February 2008

Bozeman Daily Comical: Nez Perce want to expand hunt!

The Nez Perce trib wants to expand it’s hunting of Bison around the borders of Yellowstone National Park. This is being met with plenty of resistance from government agencies and from conservation groups who don’t like the hunt in the first place. The debate continues and no one is every going to be satisfied with any plans regarding the bison.


On another note in the Section, I will be tying Tailwater Flies at Fins and Feathers flyshop this Saturday from 10 am until noon. The flies I will be tying are a highlight of the bugs I use on the Bighorn during my spring and fall guide trips. The tying demo will focus on the Bighorn and when and how to best match the hatch activity in the spring and fall. The main focus will be on the Bighorn but most of the patterns will relate to fishing other tailwater fisheries throughout the area as well. Come join in the fun, it’s free and open to everyone.

Ravali Republic: The ties that Bind!


Once again the Missoulian had little in the way of hunting and fishing articles. Another article about ice fishing and that was about it, so I checked out the Hamilton Paper and they had a wonderful article about guys getting together at the Local brewery and tying flies every Wednesday night. The owner of the brewery welcomes the tiers and they have helped turn slow Wednesday night business into a buseling night at the brewery. There are some fine tiers in the Bitteroot Valley and one my favorite personalities that I have met in the fly fishing world is interviewed in the article. John and Elna Foust are perhaps the best people that I have gotten to spend some time with and I hope to one day get invited over to their home again.

Billings Gazette:Blue Haven: Paradise Valley stream reels in the trout anglers


Wow this is actually the headline article on the Gazette’s Website today. The article details some of the perils and fortunes of owning the famed Armstrong Spring Creek. The article starts off with some history of the ranch and how the fishing has become another source of income to keep the family traditions alive. They herald the number of people who pay big money to fish the creek every year, and some just to hold a spot for the following year. Then they talk about the perils that go along with owning the creek, especially the public outcry after the heavy floods of 1996 and 1997. It is an interesting read about the creeks.

Denver Post: Brutal winter puts Antero fish in peril


Once again problems are occuring at one of Colorado’s most popular trout lakes. Antero Reservoir in South Park has gone through many issues over the years with drought and dewatering to the harsh climate the lake is located in. This year the drought is not the problem, it is the drought busting winter causing the headaches this time. Antero is a very shallow lake and with the amount of ice and snow on top the oxygen levels are at dangerously low levels. Light penetration is not producing the growth of plants which in return provide oxygen to the lake. We will have to wait and see how the resistent fish of Antero adapt to yet another problem.


Saturday’s trip was a nice way to get back in the saddle of the guide season and I was certain that Sunday would be a much different experience with three anglers hitting Depuy’s for a day of fishing. Saturday’s trip with Rod was quick and to the point, he wanted to get some ideas of places to fish on his own and his only real concern was getting back in time to hit Bridger for a half day of skiing. The prospect of chasing around three guys on the spring creeks was a bit daunting and I knew that I would be dead tired at the end of the day. Fortunately when I arrived at the lodge I found out that two of the clients for the day were very experienced anglers who lived over the divide in Missoula. Running back and forth between three novice anglers can typically is like trying to compete in an Iron Man Triathlon.

When I arrived at the lodge I found out that Kent was the only one there and the other two were already in Livingston at the Super 8 hotel. Kent needed to stop by his house and pick up his license so we planned on meeting back up in Livingston with the other two. It was nice to make the drive by myself, especially since the truck ride to and from the river is usually the part of the day that I dislike the most. When we arrived in Livingston the weather was ideal with clouds hanging low in the valley and not a breath of wind. We made a quick stop at the Yellowstone Angler to pick up a pair of flip mitts for Kent. Luckily George was at the shop taking care of a few things and he had the door open. After shooting the breeze with George for a moment and the clients picking up a few things we headed for the creek.

