Rusty Fly from DJ Dan

by Mark McGlothlin on March 24, 2015

in Salt

"Rusty Fly" by Dan Decibel from DAN DECIBEL on Vimeo.



If you missed Part 1 read it here; learn more about Tony’s Montana Trout Outfitters team here.

If you can share without breaking any sacred promises or revealing too many secrets, where do you head to fish on a day off?

When I was younger the answer would have been a small creek.  I’m not holding out on you, any small creek would do.  I always tried to fish a new one.  Some had big fish, some had lots of fish, and some were a bust but it was just great to see new water and get out of the boat for a day.  Now that I have a 10 year old son my day off fishing adventures include him.  The past couple of years it was all about action so the Blackfoot and Rock Creek were at the top of his list, but last year the light bulb finally went off for him about dry fly fishing so I think we will do our share of looking for risers on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork.

We all have our own opinions on the issue – who do you think serves the best breakfast in Bitterroot Country?

The Frontier Cafe in Stevensville, nothing fancy but it will cure what ails you after visiting all the Bitterroot breweries the night before.

We’re seeing a fair amount of evidence the Skwalas are out in reasonable force; how’s it been the last week or so?  

The mythical Skwala is out and about.  It is still the early stages of the hatch so most of the bugs are in the middle river and I have had good afternoon dry fly fishing all week.  The bugs will spread through the whole river system over the next two weeks and with no low elevation snow to bump our flows it could be one of the best Skwala seasons in a few years.

This past winter has been a bit of an unusual one in that April temperatures started showing up in February; what’s your secret to preserving sanity during a typical Montana winter?

I hunt until there is no longer a hunting season open.  I particularly like chasing upland birds with my lab which carries me into January.  Then I mostly daydream about tropical saltwater destinations, and of course I read ChiWulff daily.

Walking a small creek outside Missoula

Walking a small creek outside Missoula

If somebody said you’re going to have use just five fly patterns to fish the glorious spring hatches in your neighborhood, what are putting in the box?

Two different Skwala patterns size 10 – one a little bushy and one sleek and low-profile because some days they want a cheeseburger and others just a thin mint.

Royal Stimi size 14 – in addition to Skwalas we also have Neumoras during the spring which is a smaller stonefly.  When fish are keyed on them they won’t touch a Skwala extended body March brown size 14 – these bugs hatch in April and provide some of our best days.

Sparkle Minnow size 4 – Sometimes you just have to throw the big junk, either to lure out those big brown trout or just to put down the trout rising to blue-wings because you only let me have 5 flies!

If you could encourage fly fishers to do just one thing in terms of stewardship this next year, what would that be?

There’s a lot of emphasis on stewardship in the fly fishing community and it most generally revolves around our resources which is great.  If I were to add to that I would encourage fly fishers to steward their relationships with other anglers.  There seems to be a lot of ego and secrets and status in fly fishing these days.  What we need is more anglers, and the only way to grow the sport is to foster good relationships with new fly fishers.  More anglers equals more dollars and conservation which ultimately leads to what we all want, better fishing.

Thanks again Tony and gang, have a great season over on the West side this year.

Lunch on the Blackfoot

Lunch on the Blackfoot

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#playwiththebest – Fy fishing from Dave Smith on Vimeo.


A beauty of a W. Fork cuttbow

A beauty of a W. Fork cuttbow

We’ve been chatting off and on for months with Tony Reinhardt of Montana Trout Outfitters in Missoula about doing an interview for our People of Fly Fishing series and it’s our pleasure to present this first installment today.

Tony and his family live year round in Missoula and stay danged busy corralling their guide crew and embracing all the seasonal adventures Montana offers; as always we love learning a bit about what makes successful folks in the business tick and more about their regional fish and fisheries.

Thanks Tony for sharing your thoughts and images (all images are Tony’s).

You live in what we think is one of the niftiest fishing towns on the planet – Missoula, Montana.  Please share a bit about your path to settling in and calling Missoula home.

I moved to Missoula sight unseen, in fact I had never even been to Montana before.  I grew up in Iowa and picked up a fly rod as a teenager after watching some fly fishermen on an outdoors show (back when you had to get up early on Sat. morning to see any outdoor programming).  I caught bass and panfish for years before going with my grandfather to Alaska for 3 months after my freshman year.  We had a truck, an Airstream, and a canoe and we fished all over the state.  After that I knew I had to move out west.  Missoula was the obvious choice because of the U of Montana and most importantly, all the nearby rivers.

A lot of our readers are going to read this and think, ‘dang it, I should move to Missoula’; what do you like and dislike most about Missoula?

