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Posts Tagged ‘Beer’

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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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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