I really wish they sold bottle rocket’s in Montana.


Hail Stones from the June 30th storm that hit Bozeman!

The weather keeps throwing curve balls at us, or should I say golf balls.  Around 4 pm on Wednesday the skies darkened around town and as the storm clouds moved in from the Southwest.  Two years ago we had another big hail storm that damaged many roofs around town and just prior to that storms arrival the skies turned an eerie  aquamarine color.  That same color skies were apparent just prior to this storm as well.  The storm hit around 4;30 pm and all hell broke loose for about 2 minutes as the golf ball or larger size hail pummeled the Gallatin Valley.  Windows were shattered, cars looked like golf balls from the dimples in the metal, tree branches were strewn all over the place and when the storm past it looked like old man winter had just coated the valley in several inches of snow.

My wife and I were lucky and only had a few dents in her car and some minor cosmetic damage to the house.  As is the norm with natural disasters, the trailer park down the road took a beating and most of the trailers had major damage to the siding and to windows.

The aftermath!

After driving around town and looking at the damage I can honestly say that cheap siding may be cheap to install but it is really more expensive in the long run.  Most of the homes with vinyl siding were heavily damaged and many of them will require a complete re side for repairs.  Fortunately no one was hurt in the storm and at least many of the construction people around town should be busy for the rest of the summer.

Mountain Palace Rain Storm

My good friend and fellow Outfitter Joe Moore, from Big Sky Anglers called me a month ago and needed help with a three day trip on the Mighty Mo.  I had the days open and was excited to work with Joe for another round of trips.  Joe and I met up in Three Forks, the day prior to the trip so that we could make a grocery run in Helena for our guide lunches and meals while we were on the river.  We both left town in driving rain storms and were excited to see the rain let up by the time we made it to Three Forks.  The drive to Helena was uneventful and we made our stop for grocery’s and a few additional items, including a bottle of Canadian Hunter Whiskey.  I must admit that I purchased the cheap whiskey because of the awesome label on the bottle, their marketing sucked me in and I felt a little dirty for falling for the same gimmicks that many wineries rely on for selling their high priced grapes.  It was good to get out of Helena because finding your way through their many confusing intersections, coupled with road construction, can be a daunting task.  Joe and I arrived in Craig in the late afternoon with plans of sneaking in a quick float that evening.  When we arrived it was overcast with a threat of rain so we headed over to our friend Mike Kuhnert’s place to get settled in for the upcoming days of guiding.  Mike was gracious to offer up his home to us while he was off in Alaska chasing around King Salmon with his spey rod.  We unloaded our gear and stocked the fridge with all the food prior to heading over to Headhunters Fly  Shop to see if our clients had checked into their cabin.  The guys and gals at Headhunters are doing a bang up job with their shop and you can’t find a friendlier and more welcoming group of people anywhere.  John was in the shop and after saying hello he mentioned that our guys were not here yet.  John was getting ready to head home so we gave the clients a ring on their phone to see if they were in route and they were still back in Bozeman where they had spent the afternoon fishing on the MZ ranch after their flights had arrived in Bozeman.  John gave them directions to the cabin and told them where the key would be when they arrived later that evening.

Joe and I settled into the house to watch a bit of world cup soccer and make up some dinner.  Joe brought some very good elk burger with him and we made up a helping of  “Hamburger Helper” to tide us over for the night.  We hit the sack early because we knew we would need to be ready to row in 18,500 C.F.S. of water on the Mighty Mo.