There’s not much to dislike about Missoula.  The grey winters due to frequent inversions is the biggest negative.  The list of likes is a long one because this town has so much to offer.  The outdoor options are obvious as we have great fishing, skiing, rafting, hiking, and biking only minutes from downtown, but we also have plenty of culture with events at U of M, excellent restaurants, trendy breweries, and more.  The climate is a bonus too with the mildest winters in the state.  I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Skwala fishing on the Bitterroot

Skwala fishing on the Bitterroot

You’ve been guiding in Western Montana for a while now; tell us a bit about Montana Trout Outfitters.

I started guiding in 1998 and I have always approached guiding as a profession, not just something to do in the summer.  Anglers from all over the world dedicate a lot of time and money to come fishing in Montana each year.  For many it is an absolute dream trip, and it bothered me to see some outfitters book clients with subpar guides just to sell a float.  I have fished with those types of guides on my own destination trips and it’s a miserable experience.  As a result MTO is not the biggest outfitter in the area, but I am fortunate to call most of the veteran guides in Missoula my friends.  The average guide working for me has been guiding for 10 years or more.  They have a healthy list of repeat anglers and provide a very high level of service.  Our goal is simple, to provide the best fly fishing experience in the Missoula area.

There’s more water within a two-hour drive of your front door than you could really learn well in a lifetime of flinging flies and streamers.  What water(s) do you really consider your home waters – the one(s) you just couldn’t live without?

All of them…That’s why I live here, and frankly why an experienced guide matters so much in Missoula.  It takes a lot of time to learn all these rivers.  I looked back at my fishing reports from last year in June and I had a week where I fished 6 different rivers in 7 days.  My home waters are the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, Blackfoot, and Rock Creek which seems like a simple list.  But you have to realize that there are 80 miles of Clark Fork east of Missoula and another 70 west of town.  The mainstem Bitterroot is 84 miles with another 25 or so miles for both the East and West Forks.  Add another 75 for the Blackfoot and 45 for Rock Creek and you have a lot of river miles not to mention the  dozens of tributaries in each drainage.  I know I’m spoiled but I wouldn’t want to give up any of them.

Part 2 follows tomorrow.

Tony with a dry fly rainbow.

Tony with a dry fly rainbow.


Little Black Stonefly from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.


OSPsnapAn interesting coalition of fishers is mounting an effort to help bring a volitional fish (steelhead and salmon) passage to the Opal Springs dam complex on the lower Crooked River.

The coalition includes Northwest Steelheaders, Native Fish Society, Central Oregon Flyfishers, WaterWatch of Oregon, Crooked River Watershed Council among others.

From a NFS email recently –

For nearly 15 years, and over $200 million dollars spent, public and private stakeholders have been working on the reintroduction of steelhead and salmon into their historic territory above Lake Billy Chinook in the upper Deschutes Basin.  The upper Deschutes includes the middle Deschutes, the Metolius River, the Crooked River and their tributaries.  Historically, the Crooked River and its tributaries represented prime spawning grounds for steelhead and Chinook salmon heading up the Deschutes, but unfortunately a barrier largely blocks upstream passage for returning anadromous fish.

Currently, a trap and haul system at Opal Springs dam provides a temporary solution to the fish passage issue, but successful reintroduction is in jeopardy if a fish ladder is not installed.  The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife ranks it as the second most important fish passage project in the state, behind the Hells Canyon Dam complex.  The owner of Opal Springs Dam has no legal obligation to provide a fish ladder, but is willing to do so and has offered to pay approximately half of the cost. Of the hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in the reintroduction efforts, the approximately $3 million needed for the ladder is trivial in comparison.

The Opal Springs Passage website has been set up to explain the project in detail, track the efforts to get this done, petition the Oregon governor for support and channel fundraising.

Worth skipping a morning espresso or two and donating ten bucks (or more).

Image via Opal Springs Passage site.



by Mark McGlothlin on March 21, 2015

in Fish Stories

"Unwind" from LivitFilms on Vimeo.



The same boat as here, but she looks much better on the water. Via Wooden Boat People.



Just when we’ve settled into the routine of eating like cavemen and feeling a hell of lot better overall (inspired in part by this bullshit), Chef Libby in Austin fired this email and recipe over a few days ago.

…I know you guys are eating Paleo these days, but when you have that overwhelming craving for what just might be the best biscuit we’ve ever baked here (Libby runs a catering kitchen in Austin), you simply must whip up a batch of these.

When you read through the recipe you’ll remember that the technique here is borrowed from French pastry wizardry, the layering of butter between dough planes. Granted, these are biscuits are not fine French pastry, but they’re like nothing like any biscuit you’ve ever tasted.

These biscuits have a been a magic talisman for our scheduling; every time we serve them at an event we have two or three bookings because folks love them so much…

…Your diehard biscuit fans on Chi Wulff could tackle these with ease, please share…

‘Nuff said.

