About flyfishingwest

Some kid who's obsessed with fishing, hunting and the outdoors.

Help Save a Great Montana Trout Stream

As some of you may know, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is proposing putting a very large state park on Fish Creek in western Montana. Fish creek is a truly great Montana native westslope cutthroat stream, it’s mostly uncrowded, and it’s only an hour from Missoula. What FWP is proposing would make this fragile ecosystem overcrowded and I will assume eventual habitat destruction. The fish creek valley also is home to wintering Mule and Whitetail Deer, Elk, Moose and other wildlife. The expanded development of trails and electric hookup RV lots would definitely push animals out of the area. It is easy to see that FWP is  looking for extra revenue and trying to take advantage of this great place. Take time to travel to fish creek this summer if you haven’t already done so to experience how wild and beautiful this valley really is. There are already a couple tent campgrounds on the creek, and in my opinion, the electric RV hookup lots would ruin how wild this place is. Comment on the link below and tell Montana FWP to not develop the Fish Creek drainage in any way, and keep this wild place unscathed by development. Thanks!

http://stateparks.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/board/pn_0004.html

Pure Cutthroats like this are common on Fish Creek.

Pure Cutthroats like this are common on Fish Creek.

Fish Creek is also critical habitat for spawning Cuttbows coming up from the Clark Fork.

Fish Creek is also critical habitat for spawning Cuttbows coming up from the Clark Fork.

Another Summer has come and gone…

This summer was an absolute whirlwind, I was busy as a bee guiding, fishing, and traveling, and was only able to update the blog a couple times in the last few months. But it was a great summer, I enjoyed time on the water with a lot of great people, and was fortunate enough to experience some great fishing. Once again I don’t have a lot of time for a big write up, so I figured I’d post a handful of pictures I can round up from the summer to give you a feel of what it was like. Thanks for reading.

Mr. Robinson with a fine Bitterroot rainbow.

Mr. Robinson with a fine Bitterroot rainbow.

Cody with a sunset fish, during some of the best fishing of the year.

Cody with a sunset fish, during some of the best fishing of the year.

Scouting for ducks.

Scouting for ducks.

Kyle with one of his fist fish in Montana.

Kyle with one of his fist fish in Montana.

At times it was double the fun.

At times it was double the fun.

Herb, one of my favorite clients, with a great West Fork Cuttbow.

Herb, one of my favorite clients, with a great West Fork Cuttbow.

Stillwater River, MT

Stillwater River, MT

Gretchen with a bright Cutthroat.

Gretchen with a bright Cutthroat.

Creek Rainbow. Photo: Dennis Anderson

Creek Rainbow. Photo: Dennis Anderson

A little Heli fishing

A little Heli fishing

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My Dad and I.

My Dad and I.

Creek Cutt

Creek Cutthroat.

Our Annual Elk River trip in Fernie, B.C.

Our Annual Elk River trip in Fernie, B.C.

Garret with a great Cutthroat from the Elk. Photo Credit: Alec Underwood.

Garret with a great Cutthroat from the Elk. Photo Credit: Alec Underwood.

Undie with a great fish from the Elk.

Undie with a great fish from the Elk. Photo: Garret Visser

Garret's girlfriend, Abby, with a great Bull Trout from the Elk.

Garret’s girlfriend, Abby, with a great Bull Trout from the Elk. Photo: Alec Underwood

Chris with a nice Elk River Bull. Photo Credit: Cody Melchior

Chris with a nice Elk River Bull. Photo Credit: Cody Melchior

Elk river Double. Photo: Alec Underwood.

Elk river double. Photo: Alec Underwood.

Photo: Garret Visser

Photo Credit: Garret Visser

Photo Credit: Dennis Anderson

Photo Credit: Dennis Anderson

A Summer not to be forgotten.

Break in the Action

Today is the first day in a while where I’ve had a chance to breathe and relax a little, so I’ll put a few photos from the latest adventures up. Lately I’ve been all over western Montana chasing bent rods and good times, and for the most part we’ve enjoyed awesome fishing so far this summer. Last week we had great mayfly weather…clouds, rain and a just a little sun. Green drakes were awesome and the fish were on in the clouds.

