Friday, September 28, 2012

Why We Love The Fall

Heaters in the morning and air conditioners in the afternoon... that's how we roll this time of year.  The fish have come out to play, like hordes of ADD kids who've been kept from recess all summer long.  They are feeling the urge to put on the pounds while the food is plentiful and water temps ideal.  They will chase bigger offerings with more aggression.  No complaints here.

Henry's Fork
This is a HF cut and is the first I have ever caught there.  It was also the first fish caught on a scuplin pattern I had just tied up.  I'll take firsts like this anytime! 

Sometimes tandem fly rigs are the devil, but at other times they make all the difference.  This bow went for a black articulated micro-streamer with green hotwire ribbing.  It was the trailer behind a large sculpin streamer. It is a fly that is becoming a new favorite and is already responsible for some dandy fish.

The fly fishing ninja strikes again!

All the smoke we have been having has produced some eerie lighting.  Fortunately the recent rain storm cleared most of it up.

Shane was able to watch this beauty slowly swim up from the depths and casually slurp in the fly.  Shows like that are always a treat, not to mention the exciting fight to follow.

Big fish don't easily stay in shallow nets.  I was struggling to photograph of any of the fish I landed this trip, (some of which were very picture worthy) so I broke out the hocus pocus to break the streak.


Henry's Fork

 The browns are coloring up with their awesome spawning colors.

This little guy had an interesting spot pattern. 

 The black micro streamer strikes again.

This beautifully kiped guy smashed a very large sculpin pattern I have come to think of as the "magic dragon."  The fly makes me think of that flying dragon from the Never Ending Story movies, only it's olive rather than white.

I'm still trying to get the self portrait thing down.  The one hand shots just didn't do this guy justice, plus I was having trouble holding it far enough away to get the whole fish in the picture. 

Big fish are active, their coloring is more vibrant, the air temps are pleasant, and the leaves on the trees look like something out of a painting.  What isn't there to love about this time of year?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Windows & Seasons

"To everything... there is a season... and a time to every purpose, under heaven."  
The Byrds (See also Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Once again the season is changing here in this small corner of the world.  And as much as I am not looking forward to the cold and slippery aspects of snow, I openly welcome the change of scenery.  The leaves are turning early this year, presenting a beautiful canvas of oranges, yellows, and reds.  It is a sight that will not last long.  Leaves are already falling and the chill in the air seemed to have happened overnight.

As I have mentioned before, in a previous post,  one of the reasons I love Idaho is that it presents such a diverse fishery.  Some of the options for fishing last throughout the whole year, whilst others are only there for a short while.  The windows of time have different shapes and sizes, corresponding to the species of fish involved.

Kokanee may be caught year round in the various reservoirs here in Idaho, but catching them in their beautiful spawning colors, in moving water, and with a streamer, is an opportunity that only presents itself for a short while.   

Fishing for any species of fish while they are spawning can be a sensitive topic.  Just as a disclaimer: these fish (to my knowledge) are considered sterile and are not supposed to be able to spawn.  They are intended to be a put-and-take fish in the places they are planted.

 Shane and I had tried to make it out to catch a koke on the fly a couple times, but I ended up having family commitments both times.   Shane had the bug just as bad as I did and he and Josh were able to take a day and get after them with very successful results.  Their success made me want to make it out even more. 

I thought my window had passed.  Wanting to give it another go, Shane kindly agreed to make an afternoon trip up with me.  He and I made plans to take off just after classes, around 2pm.  We were on the water around 3:30pm.  After some power hiking (and hollering "hey bear!" on a regular basis) we made it to some good runs for throwing streamers.  Red and black articulated streamers were the ticket.  It took some practice learning how to strip them in with the right erratic movement, but once I had it down the fish were taking it regularly.  It was a blast to watch them chase down the fly and strike it!

Teeth and Red.

On the top hook.
I decided to try out a large pink stinger-fly I had tied up a long time ago with kokanee in mind.  It worked!  In certain runs fish would come out of nowhere to hit it, and the stinger increased the hookups greatly!

In one run I decided to experiment with a trout bead and indicator.  A few casts in and the indicator went down and I set.  To my pleasant surprise it was a healthy cut.  What more can a guy ask for than beautiful country with awesome looking fish.

As the sun sank down behind the mountains edge we decided to high-tail it out of there, wanting to avoid any bears prowling around for an evening snack.   We only made a couple stops on the way out.  We had not realized how far in we had walked and the trip back down the trail seemed to go on and on.  You just lose track of distance and time while fishing, and I think that is part of the magic of it all.

I was glad we stopped one more time on our way out.  I was lucky enough to pick up this great looking male.

It has now been a few days and I am still sore from the power hiking.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.  Sometimes when a window presents itself it does not last long.  You either jump through it and start power hiking, or sit back, looking at the pictures of people who did.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Road to Wisdom

Wisdom Montana is located about 60 miles west of I-15, and though I have never actually been there, I have been on the road leading to it.  Why?  Because the road to Wisdom is littered with beautiful browns, pretty cuts, and spunky bows.  The road follows the Big Hole River, and though most of the fish only reach the 10-16" mark, there are a few bigger ones to be found if you work for them.

This adventure was facilitated by another week-long work trip to Butte.  I was fortunate enough to fish the BHR four times and the Boulder river once.  I was quite close to fishing a private section on the Madison, with permission and all, but my office added another job to my route last minute that took me to Townsend instead.

The fishing this time around was certainly slower than the last, but fish were still managed on a steady basis.  There weren't any real hatches that occurred, other than a very sparse amount of tricos.  Most of the time was spent going back and forth between nymphs and streamers.  One thing that was interesting to note was that I had a number of fish hit my pink indicator.  I even tied up some pink hoppers because of it, but when I tied one on nothing chased it.  I almost wondered if they were thinking it was a late hatching stonefly.  

The excessive smoke in the air, mixed with intermittant storm clouds, made for an eerie lighting as the sun was setting.  

Boulder River Brookie