My first attempt at a fishing "short".

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Trout Royal Slam Quest Begins!!!

I can't sleep.  I tried to no avail.  I'm closing on a house tomorrow, and while the thought of having room for rods, reels, waders, flies, tying materials, etc. ad nauseum, sounds great, the thought of the place falling down around me won't bugger off.  So, I thought I'd check my email.  There I found something to get my mind off mold, leaky pipes, backed up septic systems, and hail.

A while back I sent an email to Jack Vitek, the World Records Coordinator for the International Game Fish Association.  I was inquiring about the "Trout Royal Slam" that I had read about in an issue of International Angler.  Apparently, the IGFA recognizes several "slams" or "clubs" including the "10 lb Bass Club", several Grand Slams, and a few Royal Slams.  The Trout Royal Slam consists of catching and documenting a brook, brown, bull, cutthroat, golden, lake and rainbow trout in one's lifetime and currently the IGFA recognizes 28 members of this club.  The first thing that came to my mind was the fact that all of these species can be found in this great State of Montana.  I inquired whether or not anyone had done it in one calendar year, wanting to be the first.  Alas, four people already had, and Jack presumed that at least one of those four did it exclusively on the fly.

So, after getting my hopes up for being the first to accomplish this feat in one year, and in true Rube Goldberg fashion, I decided to make things a little harder than they really had to be.  Now, don't get me wrong, catching all seven of these species in one year is a daunting task, but not nearly as difficult as it would be if I lived in Amarillo.

For 2013:

  • Obtain the IGFA Trout Royal Slam;
    • Fully document each catch by video or photo;
    • Catch each fish on the fly;
    • Catch each fish in the State of Montana;
    • Catch all fish within one calendar year; and 
    • Catch all the fish for the Slam on flies that I tied myself.
I started this little blog to document my journey to catch a fish for each calendar day of the year, and I've done a horrible job of keeping up with things.  While my journal is still getting some use, I have yet to put any of the entries into a form that would be interesting to you the reader.  I have decided that the lofty, long term goal of a fish for each day of the year, while I'm still pursuing it, is a little broad for consistent content.  So, I'm breaking things up a bit.  Let's say the 366 idea is a "10 Year Goal".  I should also think of a 5 year goal, 3 year, and so on and so forth.  I'll start with a one year goal for 2013, and that is the IGFA Trout Royal Slam.  While I don't have to catch all of the fish within one year, I'm sure going to try to overcome the hardest obstacle for somebody like me...remembering to document the fish properly as per IGFA specifications....with a few "rules" of my own.  If anyone would care to join me, feel free.  The race starts in January.  Until then, tight lines, sharp hooks, tough flies and tougher fish.

To learn more visit

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The hoppers are dwindling, there is a crisp feel to the morning air, and more and more fishermen are swinging streamers.  And so, the Bobbin Droppers have emerged from their summer slumber.

Come join in and tie a few flies.  No experience or equipment is necessary.  October 3, 2012, at the Eagles Club, downtown beautiful Bozeman, Montana.  6:30 pm.  Just look for the large group of tables pushed together surrounded by people that are talking too loud and smiling.

For more information please visit The Bobbin Droppers facebook page at:

See you there!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Whitefish - The Other White Meat

Prosopium Williamsoni - That's not normally the term you hear when a fisherman brings a mountain whitefish to the net.  More familiar terms that are often heard are similar to "damn" and/or "crap".  Although I have grown to have an appreciation for this native "montana bonefish", I have been guilty of the same reactions.  Usually they come when nymphing a perfect hole that you just KNOW holds a big trout, the indicator pauses, and BANG, you're hooked up to what you are certain is a 22" rainbow, and before you pull in any line you are anticipating sending the pics to your "know-it-all" fly fishing buddies down south.  Then, you feel the "machine gun tug", that unmistakable head shake that can send feelings of disappointment up the leader, down your line, through your eyelets, and directly into your heart.  You won't be sending these pics down south.

I'm not exactly sure how the whitefish got the bad rap that it has.  Sure they're slimy, and it's not very easy to throw one in the pan, but catch a good one, especially this time of year, and hold on. As far as eating them goes, try smoking one, trust me.  

Last weekend I took a trip up the Madison just above where it dumps into a lake and in spots, couldn't see the bottom of the river for all the whitefish.  I happened to be hucking meat all day looking for a bruiser, but my compatriots and I couldn't resist tying on a lightening bug and getting our fill of pescado blanco before moving on.  This got me to thinking, "what a great way to break in a new fly fisherman (or woman)?"  What better way to put somebody on fish (they're schooled up and easy to spot) and let them practice casting, mending, setting a hook, playing, and landing decent sized fish?  They'll eat anything that floats by, they could care less if you're throwing a size 16 prince nymph with 3x tippet, and if spooked, immediately regroup and start eating again.  Fellas, if you've got a gal that you're trying to get into fly fishing, or a kid, or somebody like me with the attention span of a 3 year old, get them on the whites.  It'll pay lots of dividends down the road.

