Move-Along-1

Several years ago (amazingly in fact five years ago), Jake spent an earlier lifetime working for a year in a Southern State fly shop.

One evening a customer walked in and proceeded to authoritatively tell Jake there “are no trout in Montana over 18 inches long. They simply don’t exist. At all”.

Said customer had spent all of three days fishing the Big Hole and Bighorn and in his fertile mind had researched the issue carefully. Apparently his explanation was that the “severe winters and improper conditions in Montana rivers combine to stunt the growth of wild fish”.

Naturally we were skeptical and have spent several years vigorously researching his claim; our findings, however, were quite a surprise.

These Aren’t the Trout You’re Looking For; Move Along

With some sadness we now report the Southern gentleman was indeed correct. (We’ve been hesitant to publish our findings as we’re obviously strong supports of fly fishing in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone region.)

Move-Along-2In summary, we’ve found that fish size (rainbows, cutthroats, browns, grayling, carp, bass, walleye and anything else you might think of) has been shrinking consistently since 2010.

Catch rates are down, crowds sizes are up, river conditions have been tough, and carpet bagging SOBs businessmen from Atlanta now claim to own the air above the rivers as well as the water.

The posted pics are from the lower Madison (above) and between the Lakes (right) and represent the largest catches our highly skilled angler team have seen this entire season.

The bottom line – Montana’s trout aren’t the fish you’re looking for; it’s time to move on to more productive waters.

We hear South Dakota is fishing well this year and Colorado has more water flowing right now than any other state in the Rockies.

Tight lines and minimal road burn from your travels.

(Disclaimer: Post paid for by the Greater Bozeman It’s Been a Long Summer and Crowded Tourist Season Already Coalition.)

Images: Top – Angler Jake/Image Mark; Right – Angler Shane Rickert/Image Jake.

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CWTT23JulHdr_GPIM

Austin-based friend, fisher, and food & beverage mentor Libby emailed this past week and asked if we were still enjoying a gift bottle of Mezcal that popped in a few months ago (thanks again, Sinjin!).

Knowing our shared penchant for a good margarita (among other things), she said we simply had to try a new infusion their team was playing with for summer beverages – a Grilled Pineapple Infused Mezcal for margaritas, mojitos and any other similar summer cocktails.

Her team thinks the pineapple grilled to a well-marked caramelization is best over the more mildly flavored hardwood lump charcoal (as compared to mesquite, the other most commonly used charcoal and wood in their grilling), though she admitted they’ve not tried it grilled over other woods.

Pineapple on the grill is one of our favorite summer go-to’s on the grill and now a batch of this potion is soaking on the counter this morning. See you at the shaker in a couple of days.

12 1-inch cubes fresh pineapple
12-14 ounces Mezcal

Fire the grill.

Prep the pineapple and thread on to two skewers.

Grill the pineapple chunks over medium-high direct heat until well-marked and caramelized.

Combine the pineapple and mezcal in a quart Mason jar, shake well, and place on the counter at room temp. for 48 hours.

Strain using a fine mesh strainer, squeezing every last drop out of the pineapple. Store in the fridge for up to three months (it’ll never last that long) and get busy with the Mojitos or Margaritas.

Enjoy.

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Art's Crippled Hex from Green Mountain Troutfitters on Vimeo.

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Handmade with woods from 9p#5 Média on Vimeo.

French bamboo rod builder Zane from 9p#5 Media.

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There are a bevy of skilled guides and several very strong shops serving fly fishers targeting the Missouri River in Montana.

Everybody has their favorite(s); we try to follow them all as every group tends to have particular strengths and viewpoints that resonate. Of late Mark Raisler and John Arnold, the almost ‘odd couple’ pair of honchos running Headhunters, have been knocking it out of the park with a series of nifty blog posts.

Not every shop out there is willing to share the nitty gritty without some sort of quid pro quo (you buy some stuff and we’ll tell you some stuff); not every shop is interested in being honest about crowds, weather, flows, etc. We like teams who tell it like it is.

Mark and John shared some great stuff this past week or so, some of it brutally honest and it likely sent some fishers packing for other waters; it does sound like the crowds have been punishing of late.

Four posts you don’t want to miss –

Now that you’re visualizing Trico columns lining every bend of shoreline, here’s a little short we did a few months back that was shot during a week on the Mo’ in July; throwing it up again just for the impressive morning Trico’s and Caddis in the evenings. Hot damn.

