Sunday, December 30, 2012
USE ENOUGH ROD
More and more these days it seems fishermen show up with a rod or, worse, rods not suited for the job at hand. In Montana, as well as, most of the west wind is almost a given. At least some time during nearly every day you can bet the farm the "wind will blow." Such wind you need three hands, one to hold onto your hat, the other two to manage the casting operation. Trust me, it only gets worse...usually.
Three, four, even one and two weight, rods are all the rage these days. Day-in, day-out NONE are suited for fishing western rivers. In my opinion, based on years of observation, very few anglers can get the job done even under ideal conditions wielding one and two weights. Decent casters can get away with modern 9 feet, 3 and 4 weights pitching relatively non-air resistant dry flies and relatively small, light-weight nymphs in light to moderate breezes. But should the wind kick up and/or the need to pitch the big uglies arise best have a stouter rod along for back-up. Yes, I know guys like Ed Shenk pretty much blows this theory out the water until one considers how few of us can do it like Ed and friends...In my experience about as rare as white buffaloes...OK, maybe not that rare but...
In gathering material for this rant I polled a few sources in the industry and found out pretty much as expected 5-weight rods and, of course, lines far out sell all the others. No surprise there since I can hardly remember reading or hearing anything but "five-weight" whenever the question arises. How long this has been gospel is more than I know...But I do know back in the day, say 30-40 years ago, 6-weights, even 7-weights, were the norm. Which brings us to the point of this discourse...That being of course if you ask me I say...9' feet, 6-weight rules...No contest, end of discussion. Why?
Better in the wind. Handles two nymphs/split shot/indicator rigs better. Better for chucking big air-resistant and/or heavy-weight flies--salmon flies, hoppers, big attractors, buggers, you name it. In other words anything a 9-feet #5 can do, a #6 can do better. And don't even bother with argument smaller line spooks less fish...I cut my eye-teeth fishing small "technical" spring creeks full of so-called "PHD trout" and any fish spooked was my fault, operator error, period...Really.
So there you have it...If nothing else I hope this gives you pause for thought, hell, it might even make your days astream more enjoyable...over and out...Chuck
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Thursday, December 6, 2012
...as I've confessed many times are not my gig. But apparently Keith (Szafranski)noted photographer who makes his way shooting pics, just does-not-get-it. Back for a second go last week (recall busted sage hen hunt in Sept) well, to put it mildly I failed. A frigid couple hour session on the upper Beav produced not one take...although we did see a couple including one giant rainbow practically jumped over my rod tip...in haste to get the hell outta there? Who knows. Day before we attempted to fake shoot a sage hen or two (Note to Warden: Yes we know season closed but with no ammo in gun, on my person or in truck c'mon give us a break, eh?). Anyway we saw many, maybe a 100 or so but despite heroic efforts of man and dog not one within maybe a 100 yards...spoo-o-o-ky. To Annie's credit she did point two right out the truck but Keith and me fumbled the ball and...What can I say.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
...And Left To Rot In Antelope Basin, Near West Yellowstone.
Sort leaves ya speechless, eh? Sort of scary too, I'd say knowing the woods these days seem to be overrun with despicable, low-life bastards such as the desparadoes who committed this heinous act. Whatever they are it sure ain't HUNTERS!!! What planet jerks like this are hatched is more than I know but sure seems unlikely they could be Earthlings. Like the whackos who shot up the Sauerbeiner/Ruby Dell Block Management sign, sign in box and sign in book now two years running, let's hope they get 'em, lock 'em up, fine the hell out of 'em and somehow lose the friggin' key. Montana, the world, the hunting world, nobody needs a-holes like these. But of course as most all of us realize all too well trot out a slick lawyer, toss in a clueless judge for good measure and... About the worst will happen is a slap on the proverbial wrist, a stern warning like don't ya dare show your face in this here court room again or else and...Well hell, whatever happened to vigilante justice and the 'ol hangin' tree.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
ended up more castin' than blastin' but we did manage to bag a few keepers...like how many handfuls a feathers does a body need?