Betty was in great spirits and the typical oddities of the house and the property were discussed with the clients. For those of you who have never been to Depuy’s Spring Creek, I can tell you that the tour of the Southern style plantation Mansion is as much of a highlight as the day of fishing can be. The home was built by Betty’s father who had mimicked a Plantation home he saw on a Calender from South Carolina. He built a fountain in the front that has two howling wolves and in it’s hay day water spouted out of the wolves mouths. Inside the home there are some very interesting photo’s that are about 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall. One of them is of Betty’s sister fishing on the creek and the other one is a photo of a mid 1960’s Miss Montana fishing on the creek as well. They also have some local travertine walls and a Pun ta Fan from India in the living room. First time visitors are always amazed with the place and you really need to see it to believe it.

We got all the paper work and payments made so we headed for the Lower Hut to get the day started. Bob Fry was there and he got a fire going for us in the hut so that we could come in and warm up when we got cold. Everyone got their waders on and rods rigged. I handed out an assortment of flies to the two Doc’s from Missoula and sent them on down to fish below the hut. We rigged Kent’s rod and headed down to fish below them. Matt took up the prime spot on the corner and Sam was fishing just above him. Sam was fast to his second fish by the time that we made it to the deep run below Matt. Apparently the flies I dissed out were working pretty well. As I got Kent into position Matt hooked up with a very nice rainbow. I gave Kent a quick idea of where he wanted to cast and I ran off to net Matt’s fish. Matt surfed a healthy Yellowstone River male rainbow right into my net and I mentioned that there must be some fish starting to move in from the river to get ready for the spawning activity that should start up in the next few weeks. We released the fish and I set back to help Kent with the spot I had chosen for him. Before I could get back to Kent Matt was into another nice fish and he told me to stay there, he could handle the fish without me. By this time Sam was on the move and looking for another spot to fish. I gave Kent the rundown on where the fish hold and how to read the different colors of the bottom to determine the trenches to run his flies down. I walked Sam down to the slot below the log wing dam and showed him how to approach the spot. He mentioned to me that this type of water doesn’t interest him much so I pointed out how he could wade downstream a bit and cross over to the riffle below. He said that looked much more appealing and I headed back to help Kent some more. Sam did give the first spot a try and he hooked up within a few cast. Matt was also landing his fourth fish of the day and it appeared we were in for some good fishing. Matt was running a Grey Spring Creek Scud # 16 trailed with a # 18 Heathen and I had Sam setup with # 18 Barr Emerger with a # 18 Big Ugly trailing off the back.

Kent was struggling a bit and I had to adjust his weight so that he didn’t hang up on each cast. Kent had a good spot in the run but when the clouds are over head it can be a bit more difficult to fish the spot he is in. There are not a lot of occasions when the bright sunshine helps you out but for the spot Kent was in the sun does give you the ability to spot the fish and see what depth and where they are feeding the most actively. Matt kept roping in one fish after another with the majority of the fish falling prey to the heathen. A few fish ate the scud as well but it was obvious what the fish were really looking for. Sam was around the corner by this time and Matt had pretty much put a hurtin on the corner hole. He landed 8 fish and lost a couple of more so we decided to head downstream a bit.

I put Kent in the best hole on the creek and sent the other two on a trek to the bottom of the creek where the culvert lets the creek flow into the Yellowstone. Kent and I waded across to the deep hole below the slough and I gave him the rundown on where to cast and how to make the right presentation. He blew the first two fish because he was not used to the small movement of the indicator and set the hook a bit late. Finally he got on the board with a nice 18 inch bow. He managed to land a half dozen fish from this spot and I we decided to see how the other’s were doing. My stomach was starting to growl a bit from all the running back and forth so I also wanted to see if they were getting ready for some lunch.

I rounded the corner expecting to see them fishing the two deep runs above the culvert but they were both standing about 20 feet upstream of the culvert drifting their flies into the culvert. They were hooking a fish every couple of drifts so I headed down to investigate what they were doing. I set Kent up in the deep run below the log and headed for the two Doc’s to see what was going on, and to see if they were hungry yet. There was a ton of fish stacked in the culvert trying to get into the creek and the two of them were in a mess of trout. It was pretty amazing to watch the number of fish that were migrating past them as they fished. Kent hooked a couple of fish above and after the two of them landed a dozen or so fish a piece I brought up the subject of lunch. They said they would be right up and we stopped to fish some fish that I spotted on the way down. Matt hooked and landed another 5 fish from the Beaver Hut hole and then we all headed for the hut and some lunch.

