Big Hole, Montana

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mr. Smith loves Chocolate Soup

Most people never know what to expect on the Smith River until they are on the water, rod in hand, fly in the water.  I have heard mixed reports for years and it seems as though it may be a roll of the dice whether you get the fishing of your life, or get your teeth kicked in.  However, even though this was my first trip down the Smith, I knew exactly what to expect, and that was chocolate soup.

As our date drew nearer our party was watching the flows constantly.  Random texts with numbers became the norm for two weeks.  "1450 CFS".  "Coming Down".  "Bumping up".  "Damnit."  These short messages needed no additional context.  We were all hopeful, but upon seeing the river for the first time that weekend, all hopes dashed.  She was darker than a black steer's tookus on a moonless summer night.  The joke was, "I'll bet there's a good, solid inch and a half of visibility."  We'd chuckle, and then wonder to ourselves if an inch and a half was being generous.

Cocoa Highway
We had stopped in Wilsall on the way and had a great big cheeseburger, expecting it would be the last good meal we'd have for a few days.  Our bellies were full as we put camp together at Camp Baker, got a fire going, and had a few vitamin Rs.  "Maybe she'll come down over the next couple of days" someone remarked.  I'm sure stranger things have happened, but with warm temp and rain in the forecast it was highly unlikely. 

The next morning brought renewed hope in the form of the river map and the tributaries that the local ranger said were fishing well.  Off we went.

First Stop - Wonka's Corner, just down from Baby Ruth Bend
Most of the gang, in absolutely no hurry
The first several fish of the trip was in Rocky Creek.  Kyle and I stopped just above our camp for the night and headed upstream, doing our best not to trespass, and soon got into the fish.  Eggs, soft hackles, and san juan worms were the ticket.

Kyle on the board first... in water I had just passed up

Jonesy on the board

Not a bad looking backdrop

I have to say that day 2 was exactly the same as day 1.  Muddy water, fish in the tribs, good food.  Oh, have I not mentioned the food?  Well, Rooster was a hell of a cook, and volunteered to do most of it.  As it turns out that cheeseburger in Wilsall was NOT the best meal of the trip.  Here's a pic of Rooster, the best camp cook alive...just ask him.

Rooster holding an "ancient indian artifact"

Day three... The highlight of the trip a la the Heaven on Earth Ranch.  It truly might be.  Kyle and I pulled in and decided it was high time for 9 holes of golf in our wading boots.  Vick Anderson, one of the proprietors, is one of the nicest hosts I've ever met and accompanied us for half the round carrying a "jug" filled with some sort of concoction that, despite its potency, was quite refreshing.

Kyle carefully chooses his weapon and later discovers he grabbed a left handed putter.

I opted for a club with non "super power", as the longest hole was 150 yards.

Ask Gary Anderson the name of the cliff...He's a riot.  BTW, that's a tee box up there and I'm standing on the green.

Kyle, inches away from taking the lead outright, collapses in disbelief, or maybe he was just tired.

To make a long trip story short, we had a great time, caught a few fish, made some new friends, and saw an incredible amount of beauty.  I leave you with a few more images of the Smith, a river that you should definitely have on your bucket list.

The view from a latrine....seriously

See you down the river!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Deer Hair Ant

A quick and easy little ant pattern from the guys at In The Riffle.  Can't wait to try them out on Slough Creek later this Summer down in the park!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Saint San Juan... Dressed in leather.

Often times when one fishes a river that they don't spend much time on a pitstop in a local fly shop can be extremely helpful.  I recently attended the Orvis Guide Rendezvous is Missoula (...and had a great time) and headed up to Criag to fish the Missouri on the way home.  As my options are usually Yellowstone or Madison, I stopped into Headhunters to grab a shuttle and a handful of any fly that the folks in the shop said would work.  I figured it couldn't hurt.  That is when I was introduced to the leather san juan worm.  Actually, Kyle Nelson picked up a few, and yes, they worked.  The materials are cheap, durable, move great in the water, and easy to tie with, so I've decided to whip up a few of my own.   I stopped by a leather shop here in town and they were glad to give me a few scraps for free.  Here are a few of the initial trials:

I can't wait to get 'em wet!

Fly Fishing Themed Advertisements

Every time I see something associated with fly fishing it catches my eye.  Perhaps it is because there is no point in time when I wouldn't rather be fishing.  Bodies of water, drift boats being hauled down the highway, bumper stickers, ads, you name it, it'll get a look from this guy.

However, there is one thing that I notice quite often, and that is the high frequency of "mistakes" in ads and commercials for non-fly fishing products and services that have a fly fishing theme.  We've all seen them.  A grandfather and his grandson, plopped on the riverbank, "fly fishing", while the voice over tells us why we need to buy some particular financial services, cholesterol medication, etc.  The next time you see a fly fishing ad, take a closer look.  Rarely have I seen one that didn't have some detail that made it obvious that there wasn't a fly fisherman anywhere on the set, let alone the actors and models holding the rod and reel.  The most recent ad on TV that I saw had the main character sitting next to a pond watching a red and white bobber while his fishing line (no fly line) was attached to a fly reel.  While this would work I'm sure, it's certainly not typical.  The other day I was in US Bank waiting in line wherein I saw the poster pictured below.  I had to point out the obvious mistake to the tellers, who in turn looked at me like I was crazy.  Perhaps I am, but if I were hired to oversee the fly fishing aspect of a commercial for laundry detergent, you can bet that mistakes like this would not happen.  Can you spot it?

If any of you readers out there (yes mom, you and sis and the three others) see any ads featuring fly fishing "mistakes" I'd love to hear about them! Shoot me an email to and I'll get them up for the world (or 5 people) to see!