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While it’s just one guy’s opinion that nobody asked for, I’d argue that the gang at Southern Culture on the Fly is very probably putting out the best digital flip mag in fly fishing right now (at least in North America).

Consistently offering top notch photography, compelling reads and creative vids all done from North Carolina, a fair piece from what lots of folks define as fly fishing’s Golden Triangle (which varies from the large version here to a slightly more myopic rendering we’ve heard described encompassing the territory from the southeastern corner of YNP to Last Chance to maybe as far north as Helena…).

In a (North American) fly fishing culture that’s producing an impressive load of fly fishing media that’s very good and yet sometimes numbingly repetitive, SCOF’s redfish, musky and southern focused content is a breath of fresh air. Different can be good, sometimes very good.

Fly fishing with a side of grits? Hot damn.

[This is an unsolicited and very much unpaid post; if any of the SCOF guys ever read Chi Wulff, we're open for compensation, preferably in the form of flies or food.]

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Chi Wulff is now on Instagram (chi_wulff) along with several other members of the Chi Wulff gang including Jake (dryflyjake), Shane (shane_rickert) and Jess (firegirl_jess). If I had paid attention and seen how much fun it is we’d have been there sooner.

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A Drift Inside from Keith Brauneis on Vimeo.

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By the time this posts I’ll be on the road again, off at the Hell or High Water Fly Fishing Festival on the West Branch of the Delaware River in New York. I even bought New York and Vermont fishing licenses. The world is coming to an end.

But never fear, that trip will be next week’s Vermont Chronicles post. This week, we’re focusing on Montana.

The 2014 Orvis Guide Rendezvous and Down the Hatch Fly Fishing Festival was a rousing success. The weather held out for us, a plethora of fly fishing guides and lodge owners showed up, and attendance at Saturday’s public event in Missoula’s Caras Park surpassed all previous years. I had an awesome time seeing old friends, meeting new ones and networking.

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The highlights of the week:

  • Tuesday hangin’ in Craig with the Headhunters and Chi Wulff crews.
  • Dinner at Caffe Dolce in Missoula.
  • Morning walk along the Clark Fork, strolling past my old haunts in downtown Missoula.
  • Driving by my old apartment in Cascade and in Missoula. Damn, I’ve lived in some dives.
  • Seeing a wolf chase a herd of elk at sunset. Always a thrill.
  • Catching a small herd of Bighorn Sheep playing on the rocks along the Missouri.
  • Late nights and early mornings.
  • Bad hotel food.
  • Lots of coffee.
  • A new pair of Smith Shorewood sunglasses, right from the rep. Gotta gear up for the season.
  • Listening to the Orvis clan read the speeches I’d written for the awards dinner, and making them sound far better than they did on paper. Thanks, guys.
  • Simon Perkins introducing the Breaking Barriers Award at Friday night’s ceremony — something three of us have dreamed up at Orvis HQ. More on this to come soon.
  • Seeing the Orvis fly fishing culture doc, which I’ve been working on since I started in January, introduced to the crowd of endorsed guides and lodges during the Guide Rendezvous.
  • Judging the cook-off during the Guide Olympics with fellow fly fishing media folks Kirk Deeter and Tim Romano.
  • Driving from Missoula to Craig — twice.
  • Fishing the Missouri on Sunday, and bringing in a reasonable day’s worth of fish despite high winds. Missing way too many strikes due to an average of three to four hours sleep a night for the week (or, rather, choosing to blame it on the lack of sleep.)

I was heart happy and relaxed being back in Montana, despite the week being nothing short of a whirlwind. It was insightful to be at the event as part of the Orvis team, and I was able to do all sorts of networking for Orvis and even a bit for Fire Girl. It felt great to be out of my psuedo-dress clothes from the office (read: nicer jeans and fleece) and into my workin’ jeans and layers of fleece and driRelease and Buffs.

Working clothes make me happy. So does my camera.

Sunday in Craig was the down day. We left Missoula early-ish and convoyed up to Missouri River country. It was beyond fantastic to see the gang of Headhunters guides, old friends and shop rats, and spend some time on the water. Orvis treated us all to a guided day on the water, and it was my first-ever official guided trip. Chad Boedecker with PRO Outfitters treated myself and the Orvis Adventures Marketing Manager Andrew Pierce well, and we ended up with a day full of fat, healthy rainbows and browns, with a few whitefish as well for good measure. The Missouri River grand slam. I had one nice brown and two mid-sized ones… I’d almost rather see the little brownies than the big boys. They’ll grow up to be the monsters of tomorrow. For their part, the rainbows had classic ‘Mo color, little footballs of pink and silver glory.

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I didn’t have quite the time I wanted to shoot images — I’m used to covering these events as a journalist, and trying to both work it and shoot images is a different matter entirely. It was an education, and I look forward to trying to find a balance between the two.

