May 2007

“Congats to Peter and Lisa Holman”

Saturday May 26th: Gallatin River Hideaway, Peter and Lisa Holman wedding. The weather could not have been better with temps in the low 70’s and not a cloud in the sky.

Lisa met Peter when her family came to Big sky for a ski vacation and they were matched up with Peter for a ski lesson. Their love quickly blossomed before Lisa’s fathers eye and by the end of the week plans were made to move Lisa to Bozeman and the rest is history. With rain and snow prior to the wedding their was concern that the weather would clear for the day of the wedding. On Friday afternoon the skies broke free of the clouds and the sun shined down on the pavilion, which would be the setting for the joining of two great friends. The rehearsal dinner was thrown by Peter’s family and it was in true Montana Fashion. Peter grew up on a cattle ranch and his mother prepared all the food for the dinner. While Peter and his mother were planning the event, Peter’s mom mentioned that she would just prepare a “Branding Meal” for the dinner. After several walk throughs of the ceremony we all gathered for a good ole fashion ranch meal. The main course was, as expected, Roast Beef in a wonderful Au Jus. It was matched with a great salad that was paired with what else, Ranch and Thousand Island dressing. There was also a fruit salad, country potatoes, fresh rolls and some great deserts. The evening wound down with Peter grabbing the PA system and Auctioning off every piece of furniture located in the wedding Gazebo that would host the vows the next day. Everyone played along and we laughed and shouted through out Peter’s routine. For those of you who have no idea who Peter is, I will just say that he is the friend that keeps everyone laughing at all his crazy antics and use of words you would never have the balls to use around anyone but your closest friends. Hey keeps us all laughing.

On Saturday morning we were greeted with clear skies and promises of a great day ahead. The girls were getting ready at the Tree House and the guys all met at Fry’s house for a morning Sporting Clay shoot at Doc Bradfords. It usually takes our crowd a bit to get moving and by 9:45 we were all in our trucks and on our way to Doc’s. Fry’s roommate Marisa works at a vet clinic in town and she setup the whole event for us with Doc Bradford. Doc Bradford is a retired oral surgeon from Michigan who took up sporting clays in his 50’s as he was nearing retirement. He has since jumped in and is a certified shooting instructor, sporting clay course designer and complete junkie for the sporting clay world. He has his own 9 station sporting clay’s course on his property as well as a few other shooting stations that were his own spice on the sport. He gave us all a quick rundown of safety and told a few jokes about guides, guns and girls. Marisa joined us for the day and he made sure to keep it clean for the her, even though he believes her name is Martha and not Marisa.

“Doc watches as Martha turns a clay into dust”

We headed down the path and into the cottonwood trees on his property and he had cleared and area that had 4 shooting stations and plenty of evidence of the amount of shooting that takes place on his course.

“A few empty shells”

The warm up area has plenty of different throwers that could keep a group of grown men entertained for hours. We all took some warm up shots and moved onto the course. Doc was a great help and we all came away from the experience better shooters. Martha was about as good as anyone and she even impressed Doc.

“Peter, hours before he becomes another statistic”

After the shoot we all headed for the showers and got prepared for the joining of two of our friends. The wedding started promptly at 4 pm and the weather could not have been better. There were a couple of hundred people in attendance and the ceremony was very personal and sent them into the institution of marriage with some words of wisdom that helps keep all of us together. Once the ceremony was over it was time for the party. The food was catered by the Front Street Market in Butte and it was a good of a spread as any wedding I have attended in awhile. The dancing begun and most of the kids and those who don’t need any liquid courage to hit the dance floor started to cut a rug. There were several kids running around and a few of them were looking for sticks, including my son Reece, so I ran to the van and retrieved the T-Ball gear so the kids could have something more constructive to do. It was a big hit and for an hour or so they were all very entertained. Everyone danced the night a way and Dave Bryan took first prize for the guy who let loose and put on the groove on the dance floor. Moira, Reece and I were on our way home around 11 pm and we were very proud to have such great friends and we wish Lisa and Peter all the best in the years to come.