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Chunky mayfly eater.

Chunky mayfly eater.

Fishing buddy Tyler with a nice rainbow on a caddis.

Fishing buddy Tyler with a nice rainbow on a caddis.

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I also ran up to the Blackfoot with a couple clients, although the dry fly fishing up there in the bright sun was not too spectacular, Brandon was able to hook and skillfully land this big Bull Trout…on 4x tippet. Pretty good for his third day ever fly fishing.

The Bitterroots on the drive home.

Rainstorm in the Bitterroots.

I did have a day off this week that I took advantage of to do a little fun fishing. We fished The lower Clark Fork a ways from town had had a fun day picking off some rising fish on pmd’s. Those fish down there fight so hard it’s ridiculous.

Cody with a very nice pmd sipper.

Cody with a very nice pmd sipper.

That’s all I got for now, stay tuned for more after fourth of July week.

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Lately I haven’t had much time or energy to post up here, so I figured I’ll throw a few words and photos up finally. A couple weeks back I wrapped up my trip back home to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Aside from the bass and other warmwater species fishing I did while back, I also made a run with my Dad and good family friend Dave to the north shore of Minnesota, for great lakes steelhead. The trip was a success and we got into a few nice fish. A few of the fish we hooked where brought to hand, and some just flat out kicked our ass. They are a very strong fish.

My favorite north shore river.

My favorite north shore river.

A Great Lakes Steelhead

A Great Lakes Steelhead

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Lake Superior

On the way home we stopped at one of my favorite northern Wisconsin trout rivers. The fishing was overall slow, but we caught a couple respectable fish on dries. I took this picture to show how different the coloration of these browns are than Montana fish.

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Dark

After the trip up north it was time to head back to Montana. I was greeted by great dry fly action with salmonflies and golden stones.

Ben with a nice brown on a golden stone.

Ben with a nice brown on a golden stone.

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I also started guiding this week, and had a couple good days with a new client and friend, Herb.

Herb with a Salmonfly rainbow.

Herb with a Salmonfly rainbow.

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After that, my good friend Cody was in town, and we made a run to some of my favorite water and were greeted by more good stonefly fishing on top.

Beautiful brown.

Beautiful brown.

Cody with a good one.

Cody with a good one.

Beautiful Dry Fly Cutthroat.

Beautiful Dry Fly Cutthroat.

Summer In Montana...Paradise.

Summer In Montana…Paradise.

Thanks for reading, I will try and get some more stuff up here soon.

Memorial Day Weekend

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Remember today those who have given their lives for our freedom. Around 1.3 million Americans have sacrificed their lives during the history of our country. Most of them had their whole lives in front of them, but unselfishly gave it up so we could enjoy things such as hunting and fishing in this great land.

This last weekend I traveled to central Minnesota with my old high school fishing buddy Dom, and his brother, Nick. We were invited up to their Uncle’s duck cabin to fish the surrounding lakes. It’s a Northwoods classic-made of big pine logs with an iron wood stove and Les Couba duck paintings hanging on the walls.

We got to fishing one of the nearby lakes. Although it was cold and rainy, the bass seemed to be really active. We caught fish on a number of presentations from texas rigs to spinnerbaits, but the best seemed to be a wacky style plastic worm fished on a spinning rod.

Note the hooded rain jacket...It felt like March. Not Summer-like at all.

Note the hooded rain jacket…It felt like March. Not Summer-like at all.

Dom with a good one pitchin' in the reeds.

Dom with a good one pitchin’ in the reeds.

Ran into a walleye as well.

Ran into a walleye as well.

As the grey sky turned into darkness we headed back to the cabin. The next day turned out to be just as grey and windy out, but fortunately no rain. We caught some nice bass and northerns in the morning, and then focused on pitching slip bobbers to the shallows in hopes of bringing home enough crappies for dinner.

A grey day on the water.

