Following the dream, one river at a time.

Posts tagged “Montana

Fall 2014

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.

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My 2014 public lands DIY bull.

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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.

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Trevor with his 2014 public lands DIY bull.

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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.

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Season opener for waterfowl in Montana. From left to right, Garret, Dan, Alec, Stan, Trevor, Riley, Cody, and Ken.

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Bob Prince with a beautiful fall brown from the Big Hole River.

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My first whitetail buck, from the stand.

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.

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Zach admiring his 2014 bull elk.

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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.

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Fly fishing for steelhead in the cascades of Northwestern Washington.

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.

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Spring

All this talk about spring has been no joke. This weekend on the water was great with two full days of fishing and nonstop action. The weather was absolutely beautiful and temps were in the mid 50’s. Needless to say, it is paradise this time of year, here in western Montana. 

On Saturday Garret, Cody, and I floated and found some consistent action nymphing. 

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However, the highlight of the day was seeing rising fish. Upon spotting a few fish sporadically rise, I threw a skwala pattern and had two eats. I missed both fish (due to excitement of course), but it was still awesome to see fish coming up. 

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Is this what you see when you think about paradise?

To end the day, Garret offered up his catch to a big golden eagle who was definitely eyeing the fish as he reeled it in.Image

On Sunday I fished with Bob. The day started slow so we made a move upstream in search of easy cutthroats. What we found was awesome; a big pod of rising fish. For the next hour we took turns catching fish after fish on midges. It felt great to finally catch fish on dries consistently for the first time this year. ImageImageImage

Once we exhausted the run we moved on to nymphing again and kept landing fish.ImageImage

Overall it was a great day. The dry fly fishing will be very good in the coming weeks as the first major hatch of the year begins; the Skwala stonefly hatch.


Winter Pike

Fished for about an hour today after school in search of some predators. Winter pike are fun.

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Back from Butte

Had a nice evening with my dad who was speaking in Butte at a leadership conference yesterday. I made the journey over from Missoula in the afternoon. Stopped along the way to fish an access high on the Clark Fork. Fishing was slow for the first half hour, but as I fished the last run before heading back to the car the streamer bite lit up and I landed around 10 fish on 15 casts. It was pretty ridiculous. No large fish but I had a great time getting takes on almost every cast for the last 20 minutes or so. Very weird…but I can’t complain.

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Cutty-Rain-Bull-Browns

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. 

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Photo by Chris L.

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A nice cuttbow landed by Chris L.

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The surprise of the day, a nice little bull trout.


The day you always hope for

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…

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Bob discovered a brand new species of trout: The snakehead trout

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And he also landed a prehistoric shark…

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What an amazing day, one that you always hope for. 


MCAFS Annual Meeting

I just returned from Fairmont hot springs resort where I attended the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society’s Annual meeting. It was a great two days of hearing about some of the studies conducted on some of Montana’s fisheries.

Two of the presentations were actually on fisheries in Alaska. One discussed the findings of a baseline study done on the waters of Bristol Bay where the proposed pebble mine lies. The study found fish in 96% of the waters sampled and also discussed other dangers that the mine will pose such as the construction of roads to the mine and the huge tailing ponds that will contain the toxic waste from the mine. It was very interesting to me considering I have written close to a half dozen research papers on the subject.

My favorite presentation was one about the micro-evolution within pink salmon populations in Alaska. It showed the correlation between climate change and the disappearance of an allele in salmon DNA that determines the time of migration, causing salmon populations to migrate earlier. I’ll admit some of the presentations were way over my head but I still learned a lot.

Fishing this weekend should be great!