Wednesday May 30th: The weather today warmed up and the sun was shining bright most of the day. Temps were in the Mid 60’s with the high staying below 70 degrees today. An evening shower moved in about 6 pm and it rained with a small amount of hail for about 5 minutes. Paulson and I fished at Valley Garden and had good fishing with caddis. I used a # 10 Royal PMX with a Brown Soft Hackle Mangy caddis and did well on small fish. I later switched up to a Two Tone Tommy dropper and stuck several large fish with the highlight of the day being a 21 inch buck bow. Paulson stuck with a # 12 Parachute Hares Ear and pummeled the small and medium sized fish. More to come in a later episode. The mountains are all white with a fresh covering of snow which included 7 inches of fresh that greeted the residences of Big Sky on Tuesday Morning.

Bighole: 2300
Upper: 640 Dam 740 Kirby
Lower: 1650 Cherry Creek dirty and High Rest of River Gin Clear
Gallatin: 1750
Smith: 748
Mo: 4180
Deerborne: 585
Yellowstone @ Corwin: 5510
Yellowstone @ Livingston: 7180
Boulder: 1250

Tuesday May 29th: We woke up to a inch of heavy wet snow on the ground and most of the tree branches are sagging towards the ground with the heavy weight of the white stuff. It was a typical Memorial Day weekend with plenty of rain to keep campers and BBQ’s stuck inside most of the weekend. Saturday was the only nice day of the three day weekend and if one day had to be nice I am glad that it was nice for Peter and Lisa’s wedding day. Sunday Morning was nice out and Moira, Reece and I ventured out to the Elk Grove Pond to do a little fishing and running around with the Bryan’s. Dave and I made quick work of catching a handful of fish in the pond before the dogs turned the shore into a muddy mess and sent most of the fish to the other end of the pond. We came home and spent the rest of the day recovering from the wedding the day before and at around 9 pm the heavens opened up and the rain started to fall. It rained most of the night and we woke to overcast skies on Monday Morning. By noon the heavens opened again and it rained hard until 5 pm last night. The rain totals for the 24 hour period were just over and inch for Bozeman and 1.10 inches for Ennis. A very good spring soak er that will hopefully help ease the pain of low snow packs in the mountains. Flows on most of the rivers have made a drastic drop due to the cold weather and the fact that it has been snowing in the mountains for the past week or so. I am not sure how much snow was put in the mountains but gaining versus loosing snow this time of year is always a bonus. The flows should be coming back up this week with temps reaching back in the high 70’s and low 80’s by the end of the week.

Current Flows.
Bighole 2870 and rising after hitting a low of around 2400 on the 28th.
Upper Madison: 774 at Kirby 474 coming out of Hebgen
Lower Madison: 1170
Gallatin: 1970 C.F.S. and Rising again
Mo: 4080
Smith 704
Lamar 2560
Yellowstone @ Corwin:6720
Yellowstone @ Livingston:7680

“Julie Nelson with one of her sister’s brown trout”

Wednesday May 23rd: Upper Madison with Jen and Julie. Flows were low at around 760 C.F.S. at Kirby Ranch. The Upper just opened the weekend before and the West Fork was running clear from the cold snowy weather during the first part of the week. Clarity was well over three feet with just a slight tint of green. The weather was partly cloudy with a few snow flurries throughout the day and temps in the low 60’s.

Julie Nelson contacted me earlier in the spring and she wanted to take a float trip while she was out visiting her sister Jen. Jen lives here in Bozeman and is a good friend of Amy’s from Vermont. They both moved here after attending college and after visiting they both decided to stay and call Bozeman home. Julie had driven up the Madison Valley and loved the scenery so she had requested to float the Madison river and see the Valley from a different perspective. I told them that the fishing in Mid May would probably be a questionable option as we would be in our runoff season and most of the rivers would be high and dirty. Julie was not concerned about the fishing and seeing the sights was more important than getting in some fishing. Julie told me that she did not want to fish but her sister may want to learn a little bit about fishing and that catching fish was not important for her or her sister. As luck would have it we had some cold weather that cleared up many of the area rivers and the Madison was in good shape for catching some fish.

