Only 166 days until the creeks reopen

Today was the final day of creek season for western Montana. I started my year on Rattlesnake back in May so I figured it was a good way to wrap things up. Thurston and I got out for a couple hours. No bites but we did see one trout scurry out from under an ice shelf as we approached. Lost a couple San Juan worms and a killer kebari to snags. All fingers and toes remained intact.








Fun time on the water as always. I threw line from Thurstons “western” style rod and managed to not get it horribly tangled. Maybe I’ll have to give it another go when the guides and line aren’t freezing up…
Thurst was kind enough to bring some ’12 Abyss by Deschutes, great way to end creek season. See you in the Spring, small water.


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Fall on a creek

Went fishing. Fooled three into taking the hook, all three spit it. Broke my rod tip as I was finishing up. Still, a great late fall day on the water.




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Sport Fishing off the CA coast

I found out a few months ago I’d be headed to Colorado Springs for some work training. It’s been ten years since I visited my friends in California so, I figured I’d fly down there for a few days pre-training and hang out. I used some airline miles to go MSO>PDX>LAX and my Boss was cool enough to fly me SNA(John Wayne Airport)>DEN>COS>DEN>MSO instead of MSO>DEN>COS>DEN>MSO. While in California, we headed out on the ocean for some sport fishing.

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We hit the docks bright and early. Loaded up and stopped at the bait barge to get filled up. Tons of sardines swimming along side the boat. Couple guys in kayaks and a few other huge boats at the bait barge.

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Absurdly beautiful morning. I can see why people are attracted to the ocean.

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Morning faces.


We motored along for somewhere around four hours. A few guys got sea sick. We ate some breakfast burritos and had some terrible coffee from the galley.

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The Captain was 22 years old. Dustin made the joke that he had to skip school to be there that day. People on board were a pretty wide mix. The crew seemed chill. A couple clear cut d-bags out of the anglers. Three women that seemed a bit out of place. Early in the trip I claimed that they would win the jackpot (biggest fish). Sure enough… to be fair, one of the deck hands hooked it and handed the rod over to her.


Captain Kid was on the hunt for skipjack tuna. The whole crew was looking for these kelp pads. Apparently, there is a lot going on below the surface when you see these things. This one popped up and all the anglers sprang to action.


It was intense. Near the first pad, we all rigged up. We were “fly lining”, which is apparently when you skewer some live bait through the nose, drop it over the side and let it run your line out. The whole time there are three rods off the back of the boat trolling. Finally, a fish hooked up on a troller and this was the signal for the Captain to kill the motor and get the anglers to throw line in the water.

At the first stop, I ran down, found a spot on the rail and dropped bait. Rapid fire, people were hooking and pulling in these HUGE (to me) tuna. Rods bent in half, people running back and forth along the boat, it was insane. I didn’t hook into anything and rapidly realized I was perfectly ok with that.


A gaffe is a long stick with a hook on the end. This is the preferred method for getting the fish in the boat. I’m so used to catch and release it didn’t even cross my mind that we’d be keeping fish. After seeing so many fish get pulled in the boat and left to bleed out on the deck, I just couldn’t bring myself to keep on fishing. I’m not judging the folks who did in the least. It’s just really not my jam. On the day, something like 110+ skipjack tuna came on board. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 people had line in the water. They could all take the meat home and eat it while I couldn’t. I decided I’d tried the fishing so, it was time to just get up out of everyone else’s way and watch the madness.

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While the fishing wasn’t my thing, the trip was still pretty damn cool. Dustin clearly had a great time and it was fun to watch him work his ass off for his fish. Plus, I got to see some awesome scenery and wildlife I don’t normally get to see. I dug the flying fish, pretty much impossible to get a pic of those things though. And the giant pod of dolphins was unreal.

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A fine haul of fish for Dustin. Me doing my best to hide from the sun. A bit of wind burn on my face and some color on my calves. I can deal with that.

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So, that’s my sport fishing adventure. While the fishing wasn’t my bag, I was happy to give Dustin an excuse to get out and do something he really enjoys. Hanging out with my buddies was one of the primary reasons I got into fishing in the first place so, that’s a win.

Happy angling all.

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Fishing with Thurston

It’s been far too long since Thurston and I got out to wet some line. Our schedules just didn’t mesh up over the summer and we both had too much life going on. Finally, we found some time and hit the creek this afternoon.

Thurston borrowed my Amago. It’s been a while since he fished tenkara but, it came back to him quickly and he started things off strong. His back is giving him fits so I ended up netting this one for him.


I hooked into a sizable fish not long after but it spit the hook. Not much action after that but a nice day on the water. I had another fish on at our take out but, it too spit the fly. We walked back down to the truck, had a beer and called it a day.




Well, that’s not entirely true. I had a bit of time and I didn’t want to get skunked so I popped back down to the hole I lost my first fish on. Managed to fall in and smack my knee (which I’m icing/elevating as I type this) and then managed to not get skunked…


Somewhere in the neighborhood of 17″, give or take due to the net being my measuring tool.

Great day in all. Love fall fishing in Missoula and it’s even better when it’s with a friend you haven’t seen in ages.

