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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Two more trips

I’ll be completely caught up after these two. Here we go…

I had Mom meet me at my house in the morning a few weeks back and we headed down the Bitterroot. Figured she could use a day in the mountains before starting the new school year. We hit up Kootenai Creek. Excellent hiking, easy fishing, and nice scenery.


Hiked up, dropped in the water and started getting into some little fish right away. Passed my glasses to her for the day (hence the double shades) so she could watch the fish rising (polarized makes a big difference, even in water this clear).

She took some pics/vids with her iPhone and quickly drained the battery so, I passed my camera over to her since she was enjoying snapping shots.

Here’s a “few” of me working the creek…

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Cloudy/cool/rainy forcast meant I broke out the Simms Guard Socks for the first time in awhile. The weather kept calm for the most part. We did start to get some showers towards the end but it was little more than a sprinkle.

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We came prepared though. Donned our rain coats and headed down to the trailhead when things seemed to be taking a turn.


On the way out we ran into this guy on the trail side. The folks over at /r/snakes seem to think it’s a rubber boa. Apparently a pretty rare sighting.


One last stop to take in the view before we got down to the trailhead. Into Stevensville for lunch at the Stevi Cafe (a must any time I’m down the ‘Root) and then down the street to Blacksmith Brewing.


Still a bit too warm out for a Pulaski Porter for me but, Mom enjoyed it. I stuck with the awesome Cutthroat IPA. Fun day indeed.

Just a few pics from a short outing with Duncan on Wednesday. Off work at six, on the water very shortly after for his first time on Rattlesnake. A few small guys in the Greenough Park area, back in the truck and further upstream. Light action for both of us, Duncan hooked into a big ol’ cutty in a hole I’ve always had good luck in. Fought it all the way in but it wormed away before I could snag a pic. Did get this one though…


Worked up as the light was dying. Dunc lost a fly to a backcast snag so I threw in the final hole.


A ridiculously gentle take and this guy was on the line. Healthy cutt on the last cast is a nice way to end a quick trip.

Fishing in western Montana. Ya just can’t beat it.

Happy angling all.

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Another photo dump

Shannon is at yoga for another thirty minutes or so and I felt like having a beer rather than going to the gym after work today. This is as good a time as any to get “caught up” on the fishing trips.

I got off work a couple Mondays ago, hit the gym and was still feeling a bit like I needed to get outside. Cut the gym trip a bit short, headed home and grabbed Shannon and Ri and we headed up the Rattlesnake for a little hike/fish action(by that I mean Shannon and Ri hiked around while I fished).


Shannon and Ri doing their thing.


Me doing mine. Rolled with the Daiwa Soyokaze for this trip. Went ultra minimal, only my Goertzen chest pack, wore my old school attire of gym shorts/tshirt and Vibram Five Fingers (it sucked, can’t believe how many times I fished in those before getting boots).


Shannon basically walked upstream on the path with the dog, occasionally popping down to get pics/chat with me while I headed directly upstream. Consequently, no fish pics. I didn’t catch any lunkers in the first portion. A few nice little cutt’s and browns. Did snag a 10″+ just before the end of this section though.


I always ‘OK’ my trips with my wife before I go but, I can’t recall a time she’s ever said no. And more often than not she encourages me to get out! You people who have SO’s who aren’t supportive of your habits chose poorly.


Some days, the solitude of fishing is exactly what I need. This day, I needed some cool water, pretty trout and my family close by. Ri was pretty adventurous with the water and also with a few passing dogs. After being attacked a few years back it’s good to see him open up to other animals a bit.


Shannon popped off for a few side tracks with Risdon. It’s too bad housing in the Rattlesnake is so ridiculously expensive, would be amazing to live up where we spend so much time recreating.


This was about the time I got into the last/largest brown of the outing. Good time cooling off and hanging with the fam.

Chronologically, my next trip was with down to Kootenai Creek. But, I took Mom on that one and she got some great pics so I think I’ll skip that for now and do a single post for that.