Sam wanted a shot at the hole I put Kent in earlier so I told him to head up in ten minutes or so and I would have lunch ready. The hut was like a sauna when I arrived and I had to open the door and let it cool off a bit. I set up lunch and all three of them hit the hut ready for some food. Julie had made some great Sandwich’s that were complemented by some good ole fashioned Chicken Noodle soup, chips, grapes and a pasta salad. We ate lunch and shoot the shit for a while. After lunch we decided to head up the creek to see if there were any bugs hatching closer to the spring. We drove up through the middle of the creek and there was not much going on. After getting to the upper hut we decided to give the top of the creek a try and after an hour and one fish between the three of them it was obvious that most of the fish were in the lower end of the creek right now. Kent also needed to get home to pack for a trip to Dallas so we headed back to the cars and the lower hut. Sam and Matt wanted to give the plunge pool below the pond a try so we fished up the creek to the plunge pool. By this time it was getting close to 4 o’clock and the fishing was shutting down. Sam had one strike in the plunge pool and by the time Matt and I got up to the sheep bridge he was heading back to the car. Matt wanted a shot at the plunge as well so we walked up and fished below a group of trumpeter swans that watched intently as we fished the hole. Matt got one take in the plunge pool and then he decided he had enough. They also had to drive all the way back to Missoula that night so getting on the road sounded good to them. The day was a lot of fun and the fish were really keyed in on the midge pupae more than anything else. I packed up the truck and I sent the two heart Doc’s back to Missoula, I told them to keep an eye out for my light blue Super Puma in the coming weeks on the Bitteroot.

Friday was a scouting day for the upcoming weekend guide trips and it started out as a beautiful day. My good friend Shook stopped by the house and wanted to take the dogs out for a run. We loaded Trico and Tater into the back of the pickup and threw in a rod and a handful of midge adults in case I saw a few rising fish. I have been on a quest to get the first fish of the year on a dry fly for the past two weeks and this day was not shaping up to be the day either. The sun was bright and high with only a few wispy clouds hanging around. The midge hatch on the Lower Madison has been getting better and better each day but the weather has been to nice and finding a fish that doesn’t spook has been a monumental task.

After stopping at the Beer Cave for a cheap 12 pack of Olympia we finally hit the highway and were on our way to the river. For those who might be wondering I prefer beer that was brewed in a vat the size of Rhode Island rather than a fancy micro brew beer. When we got to the river it was dead calm and the dirt road on the back side of the river was calling for the dogs and a quick jaunt alongside the truck. We traveled down the back road and once we hit the Indian Rings we kicked the dogs out of the truck to get a bit of exercise, Trico really needs some after spending a lazy winter inside. We took the lazy route and ran the dogs in front of the truck because we only wanted heavy breathing from the dogs. We arrived at what we call “Gagne’s Box” and there were a dozen or so fish rising in the slow current directly next to the shoreline. The dogs took a drink from the river and I readied my rod with a Griffith’s Gnat trailed with a Cripple Thor.

Once the rod was rigged I headed for the water and stripped out 30 feet of fly line. I started my cast and let a perfect cast fall just to the side of the rising fish with the fly floating right down the feeding lane. I thought the cast was perfect but after it made the drift the fish were done. The spot that they like to rise in is only about a foot of water and with the bright sun shining down I thought there was a good chance I would only get a couple of shots, and I was spot on in my thinking. I reeled up the flies and headed back for my ice cold beer. We waited and watched to see if the fish would come back up and after 10 minutes I knew that the quest was not going to be completed on a day like this. It was now time to take a few pictures and let the dogs burn off their pent up energy.

We spent the rest of the afternoon touring the gravel roads of the Gallatin Valley. The trip took us down the Madison with a quick stop at the Buffalo Jump and then on up to Logan. We took the frontage road up the Gallatin with a quick stop at Sir Scott’s for a double tall Captain and Coke. After a quick fill up and another 6 pack of beer we headed along the East Gallatin and along the foothills of the Bridger’s looking for “Snow Gophers” and to see if the elk were sitting on the “Running Elk Ranch”. We completed the loop and headed back to the house so that I could tie up a few flies for my half day wade trip the next morning.

