It’s pretty sad that the last time I posted on the blog was more than four months ago. However, I attribute this hiatus from posting to my very busy fall. It’s hard to believe that just four months ago I was still working in the prestigious Big Hole Valley of southwestern Montana. It was the greatest summer of my life, full of adventure, playing and working in some of the most beautiful places in the west.
Summer ended quickly but was saved by the coming of elk season, something I had spent months training for. My friend Trevor and I were as ready as we could have been. It was our second elk season and there was no stopping until we had our first elk with a bow. Little did I know I would get my shot at a nice bull on the first day of the season. All I’ll say is that taking the shot was perhaps the greatest moment of my life thus far and finally walking up to the bull was the greatest feeling of accomplishment I have ever felt.
My elk season had come to a close in just a few hours but Trevor was still on a mission to kill his bull. We were back at it the next week during what we hoped would be the peak of the rut. The weather was not ideal as we hunted hard for a few days and finally enticed a bull to make a mistake. Trevor put the arrow right where he wanted to and in just five days of hunting, both our elk seasons had come to an end.
Elk season transitioned into duck season which I took part in just a couple of times. I also took one trip with my good friend Bob to the Big Hole to fish, one trip out east to hunt mule deer, and then transitioned into hunting whitetails from the stand. As I mentioned before, the word busy was an understatement for this fall.
As if things were just not meant to slow down, I was also able to help a few different friends on their late season hunts including a mountain lion hunt which ended with success.
My time out west ended with a quick trip to northwestern Washington where I spent a day with a few friends on a tributary of the Skagit River swinging for winter steelhead. We didn’t end up landing any fish but it was a great time spent fishing in such a beautiful place that I haven’t seen much of before.
Time continues to fly by and now that I’m back in new York for about a month, I hope to take some time to relax with friends and family. Ice conditions are not ideal for ice fishing but in time things should lock up.
Had a nice variety of fish on the water yesterday afternoon with some cuttbows, rainbows, browns and a surprise bull trout. Both Chris Lider and Chris Gratton joined me on the water as we fished in the spring like conditions (43 degrees and sunny). This is no winter.
Yesterday, Bob and I had one of the most amazing days of winter fishing one could ask for. Big aggressive browns complimented with new water for the both of us made for one epic day of fishing. There’s not much more I can say other than fishing was crazy and we landed about 40 fish combined (or more), in just a few hours of fishing, all on streamers. Enjoy the pictures…
Bob discovered a brand new species of trout: The snakehead trout
And he also landed a prehistoric shark…
What an amazing day, one that you always hope for.
It was a full weekend of fishing, and a great one at that. On Friday, Garret, Cody, Trevor, Chris Lider and I left for the mighty Missouri. It was Chris’ first trip to the Mo so we were focused on giving Chris a good trip. On Saturday we woke to a chilly morning.
But things warmed up fast after we got out on the water. Garret and I fished for the day and managed some nice fish on streamers.
Trevor and Cody were able to put Chris on some nice fish and he landed a few throughout the day. It was a lot of fun to see Chris fighting some feisty Missouri rainbows and he said that he had a great time.
From the Mo, we jetted back to Missoula to catch the Fly Fishing Film tour. It turned out to be a great event as we saw many familiar faces and some great films. Although for some reason the showing did not play Turning Tail or REEL: A day on the River, two films that I really wanted to see, it was still a great night. Kelsey even was drawn for one of the prizes during intermission, an SA fly line of her choice and a new Patagonia buff.
On Sunday I met up with my buddy Bob, author of the increasingly popular blog Bum Trout. Our plan was to float a long section of the Bitterroot with Bob’s friend Phil. But before floating, Bob and I headed out to wade fish for a little bit. It wasn’t long before I hooked into the fish that made my day…
Around noon we met up with Phil to do our float. It was already a beautiful day and it continued to get better as we got into some awesome fish. Even with a few broken fingers, Bob had a great day and landed some decent fish.
Towards the end of our float, Phil finally hooked his fish of the day in some slack water, a big kyped out male brown.
What a way to end a great day of fishing and a great weekend too. Not to mention the mid 50 degree weather both days. How could you ask for anything more?
Everyone has a river that they know like the back of their hand. Knowing it so well makes it a hard river to stop fishing and you never get tired of fishing all the runs, riffle and pools that you’ve fished a thousand times before. But there’s something about fishing a new river that makes you feel rejuvenated and wanting to come back for more. On Wednesday, Jon Swartwout and I headed out to fish a river that he knows well, but one that I had never even stepped foot in. Equipped with our radison canoe, we floated a three or four mile section of the river.
It must have been fate or something of the sort as I lost two very nice fish right near the side of the canoe. As frustrated as I was, I was still glad to be learning new water. It was only less than an hour later when I hooked into a big fish as we were getting to the tail out of a large pool. Jon began to row to shore in order to prevent us from heading down the next set of rapids. The fish bulldog-ed down and headed behind us. There wasn’t much I could do except keep pressure on the fish. The hook pulled out and I never even got to look at the fish. All I know is that on my 5 wt, the fish was a lot of trouble. At that point I was very fed up. I changed my streamer and headed downstream to cool down. Not five minutes later, Jon hooked up with a nice brown.
There wasn’t too much river left to fish before we reached the takeout. It was a good day on the water in that I learned part of a new river. I definitely wish I had those fish back, but it was still a great day to be out.
Before I even made my way back to New York this winter, Jon Swartwout called me up and asked me if I would be interested in working with him in his shop, on his furniture and artwork. Without hesitation, I knew I would be working with Jon over break. For the past three days I have been with Jon working on his latest pieces. I’ve learned a lot and it was great to learn the processes of how Jon creates his rustic Adirondack style furniture.
But put two guys who have a passion to fly fish together, and it wasn’t long before we decided to go and chase some winter brown trout. Unsure if we would actually get into any fish because of the icy water conditions, we were surprised when I hooked into a large female brown. The beautiful, wild brown smashed a crawdad imitation.
Things only got better when Jon hooked up with a very nice male brown trout, which was another beautifully colored fish.
I missed a few more fish but Jon nailed another fat female brown just before we stopped fishing. Three fish in a couple hours of fishing was not a bad afternoon at all.
On Thursday we put in a full day of work and got close to finishing a couple of Jon’s pieces.
Working with Jon over these past few days has been a great experience. He is full of passion and it’s amazing to think that he has turned his passion into a career. It is apparent that he is living the dream as he has said to me many times, “I don’t ever see it as work. It’s just what I love to do”.