Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who wants free stuff?

A common pathetic ploy to get more and new visitors to your blog is to host a give-away. I recently realized my fly stock is doing quite well for this late in the year; thus, here I am hosting a give-away!

Here's the deal: I'm going to repeat a backpacking/fishing trip on the Minam River that I did last year and you have to guess how many fish I will catch. It's that easy. The closest to the final number wins a box of flies! Yes, free stuff! No, not closest without going over, just closest.

Here is the prize. They'll be in a box, but the box sucks; the flies are the real prize.

The plan for this year is to drive out Thursday night (tomorrow), camp at the trailhead, and hike in the next morning. I expect to hike the 6 miles to the pass by well before noon, then hike another 4 or so miles down, stopping a few times along the way to dangle fake bugs into the water. I then have all day Sat, Sun, and Mon to fish. Some of this will be up higher in the headwaters stinging small fish left and right, but some time will also be spent further downstream fishing slightly bigger waters for possibly bigger fish including bull trout and a chance for some anadromous fish. I talked to an elk hunter out here last year who claimed that there can be some salmons in the river this time of year, so I may waste some time in search of those. Tuesday I have to hike out and will probably just spend a couple hours here or there fishing since I want to be back to the trailhead by early afternoon. In fact I will probably try fishing the other side of the pass since I didn't last year.

Now I should give some details from last year so you can make an even more educated guess. I caught 7 fish the day I hiked in, 20 fish the next day in the river, the day after I had decided to try fishing one of the lakes and managed to catch about a dozen, and that was the trip. The other bit of info to consider is I took my small dog, Ernie, along last year who was enough of a hindrance that he gets to go visit friends instead this year. So add a day and swap the lake fishing for more productive river fishing, and make a guess in the comments.

I'll take a look at the comments when I get back Tuesday night and declare the winner. Comments will be hidden until the winner is declared to avoid strategic guessing. Tie goes to the first guess.

Spread the word!

Monday, August 27, 2012


The best friend of an angler who has painfully failed to develop all their abilities is ADAPTATION. And adaptation is what some friends and I had to resort to on a recent trip to the Frying Pan river.

At the start it was just two of us. We started out below Ruedi Reservoir at a place that looked good, and below the res most everything is good. Or at least it's supposed to be. We both caught a fish or two in the first hour, but it was very very slow. We hit a ton of what looked like extremely productive water but caught only a couple fish here and there. Not exactly what we were hoping for and not what we had experienced last year.

But hope remained alive because there had been an epic green drake hatch here last year that started right around dusk and that had left us fishing well past the point where we could no longer make out our flies on the water. We stuck around below the res for this epic hatch, and cousin John joined us right at dusk. But nothing was happening. There were a few fish here and there rising every 10 or 15 minutes, but nothing active enough to fish to. And when we got to the point where flies were no longer visible we chalked it up to a loss. Back to camp it was for a regroup, some beer, some whiskey, and some epic shooting stars. At least something was epic.

The plan for the next day? Actually nothing different than our original plan. Which was to head up above the reservoir to an area we had hit last year with moderate success and a ton of fun. It's a really cool and scenic area that requires some very technical casting and approach, but fly selection isn't as important. That's exactly my kind of fishing. So a short drive, a nice hike down to the river, and we were off to the races, and all three of us caught one in the first thirty minutes or so. And after those three fish it was pretty much over.

For the remainder of the day until early afternoon we struggled to find many more. If memory serves me right, we each got another or a couple more, but not much. Not what we had been hoping for, so despite the nice scenery and lazy time spent hanging out on the bank, we called it in the early afternoon and decided to head downstream quite a ways to another spot we had had luck the year before. On our way down there we talked to a couple locals who had been fishing just downstream of us. I am happy to report that despite our dismal success, the report from these two locals made us feel pretty good because they had chalked up snake eyes.

The next spot was a higher gradient section of river in a steeper canyon. For those of you not in the know, higher gradient means less need for being stealthy because the water is much more broken up. For some reason I find this stuff to be easy to fish. Just toss your flies in every single pocket of slow or non-moving water. EVERY pocket. If you can manage a dead drift you WILL catch fish. This section was a little more effective for me, although I think John and Brady struggled a bit.