Saturday morning we were greeted with snow showers and socked in cloud cover that was ideal for a great day of fishing. I packed up my guide gear, filled the thermos with coffee and stocked the cooler with water and sodas. Reece and Moira were still asleep when I left the house to meet my client. I arrived at the shop and the client arrived ready for a few hours on the river. The customary introductions were made and we fitted him with a pair of boots and waders. While they were filling out his license I gave Rod the rundown on my plans for the day. I told him the weather was prime for the Lower Madison. Rod ask me if there was any chance we could fish the Gallatin instead, his in laws had moved to Bozeman last year and he wanted to get acquainted with some access points as well as get some pointers on fishing the Gallatin when he returned for visits in the future. I was happy to accomodate his request so we changed course and headed up the Gallatin Canyon for a tour mixed with a little bit of fishing. On the ride Rod told me off his fishing experiences and mentioned that he had not done much nymph fishing and the little bit he has done he did not really enjoy. I told him we could look for some dry fly fishing but that the Gallatin midges were just getting started and I had not seen a lot of fish rising on the river in the past week. I pulled off and showed him some of the productive spots along the river to fish and we finally made it up to the highway bridge that crosses over the Gallatin just north of the Big Sky turn off. There is a nice back eddy below the bridge and if there were going to be any fish rising they would be in the foam in the back eddy.

We put on our waders and headed for the spot below the bridge. I could not believe my eyes when we got to the spot, there were a dozen fish poking their heads out from below the foam. I knew that we could catch them and I was a bit disappointed because I was going to have to sit back and watch as someone else caught fish on a dry fly. The “Sipper Midge” I tied on for Rod entice a fish on the first cast and it was sure great to see a head finally take the fly from the surface. Rod set the hook and after a brief tug the fish was gone. We sat in the hole for an hour and Rod landed one nice feisty rainbow and lost another 7 fish that ate the fly. The rod guides were freezing and soon Rod’s feet were feeling the cold as well. He had enjoyed the fishing a ton and wanted to see some other areas that he could fish on later visits. We headed back down the Canyon and I took him for a tour up the Squaw Creek Canyon to see the River Run’s Through it Rock and show him the nice access that is away from the roar of the traffic on Hwy 191. His feet were still cold and he needed to get back to pick up his father in law and meet up with the family for a half day of skiing at Bridger Bowl.

I dropped him off back at his rental car and we talked about doing some more fishing when he returns in the summer. We had a great time and I am looking forward to fishing with him again even though I had to sit and watch him complete my quest for the one on a dry fly.

Bozeman Daily Comical: Fish Porn Tour arrives in Montana.

No link to this article but the AEG Fly Fishing Film Tour makes it’s appearance in both Missoula and Bozeman this coming week. For those who are not familiar with the film tour it is a series of short films that a group of guys who call themselves the Angling Exploration Group put on each year. The films are very hip and remind me more of snowboard films than anything. The footage is great and all I can say is that I do get a bit jealous that they can travel all over the world in search of fish. It is definetly generation X’s take on fishing and for me it can be a bit over the top.

Billings Gazette: Just for kids: Get your fishing gear ready


Mark Henkle brings us another good article on the rights of spring and getting your gear from the garage and cleaning any mouse nest or cob webs from the old tackle box. Spring also brings out the itch to get the kids outside and spend some quality family time at local ponds as the ice thaws.

Missoulian: This time of year, fishing can be hit and miss


A roundup of late season ice fishing throughout Western Montana. Not much for the fly angler but there are some reports on fishing for perch and trout on the lakes around the Missoula area.

Denver Post: River’s recovery suddenly threatened


This week there was an annoucement of a possible enviornmental catastrophe from an old mining tunnel located near the Headwaters of the Arkansas River in Colorado. Mining has some steep history in Colorado and an old tunnel that is blocked has over a billion gallons of contaminated water sitting behind the plug. If the tunnel lets loose it will send heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium down the river and pretty much kill one of Colorado’s finest freestone rivers. The problem could also cause a substantial loss of human life as there is a trailer park located near the tunnel’s mouth. This is a major problem facing the state and federal agencies as they try to find a fix to this horrible situation.

