers.  Brian Neilsen and I drove up to Tibor Dam on the Marias River for a little look around and I took a few casts with my new Beulah Platinum 5wt Spey Rod.  Can’t wait to get busy with that new stick.

Tight Lines!

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Friday through Sunday, I joined in the Simms Ice Out Guide Event.  It was a blast.  Since I only have about a 3 hour drive south from Great Falls, I stopped at a spot on the Missouri for a little morning session with some rainbows.  It was a great way to start a long fun weekend.  I pulled into Simms in Bozeman and immediately was welcomed with a packet of some swag and a cold yummy Montana beer.  I quickly spotted George Heim from Cooper Landing and owner of Alaska River Adventures.    I have known George for about 15 years but never had a chance to enjoy his company outside Alaska and away from our busy Cooper Landing summers.   Moments later I was on a tour of the Simms factory of which I can show no pictures.  Suffice it to say, they are doing great work back there and they truly care about making the best waders in the world. A big thanks to all of you who have a hand (there are many) in producing my waders and keeping me comfortably outfitted for business.

Ice Out Bow

Missouri River Rainbow

Gallatin River

Eric on the Gallatin

As soon as I came out the door, I ran into Eric Neufeld who is now the Simms Representative for Oregon and Washington.  Eric came east with Tom Larimer of Larimer Outfitters. Tom was getting his Deschutes guide boat signed up by Simms.  They somehow talked me into a quick trip to the Gallatin before the evening entertainment.  I decided not to wader up, so I drank a PBR and took a few snap shots. The weather was fantastic all weekend and if there was one problem from the Simms side, it was that guides and employees kept sneaking out on little fishing hits.   I’m sure they had that figured into the master plan in addition to having most of Sunday set aside as a fishing day.  Tom’s boat was ready after we got done fishing. He picked it up and parked it in front of the Hilton Garden where Simms was hosting most of the sessions, meals and entertainment.

Wille Predator Simms Styled

Tom Larimer and Fred Telleen

After Simms put on a great sale and social event Friday evening, we took a cab downtown to check out a few local watering holes.  It did not take Tom and I long to realize that we are not college students anymore, but we were with Eric who knows how to keep things lively.  We were also joined by Sean Visintainer of the Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane and Tom Randall of Emerald Water Anglers of Seattle along with a few other event goers.  Things got a bit hazy in the wee hours.  There was some fishing flap, some gaping, lots of drinks that seemed to appear and disappear and a loud cab ride back to the hotel after a trip to a Pita Pit.

After some morning sessions at the Hilton we headed over to Livingston in some borrowed drift boats.  Tom and I have not fished together in ten years, so it was fun to be in a boat with Tom and on a new river for both of us.  We drove around for awhile, had some dispute on which landing was the put in and which was the take out and Eric finally called a shuttle and we just put the boats in at Mayors Landing and floated to Highway 89.  We were short on time and on new water with no idea how long it would take to the landing. We had heard that the Yellowstone is hit or miss, so we decided to throw streamers, nymph and fish dries.  Got a few taps on the streamers, hooked a whitey nymphing and threw several flies to some rising fish in a scummy eddy that just gave us the middle fin.  Sean, Lexi and Eric did a little better, landing several whities and a 16″ cutt.  Lexi works on Tom’s Deschutes overnight trips and took over rowing for the boys, so they had the female advantage.  They also nymphed the whole way which was way smarter but could not have been as much fun as our shotgun approach.

We took out and blazed up highway 89 for about 12 miles before we realized we were heading to White Sulfur Springs and not back toward Bozeman.  After some correction, we found our way to I90 where one of the drift boat straps blew off, as they are want to do when you are borrowing someone else’s boat.  We rolled into the Bowling Alley in time for Pizza and the beginning of the festivities.  Simms Fish BowlOur team the “Carpet Backs” which Eric figured was some kind of Moldy Chum theme took a solid second to last place aided in part by my 89.  I may be from Wisconsin, but that was 22 yrs ago.  Hats off to the boys and girls from Great Falls who represented the Big R Fly Store anchored by Sam Wike.  They looked awesome, but were unable to repeat their win of last year

On Sunday, after a morning session and farewell to Tom, Eric, Lexi and Sean, I scooped up George and Gary Mcfadden for a trip to the Gallatin. Gary flew down from Cooper Landing which was a long distance, but there was a guide who drove from New York who was awarded a new pair of G4Z waders.  No matter, Garry, George and I were all sporting new boots, waders, a vest, some shirts etc. when we hit the Gallatin.  Since I had a truck full of rods, I had enough gear for all, but we had to stop at a fly shop for some stones and baetis nymphs.  We hit an unmarked bridge south of Gallatin Gateway that only had 7 cars parked at it.  No one was fishing at the obvious bridge hole, so we dropped in and hooked some fish.  Nothing big, but again, a new river and the first time I have ever fished with George and Gary despite seeing Gary on the Kenai for the past 21 years.