We fished there until early evening, then headed back down below the res in hopes of a better green drake hatch. There were some fish rising, and a bit more than the night before, but it was pretty slow again. We all picked up a couple fish and had a good time, but memories of last year continued to tug on our hearts desires. We had a good time, as you can see from the picture here, but we weren't hooking fish left and right. You can't win them all.

As an aside, the picture here is a great testament of point and shoot cameras. I hit the snap button early because I could see this fish was still a bit green and I wanted to get a pic before it got away. This is what I ended up with. I would say it worked out for the best.

As you have gathered, this trip just wasn't panning out as well as we hoped. With another only sort of decent day (am I allowed to call a 10+ fish day "sort of decent"??) behind us we began to discuss what to do for the next day around the campfire that night. The plan we ended up with was to try fishing directly below the res if it wasn't too crowded for a while, then head back over independence pass and maybe fish some high mountain streams. With another upcoming day on the brain we all headed to bed and dreams of the fish we didn't manage to catch that day.

The next day was no surprise, if you've been to the Pan before on a weekend day. About one million people below the dam combat fishing shoulder to shoulder. We each had a section in mind to try, and they were all taken by at least three anglers so we said screw this and headed to Aspen. After a quick fill-up at exorbitant gas prices in Aspen we went up and over the pass and started looking for a place to fish the high mountain stream that flowed down the other side. We stopped at what looked like as good a spot as any, pulled out the rods, slathered on some sunscreen to cover the burns we had already attained, and headed down to the water.

It took about one cast each to sting a fish and they more or less kept coming. There were a ton of fish in a river you could almost jump across; it was pretty crazy. And I love brookies. They are just about the prettiest trouts out there. We fished this section for a while but were a bit hemmed in by marsh up and downstream, so eventually drove a few miles downstream and did it all over again with the same results.  In just a few hours in the morning I racked up something like 20 fishes, albeit all well under 10 inches. But there's something fun about catching a bunch of little fish from very small water where you have to be fairly stealthy and manage a good presentation. This is my kind of technical fishing. What is not my kind is what we already passed up that morning; well educated fish that will only take a perfect fly choice presented in the perfect way even as you stand directly over the fish. Give me the tough cast under an overhanging bush to a wary fish who is gone if you get close, please.

After those two spots we headed on down to give the Ark a few hours of our time, which produced about as well as the Pan had the days before. A couple fish, but slow in general. I guess the fish in Colorado are beginning to feel the drought. I hope they can all make it and I look forward to the big hearty fish in the coming years....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

I don't know why, but something about having a completely full fly box leaves me with warm fuzzy feelings inside.  And multiple full fly boxes provide even more warm fuzzy feelings.  Even the spare box is full (top left 2)!

In order to share the wealth, I might be having a fun contest here shortly....stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


If anyone were to look in my refrigerator at the moment.... well, let me show you:

Yes, I like beer. Yes, I drink beer. And as any true alcoholic will tell you, no, I'm not an alcoholic. I just like beer, and apparently a lot. Or maybe I'm in need of an intervention...

In all seriousness, though, this is a not so negative side effect of the recent overzealousness in my brewing efforts. I've been storing my overstock in a spare bedroom that naturally keeps quite cool, but apparently not as cool as I thought. When I arrived back home from some recent travels I noticed a strong beer smell emanating from that spare bedroom. After dropping my luggage in my room I went to check things out and found the remnants of what I can only assume was an IED that someone must have snuck into one of my bottles. When the room heated up a bit during our recent Portland heatwave, the IED must have gone off. I now have broken glass and beer foam coating the room. The glass sucks but is easy to pick up, and I can think of worse substances than beer to have a room coated with. So all in all no real harm done.

Fortunately the explosion didn't take out any of my other stock, and as you can see I've gone to storing the overstock in my fridge for the remaining duration of summer. Who needs food anyways?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bighorn Post #5 (finally)

In my defense, although it might seem like it's been six months since I took this trip, it has actually only been three. So get off my back! Good things to those who wait and all that baloney.

The past couple posts regarding this ancient trip were a little difficult to write because I didn't totally remember everything that happened. This one's a bit easier because it is only regarding a single very eventful day, and the last one of a long trip that remains the freshest in my mind full of cobwebs. Thank god!