After a day of being productive on my weekend (a Thursday), I decided I needed some time on the water. It was getting close to sunset so I wanted something short and sweet. I hit Hobo Alley (the Rattlesnake from it’s confluence with the Clark Fork to Greenough Park, I didn’t hit the full section).


Two casts and I brought in a little cutty while a couple watched from the balcony of their Double Tree hotel room. I always have an instant calming sensation upon hooking up with the first fish. Until that point there is always this nagging sensation of “I should’ve done this, that, or the other thing”. But once I watch one rise to a dry fly, my brain shuts off and the fishing really starts.

Worked my way upstream with no action. I was about to cross from right bank to left bank when I decided I should cast into the run before wading in, good plan…


Solid brown took my fly. Worked my way up to Broadway where I hooked into a ~14″ rainbow. No pic of that one, it flopped out of my hand while I was fumbling for the camera. Collapsed the rod and called it a night. Several fish in about 45 minutes of wading. Once again, exactly what I needed.

Next time out, my buddy Duncan and I bikefished up the Rattlesnake. You can head to Missoula Bicycle Works’ Blog to read about that one and see some pics. It was pretty awesome and I immediately started looking at what gear I “need” to do more of that type of activity upon getting home.

Next up was Rattlesnake once again. It’s just so damn close and easy. This one was more to scope out a planned trip for Monday. I started at the connector trail footbridge and worked up to the dam (fishing on RC ends 100yds below the dam and is closed until Beeskove Creek, sixish miles up from the Rattlesnake Trailhead.


Things started off slow, a few little Cutt’s like the one above. Then things shut off until I got to some “falls”. Found myself a nice mix of cutts, browns and bows. From that point until the dam, not a thing. That section either sucks or just hasn’t been good to me thus far.

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I find “city” deer horribly annoying. I find actual wildlife awesome. Spooked this little buck as I worked my way up towards the dam.

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Hooked into one last cutt in this last run, just shy of the “No Fishing Upstream” sign. I’ve heard stories of people fishing closer to the dam. I’d imagine it would be an epic day, but too many epic days is what got us into the situation we’re in now with the need for conservation so, I turned around and headed home like a law abiding angler.


Can’t understand why people don’t think there are big fish in this water when they have a food supply like this…

The above trip was exploratory, as I mentioned. Monday afternoon I was due to head out with a buddy of mine to hit that section. He had to cancel unfortunately so, I hit Greenough Park on my own. Good decision. Within minutes of arriving, I had this section of water staring at me…


And dragged this guy out from a tough lie under the fallen tree.

DSCF2017 DSCF2018Approximately 14″ cutty in a heavily trafficked public park. Montana’s rivers/creeks are pretty damn healthy. We need to keep them that way. All to often I find garbage from bums, floaters, hikers, and just shitty people in general. I try to pack out more than I pack in and you should too.

Worked my way upstream from there, scenery was awesome as always but, the fishing sadly turned obsessive. It’s a side of my brain I’m not a fan of and something that fishing usually has been able to quiet lately. Still, a fantastic evening on the water with some awesome fish in hand.

DSCF2020And with that, I’m (mostly) caught up. Still got the trip to Kootenai with Mom to go but, that one should show up soon.

I posted the cutty from last night to Facebook with the caption “A crappy way to spend a Monday evening.” and got the best response I could’ve hoped for… “Why does your life have to suck so bad?” Yup, them’s the breaks. Somehow, I lucked into a pretty amazing situation. That or, I’ve learned how to be happy with the stuff in my life. It’s too bad we all have times were we can’t do that but, I’m super grateful that now isn’t one of those times in mine.


I’m done with this so, that’s all for tonight.

Happy angling all.



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Bike Fishing

A little something different today. My friend Duncan and I got out on our bikes for a fishing excursion on Wednesday. It was a fun time. I did a little write up on the trip for our blog over at Missoula Bicycle Works. Head over and give it a look. Next time around I’ll do one for this blog specifically, maybe address what I changed from my first attempt and what I’d change for future outings.

I do have some other trips I just need to get write ups done on, keep an eye out for those soon.

Happy angling all!

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