4 Months from Dry Fly Media on Vimeo.

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Meadows Fly Fishing Presents "The Meadows Project: Spring" from The Meadows Project on Vimeo.

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EYLENDA | Iceland 4K from Eylenda on Vimeo.

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Today's flow map at approx 9 MDT

Today’s flow map at approx 9 MDT

A quick snapshot of the statewide flow map is pretty sobering. And while the weather over the past 7-10 days hasn’t brought the blistering heat of several weeks back, flows remain damned skinny keeping temperature stress risk high. Kudos to FWP for taking a proactive stance this year with early institution of Hoot Owl restrictions.

There are a number of Montana rivers on Hoot Owl Restriction (2 PM to Midnight); for many of the rivers only certain parts of the river are impacted. See the details here on FWP’s Fishing and Waterbody Restrictions & Closures page –

  • Beaverhead
  • Big Hole
  • Bitterroot
  • Blackfoot
  • Clark Fork
  • East Gallatin
  • Flint Creek
  • Gallatin (Sheds and down)
  • Jefferson
  • Madison (Ennis damn to confluence)
  • Ruby
  • Shields
  • Silver Bow Creek

Keep doing your rain and mild weather dance.

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Arctic Spring

by Mark McGlothlin on July 21, 2015

in Fish Stories

Arctic Spring from White glas production on Vimeo.

Fly fishing for big browns with a Larry Kenny fiberglass rod.

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2chkfgt15xNews out of the Bahamas has thrown the salt-loving fly fishing world into a tizzy the past couple of weeks; the protectionist, punitive draft plan was a swing and a miss in just about every area.

In response, last week the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust published a most interesting document (link below) they’d worked on with a bevy of folks heavily invested in the health and sustainability of tropical salt water fisheries.

A document the Bahamian government should have crafted from the get go when they began their clumsy endeavor to revamp the regs from top to bottom.

The team of scientists, fishery managers and recreational fly fishing industry types even went so far as to state their overarching objective in the first, albeit incredibly simple, sentence of the doc (an objective that had been sorely missed in the draft Bahamian legislation) –

The long term health of a fishery requires a comprehensive management plan.

BTT’s Points of Consideration for Bahamas Bonefish Fishery Management proposed regulations “FISHERIES RESOURCES (JURISDICTION AND CONSERVATION)(FLATS FISHING) REGULATIONS, 2015 goes on to lay out why the fishery should be optimally managed, the conservation anchors to root the fishery for long term, sustainable success, the critical importance of education, and even goes on to propose meaningful, practical regulations with some enforcement muscle.

So That’s What Happens When the Big Kids Pay Attention to Science and Economics

If you have any interest at all in fly fishing the Bahamas in the future, please go read BTT’s suggestions and sign on if you agree it’s a reasonable plan; rest assured that BBT will communicate the range of support to the Bahamian leadership in a meaningful way.

And kudos to BTT for rounding up a diverse leadership group and corralling rational scientific and economic data to drive home critical conservation points. A great example of what happens when the big kids come to the table, lay out the facts (science) and present a thoughtful, compelling argument.

Will it sway things to a rationale end in the Bahamas? We sure as hell hope so – the Bahamian fat lady hasn’t sung just yet.

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WSC_WAHdr_20JulFrom the Wild Steelhead Coalition

Take advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to help Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) establish wild steelhead sanctuaries in Puget Sound rivers.

Among other culprits of steelhead decline, hatcheries are a contributing factor to why Puget Sound steelhead populations have plummeted to roughly three percent of their historical abundance. Decades of management that prioritized hatchery plants at the expense of wild steelhead returns are part of why these incredible fish are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Recognizing this problem, the Wild Steelhead Coalition and its members have worked tirelessly since its founding to mitigate the negative impact that hatchery steelhead have on their wild counterparts, including seeking to reduce or revise hatchery plants in watersheds with sufficient potential for wild steelhead recovery. But now more than ever before, we need to take action.

Through years of hard work and extensive collaboration with Native Fish Society, Wild Fish Conservancy, and the Conservation Angler, we have been able to take important, incremental steps to help reduce the negative impacts of steelhead hatcheries. However, in all of our years of work, we have never before had an opportunity like this in Puget Sound to use public input and the best available science to transform rivers into wild steelhead gene banks where the harm of hatchery steelhead will be forever eliminated.

