Posts Tagged ‘fly fishing reports’

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Subzero and Snowing

Friday was the day.  For me, it was the first day since mid November where I just knew it when I went out the door.  I had the innate sense that the fishing was going to be on.  Well, in truth, my sense is partially developed from years of experience and understanding simple patterns.  Seven days of mild, above freezing highs in the middle of winter.  The strong Chinook winds that had been blowing were lying down as the next cold front approached.  The fish have no choice but to take advantage of water a degree or two above the norm, especially with the next arctic blast approaching. And I almost missed it.

Heading toward the Big Belts.

The Drive


Friday was my day to clean the house in preparation for my son’s 11th year birthday party, Airsoft Gun war and sleepover on Saturday.  There was also laundry to do among other domestic tasks, plus my own list of business details.  I had better be on time to pick up my wife from school with a Pomegranate Martini ready within moments of her walking in the door.  At 9:30am, I was at my computer, looking at the weather forecast for Craig, MT and thinking that this is it.  Ideal conditions on the water and I’m at home trying to make the right choice.  I flashed on a recent post from Headhunters: “As a general rule, the only bad decisions we make exclude fishing.”  That sealed it.

Missouri River Montana

Can you feel it!

Fish Ahead

The Walk

I threw on my waders and hit the road.  My fishing gear was already loaded and ready for just such an effort.  I grabbed my wife’s new camera that I had purchased for her Christmas present, thinking it would be a good idea to test it out on the Montana landscape and possibly a fish or two.  I had a particular spot in mind.  It was only 35 min away.  I should be able to test the waters, the camera and make it back in time to bust out some chores.

Fish On

Fish On

Missouri River Rainbow

Don't be embarrased.


Missouri River in January

Streamer Chomper

Perfect Trout

Perfect Trout

Hardy Bridge

Heading Home

Fish Eye

Your Wife Will Get You!

Within an hour’s time, I cleaned the upstairs bathroom, swept the living room and kitchen, shop vac’ed the hard to reach corners along with the front entryway, shook out the rugs and sugared the rim of a martini glass.  I was at the school entrance by 3:45.  No one even asked about my day.

On Saturday morning, my wife grabbed the camera to film my daughter who was in a vocal competition.  I was busy making final birthday party prep.  When she got home, I got the business.  What were you doing all day yesterday hmmm?

The fishing was just as I expected.  It was almost unfair.  I am still smiling as I look out the window at a cold winter landscape once again.  We’ve had about 4” of snow and the temps are going sub zero again.

I’ve been busy for 24 hours keeping up with the boys, feeding them, cleaning up after them and sending them off and cleaning up again.  I’ll get the laundry done now and I’ll have time to work all day tomorrow on business.  The bruise where my wife pinched me will soon fade.  I made a great decision to go fishing!

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Sockeye fishing was hot for a week, but slowed down today, so we went chasing rainbows.

Kenai River Rainbow

Keeli Telleen got on the boat today.

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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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Hey Fred,

So as you can see from the pics, this will be a good Baja fishing report. I drove up to Los Barriles yesterday to look at a used panga for sale, and meet up with Jeff DeBrown www.thereelbaja.com for some more chasing fish from the beach. He had a trip that morning, so it was perfect timing to meet for a fish taco at our favorite cantina in La Ribera, and then head out to “the beach”. The tacos were especially good this day, the beer colder than normal – it was a day that just had that feel to it (remember the morning down on the Anchor when we put the hurt on those kings). We also had a new fly to try out that is completely out of the box from what we usually throw. We drove to a certain beach that you are somewhat familiar with, stretched the line, and began to walk. We weren’t ten minutes out of the truck when I looked out across the water and here they came. It looked like tarpon coming across the flats in Islamorada. They came into range, but line caught on my big toe (NOOOOOOOO!) and they never saw the first cast. The teaser kept them close enough for me to make a second shot, but they were losing interest. When that fly hit the water, five of them spun and rushed, combing and lit up. I got low and did our tarpon worm strip, focusing more on the action of the fly, but aware that a group of five big roo’s were competing for the fly. Then it came tight. It was like the permit pause, where the fish is almost confused that a snack is pulling back. Then the comb folded back, and the fish hit the afterburners. Line cleared, backing that has never been exposed saw the bright Baja sun, and 30 minutes later, we got her. I hope the next one comes quicker and easier than this, but it was sooooo sweet and well worth the wait. And yes, the tequila did flow last night.