Why was this one memorable and eventful? Because I caught more fish this day than any others, while fishing the least and was the end of a great trip. We were floating the river again and after a bit of a heated conversation I agreed to a crazy plan to fish 3 to B. That means 3 mile boat access to the B access (13 mile). I didn't want to do this because yesterday we had floated the full 13 and after about 6 miles or so there was so much moss in the water that it was nearly impossible to fish. Brady and John assured me that they had passed over an excellent spot that everyone else misses because of the quarter mile of stagnant water leading up to it, so I acquiesced despite my concerns. The pro to the moss's con was that we could get out ahead of a large corporate party that was going to be on the river and get to some good spots before the guides snatched them all up.

The float down to "the spot" was pretty uneventful and direct. No slowing down to actually fish a bunch of good stuff, just rowing straight there. Once we got there it looked decent to me, but nothing special. Nonetheless we all got rigged up and started fishing and within the first 15 minutes, all four of us in the first boat had hooked into fish. We continued to fish this long run with regular success and eventually some fish began to rise so there was additional fun to be had with dry flies, which was nice.

But it was one of those spots where you just catch too many fish too regularly, and after seven days of this we were getting impatient after an hour or two. What to do? Go carp fishing in the little pond that just happened to be on the island across from where we were fishing. So we grabbed my carping rod and a camera and went for a nice stroll. Not long thereafter we found some cruising carp and I was up. A quick cast out past one, strip, strip, strip, to get the fly right in front of him, wait.... The carp makes a nearly imperceptible dipping motion as if to suck something in, and SET! Carp on! He takes off like a freight train. Two seconds later he spits the hook, and carp off.  :(

Now it's Brady's turn. It took a little more effort to find another catchable fish, but we do, Brady gets a hook into him and this one doesn't succeed in spitting the hook. We proceed to follow the carp up and down the bank for the next 12 minutes before finally and successfully beaching him; a bigger net would have been nice. 

This pretty nice sized fish satiates our need for something other than trout for a bit and we head back to the river for a celebratory beer. Boat number two had arrived and the run we had been fishing was mostly taken up, plus I was still needing something different, so I grabbed my nymphing rod and walked downstream to a big and deep eddy. It was a very neat spot where a strong current dropped off a very steep cut and swirled back around on itself, essentially creating a 30x20 foot pit that was probably at least six feet deep with a very sharp seam.

After a little trial and error I discovered it was extremely difficult to get a good drift through this spot, which isn't surprising given that I was fishing over an upstream current out to super fast moving water with some dead water in between. This is always an issue in eddy's. The fly line gets stuck in the fast water or slow water while your flies are in the other and the flies get dragged around unnaturally underwater. It was also so deep and short that it was nearly impossible to get the flies to the bottom before reaching the end of the hole. But the good part was the seam and fish weren't too far away. At least 15 of them just hanging out in plain sight in the dead water looking at the food train ripping by in the current. Eventually I discovered what a lot of people already know and what I had been aware of but never really paid much attention to. Tight-line nymphing or Czech nymphing. I apologize for my ignorance if there is some difference that I am unaware of. But this is where you toss your flies upstream but not very far, then keep all your line and leader off the water surface and straight down to your flies which you can hold at a certain height (just above bottom). A tight line between rod tip and flies, hence the name.

I put on two of the biggest weights I had to get down fast, tossed the bugs about 20 feet upstream directly into the seam, and by the time they had floated downstream a few feet they had sunk all the way to the bottom where I could hold them up just a bit and deliver them straight to the fish's mouths. I figured this method would be more productive, but I had no idea how much better. Employing normal nymph tactics I had been having a pretty good time of it catching a fish every 20 casts or so. Then I caught one on my very first cast tight-lining. Sweet! Then another on the second! And the third!

Wait, there's no way it was that good, you might say. Actually it was. After three in a row I had a couple casts where I didn't catch one. But I continued catching fish after fish after fish on every second or third cast until I had caught at least 10. By this point I was actually feeling a little bad because there was a father and son fishing across river from me, and I saw the two of them catch a single fish while I was there. I could also see the kid out of the corner of my eye watching me with a slight look of disgust on his face just about every time I hooked a fish, and I know how impatient youngsters can be.  To that kid: I'm not usually this good, I promise. After catching the 10th or so in 15 or 20 minutes I just strung up my rod and walked away with a big stupid grin on my face.