I picked them up at Jen’s house around 9 am and we headed for the Upper portion of the Madison river, where the scenery is great. We made a quick stop at Dan and Nancy Delekta’s Beartooth Fly Shop to get Jen a license and arrange for the shuttle from Lyons to Ruby Creek. Dan and Nancy were in Bozeman for the day but the rest of the friendly staff greeted us and gave us a current report from the previous day. The fishing was really good for a few brave soles that ventured out into the snow and cold on Tuesday and they did very well stripping streamers off the banks. The Upper had just opened on Saturday and the fish were in great shape. We arrived at Lyons by 11 am and there were only a couple of other trailers in the parking lot. I put all the gear into the boat and gave Jen a quick lesson on the finer points of casting a fly rod. After parking the truck we loaded up in the boat and shoved off. I dropped anchor just below the bridge to give Jen a few more instructions about getting a drift and how to present the fly to the fish. Jen was a quick learner and she picked up mending, casting and stripping the line right out of the gate. I had her rigged with a short heavy leader with a Bow river bugger and a Copper John with no additional weight. We started off fishing some of the deeper slots and pockets in the middle of the river and she managed to land one nice willow branch and had one other fish on in the first hour of the float. It was becoming apparent that the fish were not holding in the middle of the river as they do during the heat of the summer and the heavy fishing traffic that forces them off the banks. I made a quick fly change to a Copper Zonker trailed with a Pheasant tail nymph and we moved into the bank to see if the fish were holding on the edges. As we approached the Highway for the first time Jen hooked up with a nice brown and we landed her first fish on a fly rod. She was very excited and we all had a great laugh as the fish came to the net. We continued our float down the river and I pulled the boat into the slot below the Sun Ranch bridge and Jen hooked three nice fish that all took advantage of her inexperience. After spending some time in the slot we pulled up anchor and headed for the island for a bite to each and a break from waving the fly rod around.

“Jen and Julie at the Wolf Creek Bridge”

After lunch we set back out to catch some more fish and we started to see a good number of March Browns on the surface mixed in with some small # 20 Blue Winged Olives. The wind was a bit blustery but I decided to see if we could entice a few fish up to a # 12 Royal Wulff trailed with a # 14 Peacock Anatomay. The breeze was a little bit to stiff for Jen to make a good presentation to the bank and after ten minutes of cast landing upstream of the boat I pulled over and let her take a shot at a deep slot across from the Lodge above Windy Point. Jen had a few really good drifts through the slot and she hooked up with a nice brown trout that put up a strong run and came unbuttoned from her beadhead. I changed up the flies back to a # 8 Copper Zonker and trailed it with a # 14 Peacock Anatomay. I pulled up the Anchor and we made our way to the Wolf Creek Bridge. Jen hooked and landed one very nice Rainbow of about 16 inches and another brown that was close to the same size. Both fish were sitting tight to the bank in a slow slot that was only a foot or so deep.

“Jen with a nice Madison River Rainbow”

With the closure in place the fish had not had any pressure and were very secure sitting tight to the banks. Jen broke off her flies just above the bridge and I dropped anchor downstream of the bridge to take a photo of the girls and retie on her flies. We continued on our float and hooked a couple more nice fish that were a bit more experienced than Jen. We arrived at the Palisades boat ramp and a threatening snow squall was working it’s way up the river. Jen hooked and landed another nice brown downstream of the Palisades which was a great way to end the day. With the threat of sitting in snow, wind and cold on the horizon we made a push for the boat ramp at Ruby Creek to get off before the storm hit us on the river. It was a fine day of fishing and we pretty much had the river to ourselves, which is rare for the Upper Madison.

