Food for Thought
Why do we carry the Hydro Flask bottles and growlers? Because they are the best in quality and customer service on the market. To start they're constructed with high quality steel in a double walled vacum design so that liquids stay hot for up to 12 hours and stay cold for up to 24 hours. They are BPA free and the inside has curved corners so you dont get that yesterdays latte flavor stuck in your mug.
Dealing With Dirty Water
Runoff season is here. The Yellowstone hit 15,000 cfs this morning, and all the local rivers are experiencing some kind of high water. In some cases like the Madison system the high water is still pretty fishable. In other places like the Gallatin and the Yellowstone, it’s chocolate milk.
Runoff can be a bummer. A lot of our good local water isn’t fishing. But don’t fret, there are still lots of places to go. If you do your research you can almost always find clear water. The Missouri is only two and a half hours away too… If you do find yourself fishing in high, dirty water in the coming weeks, here’s a couple tips to help you out.
Fighting the Wind
t’s been a really windy past few days here in Bozeman. All over Southwest Montana in fact. Spring is always a windy season but it seems like this year its been especially breezy. The wind can definitely put a damper on your day’s fishing but there are some ways you can get around it.
Find Shelter on the River
This is perhaps the most obvious answer, but it can be overlooked. Just because it’s windy in town doesn’t mean it will be windy all over the river. Often times you can find a quiet corner on the water, or some trees or bushes to provide some kind of shelter from the wind. Even on the Upper Madison, which can be notoriously windy, you can find braids that will be calm and peaceful.
Use the Right Gear
Using the right rod and line can make a world of difference on those windy days. A fast action rod loaded with a heavier line like a RIO Gold or Grand or an SA GPX will cast into the breeze a whole lot better than a slow or moderate action rod loaded with a dry fly presentation line. Heavier rod weights are often called for. A 6 weight rod will handle breeze much better than a 4 weight. Why do you think an 8 weight is the universal saltwater rod? It isn’t the size of flies or the fish, but the wind that dictates that.
Indicator fishing can be an incrdible way to maximize your catch with trout but it doesn't have to stop with the bobber. There are a few fun ways to effectively fish wet flies without a strike indicator
First the czech nymphing style is a very popular technique developed by the eastern european competition fly fishing teams which utilizes a long leader and one or two weighted flies. Tungsten beads are a great way to have a heavy fly that will sink fast and easy to cast on a light rod. We also like tungsten flies tied on a jig hook to help reduce snags and get a really solid hook set.
Indication of a Strike
Lot's of different strike indicators on the market right now and a great tool to effectively fish our area rivers when the fish aren't rising to dry flies. Here are a few benefits and different hacks that we like to use and consider to help make your nymphing game more dialed in.
Depth is a huge thing nymphing so being able to easily change your indicator to fly distance will determine where your flies sit in the water column. Typical rule of thumb for fly to bobber length is 1-1.5 times the depth of water your fishing. So say if your fishing a hole that is about 6 ft deep a fly to bobber distance of 6-9ft is good. Like everything in fly fishing there are exceptions to the rule so sometimes you can go more or less from there. In the winter the trout like to hug the bottom and dont move to far to eat so getting down deep will put your flies in an easy place for them to eat the fly, like off the tip of their nose. Summertime will sometimes have the fish sitting in shallow water or more aggressively grabbing flies so a short leashed distance of 5ft will help detect the strike quicker.
Luck and Living In Bozeman
This post has a bit of a more personal note than most I’ve written on here, but it carries a message everyone that lives here and loves this place should take to heart. Montana is a hard place to leave. Really hard. I’ve done it a couple of times now and always I keep coming back. One of my best friends left last fall for a girl in Michigan and last week he came back.
He loves to fish but out in Michigan he had spent a grand total of four or five outings. What did we do the first day he was home? Three hours off the plane and we were sitting in our friend and fishing guide Ken Stock’s boat on the Lower Madison. On the drive over he kept saying how big the mountains looked, how green it all was, and how beautiful everything seemed.
Out on the river the first fish he caught was a little rainbow that I doubt was pushing the double digits. But the smile on his face said it all. That one fish meant a lot to him and the size really didn’t matter at all. He was happy to be home.
First off what would be a benefit of crimping your barb or fishing barbless hooks? The most obvious to me is that in fly fishing it is a culture based around the beauty of a challenge between humans and fish. All the game really consists of is fooling an animal to believe what you offer is a sustainable prey and the victory of conquering that beast. I would say this is a primary focus over fishing to provide yourself food from your catch in fly fishing. Since catch and release is not intended to kill or harvest the game often the satisfaction comes from the victory over your adversary. A barbed hook is harder for a fish to be prematurely released (how embarrassing) and designed in the anglers favor especially if he intends to eat his catch. This is certainly contingent on a number of factors such as setting the hook so the it penetrates past the barb and other issues while playing the fish, jumps, head shakes, trees, corral, other anglers in the way for example.
The Mother's Day Caddis hatch is still happening on the Madison. The main bulk of the hatch is moving up river, and now the front of it is up in Bear Trap a ways. If you're willing to walk up the canyon a bit you can get ahead of it where the fish are still eating dries with reckless abandon. From the bridge to Black's Ford the fish are pretty full and are being a lot more picky about what they are eating. Some days they want the dry and some days they want the emerger. Bring both with you and be willing to keep changing it up until you find what they need.
The caddis have moved up onto the Upper as well. They haven't quite showed up in the numbers they have on the Lower, but they are out! The bugs up there seem to be larger than those on the Lower, about a size 14. Dark olive, black and peacock caddis are working the best. The natural bugs are pretty dark. Our customer and friend Ed brought in a caddis from the Upper this morning and we matched it up with one of the special ties from the shop:
Catch and release
Explaining fly fishing and the practice of catch and release to those who don't fish is kind of like trying to show your parents how to use an iPhone. Often you may hear upon return from a fly fishing trip "where are all the fish?" I usually answer slightly confused "well they're in the river" before it occurs to me that most people see fishing as a way of harvesting food and don't understand why you'd go fishing just to let them all go.
Fast and Easy Wader Repairs
It was the first morning of the week last September up in Alaska. I cleared the frost off my jet boat the best I could and loaded up my excited clients. After a chilly thirty-minute boat ride up river, we were at our morning run. Silver salmon were breaking the surface all around as I led my guests through the water and into position. It didn’t take long for one of them to start complaining about a numb leg. We walked to shore, and sure enough the lower part of his left wader had about a gallon of icy water in it… Long story short, I stripped down and switched waders with him for the day instead of going back to the Lodge and missing the morning bite.