Back to the bench was the plan for this morning when I hit the sack last night. I started my day with a bit of breakfast and the usual caous that consumes our household every morning. Reece wanted to wear the same clothes as he did the day before and my wife was upset with him and the fact she was running late. In the midst of the situation the phone rang and it was Jason on the other end of the line. He started the conversation with “don’t you ever check your voicemail ? ” I am not one that cares much for his cell phone and I do at times find my mailbox full, especially in the winter when the only ones calling are friends looking to pull me away from my fly tying and household duties. His second question inquired if I would be ready by 8:30 to go and get recertified on my First Aid, which expired two days ago. I had totally forgot about the challenge course and I told him I would get Reece to school and be ready when he got here.

I sent the wife off to work and had Reece get his shoes and coat on so that we could drop him off on our way down to the Red Cross office. Jason arrived at the house and we jumped in the truck on our way to daycare. Reece loves to see Jason because he likes to rough house and what 5 year boy doesn’t like to do that. We made it to the Red Cross office and the test went off without any hitches. I was Fifty bucks lighter in the wallet but at least I was in compliance and did not have to deal with the Red Cross for another three years. After the certification class we headed to Sportsman’s Whorehouse because Jason needed to pick up another cot and bed roll for the lodge. We also made a quick stop at IHOP for some breakfast, which also gave Jason time to convince me my fly orders could wait and that we needed to fish. Jason is having his shoulder operated on and this would be his last day to get out before the surgery. With fourty degree weather it is hard to make an argument about staying indoors and not getting out to enjoy the weather.

After a quick stop at the house to pick up the dog, waders and the rest of my gear we headed to the lodge. We discussed wether to just fish at the “trench” or wether we should take a drive up the canyon and check out the “Hog Hole.” The “trench” is the home hole and we guide and fish it all the time so we decided to head up the canyon and try and catch one of the escapees in the “Hog Hole.” As we drove up the canyon the river looked very tasty and I noted several spots to fish in case there was someone in the spot we wanted. There were only a couple of other anglers out on the Gallatin and we fiqured our chances were pretty good that the “Hog Hole” would be open. As we rounded the corner into Big Sky there was a car parked in the parking spot along the road and we had to make a decision about where we wanted to fish. We turned the truck around and as we were going heading back to the parking area I recognized the car and told Jason we could walk down to one of the lower holes, which holds the Ancency monsters on occassion as well.

We had already put on our waders back at the lodge so we just needed to grab our rods and take the short walk along the guard rail to get to the river. When we got down to the hole Charlie was releasing a nice rainbow and Ben was re rigging his rod. Ben was stuck fishing on the road side of the river because he had caught his waders on one of the guard rail bolts and tore an “L” shape hole in his waders that was probably 5 inches by 8 inches long and right above his boot. He was not in the mood to wet wade in the 30 degree water. They mentioned catching a couple of fish on a Sculpin and after shooting the breeze for a few minutes Jason and I headed down river to ply a few fish from under the bridge. Unfortunately the deep hole only produced one 13 inch Yellowstone Cutthroat for me and a skunking for Jason. We fished the hole for about an hour and I ran the gammet of flies trying to ping a good one. After catching the cutthroat we made the decision to head back up and see if Charlie and John had done any better. They both had a couple of more fish but it was still very slow for them as well.

Charlie offered up his spot on the opposite bank, I had my fill of fishing for the day but Jason decided to give it a go. John and I sat on the bank shooting the breeze about our days spent living in Colorado and Charlie joined in on the conversation a short time later. Jason stung a couple of fish on the opposite shore and after sitting on the snowy bank for twenty minutes my rear end started to get a bit cold. Jason waded back across the river and we headed for the truck. The fishing was great but the catching was pretty slow so we headed back down the canyon and called it a day. The warmer weather this past week does have the juices flowing and I am really looking forward to the next couple of months and all the great spring fishing that is just around the corner.