So, I can tell you the whites have begun their march to their spawning grounds and they're hungry.  As for the bruits I was looking for, it'll be a while yet before they make their way up.  Until then, perhaps the train to Brownsville has a stop or two to make.  Allll aboooard!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Water Temperatures

If you're not sure why I'm posting water temperatures here at this time of year, then perhaps you should consider following a different blog, perhaps something to do with cooking or the proper use of hot glue.  Perhaps check out Pinterest.  For everyone else:

Gallatin River at Logan:  The river is low, but the temperature readings on the USGS site are promising.  Temps dropped to 50 degrees F last night for what I think is the first time since the spring.  They are back up to 58 during the day, but with the cool day we had it should drop a little lower tonight.  Flow is between 300 and 350 cfs. 

Gallatin River near Gallatin Gateway:  Fished this yesterday for an hour or two after work.  Fishing was slow.  I'll blame the shift to cooler weather and not my fishing abilities... as usual.  No temperature information on the USGS site and flows at 410 CFS.  Water felt pretty chilly up there, which is what I heard from my fishing companion who had a hole in his waders, but that's hearsay.  Objection.

Madison River below Ennis Lake near McAllister: Consistent discharge of 1,360 CFS.  Water temps down from 65 last week to almost 61 degrees last night.  Lets hope it'll continue to drop...fingers crossed.

Madison River near Cameron:  Not looking too bad.  Flows between 1000 and 1100 CFS and a low temp of 47 degrees last night.  Yesssss.  Got up to 55 degrees today.

Madison River at Kirby Ranch:  Temps ranging from daytime of 62 degrees and a low last night of 53.  Must be some chilly water dumping in below the dam.  CFS at 1010.

Madison River below Hebgen Lake:  The dam is pumping out 953 CFS and memories of learning the true sound of heartbreak when losing a gigantic brown this last spring between the lakes...'tis the "tic" of a line breaking.  Water temps dipped to 59 degrees last night and didn't get up to 61 today.  Chill baby chill.

Madison River near West Yellowstone:  Not sure exactly where this USGS site is (No. 06037500), but I wish they'd get a temperature reading at that site.  I wish I could designate exactly where my tax dollars go.  ("Dear IRS, I'd like to pay for an upgrade at USGS site No. 06037500.  Hope all is well and tell the family I said hello.  Sincerely, Sky)  Flows at 410 CFS. 

Missouri River at Toston:  Water is still hot in Toston, and I'm not talking about your Uncle Phil's disgusting hot tub after the last New Year's Party.  The low temp dropped to 59 last night and only looks like it's going to get up to 61 or 62 today.  Sunday, September 9th, 2012 it was up to almost 66. Icky.  Flows are between 1600 and 1800 CFS.

Jefferson River near Three Forks:  LOW.  No information on water temps on the USGS site. Flows between 300 and 350 CFS.  Probably warmer than two rats wrestling in a wool sock.

Shields River near Livingston:  33 CFS.  Dang low.

Yellowstone River near Livingston:  Flows at 1740 CFS.  Pretty low for this time of year when the 88 year median is at 2400 CFS.  Temps are looking good and probably much better than the air quality over there right now.  Dipped to 53 degrees last night but will probably get to around 58 today...

I'm looking to take a trip to Brownsville sometime soon if I can get caught up at work, and no, I'm not talking about South Texas.  If you made that mistake, like I said, check out Pinterest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A dream about being arrested in Vegas = Streamer Idea.

I woke up this morning during the weirdest dream.  Let me rephrase that, because I've had some pretty weird dreams in my life... during an interesting dream.  My friends Brent Callaway and Joseph Young and I were in Las Vegas and had somehow found ourselves in trouble...with the cops.  We were being arrested and hauled away in a "police shuttle", I in the back seat, and Brent and Joe locked inside a steel box attached to the back.  Apparently they were a little more out of hand than I was.  I snuck the key to the box from the guard who was busy watching TV, snuck out the back, and freed my friends, who were laughing the whole time as we got away.

The Streamer idea came from what I think I saw on the back of the shuttle.  Attached to the hitch insert was one of those chrome boat propellers that some people have to say "hey, I have a boat", although the truth is probably more like "hey, I'd like to have a boat".