Happy angling.

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Been a few weeks

I’d like to say that I was just too busy fishing to post but, that’s not the case. Since the bikefishing trip I’ve only been out once, if I recall correctly. And I didn’t bring the camera along. I’ve been doing a bit of riding, a bit too much partying due to going away parties/punk rock shows, a bit of being hungover and a bit of being actually sick. Kind of a bummer but, I was feeling well enough to get out for a bit today. Good thing too.

Hit a section I’ve had good luck on before, no action for a few minutes then my hopper got hammered.

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I can’t seem to get fish to lay in the net perfectly but, it looks to be in the 18″-20″ range. It was a fat and healthy brown with a lot of fight. It ran me downstream a good 50yds from where I hooked into it. Once I finally got it in to the net we were both pretty tired. I spent a good two or three minutes holding it in the water letting it get its legs back under it before it swam off. Amazing.


My adrenaline was pumping to say the least. The Amago was bent in half, I was battling overhanging branches and trying not to fall in the creek. I was sure I was going to lose it a time or two.


Happy camper. Hooked into it up by the bridge and took the pic where I finally netted it.

After that, I decided this section was done for the day. I couldn’t top that experience so I hopped in the truck and headed up stream a bit further. Changed to a dry fly my friend Lucas tied for me and was into a nice little fella quickly.


About that time I saw two guys with fly rods walking down stream. They most likely it everything ahead of me so I wasn’t expecting much action and didn’t really get it. Small strikes but nothing that could even fit the fly in it’s mouth. I was ok with it and pretty much treated the rest of this section as a hike to let the last of my adrenaline wear off.


Beautiful afternoon in Missoula. I got to where I’d planned on taking out and had the thought that it’s most likely where the two other anglers had come out. I knew of two very nice holes just barely upstream from there so I figured, why not?


Glad I went for it. Snagged this beauty and moved up stream another 30yds or so to the next, and final, spot for the day.


After missing one strike, then watching a rise with no take I figured my day was done. Telling myself “one last cast” this beast took the fly and came to the net. Packed the rod up and hiked back to the trail to head down to the truck.


Stellar day. Especially considering I decided to head out on a whim and fished for under two hours. You may have noticed a fishing vest and not the typical Goertzen lanyard in the above pic. The whole “minimalist tenkara” thing is great and all but, the storage and ease of use available with a vest has drawn me over. Still need to get my packing of it dialed in but, it’s still pretty minimal and it works much better.

Hopefully, I’ve kicked the last of this illness and I can get out a few more times in the coming weeks. Fall fishing was good to me last year and it’s sure treating me well so far this season.


Happy angling all!

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Bikefishing the Rattlesnake

Duncan and I did a smaller version of this trip a few weeks back. It was awesome and made me want more of it. The season at the bike shop is winding down so Chad took the day off, we hopped on the bikes and motored up the ‘Snake to do some fishing.


I rode over to Chad’s about 8:30 and it was damn cold out. Fall has arrived in Missoula to be sure. We loaded the bikes on the car, dropped his kid off at daycare and then headed up to the trailhead. We were on dirt around 9:30 making decent time.


Quick stop at Franklin Bridge to make some clothing alterations. Still cold out but trying to keep up with Chad had my core temp way up and I didn’t feel like sweating the entire ride.


About an hour and a half of riding and we hit our put in spot. We switched out from riding shoes to wading boots, stashed the bikes and got in the frigid water.


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Chad was into a fish pretty quickly but, as cold as it was we wouldn’t see much action for a while after this. We even debated just stopping and making a little fire and letting things warm up a bit before fishing but, decided to press on. Some pretty amazing looking holes we had no action in will probably be my first stop next summer when I get back up there…


Even with no action it was nothing to complain about. Beautiful place to spend the morning.


We kept working spots that looked extremely fishy with no action. But, it was starting to warm up. A few bugs began to flit around and it was only a matter of time.


I was there too…


Not a bad backdrop.


I finally got into a fish. The sun was poking out and more and more bugs started coming off. It was still work to find a willing trout for a little bit but things did eventually take off.


Pretty fishy looking water the entire time. If I recall this was about where things blew up. From here until the take out we had fish on the line in regular intervals.


Fishes very similarly to the lower Rattlesnake. You only get one, maybe two, chances when they come after your fly. If you get over eager or miss the set it shuts a hole down quickly.


Even the little guys were fighters and they were hammering dry flys. Chad threw on a streamer for a bit and had some follows as well before switching back to a dry/dropper setup. He was doubled up at one point but both fish managed to spit the hooks.


We’d planned on stopping and having a fish fry for lunch but I think we were both enjoying ourselves too much. Decided at some point we were not going to keep any for this trip.


Mostly skinny cutts but we did find a few fatties.


I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of catching little fish. The big ones are great too, don’t get me wrong, but I’m never disappointed by a small fry.

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Tenkara was built for this water. I did a pretty fair job picking it apart with a dry fly but, I’d love to see one of the truly skilled tenkara guys work this water with a kebari. And I think I’ll be giving it a go with one next year…





We played leap frog all day. Both of us having non-stop luck. I wouldn’t have minded waders but, we managed to not lose any toes to frostbite.


