December 2006

The Washington Post has a video about the Northern Snake head which has become part of the Potomac River ecosystem. The biologist that they interview in the video plays them off as a species that will be able to coexist with the other fish species in the ecosystem. I am not sure that he is exactly being honest with his calculations of what this evil fish species can do. A fellow guide and friend of mine travels to Thailand every year to help his girlfriend purchase silk for their store here in Bozeman and he has spent a lot of time fishing for snake heads, which are native species in Thailand. These creatures are evil and the horror stories from the Thai locals are legendary. Greg has pictures to prove the strength and vigor in which these fish can chase down and eat it’s prey. The method to catch these fish on a fly requires the angler to put the rod under your arm and strip extremely fast. The fish hit so hard that Greg had bruises on his arm and side that look like he got run over by a car. Once the fish are brought to the boat the real danger begins. The snake heads will lock down on anything that gets in their mouth and will not let go, even when the fish is dead. Greg’s Thai friends have seen anglers that have gotten their hands to close and had to take a trip to the clinic to get the dead fish head surgically removed. These fish are certainly evil and hopefully the illegal bucket biology will end in the Potomac.

The West Virgina Gazette ran an article on tying your own flies. In the article the author is explaining how much cheaper it is to tie your own flies, rather than purchase them from your local fly merchant. The much favored fly to tie for tiers is the beloved woolly bugger. Apparently the author has taken the time to do the math and come up with the cost for tying one bugger. He does later include that the cost of labor and tools could bring the fly up to around 80 cents so he still feels it is a great deal compared to purchasing flies at a store. He is very correct if you are willing just to stick with the basic patterns and tie only flies that you plan on fishing with. Over my 15 years in the fly shop business and a very avid fly tier I can safely estimate that most of my flies probably cost me between 5 to 7 dollars a piece when I factor in all the variables. Most fly tiers get started for the same reason that the article states, to save a bunch of money on their fly bill. However you must be very careful with the power of the art of fly tying! The addiction of tying the perfect fly and crafting a new pattern that works like no other is a dangerous balance. If you stick with the necessity of tying the basics you can keep the P&L of fly buying in balance, but if you go the rout of the serious tyer you will send the budget through the roof, much like our current administration. I spend as much if not more on my passion for tying flies than I do on the equipment that I fish with each and every day. My tackle bag is worth more than my truck and boat combined. Fly tying will eventually haunt you and your passion for fishing will be determined on weather you have a new bug to test out or not. I hope that everyone gives tying a try and I just want to warn those who read this post that be careful what you wish for because you could soon be trying to talk the wife into a an addition on the home to house your tying materials.

Winter finally arrived in Montana for good and we took the kids out for some Holidy Ice fishing the day after Christmas. The local pond provided and easy outing and we managed to bring a couple of small fish through the holes for the kids to fondle and argue about who got to return them back down the hole. I think Madeline may have been the first person to hit the ice in a pair of silver tipped, red cowgirl boots. She did manage to stay upright all day long in the boots which was an amazing feet. Both kids had a wonderful time and I am sure that we will be on the ice again soon, except now there is 10 inches of snow on top of the ice from the winter storm that hit the other night.

Some whitewater rafting action from Canada. I guess that is why we call them crazy canucks.

Growing up in the mountains of Colorado had many advantages and one of them was being influenced by one of our greatest presidents to hold the office. Growing up in the ski community of Vail Colorado awarded me the privaledge of meeting the president on several different occassions. Two of my childhood interest were playing Golf and skiing. President Ford owned a home on the Slope of Beaver Creek ski area and as a kid we always got a kick out of scrapping off the snow on our ski’s onto the guard shack that housed the seceret serivce agent that watched after his home. The agents always were friendly to us and they knew that we were just being kids. One day while my good friend Ted and I were in the kids ski school room warming up President Ford came into check on his grandkids and he gave us a little grief for the snow that fell from our skis onto his guard shack. At this time Beaver Creek was still a very small resort and Ted and I were the two local brats that tormented the hill. The president also sponsored a celebritity Golf Tournament that brought in many of my childhood idols such as Michael Jordan, Dan Pasatrini, Gary McCord and many others. I still have an autographed Sports Illustrated that Mr. Jordan Sighed for me at the tournament. President Ford is the only president that I have meet and I am proud to say that he influence me in so many great ways. Thank you “Jerry” for all the great things you did for our country and I will always appreciate the things you did for the community in which I grew up.


Twas the night before Christmas when down by the stream
The full moon looked out on a chill winter scene.
A lone trout was sipping a midge in his brook,
Untroubled by worries of fishers with hooks.
Then from above a small sleigh did appear
Pulled by a brace of eight tiny reindeer.
It swerved of a sudden and down it did glide,
Settling its runners along the streamside.
The fat, jolly driver dove into his sled
And emerged with his three weight held high over head.
“Thank you my elves for this wand smooth as silk.
This break will be better than cookies and milk.”
So saying, he jumped from his sleigh with a chuckle,
Hiked up his boots and cinched up his belt buckle.
Santa meant business that cold winter’s eve.
A fish he would catch – that you’d better believe.
Looking upstream and down, he spotted that trout,
Then he open his flybox and took something out –
“Size 32 midges are only for faddists
I’ll go with my favorite tan reindeer caddis.”
So he cast out his line with a magical ease
And his fly floated down just as light as you please.
And it drifted drag free down the trout’s feeding lane,
But the fish merely wiggled a fin of distain.
“Oh Adams, oh Cahill, oh Sulphur, oh Pupa,
Oh Hopper, oh Coachman, oh Olive Matuka!
I’ve seen every fly in the book and the box.
I’m old and I’m wary and sly as a fox.
To catch me you’ll need an unusual gift,
For a present this common no fin will I lift.”
Old Nick scratched his head for his time it grew short
The reindeer behind him did shuffle and snort.
He looked once again in his box for a fly
When a pattern compelling attracted his eye.
“The Rudolph!” he muttered and grinned ear to ear
“Far better to give than receive, so I hear.”
So he cast once again and his magic was true,
And the trout it looked up and knew not what to do.
“This fly has a body of bells don’t you know,
And if that’s not enough there’s a shining red nose!
I know it’s fraud and I know it’s a fake,
But I can’t help myself. It’s I gift I must take!”
So he rose in swirl and captured that thing,
Flew off down the stream. Santa’s reel it did sing.
“Ho!” shouted Santa, “You’re making my day.
If the heavens were water, you’d be pulling my sleigh.”
So, Santa prevailed and released his great rival
First taking great care to ensure its survival.
He then mounted his sled and he flew out of sight
Shouting, “Merry Caddis to trout and to all a good night!”
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