A 3-for

Been out fishing a few times since my last posting, I’ve just been too lazy to get anything written. I’m also nearing my free storage limit on here, need to decide what I’m going to do about that…

Anyway…

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Chad texted me while I was at work a few Sundays ago. “Thinking of fishing <redacted> for a few hours tonight, you game?” I was, (I’m still not getting specific about locations anymore, it was the Clark Fork, but if you want to know where you either need to figure it out yourself or come pick me up and have a cooler of beer to bribe me with…) so after work I headed home, geared up and he came and got me and of we went. Gorgeous evening. We hiked a long ways. Second photo above was where we both got into our first fish. Me at the downstream end of that log, Chad at the head of it. Both rainbows.

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Kept working our way up river. Forgot to mention the field of stinging nettle we hacked our way through to get to the previous points. My legs itched for two days.

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End of the line headed upstream. Back down we go, we went down a side channel, both got into some more little rainbows (wasn’t quick on the draw with the camera this trip at all). Bugs were starting to come off in droves at this point in the evening. We ended up essentially sight fishing. We’d watch for risers, head down the bank then cast in the same area.

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I found “IT”…

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Of course my camera battery decided to kick the bucket here. Chad’s got a 16″ rainbow on the line here (he taped it, it was a true 16), I got myself a 13″ shortly after and we called it a day. Pretty solid way to spend a Sunday evening.

This past Sunday was a scorcher. Shannon had some studying left to do so I decided to get out of her hair for a bit after work. Quick trip to a creek for me to cool off.

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This is only my second full summer fishing so it’s going to be interesting to see how runoff has changed the creeks. The channel on the left in the above photo was barely a trickle last year, now it seems that may be the new direction the creek will flow, we’ll see in a few weeks.

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This section was totally dammed last season. The logs stacked up higher than my shoulders. Now it’s a free run. I still managed to snag a fish that was hiding under the cutbank by some tree roots on the right.

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Interesting little “water feature”. The whole “voluntarily” thing kind of irks me. Don’t act all high and mighty about what you’re doing when it needs to be done to preserve an ecosystem… My troutbum/hippie conversion continues to progress, I found myself kicking down rock walls folks have built as “pools” in the creek. Not sure why people feel the need to cause damage to enjoy nature… Anyway…

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Oh right, this is a fishing blog, better show a fish picture. Yellow stimi was the fly for the day. Nice little brownie, after this guy I moved upstream, fish a little more, kicked down a “pool” wall then headed home, picking up some pizza and wings on the way. Again, nice Sunday evening.

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Matt and I met up on the bikes and headed up the creek on Thursday after he got off work. Still hot as heck in Missoula so it was nice to get in the cool water. And Matt had never fished this area before, always fun to show folks some nice spots to wet a line.

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I hooked an 11″ cutt and not long after Matt was into this nice brown. Shortly after that he got a rainbow, no pics of that one as it was a bit of a clusterfuck situation, he was up high on a log when he hooked it, I went in to deal with it, managed to hook myself in the hand then spill half my beer. Oh well.

Back to the bikes and upstream to fish another section.

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I used to hate bugs. Now things like this get my heart pumping.

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I’m not sure Daniel would appreciate a Tenkara+Beer story for the TUSA page, besides, he could link to just about any of my blogs if he wanted that…

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Matt snagged a Cutt somewhere in this section, just a bull trout shy of a grand slam. I took a little guy with my final cast and we called it an evening. Back to the bikes.

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Mmmmm, bikes…

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Missoula in the summer is a pretty awesome place. In this photo we’ve got a fly fisher, some kayakers, I think a dog, some float tubers, 20+ people in a floatilla of rafts, and some SUPers. Just your average Thursday.

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Yo, Simms, why don’t you make an SPD compatible wading boot?

Happy angling all.

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Two fishing trips

Monday, Matt and I headed out after I got off work for some fishing. This is the 4th time I’ve been on this creek lately. It’s come down pretty rapidly from my first outing. If this warm weather we’re having sticks around I’d bet it’s going to get down to tiny levels soon. If that’s the case, this outing makes for a nice end to this excellent early season stream.