We woke up to wet rainy weather on day one and fortunately we had planned on doing one hot meal for the guys.  I packed up the Coleman stove while Joe got the cooler in order with all the food.  We showed up to meet the clients at around 8:30 and they were eager to get on the river. One of the clients had forgotten his boots so I lent him my spare boots so he didn’t have to cram his feet into his wet wading shoes.  The clients were three friends that grew up together in Oklahoma City and they get together for an annual fishing trip each year.  Jay was an Ear Nose and Throat specialist from Oklahoma City, Jason was an scientist who works for a company that makes Vitamin D supplements for chicken feed near Chicago and Chris was an attorney from New York City.  All there were in their late 30’s and both Joe and I were excited to have some younger guys who weren’t afraid of some cold weather and they would have to suffer through the first day’s weather.  We put in at Craig the first day and floated all the way to Prewitt Creek.  With the high flows you need to float a long section to make it a full day.  The fishing started off a little slow for me on the first day as I had some work to do to help Jason learn how to cast 12 feet of leader and a 3/0 split shot rig.  The fish were sitting in their usual haunts, they just were a lot deeper with all the water in the river.  Jason finally hooked and landed his first fish about an hour and a half into the day, which it is always great to get that first fish in the boat.  After that the fishing started to pick up and we managed to get several fish to the net before we hit our lunch spot at the Dearborn hand launch ramp.  All three of them were pretty chilled from the wet rainy weather and our hot BBQ beef sandwiches did a great job of at least warming the soul.  After lunch we set back out and the fishing really started to pickup for us.  Jason landed a very nice brown just below the Doll house and we pulled over to get a few shots of the fish.  I didn’t manage to get a great shot of the fish because Joe and the other guys were anchored next to us and Jason wasn’t sure which side of the boat to hold the fish up for a photo op.

Jason's "Doll House" Brown

We finished out the day with several more fish and by the time we hit the ramp everyone was ready to get out of the rain and sit in a nice warm truck.

We awoke on day two with bright blue sunshine filled skies and everyone was very excited that the rain had left us.   We met up with the guys at their cabin around 9 am and no of us were really excited to get an early start, primarily because the US was playing Slovenia in the world cup.  We sat at the cabin until the the US went down by two goals and then we determined it was time to head out fishing since the US was most likely going to loose the game.  On the way up to Wolf Creek to put in the US scored two more goals and had a third game winning goal called off, which has stirred plenty of controversy for the world cup.  I am not a soccer fan at all, primarily because soccer players are far to melodramatic when they get fouled and I have a tough time with the games lack of scoring.  It was entertaining to have the world cup game on and it was definitely the talk of the town for the next few days.

We put the boats in at the Wolf Creek bridge, Jay jumped in my boat while Chris and Jason jumped in with Joe.  Joe fished the near side of the river and I headed to the far side to do a few row backs.  The fishing was good right out of the gate and stayed productive all day long.  Jay landed several nice fish within sight of the boat ramp and then he caught a beautifully colored Brown just below the confluence with Prickly Pear Creek.  It took us several hours to get around the corner where we ate lunch across the river from California Island.  The nicer weather had us all in better spirits and the fishing was very good with the warm sun beating down on us.  We lost track of the other boat for a while and met back up in the channels below the Jackson’s Rock.  The highlight of the day was when we were both anchored shooting the breeze and I grabbed Jay’s rod, a sage TCX or something along those lines, to see how it cast.  I made a few cast and set the flies on a drift down the run.  As the flies drifted downstream of the boat my sindicator disappeared into the depths and I set the hook on a nice rainbow.  The fish immediately took for the skies and jumped several feet out of the water.  I knew that I had 2x tippet to the fly so I horsed the fish in and as it neared our boats the fish jumped for the skies again and landed right in the bow of Joe’s boat.  The fish landed on top of Jason’s rod and tangled his flies into a huge knot.  Joe unhooked the fish and released it back into the water.  I had to apologize because Joe had just gotten the flies retied and now he had to fix the mess that I made off Jason’s bugs.   We all had a great laugh and once Joe got the bugs retied we set off for the ramp at Spite Hill.  Day two was a great day and it was sure nice to sit in the sun rather than the rain from the day prior.

Day three was another great weather day with lots of sunshine and even warmer weather.  We once again put the boats in at the Craig ramp and I took Jason and Jay for the day while Chris jumped in with Joe.  We rowed the boats upstream of the ramp at Craig to give the run just above the ramp a try.  Jay landed a nice rainbow on our first drift and Joe was right behind us with a fish of his own.

First Fish of the day!