A grey day on the water.

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Minnesota...the land of lots of pike.

Minnesota…the land of lots of pike.

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Fish Fry

Fish Fry

It was a great day filled with multiple species…one of things that makes the lakes of the north country so great. The last morning we planned to fish for just a quick couple of hours and then hit the road, the numbers of bass weren’t as good as the previous days that morning, but we caught a handful and Nick pulled a big one.

5.5 lbs. Who says there aren't big bass in the north?

Weighed in at 5.5 lbs. Who says there aren’t big bass in the north?

We headed back to town soon after. It was an awesome weekend of fishing with great friends, it sure feels good to be back on the waters of the midwest. I’ll now be headed to the North Shore of Minnesota in search of Steelhead this week. The rivers are receding from blowing out last week due to all the rain we’ve been getting but they should be close to prime now. Thanks for reading.

Spring ’13 Wrap-Up

Well, that about does it for our pre-runoff 2013 spring fishing season. It was a great season, and by many accounts, some of the best spring fishing in recent memory. The skwala hatch started early (about march 9th) and ended late (still on the clark fork right now). John Faust, famous Bitterroot Valley guide and fly tyer said this was the longest Skwala hatch he’s seen in 30+ years of guiding the river. We also had great mayfly hatches in late March and April. It was one of those springs where from mid March to early May, you could be successful fishing dries and not having to use an indicator rig, pretty much any day you were on the Bitterroot. This weekend was no different. On friday I waded the Blackfoot, and there was a great amount of Grey Drakes, March Browns, and Caddis out. In usual Blackfoot fashion, the little fish showed up in droves to eat on top, and a brindle chute was all that was needed to have a good time with a bunch of em.

On Saturday I got to fish out of a Jet Boat again with my friend Scotty on the lower Clark Fork. We used the jet to run and gun from spot to spot. The hatches were very localized and only in certain spots. We would find the bugs and the risers, catch some until they got educated, then move on to another pod. It’s a very efficient way to fish bigger water. Unfortunately I was feeling a little lazy with the camera, and didn’t take any pictures, sorry bout that. Sometimes it’s more fun to just fish and forget about blogging…

On Sunday I hiked to the top of Mount Jumbo here in Missoula, to start getting prepared for elk season. It was a good hike up and a great view from the top. This time I brought the camera…IMG_1711

Runoff has unofficially started and most of the water will be blown out by late this week. It was a great spring, but I’m just as excited for summer. Now it’s time to finish strong in school so I can enjoy a great Montana summer fishing season. Can’t wait.

Spring Dry Fly Fishing Continues

By this time last year the water had blown out and the real runoff was upon us. In the past couple weeks the relatively cool weather has kept the high water at bay, providing us an extra long spring dry fly window. The dry fly fishing this spring has been pretty awesome, and very consistant on most of our area rivers. Skwalas, grey drakes, march browns, baetis, midges, and I even saw an adult salmonfly yesterday…on April 27.

March Brown lookin' cool

March Brown lookin’ cool

Big Skwala on the Clark Fork

Big Skwala

Salmonfly in April

Salmonfly in April

Hare's Ear Parachute, one of my favorite all-around mayfly patterns.

Hare’s Ear Parachute, one of my favorite all-around mayfly patterns.

Yesterday I got a chance to tag along in a jet boat on some big water. Needless to say it’s pretty cool to fly up and down rapids at 30+ mph.

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The jet was great to hold in spots for a while and then move to different areas on the river. You just can’t fish big water the same way out of a drift boat. We got into a good grey drake and skwala hatch that provided good fishing on top for those strong rainbows this river is known for.

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A Skwala "Hangover" fish.

A Skwala “Hangover” fish.

The fish in the above picture is a good example of timing a stonefly hatch. When a prolific hatch of stones like skwalas or salmonflies comes off, the fish gorge. They can’t believe the amount of protein floating down the river. The only problem with a prolific stonefly hatch compared to a mayfly or caddis hatch, is that the fish can get full too fast, because the stones are just so big. Last thursday there was a great number of live skwalas all over the water, but the fish were barely touching them. I caught some fish on top that day, but it should have been epic fishing with the number of bugs on the water. All the fish brought to hand looked like the one above, and were kind of “hungover”. My guess is they gorged the day before and most of them were too full to continue.