Gary McFadden on the Gallatin

Gary McFadden on the Gallatin

George with a Treasure

Hats off to some Boston Fan

George landed a Boston Red Sox Championship baseball cap covered in March Browns.

Thanks to Simms for a great weekend.  Tom Larimer is out rocking his new paint job on the Deschutes right now.  I hope to join Tom for some swings and tugs on the Deschutes next fall.

Tight Lines,

Fred Telleen

Mystic Waters Fly Fishing

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Wow,  tomorrow is November.  I spent every day on the Kenai River from July 15 to October 18, so please excuse the fact that the blog has been silent.  I have lots of material to share, so I am planning to run a number of  posts about the season past.  I have recently arrived back in Great Falls Montana and just put a line in the Missouri yesterday.  Some days you go fishing and sometimes you go catching.  Yesterday I went catching for about 2 hours.  Hot rainbows and Browns from 15 -20″ .  It was a great welcome back to Montana.

Oct 18 Kenai River Rainbow

Scotts' Oct 18 Kenai River Rainbow

My good friend Troy Miller pulled together a work/corporate fishing trip for some business associates and we hit the river for a mild and productive late season day. Scott’s fish was the second of 4 hooked up while wading a special spot.  When I saw it jump, I yelled for everyone to get in the boat, but since everyone was hooked up, no one moved.”Really guys, Scott has a big fish and we are going to need to chase it.”  I ended up getting Scott in the boat and we chased the fish around and down to the point of no return more than once.  I flung a couple nets to shore like frisbees and told the guys to help each other.  We managed to get Scott’s fish back to the boat and the boat back to shore right where we hooked it. There were several runs deep into backing and several trips back and forth in the drift boat in what I consider to have been an epic battle.  All the fish were landed and all were over 20″ including Scotts’ with a 21″ girth and a length of 32″  Congratulations Scott.  Thanks for capping off another great season.

Crossing Skilak Lake October 18

Last trip across Skilak October 18

Late Season Morning Light on the Middle Kenai River, Alaska

Late Season Morning Light on the Middle Kenai River

Kenai River Silver Salmon Alaska

John Pregartner with a hot chrome Silver Salmon

 We experienced a great late run of big silvers.  Stacy and I got out a few times and for some great catch and release and a little catch and consume silver action.  We also enjoyed our yearly kegs of Glacier Brewhouse IPA.

Silver Salmon and Glacier Brewhouse IPA

Silver Salmon and Glacier Brewhouse IPA = Guide Fun Time

 Martin showed up and kept our bellies happy with many culinary treats.  Alaska Seafood and catch of the day dominated our October evenings.

Sushi

Martin's in the House

 

 

 

 

 

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Kissing SalmonNicole and Jenny have Alaska roots that brought them back to the Kenai for a day of fishing.   The sockeye run is still strong, so we set them up on the fish and let them go at it.

Double Trouble

Double Trouble

So fun you'll want to kiss them!

So fun you'll want to kiss them!

After Stacy and I got done with the party with Nicole and Jenny, we decided to go for an evening bonsai float.  We have not fished together since last November.  It was overdue and a ton of fun.  We loaded the cooler with a growler of Glacier IPA from Anchorage (otherwise known as Guide Slayer IPA or the Green Giant) and the new Williwaw IPA from the St. Elias Brewery in Soldotna.  Both beers rocked and so did the fishing.  Stacy started off hooking a cleaning table troll at the confluence.  We grabbed some fresh sockeye for the smoker and found some rainbow and dollie frenzy action on some spawning kings, landing 23 fish in one small area.  The entire drift to Jim’s was good.  Wish we could do it more often.  Maybe some day when I am not a career guide.

The water is dropping, exceptionally clear and the fish are turning on. The Sockeye are still rolling in chrome and a few bright silvers have been taken.  The fishing is so good, you won’t want to stop till you drop.

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My goal this spring has been to spend a week with my boat (Monday through Friday) fishing on the Missouri.  Up to now, most of my time has been a few hours here and there alone, on a quick trip with friends or a short trip with my family.  The few full days I have fished have usually been solo and without my boat.  I want to learn more about my new home water.  My friend Tom from California was in need of an L.A. escape, so he gave me the excuse and partner I needed.  Tom has fished on the Big Horn a number of times, so we were both interested in his impression of the Missouri.

Warm and happy in the sun.

Warm and happy in the sun.

Monday through Wednesday, we had highs pushing 80 and a strong spring wind.  Fishing was good, but we wanted a few clouds and some cooler temps to kick the bugs in gear.  I complained to Stacy (in Alaska) about the heat and sunburn.  Big mistake.