I fished this hole another time or two later in the day with nearly as good of luck. We also found some fish rising heavily in the afternoon and had a good time feeding them dry flies, which they were happy to stupidly consume.

In all this time we saw only two boats drift by through out channel, whereas there were boats drifting by in the main channel nearly constantly. That can give you an idea of how underutilized it was. But the second boat deserves note. It was a big blow up float raft full of kids and two adult dads. They proceeded to go right over the run we were fishing, which was acceptable since there's nowhere else to go, then they decided to beach the raft about twenty feet downstream of our boat and between two of our guys fishing. Not acceptable, but tolerable since they were just some humyucks out to mess around.

We spoke cordially for a bit and found out they had left a hatchet or something here the day before and were just going to get it. Ok, perfectly acceptable. Then while the one goes off to look for their hatchet the other grabs his rod and starts fishing right next to one of our guys. Now we're back to unacceptable, but we figured it was just going to be for a few minutes so things didn't get heated. Yet... Things began to get heated when one of our guys decided to head downstream, so walked back along the trail into the bushes to stumble upon the guy who was "looking for the hatchet." Instead of searching for a hatchet he was in the middle of taking apart one of our rods, which we had left leaning back against the bushes and that he must have grabbed on his way to the trail. This is where things went from annoying to combative. I wasn't there so I don't know what our guy said or did and don't even remember which one of us it was, but he got the rod back and the other guy headed to their boat. There were some words exchanged, mainly from our side (understandably), and they headed on downstream. At least the ordeal gave us something to talk about, but how stupid do you have to be to try and steal something from a group of six 30-something guys when it's two kind of old guys and a bunch of little kids?

But back to the fishing... We continued to fish this spot until late enough to row out, and row out we did, under gale force winds. Normally rowing out means rowing downstream, but in these conditions we were actually rowing across stream in a feeble attempt to stay in the middle of the river. I appreciate chad's efforts and know I would not have done any better even though we ended up on the bank more than once. At least it didn't rain, as promised by our own personal weatherman, Tyler.

But the wind did blow away one of our tents back at camp. It was sadly, but not surprisingly the 25 year old Eureka tent that got blown back through a bunch of thorny bushes getting completely ruined in the ordeal. It had had a good life so we gave it a nice burial. You can see it in the background here. It's upside down and back in those bushes behind the tree.

We had another nice sunset campfire dinner along with some beer and whiskey and presented John with the big fish prize of a bottle of whiskey and a ridiculously big cigar. In all a great trip and I again apologize for not sharing it with everyone for 3 months. Life is busy even though life is obviously quite good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lights Out

On what seems like my thirtieth trip back to Denver/Boulder since moving away two and a half years ago, things did not go quite according to plan.  But sometimes deviations from the plan end up being better than the plan itself, and beg the question: “to plan or not to plan.” The Plan was to fly to Denver on Tuesday night, fish Wednesday morning on my own, then pick up friend and fishing partner Brady from work and drive up to the Frying Pan Wednesday evening. That would give us all day Th-Sat to fish, as well as most of Sunday.  A full three and a half days of fishing a great river!

But Lady Luck would have none of it. Brady found out he had a mandatory work function Thursday night. Boo. However, when fate ruins your plans it is better to think of it as an opportunity to make even better plans!  A glass half full sort of thing.

So instead of fishing something close by on Wednesday before driving into the mountains, my plans changed to taking a full day in my old haunts, then meeting some friends for dinner in Boulder, then fishing again most of Thursday.  

And so off to Walker Ranch (SBC) I was not too early on Wednesday. Part of the reason I like this place is it’s a nice one mile hike down to the water, then you get to enjoy an even nicer hike down along the river for about half a mile before the trail peters out. I walked down to the river and downstream as far as the path goes to my normal starting point. Then I decided I had all day and went just a bit further down to hit some extra water I don't usually hit.