Before I get to the pics, there was a recent incident at a local bike “park” that’s made me rethink how I’ll be writing my posts. After getting some attention in the press, and some supposed complaints from hikers, an area known as the Gravel Pit was bulldozed. It killed an excellent riding location for a lot of people, including a ton of kids. Now, creeks/streams are obviously not the same as “illegal” dirty jumps and I don’t consider this little blog to be “press” by any means but, to remain on the better safe than sorry side of things I’ll probably only be listing what river the creeks I fish dumps in to, if at all. I don’t think the story loses anything by not explicitly naming where I am and maybe it keeps the number of users to a minimum. Maybe I’m just falling down the rabbit hole of “paranoid fly-fisher” but really, I don’t care. Even if it doesn’t keep anyone off certain stretches of water I can be sure I didn’t add to any crowding.

Anyway…

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Matt was rapidly into a fish. First cast if I’m not mistaken. As this is such a small stream, I didn’t bother taking pics of any of our fish on this day. You’ve seen plenty of small trout if you’ve read any of my other posts.

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We fished up-stream for a little ways before things got too brushy. We popped out here and headed back down to the truck to drive further upstream. As Matt put it, I outsmarted myself with my GPS. I marked where I like to stop on this stretch but, the GPS did some funky zooming and I came up a bit short, depriving Matt of the chance to fish a nice fall pool. Oh well, good reason to make one more trip soon. Back to the truck and up to the bridge.

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After we took some fish in these pools around the bridge, we cracked some SHIFT, a very pleasant surprise from Matt (I’ve been looking for it at my local grocery store but they aren’t stocking it for some reason), and then headed up for the last run.

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While the likely hood of lunkers is slim, I do want to try dragging a streamer through this hole. It’s deep and the fish we took on dries from here were decent for this stream. Again, another great reason to go back. We packed it in and headed back to town before dark. Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening after work.

Tuesday at work I had a shitty attitude. No other polite way of saying it. We’re running pretty light staff this season at the bike shop, weekends are hectic and no “weekend” days off seems to be getting to me. Chad noticed and suggested/ordered that I take today off. AG being the awesome boss he is was cool with it so, I slept in a bit. Had some coffee and read some blogs. Ate lunch at #1 Gyro with Shannon and then headed down the Bitterroot. I’m determined to fish new water this year so, I picked a stream on the east side of the highway that I thought might be fishable and off I went.

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Today is the hottest day of the year so far and it felt unbelievably good to get thigh deep in this water. After miles of “No Hunting/No Trespassing/Private” signs I was getting a bit discouraged that this wouldn’t be worth future trips. Didn’t take long for that to go away.

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I parked at a campground, saw a guy and his kid heading out with a fishing pole and then had the whole area to myself. Lots of neat little bridges made stream access pretty simple.

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I popped down to the water and was into several cutthroat in rapid succession. Moving my way upstream, things got small fast. The creek split into two channels, one had a trail along it so I followed that, it was barely a trickle. I headed back down and started to make my way up the other side but, it was a full on bushwhack. And the water it self had to many trees across it and was too fast/deep to wade so, I made my way back downstream to see if I’d have any better luck/access.

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Found myself a nice little run and pulled this guy out before I set foot in the water. Waded out to the middle and proceeded to spend the next hour catching every fish I could in a 50 yard run. I stopped counting almost immediately and the fish kept getting bigger and more colorful. Here’s just a handful…

DSCF1737 DSCF1738 DSCF1739 DSCF1740 DSCF1741DSCF1742I foul hooked a beautiful little brookie but, didn’t feel right snapping a pic of that one. Tangled itself in my line as I was bringing it in so I just wanted it off the hook and in the water as quickly as possible.

This fish however, was selfie worthy…

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Used my Daiwa Soyokaze today and it was perfect for this water and these fish. My Amago would’ve worked, and at times the reach would have been nice, but a little shorter rod made for some playful fights.

I was about to pack it in, having said to myself that the next fish would be the last (yes, it really was that fast today) when a leg dangled over the bill of my hat.

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The fishing gods had smiled on me today for sure. Let this head back to the water to make one of the fish I’d already caught and released happy with a big meal and threw out my line looking for that last fish.

DSCF1749All in all, a fantastic, refreshing day on the water. Refreshed and ready to head back to work after my two remaining days off and looking forward to my next chance to get on the water. Plus, I made a little stop on my way home, why shouldn’t this evening be pleasant as well?

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Happy angling all.

 

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Small creeks, small trout

Got back out to the same creek as earlier in the week on Thursday. I was supposed to head up later in the afternoon with Thurston but he unfortunately had to cancel. I packed up a bit earlier and hit Rattlesnake Creek first.