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
If looks could kill, eh? Obviously Annie the Wirehair takes sage hens very seriously. As a friend put it the other day...Awesome, cat-like, a real predator on the hunt. It's October now and the season is well along, a bit over half-way to the end of sage hen season, November 1. So far for us it's been tough: birds scattered, still not in the usual haunts, apparently due the extreme dry which has haunted the area pretty much since last fall at this time. I can't recall the last time we had any significant rain and except for this spring hardly any moisture to speak of, at least in this neck of woods. What birds we've found have not been far from water, taking adavantage of what little green vegetation is still around...most having been long since turned brown and desicated. Much like the withered brown grass in our backyard, each step is a loud crunch.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Ducks and geese become fair game Saturday and we plan to open the season not far from our camp on the upper Big Hole. Seven ducks are allowed again this season with no more than 2 hen mallards, 2 pintails and 1 canvasback. I doubt we will need to check our bag as mallards and teal are about it...at least those are what we see up there most often...to say nothing of the long odds of bagging a limit. Anyway later we plan to hunt down a couple sage hens, perhaps a blue grouse or two and of course barring an early winter (not much chance but anywhere near Wisdom one just never knows) we will fish...
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
...skinny and cold but still cranking. Late yesterday morning from 10 until mid-afternoon we fished a variety of dries and soft hackles to continuously rising trout and grayling and never moved from the long flat pool we started. By the time I got out, despite that the air temperature had climbed into the low 60s, my feet felt like clubs and while my legs and knees were not numb the sting of cold was quite apparent. Luna negra, trico, ant and several size 16 soft hackles all produced but I think all of the grayling ate the soft hackles. How long the trico hatch will continue that high up is anyone's guess but yesterday it was a mere shadow of the funnel clouds we encountered just a couple weeks ago. We'll probably hang out here through early next week, fishing and chasing chickens as the mood moves us...then onward and upward to who knows where all depending on how the weather turns...colder we head east, continued Indian Summer...well as I say depends on the weather...
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Usually by now the fishing is pretty much history, our days spent either working on some writing project or chasing chickens or better yet...both. But this time around most of September is so littered with guide trips, both writing and bird hunting have been, for the most part, put on the back burner. Thankfully all that is about to change: This morning we scouted out a few spots to take our friends, Dave, Keith and Bert sage hen hunting the next couple days...alas Wednesday and Thursday it's back to the guide wars but...NO MAS!
Starting Friday we WILL (fish gods willin and the crick don't rise, or something like that) turn our fullest attentions to finishing Birding Trails Montana and of course chasing chickens as fall's were meant to be...Stay tuned, I promise to keep you all posted as the season unfolds...
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Only excuse I can come up with for not posting for near a month now is...just too damn worn out following several too long guide runs...I knew for sure the ol' boy was fast losin' the battle when one night I dreamed a brown trout maybe even weirder than above...whoo-ee baby, best a grip, eh? OK, nuff bawlin' let's get serious, down to the nitty-gritty, at least my take on the current state of affairs concerns the local trout wars.
The Beav has been hot and cold of late...one day we would really spank 'em next day the trout beat us up but good. When it was on size 16 & 18 nymphs such as Lightning Bug (green, gold, silver), Copper Bob, Micro Mayfly (brown or olive), sunken ant, B.H. brassie, B.H. Flashback P.T. and Ray Charles (tan) worked wonders. When it was off...who the hell knows?
August trico and caddis top water fishing some days was mind boggling; lately we've been doing a good business on various hoppers, ants and the old reliable Luna Negra...afternoons of late we've done pretty good dropping a brassie just for good measure.
Only did the Madison once and that day top honors went to the San Whammy (short and wine color seemed to please 'em most). Reports from the Jefferson have been similar to my take on Beav...hot one day and...
I quit the Big Hole after getting stuck way more often than I'm capable of dealing so for the latest update go to my pal Al's bigholetrout.com Apparently he's still fool enough to...well you know...old man, addled mind...
Sunday, August 19, 2012
...With the Big Hole river at Maiden Rock running 259 cfs enjoying anything like a leisurely float is of course out the question. Should you choose to embark anyway plan on lots of dragging and good luck not getting downright stuck. I did a few days ago and with two guys in the boat uncapable of getting out to help thought I might be a goner...obviously (luckily) I survived but...
I understand the Big Hole Watershed Committee is about to ask MTFWP to restrict angling to mornings only and ask farmers, ranchers and Silver Bow Water Authority to restrict water useage. Personally with water temps in the high 60s to low 70s most afternoons the fishing all but dies and unless you play in the few trout you might catch quickly and release immediately chances of survival are slim to none anyway.