Yesterday we hit better timing on the hatch, and enjoyed good fishing for most of it’s duration. During the latter part of it though, you could see the fish started to get stuffed, as they stopped eating the bugs helplessly floating down the river.

I will probably be able to get just one more full day of fishing in next weekend before the big bump of water starts and studying for finals take over. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak out wade fishing in town a couple times though. After finals it’s off to home for a short couple weeks. I’ll focus on Smallies, Great Lakes Steelhead, Brown Trout, and hopefully a Muskie when I’m back, and I can’t wait to see family, friends and my dog. Then it’s back out to Montana to start the best time of the year.

Stay tuned for more. Thanks for reading.

Weekend Rundown/Fishing Report

For the last week, the water levels have been on the fall and the clarity is now back to normal. Even though the bump of high water we had a week back slowed the fishing for a few days, it has restored the rivers and given the fish more space to spread out. On Friday I drove down the Bitterroot Valley in hopes of some bug activity with the great water conditions coinciding with warm 55 degree weather. I was greeted by a smattering of Gray Drakes, March Browns, and a couple Skwalas.

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A smaller brindle chute and hare’s ear parachute adams were effective for imitating these bugs. As always a drag free first cast proved to be the most important factor in getting fish to eat your dry, even if you don’t have the hatch matched perfectly. Cannot stress the first cast enough when fishing to rising (or not rising) fish.

Cutthroat on a mayfly dry.

Cutthroat on a mayfly dry, fished behind a bigger skwala.

On saturday all the weather models were calling for snow, rain, and up to 40 mph wind gusts. Something about that combination made me less than enthused to be out on the water. So we drove up into the mountains, poked around, and shot the bows a little bit.

Garret and Cody looking for a lost arrow.

Garret and Cody looking for a lost arrow.

On sunday, new fishing friend Jason and I hit the water on a chilly post-frontal day. We had some decent action on stoneflies and mayflies, but the action on top definitely didn’t turn on until late afternoon when the water warmed a little. We took a 41 degree water temp just after we got on the water, one of the coldest readings in the past few weeks. Jason is less than enthusiastic with his views on modern-day fly fishing blogs, to say the least, but finally let me snag one fish picture for the day.

A long but skinny Rainbow.

A long but skinny Rainbow

Overall it was a pretty good weekend. Here in the Missoula area, we probably have just 2 or 3 weeks left until the real runoff begins, weather depending. Until then we should continue to have the good dry fly fishing we’ve been experiencing this spring. Get out there and enjoy the good water while it lasts.

Spring Break Part 2

On sunday evening, my Dad and brother had left for home, and it was time to put together a plan for the rest of the week. My fishing bros Garret, Cody, Undie, and I had a rough plan to drive to Southwest Montana to fish on monday morning. Only problem was that Garret and I had no Idea where Cody and Undie were. Cody was out of cell phone range on a weekend camping trip, and Undie was in Idaho at his sister’s place steelhead fishing. He “didn’t know exactly when” he would be headed back to Montana. So Garret and I headed far up the Bitterroot to the West Fork on monday in hopes of some uncrowded water and some good dry fly fishing. Uncrowded yes….good dry fly fishing… not so much, only moved a handful of fish on top. The water was what I thought too cold and fast, not enough slow stuff where the fish like to eat skwalas. We saved the day though by getting into an fast and furious streamer bite in the last mile of the float.

Garret with a big-jawed Cutthroat.

Garret with a big-jawed Cutthroat.

Photo By Garret

Photo By Garret

Also had a small herd of elk cross the river in front of us, pretty cool to see.