Saturday May 26th: The past week has brought us copius amounts of rain and cold and snowy weather. It all started on Monday evening when a major cold front moved in and by Tuesday morning we woke up to temperatures in the mid 40’s and rain in the valley with snow coming down in the mountains. We did have a few snow flurries throughout the day on Tuesday but it mainly just rained. We recieved almost 9 thenths of an inch of rain in Tuesday and the high only reached 49 degrees. On Wednesday the skies broke a bit but we still had scattered showers and the high temp was only 56 degrees. Thursday we awoke to more snow flurries and it rained for a good portion of the day leaving us with another 7 tenths of an inch of moisture at the MSU weather station. The cold wet weather finally started to lift on Friday and we had partly cloudy skies and temps in the low 60’s. Today it is bright and sunny with temps expected to reach 70 degrees, which is a great thing since one of my great friends is getting married this evening in the Valley. The cold wet weather really sent the streamflows in a nose dive and miraculously even the Yellowstone is fishable as I write this entry. All the mountains have a fresh white layer of snow and it is going to be a wonderful day for another man to bite the dust.

Bighole 2930
Upper 760
Lower 1370 (PMD’s Just starting to hatch, Salmonflies at Greycliff)
Gallatin 1510
Mo 4160
Yellowstone Corwin 5510
Yellowstone Livingston 6930
Boulder 965

“Buddies Record breaking Whitefish”

May 17th, 18th and 19th: Bighorn River trips for Matt at the Kingfisher Lodge. Sunny and warm all three days with an afternoon thunderstorm that made us run for the ramp on the 18th. River appears to drop lower each time I journey to the Flea Circus we call the Bighorn.

On Wednesday morning the 16th I was awaken by my cell phone at 7 am. Before I even checked the caller ID I had the thought that Paulson must have arrived back at his home in Gateway after his two month stint on the Bighorn. I was not sure that when he was scheduled to return to the Gallatin Valley, but I knew that he must be back since my phone was once again ringing at 7 am. As I poked around for my glasses on the dresser next to the bed I took a quick glance at the caller ID and it was a Fort Smith number that was ringing me from my slumber. I figured Paulson had not come home yet but he was calling me from his home on the Reservation to shoot the shit and ramble on about artifacts, fishing or the soap opera that takes place in the trailer court on a weekly basis. I answered the phone and to my surprise it was Matt from the Kingfisher Lodge and he had a panic tone in his voice. He asked me if I was busy and if I could come down and fill in for him as he had one of his regular guides double booked and he needed to find a competent guide for the next two days. I told him I did not have anything on the books for the next few days and that I would have to run it by my better half before I could commit to leaving the family for a few days of work. I spoke with my wife about it and she was happy that I could go and make a few extra bucks to help cover our bills for the month. I called Matt back and told him that I would be there that afternoon and would be happy to help him out. I could hear the sigh of relief leave his body as he had the trips covered. I have been in his position many times when I owned my own shop and I knew how good he must have felt to know that he had the days covered. I got Reece dressed and we road our bikes to school, where I gave him a big hug and told him I would miss him while I was gone. Reece is getting old enough to understand that Dad is going to work and sometimes I will be gone for a few days while I am working. He loves me a ton and it is always the hardest part of leaving for a few days. After I got back to the house I loaded up my sleeping bag, some clothes, and my fishing gear and headed for Six Flag’s newest amusement park in Fort Smith Montana. If you haven’t been to the Bighorn in the past two years than you are missing out on one of the most spectacular trout fisheries in the world. The numbers of fish in the river at this time is almost obnoxious and there are more fish in the river than there are fleas on a stay dog.