Al and I were talking yesterday and we both agree what with the low snowpack, hotter than Hades July (hottest ever, by the way) and an early August that has not been much better the Ol' River held up pretty much as well as could be expected.
The morning fishing has held up pretty damn good as well; currently tricos are the main morning event and the trout continue to grab an assortment of big flies: purple haze, para adams, elk hair caddis, small hoppers and even large attractors such as chubbies, gypsy kings and so forth...
Saturday, August 18, 2012
...one (Custer Country) to go and my new book Birding Trails Montana will be ready for publishing. With over 200 birding sites described and directions how to get there I'm hoping the book will prove a valuable reference for prospecting birders hoping to check-off the 400 plus birds found in Montana. The book is scheduled for publishing in early 2013; prepublished orders can be had by contacting Wilderness Adventures Press, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1-866-400-2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Fished upper, upper Big Hole yesterday amid swarms, I mean SWARMS, tricos...rise was already going strong when we hit river around 9 and fish were still madly slurping when we quit for lunch around one...too skinny to float best plan getting wet...sort of refreshing considering the 90 degree heat of late...
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Last Saturday, a lull in the guide wars, Gale and I along with our PA friends, Paul and Gretchen Rebarchak, spent the morning at Bannack Days. Bannack, the first Territorial Capital of Montana was a wild place by any stretch as is the annual re-enactment...
Monday, July 16, 2012
We started up high yesterday morning and got chased by a big thunderboomer which dumped big time...taking a gander at the sky we decided our best shot was down river and...were soon socked in an even heavier downpour...Around 1 pm the skies finally cleared and we enjoyed several hours of interesting top water action in one of our pet cricks...nothing like gangbusters still we caught more than enough trout--mostly brookies, a few colorful cutts--to whet our whistles and called it good.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Good news is the river is really fishing good, at least most days...caddis, yellow sallies, pmds topside; lightning bugs, lightning bugs and lightning bugs underneath...did I mention lightning bugs? Gold seems to work best but yesterday we spanked 'em pretty good on pearl jobs the only lightning bugs (sorry) left in the shop...sort a tells ya something, eh?
On the other hand the Big Hole continues to drop 639 this morning at Maiden Rock...though actually the last couple days has been in a sort of holding pattern. I rowed Melrose to Brown's couple days ago and touched nary a rock though a couple spots took a bit of ingenious, cat-like moves on the sticks to get down unscathed, ahem, ahem, not to brag you understand. Fishing's been pretty good specially if you harbor no qualms going to the dark side whenever the topside stuff wanes...
I got no such shame and rigged Nick right from the get go with...you guessed it...a pair gold lightning bugs and he beaned trout and a bunch of whitefish all the way the take out...we hauled the last brown trout right into the takeout...much to the chagrin of a bunch drunken Ideeho yahoos who apparently were in the midst of washing down the taste of skunk with yet another few cans a brown vitamins...what a goddamn circus...the curtain call being when the head yahoo backed the trailer BAM! into the aluminum boat and weren't for Nick might still be chasin' it downriver...real entertaining this bunch...oh well...and I might mention also tis damn hot out there, don't forget the sun dope and wide, wide brim noggin' wear...over and out...
Sunday, July 1, 2012
With the lower flows browns, especially the big boys and girls are once again starting to show up in the skinniest spots...like fish the weak side...hint, hint...Forecast is for hot and hotter, dry and drier... so best get out early as the lower the water gets the warmer and afternoons the bite will most likely die, die, die....
Saturday, June 30, 2012
We started in a familiar run and several casts into it Gale hooked a large grayling (above). Note the fly: orange Stimi. No surprise there since Gale seldom chucks anything but...Anyway several hours later we called the reunion good and called it a day. For more on what this grayling thing is all about read the excerpt below from one of the Montana Grayling Recovery Program Annual Reports.