The Amago is looking a bit well worn. The cork grip is getting loose and the branding is peeling off but, it still handles fish of all sizes just fine. And this was the fly of the day. It survived snags and tons of fish hammering it. I told Chad I might just have to frame this one.

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One of my favorite sequences of pics from the day. Just made me laugh for some reason.

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As we got closer to the dalles the wading got tougher. Very much reminded of some other creeks in western Montana. The fishing didn’t slow down at all through these crags.



If you look close, you can see Chad in the upper right of the photo. I met up with him there and then shimmied down the rocks to fish the final pool. Managed to pull out a few really nice cutts and then fell in. One last cast brought in one of my nicest fish of the day so I called it quits after that. Before I climbed back up and started the hike out with a wet ass we saw a huge Osprey heading down the canyon. Aside from smaller birds it was the first wildlife we’d seen all day.



I’d stashed a few Double Hauls back at our put in.


Classy little snack of vienna sausage, ritz crackers and beer while we let our feet dry out a bit. Packed everything up and hopped on the bikes for the descent back to the trailhead.

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The ride out was fast and fun. The new bike performed flawlessly on the trip. Just after Franklin Bridge I saw something in the trail and realized it was a huge mountain lion. I yelled to Chad and the cat just stood up and darted off into the woods. I dunno about Chad but I pedaled a bit harder for a few minutes. We ran into a runner on her way up and warned her it was probably a better idea to turn back.

We were back to the car in no time and I had the awesome news that my wife had passed the BAR exam waiting for me! Exhausted, Chad and I hit up Taco Bell on the way home and I basically crashed after meeting Shannon for a celebratory drink.

It was an amazing day and has me motivated to get up there more often next summer as well as explore other areas that are a bit harder to access. Good excuse to equip the Moonlander for easier cargo carrying…

Happy angling all.

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Multiple Rattlesnake Outings

It’s been a while since I posted but, not since I fished. I’ve been hitting the Rattlesnake pretty heavy the past few weeks. With sunset coming earlier and earlier it’s just too easy to get out for a quick fish on the local water before dark. Did a pretty epic trip today and I need to get caught up on these so I can do that post soon. Here we go…


Chad is who taught me how to fish the ‘Snake. Gave me some pointers and showed me a few spots when I was just getting started. He’s pretty much my fly fishing mentor. Have learned a ton from the guy and always enjoy when we get to head out together. We hit up some of the spots he first showed me the ropes on the other day. Good time.

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Nice fatty. No big fish in this water though. Don’t bother going there yourself. This was a fluke.

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See? That other one was an optical illusion. Only fish like this in the ‘Snake. And by “like this” I mean beautiful little fighters…


We fished a lot further than this but, I stopped taking pics for some reason. Probably because we were both going to be late for our Fantasy Draft that evening so I was more concerned with packing as much time on the water in as possible. Chad won his week one game, I lost, in case you care.

The next few times out I went on my own. Once, after picking up an old CRT TV from my in-laws who live in the area. I was just too close to a hole Chad and I had hit on the above trip to pass on the chance of hitting it. Worth the <1 hour stop…


Camera was on a weird setting and the first few shots were blurry. Entered through a spot near my in-laws neighborhood, turned down stream and hit a nice big hole.


Didn’t take long before I snagged this guy. Popped out of the water onto a trail and headed downstream, saw a bit more action but no more fish. Did see some other wildlife though.


And was treated to a nice sunset.


I can get a bit obsessed when I happen upon a good spot. The hole mentioned above was under my skin and I had to get out. After getting a new bike I immediately went for a ride and promptly lost my sunglasses. It was getting dark and I was exhausted so I figured I’d chance it and look for them the next day. Found them and had some time to spare so, I went and hit the honey hole again…


The honey hole was good to me once again. Headed downstream and hit a few other spots with better results this time.


Caught a few others. It was another quick and dirty trip and, as always, was totally worth it.

Lastly, I decided it was time to get my net carrying method figured out. My Boss generously gave me a net earlier in the year. I’ve used it a bit but since I wasn’t a vest wearer I’ve always struggled with carrying it. And I’ve not had much luck any of the times I had it with me. So, back to the honey hole (I think I’ve pretty much fished it out of my system…)


Exactly what I was hoping for but, it just wouldn’t play nice and lay in the net along the measurement marks. Oh well. Net worked great and now, thanks to my buddy Duncan, I’ll have an easier way to carry it as he passed along an old vest. Thanks sir, owe ya some beer.

Once again, saw some deer…


I counted how many days I had on the water the other day. It was a bunch. I’ve honestly forgotten. It’s amazing how you can find time to fish when you alter your expectations even a little. Not every outing needs to be an 8 hour epic. Some times the sub-one-hour trips yield the most amazing results.

Next post will cover a bit of bike fishing. Chad and I got out and got a bit deeper into the Rattlesnake. It was an amazing day. I’m a bit exhausted to write it up at the moment. Think I’ll have a beer and watch some Netflix. Until then…

Happy Angling.

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