I flew home with three of the Orvis gang. It’s weird to travel with a crew… I’m very much used to working solo. It was fun to have folks to talk with and commiserate about airplane coffee and crazy passengers (I had an entire cup of Coke spilled on my leg on the last flight back to Albany. Luckily, a quick shuffle with my feet and the camera bag was spared. Not so my jeans.)

Landed back in Vermont to be greeted by grey, showery skies and temperatures above freezing. I was beginning to doubt the existence of such warm weather in this clime. My apartment was still in once piece, the Fire Girl Suby sported a large new crack in the windshield but still started and I was surprisingly okay coming back to the northeast. I’m a Western girl — this trip drove that home more than anything, and I’ll return to Montana someday. But in the meantime I have things to do, places to be, photographs to take and words to write.

And the season is just beginning.

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Summer Missin’ Bonefishin’ Part 2 from fishalong on Vimeo.

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Tie One On: GPS Nymph

by Mark McGlothlin on April 12, 2014

in Flies

G.P.S. Nymph from confluenze magazine on Vimeo.

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These are stable, compact and uber-manageable drifter rigs that have sweet lines. Via Wooden Boat People.

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Two days ago a long lost fly fishing buddy, let’s just call him RC from Salt Lake City, called.

Not to reconnect after a decade and change estranged. Not to check on the family. Not even to ask about fishing conditions or beg a bed and a hot shower on his next run to fish Montana (my initial guess at to what he was really after…).

Nope. He wanted a recipe.

After a somewhat hasty exchange of small talk, the conversation went something like this.

RC: Hey, remember that time on the South Fork (of the Snake) that guy (his name was Reggie by the way) made those frickin’ chicken sandwiches with the spicy slaw? (4 second pause followed by small cough) I need the recipe.

Me: (7 second pause). Hell yes. Crispy chicken with a buttermilk crust. Jalapeno slaw with bread and butter pickles. Sriracha mayo. (Another 4 second pause) I don’t have it (the recipe).

RC: Bullsh*t. You have to have it.

Me: Ain’t got it.

RC: Well dammit to hell. I promised Mrs. RC I could do those sandwiches for this big family get together and I need to find that recipe.

Me: Dig around for a spicy slaw and just fry up chicken breast halves with a buttermilk dip. Easy peasy.

RC: ****.

Me: And use a nice sandwich roll, toasted.

RC: (Click)

I admire people who are passionate about their food, even if their phone etiquette is lacking.

RC got me to thinking about that summer day on the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho. We’d been flinging small dries to intermittently interested rainbows all day. It had been bluebird clear, hot and respectable but a far cry from hot-damn quality fishing. We’d done a very long day on the river, somewhere in the 15 hour range, and the gang was famished by the time we hit camp.

The chicken-master that day was Reggie, who fired up his two burner Camp Chef grill and went to work making the most outrageous bank-side chicken sandwich you’ve ever seen. He’d pre-made the slaw, the secret of which was the bread and butter pickles and a bit of the sweet pickle juice, and pulled out containers of buttermilk, seasoned flour and the sliced chicken breast.

He deftly floured each breast, dipped them into the cold buttermilk, back once again into the flour and then slid them into the hot oil. They were done in minutes and piled high on toasted sandwich rolls slathered with spicy mayo and a big scoop of the slaw.

They were even better than they sound right now. Crispy crusted chicken, hot from the fire, met the spicy cool of the slaw and made magic that night on the riverbank. When you’re half starved and standing on the bank of a mighty Western river anything tastes good – but damn, these were really good. Actually they were great.

In fond memory of the slaw storm of controversy this slaw dog post created (some folks besides Tom Chandler get damned testy about their slaw dogs) we’re calling these The Slaw Hits the Fan Chicken Sandwich.

Go to it RC.

Simple Spicy Slaw
3 cups hand sliced (thinly sliced please) green cabbage
3 cups hand sliced (thinly sliced please) purple cabbage
1 smallish red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
3/4 cup bread and butter pickle slices, chopped roughly
1/3 cup bread and butter pickle juice, maybe more

Sriracha Mayo
1 cup mayonnaise (Ed would use Miracle Whip)
1 finely diced garlic clove
1-2 tbsp. Sriracha to taste

Fried Chicken
4 1/2-lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, halved crosswise and pounded to even thickness
3 cups AP flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
Oil for frying (peanut)

8 sandwich rolls, you make the call

Slaw time. Mix the slaw ingredients, let rest for an hour at least in the fridge. Taste again, you might need more pickle juice or jalapeno.

Chicken chicken chicken. Whisk together the flour, chili powder and pepper; buttermilk goes in a bowl. Heat the oil (1/2 inch deep or so) in a cast iron skillet over medium heat (350 is target temp.)