While the creation of at least three wild steelhead gene banks is required under Washington’s State Steelhead Management Plan, WDFW has significant latitude over how many rivers and which rivers they designate as gene banks. With hatchery proponents working furiously to limit these designations to three smaller tributaries, it is critical that wild steelhead advocates make their voices heard and establish river basins that have diversity, abundance and will provide refuge through a changing climate.

Over the next two weeks, WDFW will be hosting three meetings for citizens to express their opinions publicly on the designation of Wild Steelhead Gene Banks. Please attend one of these meetings and make your voice heard.

  • Public Comment Meeting – Tuesday, July 21 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM in Seattle at the Phinney Center: Room 7 (6532 Phinney Ave N)

  • Public Comment Meeting – Monday, July 27 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM in Mount Vernon at Skagit PUD (1415 Freeway Dr.)

  • Public Comment Meeting – Tuesday, July 28 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM in Sequim at Trinity Methodist Church (100 S Blake Ave)

Comment here online if you can’t make the meetings.

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Skate or Die

by Mark McGlothlin on July 20, 2015

in Damn!

Skate or Die from Cortney Boice on Vimeo.

Catching cutthroat on a mouse is the equivalent of catching a wild unicorn while it is jumping over a rainbow.

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You’ve probably seen this already…

Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning survived a shark attack yesterday without an apparent scratch, several minutes into the final heat, while broadcast on live television. Some accounts have reported two different sharks were involved.

The other finalist competitor Julian Wilson paddled on his board to aid Fanning – a genuine balls of steel maneuver – thankfully jet ski and boat support was on scene almost immediately.

The two finalists split the winnings and called it a day thereafter.

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TVC19Jul_H1

VC19Jul_V1aIt’s funny how, in the fishing world, we get used to being around water. And if we’re not physically in and around it, odds are pretty good we are thinking about it. Water, and the things that live in it.

For a lot of my career I’ve been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time around water.

Whether it was shuttling vehicles and picking up drift boats on the Missouri, long evenings on the Gallatin after a long day in the shop, or floating the South Fork of the Snake as a kid, the West is synonymous with water. In the past year or so I’ve been able to get a taste of the salt—Cape Cod, Florida, Belize, and the South Pacific. I can honestly say that week in May of endlessly wading flats on a small French Polynesian atoll was pretty damn close to heaven.

I’ve struggled here in Vermont. In short, it’s not what I’m used to. Combination of my first desk job, small streams that don’t give me room to open up my cast, and limited trout numbers. They’re here, for sure, but limited. It’s taken some adjusting. But, at the end of the day water is water, and there’s something about it that just puts the mind at ease. For many of us, I think, water has a way of calming the brain and making the world just a bit better.

TVC19Jul_H2

TVC19Jul_V1So in the midst of some rather cagey days here of late, I’ve been taking long lunches and running off to a little local stream in pursuit of native brook trout. Call it snotty—whatever—but fishing for natives is alway more fun than fishing for stocked fish. Something about this being their natural environment and the fact they’ve been here long before we were. It makes each fish just that much more precious, and I can’t help but look at a native fish and think damn, he’s a survivor.

The little brookies are ambitious—today I grinned unabashedly when one little guy kept nibbling at my fly, sometimes twice or even three times in one drift. He cold never get his mouth around it but damn he tried. Really, there’s a pretty impressive life lesson there, when you think about it. Something about the mottled backs, white-tipped fins, and sprinkling of reddish dots makes these little fish something special, and in turn makes the days just a little bit better.

Even when I show up to my 1 PM meeting with wet clothing due to a larger brookie wrapping around a log on the other side of the creek and my insistence that—dammit—I’m going to lose my last size 16 buzzball. Flip flips come off and it’s time to wade (cheers to skirts that dry quickly).

So here’s to water, even if it’s maybe not the exact water we want at the time. Still convinced the stuff has some magic properties that make everything better.

By the time you guys read this Sunday morning, I’ll be two days into a shoot at Alaska’s Bristol Bay Lodge. Look for some fun shots coming up next week.

TVC19Jul_H3

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Fly to the Trigger Paradise II from HFChannel on Vimeo.

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