1 1/4 lb. White Lilly AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 lb. shortening
2 cups buttermilk
Soft butter (figure at least a stick…)

Preheat the oven to 400; place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Make a dough. Sift the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt into a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender until the size of small peas.

Now add the buttermilk all and once and mix / fold quickly but gently until the buttermilk is incorporated. The dough is going to be sticky but manageable; adjust consistency as needed.

Now make the magic. Turn the dough out onto a floured surfaced and work gently with your hands (fold and pat) until the texture evens out a bit. Pat into a rectangle the size of a baking sheet.

Now spread 2/3 of the dough with a thin layer of soft butter; fold the unbuttered side onto the middle 1/3 of the buttered side, then fold the other 1/3 buttered side to make a triple layered stack.

Now turn the dough a 1/4 turn, pat it down into a rectangle and repeat the butter and fold. Then do it one more time again.

Roll and cut. Now pat and / or roll to 1/2 inch and using a 2.5 or 3-inch cutter punch out your biscuits. Bake for 13-14 minutes at 400, turning the tray once halfway through. Brush those golden brown tops with butter if you’re channeling your inner Paula Deen.



Little Green Machine from Headhunters Fly Shop on Vimeo.

Another classic from HH.




lpskpig11Yep. They did.

Not a little ironically last Friday, Friday the 13th, Montana House Bill 496 to establish a “Transfer of Public Land Feasibility Task Force’ to study the issue of public lands transfers failed to pass out of committee on a 9-9 vote.

It was later tabled on a 10-8 vote and is considered dead at this point, though the committee can revive it (zombies do rise from the grave occasionally) or a super-majority of the House can vote to bring it to the floor (politicians do dumbass things occasionally).

Keep an eye on the dead HB 409 here; may it RIP for the remainder of the session.

This clearly isn’t the end of the issue in Montana, but guess there wasn’t enough lipstick for that pig to squeak through last week.



Two weeks ago we posted The Iconic Daiquiri, holding fast to the adage that simple in the kitchen most often yields the best results.

Little did I realize how far down the rabbit hole pursuit of the Hemingway Daiquiri and its various versions would lead us.

Entire tomes have been penned about rum and the myriad permutations of rum-based libations that have sprung forth with great inspiration over the years since the first coarse rums ‘hit the beach’.

Far be it from me to claim expertise in this area; a blog titled Rumdood has posted the lowdown on Hemingway and the Daiquiri; for those interested – how can you resist a teaser like this…

…If the Daiquiri is the Holy Grail of rum mixology, the Hemingway Daiquiri may be the Lost Ark.  Everyone claims to know what it is, but the actual history around it is somewhat nebulous…

Read the entire post here about the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Floridita Daiquiri, The Papa Doble and the Hemingway Special Daiquiri.

2 ounces white rum
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 tsp. Maraschino
1 tsp. grapefruit juice
1 tsp. sugar or 1/2 ounce simple syrup

Chill a martini or cocktail glass with ice.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice and shake well; strain into the chilled glass.



Rio Marie

by Mark McGlothlin on March 19, 2015

in Fish Stories

Rio Marie' – John Sherman from The Fly Shop on Vimeo.

Peacock bass on the fly fishing only Amazon trib the Rio Marie.



by Jake McGlothlin on March 18, 2015

in Local's Prerogative

Fly fishing is a game of moments.  That moment when a fish that has been following your fly for ten feet decides to stick its nose up and sip it down.  That moment after days of standing hip deep in the river with nothing to show for it when you finally feel that big grab.  That moment when you catch the first fish on a fly you tied yourself.  Or that moment when you finally put hands on a species or size that you have been chasing for years.  We live for the take, the grab, the rise, the fish.

There are so many more moments than those that just involve fish or fishing.  Moments with friends or family that you would never otherwise have.  Like throwing rocks at sticks floating by from a sandbar during a lunch break as a kid.  Or sitting around a camp fire on a carp fishing trip, drinking and laughing until well into the night.

Fishing puts you in places that are special.  They’re special because they are beautiful and wild and not many people get to see or experience the things we do.  Sunday morning, for example, I was driving to the Upper Madison before dawn and happened to look back in the rearview and see this:


Trying to get the perfect picture while driving 70 down highway 89 while still half asleep was probably not the best idea, but in the moment it seemed like a good one.  You just never know what you are going to see out there.

Moments turn into memories which we can keep with us and look back at always.  And, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll run into that moment again sometime.  Every moment is different and even if almost everything is the same the next time around, it never will truly be exactly the same.  For instance, you could catch a fish on a certain rod with a  certain fly in a certain place and go back and catch the same fish with the same gear in the same place and it still wouldn’t be quite the same.


So savor each moment as it comes.  Enjoy it, and then let it go.  There will be more.  Many, many more.  Some better and some worse.  But that’s just part of the game.  And in the end it’s worth playing.  See you on the water.