After a couple of drifts through the run I headed downstream to the islands that had produced the fish in the boat scene from the day before.  We managed to wrangle a few fish before arriving at the run and we made it about 10 feet into the run before Jay hooked a rainbow that put on a great display of acrobatics for us.  We fished the run for about an hour and landed a lot of fish before Joe and Chris met back up with us.  We did the row around in the run for a while longer and then set off to eat lunch across from Bernies House below the bridge.  As we rounded the corner there were a family hanging out in the shade of the lunch spot we wanted so we continued on and had lunch at the Stickney Creek Boat ramp.  We arrived just in time as the bachelor party was setting up at the house adjacent to the boat ramp.  The kegs were being unloaded and they pulled up a truck and unloaded a basketball hoop in the middle of the yard.  It was only noon but we knew that there were going to be some rowdy guys hanging out in Joe’s Bar later that evening.

After lunch we shoved off just as Peter Skidmore and Luke Andrews rounded the corner.  Joe and I fished along side both of them for an hour or so and we all wound up in a run just above the Dearborn River.  We had all pulled in to take turns in the run and for a quick BS session.  Peter pulled out and his client hooked a nice fish right at the head of the run.  His client now had an audience and as Peter pulled back into the shore the fish ran for the other boats.  Joe and Luke both pulled out their nets and it was now a race to see who could net the fish.  Joe had a stab at the fish but eventually Peter was able to get the fish into his net for his client.

Get the Net!

After the BS session we all spread out until we met up again as we all raced a lightning storm at the end of the day.  It was a race to the ramp and by the time we hit the Mountain Palace ramp the storm let up and we had a nice drive back to Craig.

The fishing was great and we had a fun time all three days.  Jason, Jay and Chris were great clients and both Joe and I are looking forward to fishing with them again next year.  Now it’s back to fight the high muddy waters around home.

If only there were sun in Montana to make Rainbow's

After two beautiful days we have returned to dreary wet weather.  This morning as my son Reece and I were heading to his summer camp, Reece said to me that the weather was miserable.  I told him that yes, we haven’t seen much sunshine this spring.  He then told me “The rain is just the clouds crying!”  With the amount of crying the clouds have been doing I think it is time that Mother Nature take a trip to the psychologist to get some help.  If Prozac, Valium or one of the other anti depressants doesn’t work then I would be happy to check her into the loony bin at the Warm Springs Hospital.  I typically love fowl weather and get a kick out of hearing everyone bitch and moan about it, but this weather pattern we have been is starting to wear on me a bit and I am longing for a bit of sunshine.

I hope that the forecasters are off a bit for the coming days since I will be on the Missouri River with some clients for the next four days.  The forecast does not look great and I hope that things change for the sake of the guys who will be traveling here to fish.  The fish won’t mind the cold, blowing and wet conditions since they are used to being wet, but the anglers may not enjoy it quite as much.  I am looking forward to being on the Mo again since all the other rivers in the area are blown but hopefully I will  be able to shed the waders at least one day and enjoy a bit of sun.

We will see you all when I return on Sunday, enjoy the weather and give Mother Nature a hug and tell her it will all be alright.

Forecast for Wolf Creek Montana.

-Day Forecast for ZIP Code 59648 Customize Your Icons!
Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
56° F | 45° F
54° F | 40° F
Chance of Rain
65° F | 43° F
Chance of a Thunderstorm
67° F | 47° F
Chance of a Thunderstorm
68° F | 47° F

100% chance of precipitation

80% chance of precipitation
Chance of Rain

20% chance of precipitation
Chance of T-storms

20% chance of precipitation
Chance of T-storms

40% chance of precipitation

Bozeman Ponds

Flows are starting to drop or at least level off on some of the local rivers but they are still to high and dirty for any legitimate fishing opportunities.  Reece had his first day of camp today, which only runs during the morning, so we headed to the pond next to our house for a little more bass and bluegill fishing.   The bright blue sunshine finally brought the fish up to the surface and fortunately Reece and Kylee begged and pleaded with me to bring along the fly rod.  After digging more worms from the garden the kids jumped on their bikes while Trico and I hoofed it to the ponds.  The nice weather brought folks out to the ponds to enjoy our first summer day of the year.  Kids were swinging on the rope swing, mother’s were sunbathing on the beach, dogs were fetching sticks and we even had the fortune to see to young high school sweethearts making out while they were in the pond.