Landing a rooster fish in Baja

Tan cerca…
A Rooster by the tail

Un pez gallo por la col

Very happy angler

Angler muy feliz

Pez Gallo Baja Rooster Fish

Adiós mi amigo de pescado

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Missouri River Montana

Missouri River near Craig Montana

Winter is coming back, but in northwest central Montana, we have enjoyed almost two weeks of mild to warm temps. I got out on the Missouri River near Craig Montana for three days of great fishing. The first day I worked a typical nymphing rig on a big seam and landed some nice fish. The next day, I tied on a streamer just for fun and did not change for two days. Despite cold water, the fish really seemed to relish the big bite and streamer fishing was excellent.
I love the tug. The catch was mostly rainbows, but a few browns joined in and even a walleye chomped a big brown leech. Now I’m looking forward to the February thaw and the slide into spring when things get interesting. Time now to get back on the slopes for a few weeks.
Missouri River Montana Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout from Missouri River

Montana Missouri River Brown Trout

Montana Missouri River Brown Trout

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Fall on the Kenai River Alaska

September Fishy

As always, September was a fishy month.  We had steadily falling water and carcasses were exposed faster than the gulls, eagles and bears could keep up.  Mix in the earthy decay of fall, the fecund odor of fermenting salmon and the sweet smell of cranberries and you get an aroma that says…Fish On!   As the sockeye fall, the trout feast and grow; despite the exercise we give them bending graphite.

Kenai River Rainbow

Big Fishy Rainbow

Craig and Ari returned for another round of Kenai Rainbows.  For several years now they have been going over to Kulik Lodge in Katmai, but they keep the Kenai on their itinerary for the big ones.

31" Kenai River Rainbow

Debbie and Stacy with a daymaker.

Debbie joined Denny Crum’s group from Louisville, KY and quickly set the bar high with this beautiful trout.  Stacy had his hands full as this was one of a big fish double with two novice anglers, some fast water, an island channel to navigate etc. , but he is a great coach too.

First Kenai River Rainbow

First Fly Rod Fish

Where else can you go and land a rainbow like this for your first trout?  On the Kenai, we see it play out every season.  Right place, right time, right stuff, line in the water, get em!

Middle Kenai River Rainbow

Middle Kenai Beauty

Silver Salmon from the Kenai River

Love those Big Silver Streamer Eaters

Kenai River Dolly Varden

Big Dollies are welcome

September on the Kenai

Tom Lackey on the Upper Kenai

Fall morning on the Kenai River, Alaska

Chilly Fishy Mystic Morning

If only September could be three months long!

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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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Bob's Troutzilla held by son Ian

Bob's Troutzilla held by son Ian

My friends Bob and Ian McDonald don’t mind fishing in the winter.  Here is one reason why.  Fish of this magnitude are nearly impossible to land in heavy current. Cold water and slow winter flows make it possible, though still never easy.  Congrats boys.

How big is this fish?  I know the dimensions, but I will leave them to your imagination.  Suffice it to say the fish was freakin big!

Trout Shark

Trout Shark

Kent Fredriksson is passionate about photography like I am about fishing.  Maybe even more so.  He certainly is an image artist.  Click on the picture above for a trip to his website and some Cooper Landing Alaska images.  Then check out his Katmai brown bears and other stunning wildlife and landscape camera art.

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Every time we hit 3 or 4 fish at once, it reminds me of a slot machine I used to hear going off when I wintered in Deadwood.  This time of year, I am constantly hearing Jimmy Buffet in my head, “We got fins to the left, fins to the right…” while we are in the middle of a hot fishing frenzy.  Just got done fishing with Paul Cerwinka and his cousin Mike and friend Johnny Evans.  We have been having a blast fishing together since 2000.  Its great fishing with clients who become great friends.  Paul missed last season after his wife Suzanne passed away.  It was so good to have him back and see him smile again after several really tough years.  Many fish were caught, old stories told and new memories added.  See you guys next year!

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