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Fished a little side channel for about half an hour. The water is still pushing pretty hard out of the ‘Snake. I think it’s still a week or two from being worthwhile fishing. I had no action. Soon though… soon.

After warming up on the ‘Snake I hopped in the truck and headed to the other creek. I started a bit further upstream than Monday’s outing. Access to the creek still meant bushwhacking a bit but, not nearly as steep from the road.¬†Looking downstream at my starting point.

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I moved to the gravel bar on the right side of the above photo, turned up-stream and started fishing this beautiful water.

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First cast just to the left of the big log resulted in a nice brown trout.

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I worked my way upstream, pulling fish out of pretty much any spot that looked decent on a variety of flies.

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I’m fairly certain I caught my first Bull Trout in one of these pools. Unfortunately, it got away before I could get a picture. I found a bull trout identification program online from FWP, I’ll run through it when I have some time and hopefully get another chance to see one.

I fished this lower section then decided to head upstream a few miles and see what else was going on. About 3 more miles up I came on a bridge and started changing flies¬†after every catch. Elk Hair Caddis, ant patterns, parachute adams, kebari, anything I threw they took. While fishing the elk hair I was letting it drift along when I saw a tiny fish hammering it. So small it couldn’t get the hook in its mouth, I decided to see if I could drag it out. I tied on a tiny little Dirty Rat and pulled out this little beauty.

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Worked my way up and fished under the bridge for a bit and kept pulling out fish after fish.

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I’d say the average size fish this day was in the 8″ range. Ridiculous fun in a beautiful setting. I didn’t feel like crawling under the bridge so I popped back up on the road to cross to the other side. As I looked down the road I had a brown bear staring back about 30-40 feet away. It turned tail and ran, thankfully letting me keep my can of bear spray unused for this trip. I walked over and got in the truck, unsure if there were other bear in the area. After a little break I decided to hit some more water upstream, figuring I’d be safe as the bear was headed the other direction.

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I pulled one more fish out of this pool before I decided I was too nervous about the bear. I had a couple of hours in, tons of fish and figured I could come back another day so I called it a day. Headed in to town, grabbed a beer at Draught Works and had a relaxing evening. Managed to meet up with Thurston for a bit and made plans to get out Friday afternoon. We hit up the same creek again. First time for him, third for me.

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The weather wasn’t as conducive to good results on Friday. It rained pretty heavily before we arrived, then the skies cleared and the sun was out in full force. The fish just weren’t eating, or they couldn’t see the fly due to the constant changing light conditions. I managed to pull a little brown out of this first hole but, that was it for either of us today.

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Not even any luck in the same spot I started on Thursday. Oh well, just an excuse for us to head back up another day.

Until then, happy angling.

 

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Happy to be back on a creek

Some of the rivers are still flowing big, as are many of the creeks. But, if you find the right conditions some are fishing great. Chad took me to this creek last year and it fits the bill for early season fishing. South facing valley, lower elevation for the mountains, and a small creek in general. He got out there on Sunday and had excellent luck. I’ll be going again Thursday but, I couldn’t wait.

DSCF1668I parked a little lower down than Chad did, I’ll probably give his location a try later in the week. This drainage makes you work for your time on the water. Bush whacking down a steep slope has its rewards though. I started with a parachute adams, had a few fish on that spit the hook within minutes of hitting the water.

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After moving upstream a bit, I got into my first creek fish of the year. Nice little cutthroat. I love the simplicity of kebari, they are easy to tie and beautiful to look at but, nothing compares to watching a fish of any size rise up to strike a dry-fly. Switched over to an elk hair caddis for fun and moved up-stream a bit more.

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The water levels are awesome right now but, things are still pushing pretty hard and fast. Drifts were a challenge but I kept getting into nice little fish. After taking some on the elk hair, I switched over to a royal wulff. Not even a look on that one so I quickly changed to a Utah killer bug. Not a sniff of that either. I just haven’t found the time when that fly is the best choice in my area, I’ll keep giving it a go from time to time.

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I used my Daiwa Soyokaze today. It’s got a surprising amount of back bone. It’s been a long time since I fished it and I quickly remembered what I love about it. After having no luck with the UKB, and with time running down, I tied on a purple patriot and hit the last little bits of water.

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Ended the day with this nice little brown trout. Packed up the Soyokaze and made my way up to the road, and I do mean up.

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Twenty minutes of bushwhacking and climbing up out of this mess got me to the road. This photo really doesn’t do justice to how steep the slope is getting out of the creek.