The President’s Day holiday brings out the fools once a year to raise money for our local charity Reach Inc and the Montana Special Olympics. Reach Inc. is a wonderful program in Bozeman that helps people with disabilities get through life a little easier. They have great programs such as equine therapy, swimming and adult education programs. Groups throughout town such as the Bozeman Ice Dogs Hockey Team, MSU Athletics, Bozeman Police department and many others raise pledges from locals in return for their stupidity and jumping into a frozen pond.

This year there were probably over a 100 participants who took the plunge into the 30 degree water. Fortunately for the swimmers there is a hot tub located about 50 yards from the hole that is cut in the pond. The highlights of this year were characters such as Wayne and Garth look-a-likes, Sea Shell clad bikini’s, Bill and Hillary Clinton costumes and plenty of capes and bikini’s. The team that raised the most money for the event was the Bozeman Ice Dog hockey team which raised over a thousand smackers for the organization. All of the teams combined raised over twenty thousand dollars for the Special Olympics and Reach. Congratulations to all the participants and thanks for taking the plunge for a worthy cause.

The weather cooperated very nicely with air temps around 35 degrees and the sun shinning down bright and warm. I should have gone fishing today but commercial fly orders were calling and I probably would have just taken a nap on the bank anyways. Tomorrow they are calling for some cloud cover to move in, which will increase the chances of my getting my obsession of the first fish of the year on a dry fly over and done with.

The phone rang and it was Jason who needed some help taking a load of trash to the dump before 30 members of his family embark on the lodge for the annual family reunion. He also wanted to go check out the Whispering Winds shooting preserve for possible cast and blast opportunities for the clients this coming fall. Since the preserve is located along the Lower Madison I also suggested we bring along a rod and check out the river to see if the midges are getting strong enough to bring some fish up to the surface.

After dropping Benedickt off at the airport for his flight to Denver I met Jason at Fins and Feathers so that I could drop of my fly invoice and pick up a few spools of thread to finish up the order later this week. I loaded Trico up into the back of the truck and off we set for the trip to the Logan Landfill. After dropping off the pallets in the wood pile and the house hold trash in the main dump area we headed for the Lower. When we got to the Buffalo Jump the wind was calm and I started to get a little excited about the prospects of catching a few fish on a dry. I showed him where the Bird Preserve is and off we set for the river.

There was not much going on at the High Bank headgate so I mentioned driving upstream to check out the one spot that they would be rising in if they were rising at all. We turned off the highway and headed up the dirt road that leads to the trailhead for hiking into the Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness area. We rounded the corner below the old bridge pilon and I spot a fish rise right next to the bank. This really got the juices flowing and as we passed through the rock slide the wind started to gust a bit. We pulled into the “Ice Shelf” hole and before we came to a stop I saw a half dozen noses poking up to sip a midge cluster off the surface.

I am not sure if I was more excited or if Trico was because she knew that she got to get out and run around while we fished. The wind was still gusting a bit but it was only occassionally and I fiqured I could get away with pulling out the 4 wt instead of the 6 wt. We did not need to put on our waders because the fish were close enough to the shore and there is enough casting room behind you to stay on the bank. I rigged the rod with a Griffith’s Gnat trailed with a Big Ugly in hopes of catching a few of the fish that were rising in front of us. The rig was set and I turned from the truck and headed down the bank to the ice shelf. Like clock work “old Murphy” showed up and the wind went from gusty to a consistent steady breeze. I made my first few cast without any mishaps and then one huge gust put the flies in the weeds behind me and I broke off the two fly setup. The fish were rising only on occassion now but I was determined to try and get at least one to eat. I tied on another gnat and set my sights on the fish. I watched for about 2 or 3 minutes and there was not a head to be seen. The wind steadily increased and the cold air started to make the prospect of fishing a lot less appetizing. The guides were iced up and my hands were getting cold so we decided to call it quits for the day.

The good news was the midges are starting to hatch strong enough that they are clustering and the dry fly season will be upon us very soon. The bug to go fishing was definetly aroused with seeing a few fish on the surface. I can’t wait to get lucky and have a day with no wind, some clouds and rising fish on the lower.

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