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On the drive back to Missoula we got a call from Cody saying that he was on his way back to Missoula as well. Undie was still going to be in Idaho for a couple more days. We meet up with Cody back in town and made a plan. With the Clark Fork and Blackfoot being high and cloudy (We had fished the Bitterroot non-stop lately) we decided to hit the road for Dillon, MT in the morning. The plan was to fish the Big Hole and the Beaverhead. When we arrived the next morning the Big Hole was high and dirty, with less than a foot of visibility, even with bright sunlight penetration. We knew there are some big browns to be caught in this river, so decided to give it a go and throw big nasty stuff all day. It turned out to be slow fishing but sometimes you win some and lose some.

Streamer fishing the Big Hole

Streamer fishing the Big Hole

That night we camped next to the Beaverhead at a hidden campsite that Cody had found before…a great spot.

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The next day we got up and opted to wade fish the Beav. It turned out to be the right call as the fishing was good. Lots of brown trout stacked up in the deeper pools and runs. Nothing too big was brought to hand but a bunch of respectable 13-17 inchers.

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We were running low on food and supplies so we decided to drive back to Missoula late that afternoon. The next day (thursday I think) we floated the upper Bitterroot looking for some more dry fly action. It turned out to be a pretty good day on top, with a good number of nice sized fish coming to the surface.

Cody with a good Cutthroat on a big dry.

Cody with a good Cutthroat on a big dry.

Fat Cuttbow

Fat Cuttbow

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The Upper Bitterroot. Photo by Garret.

The Upper Bitterroot. Photo by Garret.

It was a good day of fishing shared with some great friends. By this time in the story it’s thursday evening. Only 3 more days left!

Undie by this time had arrived back in Missoula, he was all burnt out from steelheading in Idaho. For good reason, he had landed a great fish over on the Salmon.

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Very Nice.

I had got the opportunity to pick up a couple guide days on Friday and Saturday, the first ones of the year for me.  On Friday the Bitterroot was significantly higher and dirtier than it was on thursday, and the fishing was tough. The clients still caught some fish on dries, but you had to work for em big time. On Saturday the sun came out in the afternoon and they fishing turned out to be solid. We got into an awesome Gray Drake hatch where the fish went on a feeding frenzy for a short 15 minute window. Had some pretty decent stonefly fishing as well.

Jamie with a beautiful Cutty on a drake.

Jamie with a beautiful Cutty on a drake.

Jamie and Latham having a good time.

Jamie and Latham, all smiles on vacation.

Latham's fat rainbow

Latham’s fat dry fly rainbow

I was relieved that we had better fishing than the first day and definitely some cool dudes to have in the boat. It was a great spring break and some much needed time away from the rigors of school. Now there is only a month left before finals so I’m limited to weekends to fish (If that). Time to finish strong so I can enjoy the best time of the year…summer.

By the way, had these two swimming around in the backyard yesterday. Love them greenheads.

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Spring Break Madness Part 1

It’s been a crazy spring break for the past 8 days. No, I was not down in Cancun or Miami, but a different kind of crazy. Crazy in the sense of driving over 1000 miles, fishing 4 different bodies of water, and living off of minimum food for the past week. I managed to fish everyday but today (should probably study now) with a bunch of good friends and family. Last friday my brother and Dad flew out for the weekend to fish. The skwala hatch was going on pretty strong then and we got into some nice fish on dries. Even better for them, there is still over a foot of snow at home, so it was a dream for them to be able to fish in 50-60 degree weather.

Cole with a good dry fly Cutthroat.

Cole with a good dry fly Cutthroat.

Big Bugs

Big Bugs

The Ol' Man

The Ol’ Man

One of the drawbacks about living out in Montana is not being able to fish with my Dad or Cole that often. My Dad taught Cole and I how to fish at a very young age, and some of my best childhood memories are fishing with them, whether just below our house on the St. Croix river, or the family trips we took out west.

Colebro and myself

Colebro and myself

Photo By Dad

Photo By Dad

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It was a great weekend to have my brother and Dad come out west to fish. They had to fly out sunday afternoon, but there was lots more spring break left. Spring Break Part 2 coming soon.