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Archive for the ‘Montana Fly Fishing’ Category

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.

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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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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.

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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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Riverside Ring Tone

Answer your phone...

“Thanks for getting right back to me.”  “No problem Paul.  Sorry I missed your call, but I had to release a fish.”  “Where are you fishing?”  “On the Missouri River near Cascade Montana.”  After finishing the call and arranging a booking for several days in Alaska, I got back to work fishing.  On Wednesday,  The River Damsel posted that her android smart phone was her favorite piece of outdoor gear.  Some readers appeared confused by that, but her reasoning was sound.  For me, when it comes to justifying a fishing trip mid week, I must concur.  I specifically picked my spot knowing that I had cell coverage and could answer calls and email between sessions of catching fish in my favorite office…outside on a river.

 

Streamer Eater

Caught Shadow

I had anther reason for being on the water yesterday besides it being a better office and the fact that I have an incurable fishing jones.  Rich Strolis from Catching Shadows sent me some streamers to try out on the Missouri and the Kenai.  If the fish above taken on my first cast of the morning is any indication, then mission accomplished I will have to keep testing them.  You can see great videos of Rich’s flies on his Catching Shadows blog as well as some patterns featured on Midcurrent.

Another Ice Pick Eater

Ice Pick Eater

Thanks for the great flies Rich.  If you need to R&D any new patterns in the west and/or Alaska, I’m your man.  I’ll let you know how the caddis fish come May.

Cold and Hungry

Ice Pick Eater off an Ice Shelf

Look out for the frozen "jaws" of the Missouri River

Ice Fish - Look out for Frozen Jaws

Chomp

Get outa my face!

Splashes with Fishes

Turn and Burn

Colorful Shadow

Vibrant Rainbow

To anyone reading this post who might be momentarily envious of my office work yesterday, let me tell you about my karmic payback.  In my mad dash to quickly access the river, I plunged (glissaded) down a long steep hill to maximize my fishing time.

Bring crampons next time dumb ass

Payback Mountain

The trek back was anything but quick and accompanied by cursing and peppered with crazy giggles followed by more cursing.  I wondered if anyone across the river was witness to my madness.  I imagine a retired couple drinking tea and playing cards, suspending their game to gap in fascination at my plight.  In the time it took me to ascend, they could have called the neighbors and started a betting pool.  Will he or won’t he make it?  How long will it take? Oh, he went down hard.  Should we call 911?

I can clearly state that un-studded rubber soles worn smooth from too many trips by a cheap ass angler, are not great for steep snow covered hills (without crampons). I would guess that felt would work about the same, but you could not pay me enough to test that theory. To say that I slipped is laughable.  I went down at least a hundred times.  My fly reels looked like giant snow balls.  I slid around like a clown on a banana peel, changed course, post holed up a gully until I hit smooth rock, lost elevation, grabbed some prickly bushes, slid down ten precious feet on an old Bud Light can, froze my fingers, cut my jacket on some barbed wire and finally summited the meager hill, sweating like it was July.  It was great exercise.  When I tell my wife I am going to get some exercise, she gives me that knowing look that say’s; Nice try lazy fisherman.  She has no idea.

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This is part 2 in a series on understanding Alaska Fly Fishing, starting with the Salmon Cycle.  Alevin are not hugely important for most anglers, but are part of the complete picture.  As Alevin transition to become fry, their likelihood of becoming fish food for predators increases.

During the winter, the salmon eggs that survive are mixed within the gravel.  As time goes by, the eggs develop and hatch.  Alevin are the first stage.  Alevin are incomplete little fry still emerging from their egg sack.  In fact, some people refer to them as sac fry.  They are carrying their food supply (egg sac of yolk) attached to their bellies.  They generally do not leave the protection of the gravel until the yolk is absorbed.  However, trout sure seem to recognize alevin fly patterns, so a few must get washed around the stream bed from time to time.

While salmon alevin are primarily available to trout in late winter, the pattern can be effective well into June.  Beyond salmon, trout (which are basically resident salmon) have their own alevin stage.  I have found alevin patterns to work for both brown trout and rainbows on Montana waters in the spring.

An alevin is basically a pair of eyeballs with a yolk sack and slender body.  They are relative in size to the egg they are forming from.  They are capable of wriggling, but not able to swim quickly.  They are somewhat similar to nymphs in their ability to move.  As such, they are best imitated by dead drifting with either an indicator set up or sink tip.  Fish will also take them on a tight line after a good drift and on a moderate swing.

Kenai River Alaska Rainbow Trout

I eat salmon.

As spring unfolds, the alevin absorb their egg sac and begin to resemble a small fish.  They have now entered the fry stage.  With the exception of Pinks and Chums who migrate directly to the ocean as fry, the other salmon typically spend one or more years developing in fresh water.  This means that they are always available to trout and other predators in a variety of sizes.

When fry first emerge from the gravel, they seek the surface for a gulp of air to fill their swim bladders.  For this brief time, they are vulnerable just like emerging nymphs.  Because they are not yet strong swimmers, they stay to the edges and calmer waters.  Fry can often be seen in small clouds like baitfish in the ocean.  They are easy targets for trout and birds.  Fry patterns can be fished on floating lines and sink tips.  Drifting is best in moderate currents and strip retrieves along the edges of seams and even in slack water areas can be effective.  A simple productive fry pattern is the good old thunder creek.

On the next series post, we will be looking at salmon parr and smolts.  These larger morsels get serious attention from trout and dolly varden.

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