"Young love, I think her father just pulled into the parking lot!"

The kids were eager to get the hot spot on the dock, but when we arrived at the pond there were already some other folks on the dock.  So we headed for the next best spot on the lake, near the rope swing.  There has been a nice size bass sitting on her nest near the rope swing and we have yet to succeed in irritating her enough to eat our offerings.  The kids were eager to get a shot at the bass and they both had their lines in the water before I made my way out onto the peninsula.   The small bass were all up on the surface and a few of them were sipping the occasional midge that was on the surface of the pond.  I only brought a few flies with me and in the past I have had success hanging a leech pattern off the back of a foam bodied fly.  I had a few new patterns to field test that my good friend Zach from Idylwilde flies sent out,  I choose one of the Orange bodied Chubby Chernobly’s that was in the care package.   It took exactly two cast to entice the first bass of the day to gulp the Chubby from the surface of the pond.

Montana Bass

Montana is not know for it’s Bass fishing and with our short summers the fish don’t have a chance to put on a bunch of weight.  The bass in the pond are mostly under 10 inches long but it is a riot watching them come to the fly.   Unlike many trout, the bass take their sweet old time deciding on whether or not they want to eat your fly.  They usually come charging to the fly and then stop dead in their tracks just before the fly.  They inspect the bug and  suddenly they attack the fly after they find a reason to eat it.  Sometimes it takes a small twitch of the fly and other times it is just a matter of time until they decide it is worth eating.  It is a ball to watch the small Bass and Bluegills, plus you never know what other sights you may see hanging out next to the Mall.

"Garden Hackle"

Schools out for the summer and Reece’s first camp doesn’t start for a week!  With all the free time on our hands there have been a lot of trips over the local pond to pursue some bass and bluegills.  Typically by now the fish have moved onto their nest where they become very aggressive to a well presented fly.  The cold wet weather still has the fish hanging out in the depths and beneath the dock so my attempts with a fly have been futile at best.   However Reece has been getting ready to take the BASS tour by storm with his slip bobber and a worm.  The wet weather has also prevented me from getting the garden in, which has been a great source for bait for the pond.  Reece and his buddies have dug a hole several feet deep with all the trips to the pond.  Our garden is full of dilly worms and the Bass and Blue Gills love them.

Hopefully the rivers will come into shape soon before we run out of worms in the garden.  The weather did finally warm up today and we didn’t see a drop of rain.  I managed to get some of the garden tilled and ready for my tomato plants which I hope will bear some more great fruit later this summer.  Hopefully the plants I choose from the nursery this year will behave and grow some normal looking fruit.  Last year I had a very perverted plant that produced a once in a lifetime fruit that must have been inspired by Ron Jeremy!

Phalic Fruit

The rumble of an american muscle car!

Over the years I have seen some very interesting vehicles pull up to boat ramps with boats in tow.  This ride pulled into the Craig Boat ramp after a day of floating on the Missouri River.  Some of my favorite rides over the years include  Ennis Guide Leon Thexton’s purple Chrysler Cordoba which he used for years on the upper Madison before trading it in for a truck.  This spring on the Bighorn, guide Kurt O was riding around in a pimped out mid 70’s Buick Station wagon.  I am not sure if he had fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror but it would certainly be fitting if he did.   Another one that stands out in my memory is the jacked up Ford Expedition that was seen running around on the Upper Madison a few years ago.

Are those Baha Mudders!

I don’t know where he got the 24 inch drop ball for his hitch but the boat did ride pretty well behind his rig.

Fishing guides are definitely a unique group of people who must be resourceful and get by on incomes that would qualify most of us for the federal food stamp program.  Vehicles take a beating throughout the course of a guide season and borrowing a buddies old beater while yours is in the shop will continue to bring pleasure to the rest of us when you pull into the lot.

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