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Lakes and ponds look pretty but, something about a dirt road and sun on the mountain side just does it for me.

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And then back into the Missoula valley, through a bug streak windshield.

I’ll be back on the same creek on Thursday with Thurston, seeing what kind of trouble we can get into. Couldn’t be happier that the creeks are coming down to fishable levels. The only bad thing is that the rest of the summer is going to fly by now.

Happy angling all.

 

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Georgetown Lake

Fished Georgetown Lake on Friday with my friend Paul. I haven’t driven up that direction in over ten years. While results at the lake were less than stellar, it’s a beautiful drive. Aside from Flint Creek, there were some other good looking streams along the way. I’m a fan of the beer from Phillipsburg’s crafter brewery, Discovery is opening mountain bike trails this year, and there is a candy shop and bbq place in Phillipsburg. I think I’ll be back up that way again sooner rather than later…

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Paul, rowing along the shore line. It’s a beautiful little lake. Fish were active, I just couldn’t get any to get on the end of my line. I’m still kinda “meh” about lake/pond fishing. My pontoon needs a few little things to be easier to manage in general (rod holder, better line management for an anchor, a working oar lock instead of bailing wire) and maybe getting those things done will make it easier to enjoy fishing. But, primarily I just sit, drink a beer and enjoy being outside. Fishing is really far down on the list of what I actually do on these trips.

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I hate sunscreen almost as much as I hate getting sunburned. Also, I’m just too cheap to buy a good PFD so this super old water skiing one will do the trick. At least until I pony up for the SIMMS one.

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The HD branding I could do without but, the saying felt very appropriate today. “There is a reason they call it fishing, not catching.”

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That scenery. I had one fish on the line, drank two beers, and broke my Amago, again. It wasn’t the most productive day but, it’s hard to complain about spending a Friday afternoon in a setting like this, fishing with a buddy.

Tomorrow, I’m hitting a small creek for an hour or two after work. Thursday, I’m heading out earlier in the afternoon to get a proper amount of time on the same creek. It’ll be the first outing for the Soyokaze this year. Can’t wait. Until then…

Happy angling.

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Creeks Fishing Is Open

I’m a big fan of creek fishing. Nothing wrong with big water, I just really enjoy the challenge that creeks provide. It fits more with my primary mode of fishing, tenkara. Creeks opened today and Chad and I got out for a bit after I got off work.

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This little side channel is usually good for a few fish maxing out in the ten inch range. Right now, it’s raging. Above average snowpack and some recent warm weather means high water is in full effect.

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Yes, I am a dork. But at least I didn’t hook the stream bed…

DSCF1649 DSCF1650Chad had a bump or two in the first area we tried, neither of us had luck. We drove up to hole pictured above. I threw a streamer through this bend (yes, I will tie a streamer on a tenkara rod from time to time) and it got hammered. I set the hook, put a huge bend in the rod to get the fish to even budge before it snapped my tippet (5x) and took my fly. The thing was enormous. Chad threw his streamer in after we took a short beer break and was quickly into another enormous fish. Same story for him, set the hook, tried fighting it away from the current, snapped his tippet. Only difference, he was using 0x! I’ll be heading back to this spot ASAP, may need to bring the spinning rod for a bit more backbone.

Couldn’t be happier that creeks are open once again. It’ll be seriously challenging (or sketchy depending on how you look at it) for the next few weeks but, soon after that it’s going to be killer days on small water.

Happy angling!

 

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Beavertail Pond

I’m a bit overdue on this one so, it’s going to be short and sweet. Shannon’s classmate Paul and I have been talking about getting out for a fish together for a couple years now. We finally made good on it. Loaded our single man pontoon boats in the back of my truck and headed out to Beavertail Pond one afternoon last week.

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Maiden voyage for my “new” skeeter. Got some kinks to work out but, can’t argue with the price (free, thanks Chad).
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No drinking on this trip so, I had a Fanta and ate snacks all afternoon. We were on the water for 9 hours, give or take.
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Paul broke the ice and brought in a fish. He caught several. Being on the boats, I was never close enough to get a good look but, a couple looked pretty sizable.
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I did finally get into a fish, after about 5 hours of trying. First fish in my new net was a nice little rainbow.

DSCF1639 DSCF1641Fun day on the water. Will head out there again for sure. Creeks open in, well, about 19 minutes from when I’m writing this. Chad and I will be getting out tomorrow after I get off work. Gonna be a fun time.

Happy angling!

 

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