It's really not that important, but there are a couple setups I have used to fish this river, and so far they have pretty much all been equally successful.  I’ve used P-Adams with a PMD or Baetis emerger, or with a P-Tail or Caddis dropper. I’ve fished hoppers and stimulators as the lead dry.  All attract and catch fish.  The only downside to using hoppers and stimulators is it’s tougher to catch the fish that fall into the “tiny”catergory, but that’s not much of a downside. But as I said it's not that important because I'm fairly well convinced that anything reasonable will work. This time I opted for a stimulator with P-Tail dropper. And my decision was vindicated after a couple catches and after seeing a few very large stoneflies on the water. 

This is the sort of river on which I generally expect to have 20-30 fish days in the summer once the flows drop below 150cfs (which they have), but the 20-30 fish are typically in the 6-8 inch range with a few nicer 10-14 inchers thrown into the mix as a bonus. This trip out was a pleasant surprise, even considering my expectations! I didn’t count, but in the six hours I fished I would bet a substantial sum that the fish total was north of 50. But that honestly wasn’t the pleasant surprise part. Rumor has it that THEY have established a new higher minimum winter flow, and it seems to have been excellent for the fish population. The pleasant surprise was that the majority of the fish I caught were in the 10-12 inch class, which probably increased the average fish size by 2-3 inches.  That is according to my random sampling of the dumbest fish in the river, of course. The fish were also extremely aggressive. It was fun to see the fish attack the fly, swim across a seam to grab it, shoot out of the water to gobble it up, all that stuff. They were HUNGRY and BIG.

The fishing report said this river is fishing at 5 out of 5 stars.  It is wrong.  This river is fishing 6 out of 5 stars.

In summary,









Sunday, August 5, 2012

Take life by the horns

I often hear people complaining about how life got in the way of them doing this or that fun thing. "Oh, I just had a baby, so I can't go on your week long trip." Or "work is too busy for me to take a couple days off next week." Or "another fishing trip? We just went on one!"

Well, I'm here to tell you that you should take life by the horns, tell it who's boss, and go do what you want.  Baby in the other room? Forget about it. Your boss says no to your vacation request? Screw him. If you want to do it, do it.

Take me for example. I was recently planning another fishing outing in Colorado. Yes, another fishing out. Surprise surprise. Last year I went out to the Frying Pan river in August and had an excellent time, so I figured we should do it again this year. Thus the planning. But then something came up at work. No! Famous last words. We had a very important client who was planning on coming for a visit on the exact days I was going to be gone. Damn!

So I told this client, change your schedule. Sure there are three of you and you have booked flights and planned for this internally, but hey, I need to fish.  End of story.

In the immortal words of Eric Cartman, I do what I want!

BTW, the real ending to that story is the clients had some internal problems and had to change their schedule. But I like to think that it was my sheer will that caused my schedule to free back up so that I didn't have to cancel this outing. Here I come!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Scotch Scotch Scotch!

This will be mainly a picture post. Because everyone loves pictures! And I am too lazy to actually write up a story.

I was in Missouri over the weekend for a family reunion. No, no, don't worry. Family reunions with my extended family are actually quite fun. Everyone is very easy going and everyone gets along. Especially (or perhaps even) when alcohol is involved. And it usually is.

One night we had a scotch tasting, and I'll be honest and admit that I was looking forward to this possibly more than seeing everyone. I'm sorry family, but it might be true. It sounded like a ton of fun.

The lineup was quite impressive. The whiskys were separated between Islay malts and others. For those of you who aren't big scotch fans, Islay malts are the ones that taste like burning. Of the "others" we had two blended (typically cheaper) scotches and four single malts. The blended whiskys were: Johnny Walker Blue (very not cheap) and Dewars (very cheap). The single malts were: Glenmorangie 12yr, Balvenie double wood, Oban, and Highland Park 16yr. The Islay malts were Smokehead, Laphroaig 10yr, Caol Ila 10yr,  Lagavulin 16yr (thanks for reminding me Darren), and the infamous Ardbeg 10yr. And for some reason someone threw in an Irish whiskey.

The lineup:

And yes that is a 15year old boy looking longingly and almost hidden by someone's arm.

The festivites begin.  Note the guy on the right.

So the deal is, when drinking whisk(e)y you don't add ice. It kills the aroma. BUT, contrary to conventional wisdom, it IS appropriate to add some water. The added water kills the potentially overwhelming alcohol so that you can actually taste the rainbow (of flavors). Don't add too much water, just a little, which is quite hard to get out of a pitcher like this when drinking tiny taster pours.

