Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Montana Vacation

Jen and I got back late Saturday night from a week on the Bighorn River in Montana.  We had a great time with a nice group of fellow fly fisherman, about 16 or so.  The trip was booked through Scott Struif at The Fly Angler
On the way out to the Bighorn, we stopped in Miles City, MT Friday night and I gave Jen the nickle tour of the town starting with a bite to eat at the Chop House, and then the favorite saloons in the area.  Jen got the whole "cowboy bar" experience with tin ceilings, huge wood bars and lots of cowboy hats.  But the streak was broken, it was the first time we hadn't been invited out to someone's ranch to shoot prairie dogs, not that I ever accepted but it always seemed to happen out there.  I am glad we went out because the local road construction crew had decided to use the Motel 6 that we stayed at as their party grounds.  They were whooping it up pretty good all night long. 

We arrived at Cottonwood camp on Saturday and settled in for the week.  I talked to Thor and gathered a little intel on what the current fishing conditions had been, what was working and what we thought would work the next day.  The predominant hatches were hoppers, black caddis and tan mottled caddis as we had expected before coming out there.  

The week was a hot one, we had two days out there that broke the 100 degree mark, but the evenings cooled down enough so that everyone could spend time outside the "Condo" sharing stories and hanging out.  A number of former Berger Brothers employees and Alaskan guides were in our group, so we learned a bit about the interesting times they had and people they had met back in the day.  I bumped into Jim and Sharon who were out for a few days of fishing and was able to do a little catching up with them since I had last seen them.  And if you are reading this ANDERSON, Jim says he is into oil now and is becoming an "Oil Magnate."  Jen, Peter and I did spend one evening at the River Run Dining Room attached to the Bighorn Trout Shop, a fine dining establishment that served us a wonderful meal, and met a very nice guest that had also been fishing the river for the week.  It was his 27th year doing so! 

The hopper action turned up on the second half of the week, while the dry fly fishing was slow.  Big Morrish hoppers and the green or tan Rainys Hopper patterns proved to be very effective.  Indicator nymph fishing turned out to be the most productive for the week with the Tan or Grey Ray Charles #18 being the most consistent producer, along with the hothead tan sowbug.  This was the first time I had been in MT where the size of the fish caught didn't live up to their billing.  We averaged 14-16" fish, while on past trips I've caught plenty in the 20s".
One day during the week we were invited to join a small group led by one of the former Alaskan guides, Kelly, to drive out to the Tongue river to fish for cutthroats and that made for a nice break in the week as well as adding another species of fish caught to my fish list; bringing me to a total of 42 different species I've caught.  Though the drive was longer than expected (with more road construction), it offered the opportunity for us to add WY to the list of states we've fished in this year. 

The place we went to was very scenic and had plenty of fish to be caught.  It was a crazy sensory overload for me! There were elk, moose, cows, high valley's cold stream water, and lots of different hatches all going on at once.  It was your classic advertisement out of some glossy outdoors magazine that makes you day dream.  I caught mostly cuts and rainbows, Jen also caught a cutbow on top of that.  Peter pulled out the Tongue Grand Slam, catching cuts, rainbows, cutbow, and a brookie! I hope to go back to that river again someday.  

Jen and I finished up the week on the Bighorn with numbers of fish caught significantly better then the first half.  On the down side, Kelly's truck broke down, and had "forced" some of the boys to extend there vacation until parts came in on Monday for it to be fixed.  I bet they are coping with the situation pretty well. 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jen does it again!

Last weekend Jen and I headed up to Peter's cabin to meet up with boys.  The boys being the same ones I went fly fishing in Mexico with a couple years back (Peter, Mike, and David).  With some planning and working around everyone's schedule we were able to get everyone together for a mid summer bass weekend.

 Everyone arrived Friday evening and we were all energized and had some catching up to do.  It was great to see everyone together.  Some beverages and stories were exchanged and few hours later we had a "game plan" formulated for the next day and then we headed off to bed.

 Saturday we loaded up the canoe and removed the motor from the john boat after breakfast, then headed over to our launch on the Chippewa river.  Jen, Mike and David started down river in the John boat, while Peter and I got our lines wet just up river for a few minutes before drifting down.  We floated for a couple of hours, had a break for lunch and then resumed fishing.  The flavor of the day seemed to be poppers of whatever color, except for Jen.  She caught, landed and released her first smallie on a rabbit strip lead eyed streamer.  The smile in her picture says it all!  This was her first time fishing for them and her first time floating down a river.  So it was a pretty fun day for her.  

At the end of the float we had a few sprinkles and just as we got every thing packed up, the rain started up for the rest of the evening.  Great timing on our part!  
We headed on back to the cabin.  When the rain subsided, we grabbed the fly rods and fished the lake for a couple of hours.  After sunset, we had a great spaghetti dinner and shared some fun stories.

Sunday, the boys headed out after some great blueberry pancakes to the lake to fish for some pike and bass, while Jen and I stayed in.  I ended up injuring my back the day before while rushing to get the canoe on top of the Yukon and was dealing with the consequences.  They had some luck, and after a good power nap was ready for the drive home.