I arrived at the Lodge around 6 pm to let Matt know that I was in town and that I would be there bright and early to pick up the clients in the morning. I headed for town to find a place to rest my head for the next few days and my first stop was at Palumbo’s since he had a spare room and a bed. When I got to his house he was on the phone with his gal and I sat and read a few articles from the old playboy that he had sitting on the coffee table. Matt had informed him that I was on my way down and he told me to put my stuff in the spare bedroom. He finished off his conversation with is Gal and we shot the shit for a few minutes before Weedmiller and Kieser walked into the house. As usual Dave’s house is the local watering hole since there is not a bar within 50 miles of Fort Smith. We all shared a few beers while Dave cooked up a piece of catfish he had purchased from the market. Eric was on his way down to his new girlfriends place and Kiser invited me over for some meat loaf and potatoes. Dave’s phone rang again and I headed over to Kisers for a meal and some great conversation with the surely old koot from Lander Wyoming. We talked about wolves, moose and fishing freestone streams throughout the Rockies. After a while I headed back to Dave’s and he was still on the phone with his girlfriend so I decided to head to the “Tenders” house to catch up on some missed time from the last trip. Tender was cooking up some of his new goose brats and invited me to join in on the feast. I told him I had just had some of Kisers meatloaf and that I was full from the meal. I partook in a few beers and a couple of shots from the Makers Mark bottle that his client had left him from the past couple of days. The Tender was also into a new girlfriend and soon his phone rang and he was into a conversation with his new girlfriend. I decided to head for bed so that I would not have a hangover for the next day on the water.

I arrived at the lodge and was given the two rookies for the day. I typically get the anglers with the least experience because I enjoy teaching people the sport and with a long list of teachers in the family genes I am pretty good at it as well. I had Bill and Buddy in the boat for the day and we headed for the three mile put in. There were plenty of boats already in the water and a trailer load of the “Devil’s Spawn” pulled up and started unloading their kickboats. We jumped in the boat and started down the river. I don’t enjoy boat fishing on the Bighorn so we rowed downstream to the Corrals with hopes of getting into the hole. There was a guy who had walked down to the Corrals so I told the guys they could boat fish through the fast water above the club. We hooked a fish immediately and I was impressed that both Bill and Buddy were doing pretty well with their casting. We hooked and landed a dozen or so fish from the boat as we floated to the first good open spot at the Vines. I put Bill on the shelf ledge and waded Buddy up to the top flat to sight fish the larger browns that usually hang on the tan flat above the deeper hole. Bill managed to hook a half dozen small browns from the drop off and Buddy hooked into two very nice browns that managed to school him in a few seconds. The fish were on the flat but they were being very picky about eating our flies. We fished here until around lunch time and then we headed for the boat. Palumbo had floated past us and he was pulled over eating lunch across from Turkey Point, so I pulled in and we ate lunch together. During lunch we got to witness a small argument with one of Mike Craig’s friends who was fishing across from the house and a boat with three anglers who had pulled in and were going to try and fish the spawning beds above the house. I am not sure why they tried to pull this stunt because most everyone who fishes the Bighorn regularly would have said something to them about fishing in the largest beds on the river. It is perhaps the biggest no no on the river and everyone frowns upon fishing the reds. The guys loaded back in the boat and headed on downstream after the short conversation with Mike’s friend. We pulled out shortly thereafter and headed for the tail end of the flat below the house where there were several good pods of rising fish. I ask Buddy and Bill if they wanted a lesson on fishing dry flies and they were game. I told them we would not have a great numbers day fishing for the rising fish but that they would learn a great deal and get to experience what fly fishing is really all about, seeing a fish eat your dry. I rigged them both up with my Winston rods and gave them a quick lesson on the differences in casting a dry versus lobbing a nymph rig around. Both of them were surprised at how much different the casting was and we set off to try and catch a few fish on the surface. Bill was handling the casting pretty well and I had him setup with a Bailey’s CDC baetis that wound up taking three of the smaller brown trout from the slick water in the tail out. Buddy was having a bit more difficulty in trying to cast the dry fly setup and I spent a solid hour working with him on his cast and presentation. He missed several fish that ate his dry fly but never managed to get a hold of one of rising fish. He did make vast strides in his casting and he was very happy that we had taken the time to learn about the art of casting and the frustration of having fish rising in front of you and not being able to catch them. It was nearing 4 pm and we got back in the boat and looked for one last stop before hitting the boat ramp. The left hand side of Little Horn Rapids was open and when I pulled in there were a hundred or more fish surfing just below the surface with some of them rising to adult insects that floated down the river. There were also a good number of caddis starting to pop so I tied on a parachute caddis with a mangy dropper. Both of them were getting tired and their casting was falling apart with each subsequent cast. We did manage to hook several fish and it was time to head for the lodge for dinner. All in all it was a fun day and both Bill and Buddy learned a lot and improved their fly fishing skills.