Caption: "Oh, this whisky is beginning to go to my head."

No, no, no, Matt. You don't drink straight from the bottle. Not at this point in the night. Save it for later.

I'm not so sure the kid in the olive shirt is of age either. Looks pretty young to me.

 Remember that guy from the second pic? Here you go:

Yes, plastic infused scotch. I don't know that it tastes that good, but I also don't know that someone wearing a viking helmet would notice the difference. I also wonder where exactly that helmet has been.

Toward the end of the night things were going way downhill. The woman in the center here was up standing on that picnic table not long hereafter. We still don't know why. But it didn't last long since she instantly kicked a glass off and it broke on the ground. I also couldn't understand much of what she was saying.

All in all it was an incredibly fun evening. I have never had such a wonderful array of drink in my life!

But perhaps if you're still with me you would like my thoughts? Well, I had had just about all these scotches before, but never all at once. Most of my previous thoughts were reinforced.

Balvenie Double Wood is the best "normal" scotch and an incredible value at $50-60.

Glenmorangie (pronounced orange-ee) is my brand, but I don't usually drink this one, rather the next level up of which there are 3 varieties. They are quite a bit better but I've been disappointed lately in the increased price. I wouldn't actually suggest this one.

Johnny Walker Blue, at $200/bottle is a rip off.  Sure, it's very smooth, but there really isn't that much taste to it. Not for me.

Highland Park is good, but a bit sweet for my taste. It's finished in a sherry cask, which is where it gets it's sweetness. I say take it out of that cask sooner.

Oban is good, but most people know that. It's pricey too at $75/bottle.

Michael Collins Irish whiskey was better than bourbon, but not as good as any of the scotches except....

Dewars: put it in coke or sprite or something. Please don't drink this one straight. Doing so might kill you.

Smokehead has a terrible marketing department. The packaging looks like some Americanized liquor, but I have news for them. People who buy scotch aren't looking for that. If you want to sell to those people your price point is around $15-20/bottle which I'm pretty sure you can't hit. Package it in a more classical style and all of a sudden people will take you seriously. Like they should. It's surprisingly good.

Laphroaig has excellent taste but is just a tad harsh on the finish. Not surprising for a 10yr and I can get beyond the finish so I really liked it.

Caol Ila is good, but nothing special.

Lagavulin 16yr is very good, but my tastebuds were starting to go by the time I tried it. I suspect it has a lot more smoky peaty flavor that I noticed.  Very smooth though.

Ardbeg is a beast and is usually one of my favorites. Unfortunately for me it was the last one I tried, and my taste buds were completely nuked. I could hardly taste it. Under normal circumstances it is not for the light of heart. It tastes like campfire mixed up with used bloody bandaids all tossed in the sea to fester and then bottled. Sound tasty? It is, I promise.

I swear there was another Islay, but I can't think of it. Maybe there was too much scotch that night for me to remember correctly.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Could it be?

On my way out the door this morning I noticed a bug that had attached itself to the siding. And this bug sure  that looked familiar. There's obviously no perspective here, but it was nearly 2 inches long. I'm no entomologist, so I could be wrong, but it sure looks like the fabled salmon fly. Do I need to go hit the rivers with size 4 dry flies this weekend???

Bighorn River Post #4

It looks like this series is going to be a five parter, and the best is yet to come! Unfortunately the best is not this one, so you should stop reading now and wait for the next post. Maybe I shouldn't tell you that though....too late.

Anyway to remind you, the first weekend we had a group of eight people. It was cold and we bailed on camping for heated cabins, which were quite nice. Then there were four of us for a day, after which some more peeps came out. By then we had more or less figured out the river and were catching quite a few fish and enjoying nice weather.

The next big change to the group dynamic was the addition of my brother and dad, and we went back to floating the river on boats. An important reminder from the previous day is that we had had lights out success at split island. Now we had boats and I considered taking my dad and brother there immediately. It would have been smart and I could have gotten them on a bunch of big fish right off. In the end, though, I didn't. Something seemed wrong about fishing the same spot so much. Then again it would have been nice to get them on a bunch of nice fish immediately. Instead we picked a random spot and gave it our best, but had no luck right off.