On Thursday we got our clouds and a temp drop.  It was 34 degrees in the morning and blustery.  The fish were snapping and we were pretty happy until the wind built up to a steady 40 mph and the snow began to drift in the boat.  I managed to do some two handed casts about 20′ crosswind, but it soon became ridiculous. We are both pretty tough, but casting was near impossible and the temp dropped further to 20.  It was pretty clear that our day on the water was going to be short.  We retired to Izaak’s in Craig for some lunch and a beer.  I had the forlorn hope that the weather would settle in and we might get a few more hours on the water.  Shortly after lunch and another beer, we entered the twilight zone of fishing flap.  We were surrounded by guides and fly shop owners and the taps were running and the fishing tales and winter exploits were spinning around.  I will take a moment to give props to the Blackfoot Brewing Company in Helena.  I am an IPA snob and they make a very good beer.  It was my first time at Izaak’s and it has the same vibe as my favorite place in Cooper Landing Alaska, the Kingfisher Roadhouse.  While I don’t know everyone at Izaak’s, I actually was acquainted to about six people and I soon felt at home, maybe too much.  By 10pm, it was clear that we were not getting back on the water.  I beat the ice off the door to get it open and limped back to Great Falls.

Cold but MO better than Thursday

Cold but MO better than Thursday

On Friday morning it was 12 degrees in town.  A frozen popsicle of an anchor rope protruded like a trailing shuck from the mess of dirty snow and ice in the bottom of my boat.  I tried to ignore the thermometer as Tom and I  rallied up to the Holter Dam.  Surprisingly, there was not a boat trailer in sight at 8am.  The sun was shining, the wind had died and it was a balmy 17 degrees.  Without the wind, it was actually comfortable.  The lines were a little frosty, but we managed to keep the guides clear enough to cast.  Tom broke in his new 6wt TCX by throwing a streamer and hooking a rainbow right off the ramp.  Fishing was good and by noon, the air was back into the low 40s.  Then it happened.  The baetis began to appear and the swallows and gulls went nuts.  Little sails covered the river as some clouds rolled in and a few snow flurries sputtered down.  It was perfect but the trout seemed not to care.  We tried nymphs and emergers and had the dry fly rod ready.  I have not caught a MO fish on a dry fly since I drove through on my way to Alaska in May of 2007.  In three hours we saw only three rises and only hooked a couple fish on the drift.  Tom’s back was sore from old football stress and my back was beginning to ache watching him try to stretch.  We were done.

Good Beer for Trout Fishing

Good Beer for Trout Fishing

Tom’s take on the MO.  He felt that the rainbows were good sized and strong.  He only caught one brown, but it was a good one.  He liked the scenery, the fact that the water was uncrowded and was even impressed by the crazy weather. I have also fished the Big Horn a number of times and I must say it is an incredible river.  I have fished the Missouri sporadically the past two late falls to springs.  The Big Horn is possibly more consistent, but when the fish are on in the MO, it is fantastic.  The rainbows are strong and fun to catch.  I have caught browns up to 24″ and love that there is so much water to throw streamers.  The scenery is also great and I like that the river can make you think and second guess.  I know it can get busy, but I have never seen it as busy as the Big Horn or the Green River (UT) in the same seasons.

As I pulled out of Craig, I saw Brian Neilson‘s truck at Izaak’s.  Mike from the Trout Shop was there along with Kirk, a fishing and skiing regular from Great Falls and a fixture of the Missouri River Fly Fishers.  It will take a few more days to get the fish on the baetis was the consensus of the smart guys who were already at the bar and the guides that came in.   Hey Brian, lets go fishing in about a week!

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Here are some excerpts from Stacy’s message to me from Baja.

Waiting for Roosters

Waiting for Roosters

Howdy,

Just wanted to send a few pictures from our latest trip to Baja. The weather was unseasonably warm, which made the fishing unusually good.

I was sitting under that sun shade sipping a pacifico, about ready
to wind in my 100 ft. of fly line that was piled on the beach when the
first group of big roosters came by.  I went running ahead of them and
put some very good casts on them, but they showed no interest.  These
fish were 30 – 40 lbs.  The next group that I saw walking back to the
sun shade were even bigger, and slow moving happy fish.  They were out a
bit further, but there was no wind, and I cast that 400 grain rio all
the way to the backing knot…waited until they were approaching and
made an initial long strip.  The second fish of the bunch, a true giant
that was 40 to 50 lbs moved towards the fly.  As he approached I got low
and quickened the strip.  He charged, lit up with pulsing color and a
comb that was more than a foot out of the water.  I stripped that sucker
all the way to tippet, swept the rod and he was within 6 feet of the
beach about to run up on the beach, when he turned just before going dry
on the sand.  It took about 20 minutes to get my resting heart rate
below 250, but was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in all my trips
to Baja.

I’ve attached a picture of a nice jack I got from the same beach the next day.

Some bad ass Jack

Some bad ass Jack

We caught some nice tuna and dorado right off the bat.  The sierra were plentiful and very big (ceviche & fish tacos daily), as were the jacks and roosters.  I caught the nicest rooster I’ve caught from the beach – probably 20 to 25 lbs. but of course didn’t have the camera when I got him.

I'll never do that again.

I'll never do that again.

I have had lots of fun on my two trips to Baja, but have not hit the warm water and hot fishing quite like that.  Maybe next time.

I'll get you next time when you are Grande!

I'll get you next time when you are Grande!

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