The next day I was blessed with my first single on the Bighorn. Having one angler in the boat opens up a lot of options and I was excited to get on the river with Gary. Gary was also pretty new to the sport and he had spent a couple of days with Kiser, who gave him plenty of grief about using to much wrist while he was casting. I told Gary that we would work on his casting a bit and that I would show him how to incorporate his wrist into a nice cast. In all the years of teaching the art of casting I have come to realize that everyone is going to do it a bit differently than the next guy and that you can use each individuals strut to help them become a better caster. The long time method of casting where no wrist and using the ten and two approach is an old method that I believe hinders many peoples casting. I prefer to teach them about the mechanics of how a rod flexes and incorporate their own style into making the rod flex in the appropriate manner. Gary and I headed downriver looking for a good spot to pull over. I passed on the Beaverhut, SBA and eventually wound up in the Corrals. There were a few fish rising in the lower end of the bottom bucket and we made a feeble attempt to get them to eat a dry fly. After the fish spooked and moved into the lower bucket we headed for the ledge and ran a few nymphs through the deep part of the hole. The fish were a little skittish in the lower bucket and most of them moved into the middle, which was not obtainable with Gary’s cast. I peered upstream to the upper bucket and there were a dozen or so fish rising very steadily on midges just at the top of the rock shelf. We eased our way up to the fish and I tied on a midge cluster that Gary could see. We got to within 20 feet of the rising fish and Gary managed to hook several of the fish and miss a few more. About this time Stretch came floating down the shallow channel and parked in the riffle above the hole. He waded his guys out to the shallow water that does hold some spawners and he began predating on the vulnerable spawners. I was not upset about it but his wading was sending down plenty of muddy water that was washing in on the hole we were fishing. It is not a big deal as it can be helpful at times to have a cloudiness in the water to make the fish feel more secure. We switched over to a nymph rig with a sow bug and Jesse’s Midge larvae and on the first cast Gary was into a nice brown trout. We stayed in the hole for another hour or so and Gary caught fish after fish until he was giggling like a little girl. At one point I looked upstream towards Stretch and his two dudes and one of them was doing a rapid Irish jig as he danced around kicking his feet out in front of him. I saw stretch pull out his net and net a rather large Bull snake that was trying to crawl up his clients leg and get out of the frigid water. Stretch took the snake to shore and I walked up to let him know that we would be leaving the hole and to give his client a little grief about joining the Riverdance tour and performing his jig for a larger audience. They all laughed and Gary and I headed for some new scenery and some more fish.

“This will make anyone do the Riverdance”