Dip each chicken piece in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the buttermilk and shake off. Dip again in the flour and slide into the hot oil. Shoot for three to four minutes per side to get it good and crisp (and cooked through); drain on paper towels.

Put it together. On to toasted rolls goes the Sriracha mayo, a crispy chicken breast and a pile of the simple spicy slaw.

Enjoy.

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The River trailer from RT on Vimeo.

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Sometimes your neighbors on the jetty are just as interesting as the fish. Port Aransas, Texas. Images by Fire Girl Jess.

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A couple of weeks ago She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were strolling through our local fruit and vegetable market, weaving among the orchard pallets of mostly apples and pears when I spied a crate of those smallish, round, ‘personal’ watermelons.

It’d been months since we’ve seen watermelons of any sort in these parts and we grabbed three thinking we’d craft some sort of watermelon based beverage (envisioning some version of an agua fresca) for a Mexican food themed family celebration that evening.

Long story short, Jake did some digging and found this recipe for the In-Sandiary, a very simple watermelon, lime and tequila concoction that we later deemed extraordinary.

According to Serious Eats the cocktail was originated by Joaquin Simo of Death and Co. in NY, the name a play on the spanish word for watermelon (sandia) and ‘incendiary’ inspired by the chile spiked salted rim.

We know summer’s still a ways off but these make picking up a few of those early season watermelons a real treat. Note we’ve tweaked the recipe a bit, opting for the ‘back of the throat heat’ of chipotle powder for rimming the glass and a bit more lime juice to sharpen it just a smidgen.

Rim the Glass
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. chipotle powder

The Good Stuff
1 cup (generous) cubed watermelon (no seeds)
2 ounces blanco tequila
Scant 2/3 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
ice

Rim those glasses. Mix the salt, sugar and chipotle powder and place in a saucer; moisten glass rims with the lime juice and dip into the salt/sugar/chile powder mixture.

Cocktail time. We found that using a food processor to coarsely puree the watermelon, which we then strained to remove solids and the occasional renegade seed, made things easy.

Now into the shaker go 2 ounces of the watermelon juice. the tequila, lime juice, simple syrup and ice. Shake well, strain into ice filled glass and go to it.

Enjoy.

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FISHSKI from scumliner media on Vimeo.

Jess was working the Orvis side of the fence at the Down the Hatch film event in Missoula last weekend and said the boys brought the house down with this one. An extraordinary poke at the realm of ‘badass’ video selfies popping up all over the place these days.

The ability to laugh at one’s self and at one’s own expense is another thing that separates the men from the boys.

We nominate for fly fishing docudrama of the season so far.

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IPOWCutty

Via @stripnflywear on Instagram today. I’ll never look at the inner tube crowd on the Lower Madison the same way again.

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On April 2nd, I was supposed to be launching a raft on the fabled Smith River for a 4 day float with my good friend, Mike. With low flows and no chance of a low elevation snow pack melt, the trip was cancelled last minute. Neither of us felt that dragging a raft for 50 miles sounded very appealing. We both already had the time off approved with our respective jobs and wanted to fish.

 

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The Missouri was the first place that came to mind to spend 4 days. As many of you know, the Mighty Mo is known for its high number of fish and the high possibility for lights out nymph fishing in the Spring. This is what we wanted to experience.

 

My good friend Ken (whose blog handle is flyonlymt on ChiWulff)  lives right down the street from me. After a quick stop at his house, I had a handful of flies to replicate and pretty specific instructions for where we needed to spend our four days. After speaking with Ken, I was smiling ear to ear and couldn’t wait for this trip to get started!!

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We made the somewhat short drive from Bozeman to our campground and a pit stop was needed at Headhunters for a couple last minute supplies.

 

After following Ken’s explicit instructions on where we needed to go, Mike and I arrived at a perfect looking nymphing run. Rods were rigged, the “money” flies were tied on we packed our bags. I think it took under 5 minutes for me to hook into the first fish and for Mike, it didn’t take much longer. For three hours, we laughed, giggled like kids in a candy store and caught the feistiest fish either of us have ever landed on a fly rod! And to think this was only our first day!

 

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday were similar to Thursday. Add in some extra clouds and a bit more wind though. No one was still on the river and the fishing you ask? The fishing was amazing!

 

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Spending four days on world class water is something that all fisherman want to do. No matter where you live, species you target and how you target them. Whether it’s the White River in Arkansas, Henry’s Fork in Idaho or a salt flat in the Bahamas. After this trip, I’ll be taking more time off and exploring the world class water I have in my own backyard! Hell, I still haven’t fished the Big Hole, Big Horn, Slough Creek or the Bitterroot! Looks like a busy summer is ahead of me!

 

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Peute Variant from confluenze magazine on Vimeo.

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