January 2007

After several months of commercial fly tying and being a stay at home father, it is finally time to find a job that will bring a paycheck into the household. Bozeman is full of construction jobs that pay well but require a death ride up Hwy 191 to Big Sky every morning. There are also lots of service jobs that pay a few bucks for mearly showing up and putting a smile on your face for the public. The big deli ma arises in only needing a job for a couple of months before the guiding season gets hot and heavy again. I guess that I may have to put back on the painting outfit and head back into the shop to work as a painter for a little while. Soon the midges will be buzzing and the baetis will hit the water for the great anglers who visit each year to fish the rivers of Southwestern Montana.


January has been cold in Montana and we finally have had a few days of warm weather. The warmer weather cleared some of the pack and slush ice from the Gallatin and the Lower Madison. I got a chance to get out for a few hours on Thursday and managed to dredge up a few rainbows on a Natural Zonker trailed with a pink soft hackle sow bug. The photo above is the first fish of the year. I was thankful that it was a rainbow and not a whitefish, which is a common fish on a soft hackle in the winter months.

A great article in the Great Falls Tribune – www.greatfallstribune.com – Great Falls, MT lays out the economics behind Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife activities in the state of Montana. There are some staggering statistics in the article such as anglers spending 1.6 million dollars on ice and over 2.6 million dollars on bait.

As a young kid I grew up watching “Andre the Giant” tangle with Hulk Hogan for the WWF championship of the world. As I watched the matches I never had any idea that the Massive beast of a man on the TV had consumed a case of plum wine prior to entering the ring. Modern Drunkard Magazine ran an article on their website about “The Giants” insatiable appetite for all forms of alcohol is something to behold and I was amazed while reading the article. In the article the author speaks of Andre drinking 119 beers in the span of 6 hours. That works out to one beer every three minutes. I personally like drinking a few beers of having a few Pendelton’s on the rocks but this article is simply unbelievable.

Public Spring Creek in the Gallatin Valley!

Lower Madison River, BRRRRRRRRR!

People always want to know how cold it is in Montana in the middle of the winter and I always tell them about the rivers filling with slush ice and people staying indoors for days if not weeks on end. Last week we saw one of the artic cold snaps that visit the area a few times each year. Our high temps last week were well below zero most days and at night we saw temperatures that ranged from -47 below zero in West Yellowstone to -26 here in Bozeman. After a week of this cold weather there is little in the way of fishable water right now but we are fortunate to have a couple of psuedo tailwaters in the area and numerous spring creeks that keep open water no matter how cold it gets. Yesterday a couple of my good friends headed out with the dogs to check out the ice flows and maybe wet a line in one of the spring creeks that has public access. The wind was blowing a bit and none of us could muster up the motivation to dawn our waders and rig a rod to fish the creek. We finally jumped back in the truck and spent the afternoon galavanting around the Valley with a twelve pack of beer looking for elk and deer on some of the backroads around the valley.

Thursday morning update: Flood warnings for a stretch of the Yellowstone south of Livingston remain in effect until 10 this morning, but there are signs the ice jam responsible for backing up the river is starting to break.

Park County officials had not reported changes in conditions early Thursday morning, but the river gauge at Livingston showed a “sharp increase” in flows overnight, a NWS statement said.

More free-flowing water could mean that the ice jam is clearing, but there has been no visual confirmation yet.

The banks of the Yellowstone River in the Paradise Valley have changed drastically in the past ten years. Trophy homes off all different styles have been thrown up along the banks of one of the more popular sections of the river without any forethought or respect for what Mother Nature can unleash when she is angry. In 1996 and again in 1997 the Yellowstone River saw concurrent 100 year flood events which gave us a glimpse of the power of water and what it can do to property that is adjacent to it’s fearsome flows. We as humans are not very good at learning from our mistakes and in the years since well over 20 homes have built near the Yellowstones banks with no recollection of what had taken place only a short time ago. People have the right to use their property as they see fit, however I also do not sympathize or agonize when they use poor judgement just to hear the water rushing by or because they want a particular view of our natural enviornment. I hope that the couple whose home is being threatened by the icy flows of the river can make it through without losing everything but maybe they will think twice about where they built and understand that they could see their dreams disappear at the hands of the river they wanted to live so near.

Winter time is one of my favorite seasons to fish for many different reasons. The first and foremost is that it is the best way to get a river all to yourself and not have competition from other anglers. Second you can run into the unexpected and see some amazing sites and sounds. There is a good article in the Denver Post which relates some of the reasons why serious anglers get out and enjoy the rivers during times of the year that others think are too cold and snowy for fishing. The brown trout in the photo above was caught in the Bear Trap Canyon in celebration of the New Year, by my good friend and fellow guide Eric Reithmiller.

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