Our next stop was at the Vines again and the fish were up on the shelf as they were the day before. This was a golden opportunity for Gary to learn the roll cast and he picked it up very quickly with the extra wrist that he uses in his cast. One very nice brown had moved into the seam just off the drop and Gary was able to see the fish that I told him to cast to. After several good drifts the fish finally made a move for the flies and both Gary and I witnessed the fish move over and take the fly that Gary had presented to him. Gary set the hook like a seasoned pro and the fish came out of the water right in front of us. It was a very nice brown and it headed for the faster and deeper water. Gary did a great job of turning the fish and soon the fish was back in his control and coming in for me to net. Just as the fish came near it came unbuttoned and we were both disappointed that we did not get to fondle the great fish that was so much fun to try and catch. Gary picked up the roll cast technique and he had an uncanny ability to see the fish laying on the shelf. It was one of the first times that a client really saw the fish that I was pointing out and he even pointed a couple out to me that I missed. We fished at the vines for another hour or so and Gary hooked, landed and lost another dozen or so fish. We jumped in the boat and headed on downstream to fish one more spot before we called it a day. We arrived at the bottom end of the Bay of Pigs channel and when I pulled the boat in at the bottom end I accidentally rowed onto a small spawning pit that had 4 nice fish on the bed. I slid the boat below the spawners and we headed up to the deep run above the small spawning bed. I put Gary in the spot and told him exactly where to cast and his flies stuck hard and strong to something on the bottom. The flies broke off in our attempt to rescue them and I brought up the leader to replace the lost bugs. Just as I had the bugs tied on a fierce cloud packed with lightning, thunder and buckets of rain started to move in on top of us. I told Gary to make a few more cast and then we would head for the ramp and try and beat the storm that was approaching fast. Just as he made his first cast back into the seam, a horrific sound of the approaching storm raged in on us. You could here the wind for a solid 30 seconds before it even hit us and I told Gary to reel up because we needed to haul ass. He quickly reeled in and we jumped in the boat and I turned us around and rowed as hard and as fast as I could. Fortunately the wind was blowing directly downstream and at one point I looked back and I could have easily been towing a wake boarder from the bow of the boat. We hit the ramp just as the first major drops of rain started to fall and I had Gary jump in the truck as I backed down the ramp. Gary was inside the truck as I loaded it on the trailer and got all the gear stowed away and ready to travel on the highway back to the lodge. I got soaked by the rain but I was glad that we were not still on the river in the lightning and rain that was pouring down from the heavens.
When we got back to the lodge the storm broke and all of the other guides were back at the lodge within a few minutes of us. The clients went into their rooms to get ready for dinner and all of the guides sat around the boat drinking a few cold beers and telling stories. Kiser showed up and he was most impressed with the “Boat Lean” and commented about how he hadn’t seen one this big in a while. Matt’s two boys were running around amongst the mix of guides and clients and his youngest son Cash decided he did not want to have on any pants anymore. He jumped in the boat and he hung out with all the boys and had a great time. Matt’s older son Cade was hanging off my boat and climbing around most of the time and he wanted to know if I was going to bring my son Reece over in the morning to play with him. I told him we would come back down in the fall and they could all run around and have a great time in his tree fort out back behind the lodge. He was excited about it and I promised him we would come back down and hang out with him. I had plans on traveling back home to Bozeman that night but Paulson talked me into staying the night and taking a short drive in the morning up to the lake. Since I had several beers on board I figured it was best that I stay the night and I could get home by mid morning to see the family and spend the weekend with them.

“Yellowtail Zig Zags”

That night we ate some dinner with Thor and Blatter and had a few more beers before we all retired for the evening. In the morning we got up and Paulson and I picked up a box of donuts and some milk and headed up the Grapevine road for a tour of the reservation. We wound up on top of the reservoir and we made it up past the main body of the lake and where the lake enters into the zig zags of the canyon. It was one of the most amazing places that I have been in the state and even though it was more than a quick drive I was glad that I got to see the sights that we saw. It is an amazing piece of land that the Crows have and I am glad that it will stay as it is for many more years. I am looking forward to taking the Lund up the lake and seeing the zig zag portion of the lake from lake level.

Tuesday May 15th: Canyon Ferry Reservoir walleye fishing with the Bendeduchie. The weather was bright and sunny with temps in the high 70’s and no sunscreen. Dead calm on the lake most of the day with a very slight breeze in the morning.

Every now and again a die hard fly fisherman has to go back to their roots and hit the big water with a stinky 2 stroke engine, several heavy spinning rods, a good ole fashioned tackle box full of treble hooks and a cooler packed with beer, ice, night crawlers and leeches. We both dropped the kids off at school as early as the preschools opened and we were on the road and out of town by 7:30 am. We made a quick stop at the Town Pump in Townsend to top of the gas tank on the boat and pick up a Nascar sponsored 18 pack of cheap beer for consumption on the lake. Next stop was the Silo’s Store for a sandwich, some additional tackle and the bait. Forty bucks later we were at the boat ramp and filling the air with blue smoke from the 90 horse Johnson on the back of the Lund Tyvee boat.