Arctic Grayling Recovery Program
The AGRP was formed in 1989 after declines in the Big Hole grayling population caused concerns among fisheries managers and conservationists. The program’s goals are to address ecological factors limiting the fluvial Big Hole grayling population, monitor and enhance essential habitats, monitor abundance, distribution, and population demographics, restore additional fluvial grayling populations within native range, develop relationships that promote conservation actions and inform the general public of fluvial grayling conservation efforts and status. The AGRP includes representatives from FWP, BLM, USFS, USFWS, MNHP, MCAFS, Montana State University (MSU), University of Montana (UM), Montana Trout Unlimited (TU), Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL Montana), and the National Park Service (NPS).
Big Hole River
The fluvial Arctic grayling population of the Big Hole River represents the last strictly fluvial, native grayling population in the contiguous United States. The population abundance and distribution declined in the 1980’s, resulting in an increase in efforts to understand population dynamics, identify critical habitats, and implement conservation projects to address limiting factors. These efforts have been directed primarily through the Arctic Grayling Recovery Program (AGRP) and the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances Program (CCAA) for fluvial Arctic Grayling in the Upper Big Hole River.
The CCAA program was developed in the Big Hole drainage as a tool to implement conservation actions for Arctic grayling on private lands. Under this agreement the USFWS issued Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks an ESA section 10(a)(1)(A) Enhancement of Survival Permit. The agreement was executed on August 1, 2006, which gave FWP the authority to enroll non-federal landowners within the CCAA Project Area (Figure 2). Enrolled non-federal landowners are provided incidental take coverage and regulatory assurances once the non-federal landowner, FWP and the USFWS counter-sign the Certificate of Inclusion and the site-specific conservation plan for the enrolled property (FWP and USFWS 2006). Since acquiring the Enhancement of Survival permit, FWP has enrolled thirty-two private landowners, including 155,301 acres of private land and 7,650 acres of state land into the CCAA program. The CCAA includes partnering agencies that assist with the implementation and monitoring of the Conservation actions and include the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS), and USFWS collectively referred to as the Agencies.Site-specific conservation plans will be developed with each landowner by an interdisciplinary technical team made up of individuals representing FWP, USFWS, NRCS and DNRC, The conservation guidelines of the CCAA will be met by implementing conservation measures that:
Improve and protect the function of riparian habitats
Identify and reduce or eliminate entrainment threats to grayling
Remove barriers to grayling migration
The CCAA Program will help alleviate private property concerns, as well as generate support from private landowners which will improve habitat conditions for grayling throughout the Project Area (FWP and USFWS 2006). The goal for the population of grayling inhabiting the Project Area is to increase the abundance and distribution of grayling within the Project Area (FWP and USFWS 2006). The Agencies will monitor biological and habitat response to conservation efforts, project performance, and CCAA enrollee compliance throughout the life of the CCAA agreement. Biological monitoring consists of annually monitoring ten reaches to determine grayling population demographics and abundance. Monitoring reaches will include one mainstem and one tributary reach within each CCAA management segment. Surveys are also conducted in irrigation ditches on enrolled properties to assess the impacts of entrainment on the Big Hole grayling population. Habitat variables monitored include a vegetative/riparian function component outlined by the NRCS Riparian Assessment Method, channel morphology, instream water temperatures and streamflow discharge. Permanent cross section and pebble count at a mainstem and tributary site have been established within each CCAA management segment to document changes in channel morphology. Instream water temperatures and streamflow discharge are recorded at mainstem and tributary sites in each CCAA segment between April 1 and October 31. FWP will use seasonal streamflow data, channel morphology parameters and stream temperature in each management segment to correlate grayling population trends to habitat conditions. The data collected from these monitoring reaches and the resulting analyses will help the Agencies implement adaptive management plans and respond to changing conditions (FWP and USFWS 2006).
Arctic grayling conservation objectives initiated through the AGRP and the CCAA program within the Big Hole Drainage from January 1 through December 31, 2008 included in this report were to:
1. Promote and initiate habitat-improvement projects that include: enhancing riparian and channel function, enabling fish passage, improving stream flow dynamics and minimizing entrainment into irrigation systems in the Big Hole River basin on private land through CCAA enrollment area.
2. Develop and promote landowner relationships and continually educate public and interest groups of grayling conservation needs and status.
3. Monitor water temperatures, instream flows and habitat parameters in the Big Hole River and its’ tributaries.
4. Monitor abundance and distribution of grayling and sympatric native and sport fish species in the upper Big Hole basin.