After a quick walk up and down the bank I found a couple spots that looked good and put my dad and brother in them, after fishing them a bit first of course. I had to check the holes out and make sure they were good, of course! Dad and bro both got on some fish here, which lightened my load for the rest of the day. And it was good to see them not struggling, getting frustrated, and/or bored. It was also good fun for us to net each others fish because it seemed like at least someone had one on every 10 minutes or so.

We floated and fished all day, periodically meeting up with the other two boats to exchange info, food, beer, and the like. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable morning and afternoon, as my dad can attest to, although I'm not so sure a PBR can makes a great pillow. We fished, but honestly not that hard. We drank, but not that hard there either. Mostly we just enjoyed the nice day and nice company. Everyone would take turns dutifully wetting a line while everyone else sat on the bank, chatted, and drank beers. I think the festivities on the bank were actually winning over those in the river for a good part of the day. It wasn't really what I was aiming for for my dad and bro, but it worked and I went with it.

A little later in the afternoon we moved down stream to another place because no one had been catching much, probably because no one was fishing much. We headed to a spot where we had had luck in previous years. It worked out just fine and we started catching. Then someone made the mistake of telling me that they had seen a bunch of carp get spooked from a hole a ways upstream, and I immediately went in search. It still seems silly to me to go after carp when you're on one of the best trout streams in the country, but I just couldn't help myself. Surprisingly I found the huge sewer trout and managed to get a hook into him and after a decent fight landed him. He looked a bit sickly and fought like it to so I shouldn't take too much credit, but it was a cool experience.

Next up people were hanging out in the boat not fishing again so I wandered over to take a gander and drink a beer, but I noticed a bunch of fish sitting off a seam right there. Literally right there about 20 feet from the boat. I can sit on the shore and not fish, or sit in a boat and chat and not fish, but not when a pod of fish is sitting right there in front of me. So I dutifully unstrung my rod and tossed my bugs into the seam and fish on! I pulled a couple out of that seam then let it rest and my brother Isaac jumped in to give it a whirl. He managed to catch a few as well. Then someone else jumped in and by that time the hole was pretty dead, so it got left alone for a while. But just to show everyone who was boss, after 30 minutes or so I grabbed my rod, went back and tossed the bugs into the seam and in one cast had another fish on. After the release I went back to the boat with a smile on my face and sorta laughing inside. The guys who were there at the moment were mostly newbies and didn't realize that hole had had time to reset and thought I was some kind of god (that might be a bit of a stretch) by jumping out there and catching a fish in one cast when they had just been shut down. I should note that it is here I began to learn how tight-line nymphing is sometimes monumentally effective...but more to follow in the next post on that.

The rest of the day faded just like the sun dropping behind the threatening late afternoon thunderheads, and we all headed back to camp for good food and booze.

The next day was pretty much more of the same so there isn't a ton to tell and I don't have many pictures so I won't draw it out.  One item of note is that Isaac and I found a hole where a million suckers and carp were hanging out, and we fished it for a while with just a little bit of success. They didn't seem to be too hungry. Nonetheless we hung out there for a while and my dad was actually the big winner of that area because he managed to find a good hole and pulled a number of nice trout out of the river. Eventually, though, we moved on down the river because we had a long way to float. As always when we decide to float the first 13 miles rather than just the first 3, we find ourselves at mile 4 at about 6 in the evening and we have to rush and row out the rest of the way to the boat ramp to get there at a reasonable hour. 

At the boat ramp the law was waiting for us with handcuffs and six-shooters at the ready. This was the first time I had been checked in MT suprisingly, and it brings my grand total of fishing license checks up to five if I'm remembering them all now. Yes five. I fish somehwere around 50 days a year and have been doing so for round abouts 8 years now and I have been stopped 5 times. Anyway, the law checked us out, found everything in order, chatted with us for a bit, then we were on our way. Oh, and an interesting fact we discovered was that the law had been there since noon and we were the first group to keep any fish.  Let's hear it for catch and release (except we were the group that didn't...)!

And that was it for dad and brother. It was a whirlwind trip for them, but they had a good time and hopefully will be planning to come back next year, maybe for more days so they can catch the epic days next time.