“The Duche and his boat!”

We raced across the 3 miles of the southern end of the lake and then we sent a few leeches and a couple of crawlers into the bottom of the 8 feet of water we had success in the year before. Most of the boat traffic was a mile North of us along the shoreline and we formulated a plan to slow troll over towards the other boats. However we first had to give the productive spot from the year before a quick try. The lake was a few feet shallower than it was in 2006 so we made a move towards the bulk of the boat traffic, figuring the old men of the lake probably had the fish marked on their fish finders and had been pounding on them for several days. As we approached the duck hunting boat ramp my rod with the shimano counter reel on it bent tight and I was fast into a hefty pull on the rod. I struck hard and fast and at first I was positive that I had set the hook on a large log or an old Christmas tree and was pulling it off the bottom of the lake. After a few seconds the so called tree started to move sideways from the boat and we both got excited thinking we may have hooked into a large brown trout that lurks in one of the deep holes in the Missouri River, just above the lake. After 5 minutes of pulling up and reeling back down on the fish we had our first glimpse of the behemoth and the glow of Gold that flashed reminded us that there are a gazillion carp in the lake and I had hooked one slow trolling a bottom bouncer with a worm harness with a blue blade. I had squarely hooked the fish in the Dorsal fin and it was like dragging in a fish twice the size as the 12 pound carp that was now in the net.

Carp on a bottom Bouncer”

We worked our way into the edge of the boat traffic and as soon as we hit the Osprey tower both of us had a bent rod and Jamie reeled in a pounder Walleye that he swung into the boat just like a seasoned veteran of the BASS circuit. My fish was a good bit larger and Jamie netted the 4 pound Walleye for my. We were excited to be on the board. Jamie’s fish came on a Pink Jig head with a olive and pink wiggle tail tipped with a leech. My fish fell prey to the bottom bouncer with a pink blade and a crawler on the end. We were on the fringe of the bulk of the boat traffic and another guy in a small lund boat with a tiller motor was fast trolling crank baits just outside of us. He came fast to a small fish at the same time as we had and the decision was made to run back and forth through the location that had been so productive. We trolled another 200 yards and made the circle to head back over the honey hole. As we made the turn Jamie hit another pounder and we now had three fish in the live well, almost enough for a meal that evening. We spent the rest of the day running back and forth over the honey hole and we finished the day off at the spot with 10 in the live well and a full fledged fish fry for family and friends. There were several other boats that fished the spot with us during the day but we managed to keep most of the predators away it never got extremely crowded with boats in our spot. There was one big Lund boat that was killing them in the same spot and we could only tell that they were fishing bottom bouncers.

One very refreshing aspect of Walleye fishing is that even when the area is crowded with boats, everyone lets bygones be bygones and shouting and yelling about spots is absent from the day. We even saw one boat cut between us and another couple and hook a fish from under the other couples boat.

“On this weeks episode of Pimp My Fish”

When it comes to Walleye fishing everyone finds the honey hole and everyone takes their turn dragging leeches and worms past the school of fish. We hit the ramp at around 4 pm and called Shook and the kids so that they could share in our feast from the lake. Frying fish in oil always makes for a great meal but I did find a great recipe for a breading that I will use for a second time. It is very simple and it made an incredible light coating with lots of great flavor.

The Worlds Best Breaded Fish:
Honey Twist Pretzels
Instant Mash Potatoes
Tastefully Simple Sun dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto Mix

Grind up the Potatoes, Pretzels and Pesto mix in a food processor to make a crumbly powder. Beat up an egg or two in a separate dish and put a couple of cups of flour in a third container. Dip the fish in the Flour and then in the egg mixture. Then dip in the crumbs and drop in the oil. Walla your done. Good Eatin!!

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