So, I got up early, and tied this guy on a 2x hook, using 50 lb mono as the "tail" with beads and a plastic spinner that I picked up a while ago at Big R in Great Falls.  I thing they're used for steelhead rigs, but I'm not exactly sure.  I just thought it looked neat.  The idea is to have it spin on the mono while it's stripped through the water, giving it a little more action.  To facilitate the spinning I added several beads while trying to stay in the rainbow trout color scheme (note the pink belly and olive back).  I haven't had a chance to drag it through the water, in the bathtub or otherwise, so I'm still not exactly sure how it's going to work.  Hopefully it'll spin on the line and not twist the entire streamer.  I guess if that's the case I can certainly cut the garbage off the back and have a pretty decent bugger, if I do say so myself, and I often do.

I'll let you know how it "turns" out.  If it works, we'll find a name.  If not, well, I'll put it in the streamer box next to the other olive buggers.  Comment below for name ideas!!!

In other news, The Bobbin Droppers ( are about ready to get after it!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


A little warning to all those that I fish with:

We don't fish in Vegas.  What happens on the river does not stay on the river, unless previously and expressly agreed upon and proper consideration  has been paid (coolies).  You waive all right to privacy and I reserve the right to set up my video camera and record any and all activity while on said trip, with, or without your knowledge.  I also reserve the right to add captions, music, graphics, and other audio and visual enhancements to said video and post it to, the Bobbin Droppers Facebook page, and any and all other social media outlets now known or unknown.  However, the locations of said excursions shall remain confidential if we get on some hogs.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hoppers and Streamers and Itches and Scratches.

As the nights are cooling off and the days are getting shorter, so too does the hopper fishing.  However, there are still a few strongholds here and there where a hopper will absolutely do the trick.  But, with the chilly evenings comes a itch that needs to be scratched.  Perhaps you ran out of CDC emergers a month ago.  You might be running low on egg laying caddis, flashback PTs, and your once overflowing san juan worm section in your bag has dwindled to a meager (pronounced mee-grr, not marr) dozen or so.  Yes my friends, fly tying season approaches.  So, while there are still plenty of fish to be caught (like the one pictured here, photo and fish by Max Wasserberger), as the evenings draw ever closer to closing time, perhaps it is time to organize that station, get it set up, and get ready to scratch the itch.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Smith looking PERFECT right now.

457 and 723.  Wow.  Go get em on the Smith!  This chart is from the Ft. Logan station.  All I can say is WOW.  Flows are only 723 at Eden Bridge too... Shaping up to be a great trip without me!  

Updated at 11:13 am.... 442 and 716, but with 70 degrees here in Bozeman, the gang better hurry up and land some fish.  Things might get a little fast tonight and tomorrow.  I've heard that the fishing slows way down on the last day of the float, so it might not be a bad thing to zip through there.  

Picture courtesy of the USGS.

Kyle Nelson is a co-founder of The Bobbin Droppers fly tying club, Bozeman, MT.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Smith River Blues

559 and 817.  Those are two really good-looking numbers.  559 and 817.  As I said them out loud they just felt good rolling off my tongue.  When I saw them yesterday it made me happy.  And today, those numbers are 538 and 785.  They're dropping and looking better and better.

Those numbers are the flows (in cfs) on the Smith River at Ft. Logan and Eden Bridge respectively.  A good friend, Kyle Nelson, is on that river right now, and I'm sure he's pulling browns out left and right.  If you were to ask if I was jealous I'd respond with silence and a look that says "why would you ask such a ridiculous question?"  I was supposed to be there.  I was meant to be there, in the boat, hauling 20 inch fish all day long in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  But, as fate would have it (along with the shackles that connect me to my desk), I am not.  But, perhaps there is a silver lining... who knows who's in the boat now... 

Kyle and the crew put in at Camp Baker on Monday, May 28th, 2012.  I sent the dozens of flies that I had tied in anticipation for the trip along with them.  I certainly wasn't going to need 20 JJ's Specials anytime soon.  Hopefully they're being put to good use. 

Seeing those numbers might normally make my stomach turn, knowing that the flows were great, conditions were perfect, the water was clearing up, the fish were probably eating, and I had no place at the table.  But, for some reason, they make me feel great.  Good friends deserve good fishing.

Tight lines Kyle. 

The Picture was painted by Robert Spannring... How could anyone NOT be inspired in such a place?
Check out more of Mr. Spannring's work at or

Kyle Nelson is a co-founder of The Bobbin Droppers fly tying club, Bozeman, MT.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our weekly fly tying group called "The Bobbin Droppers" ( made the KBZK, CBS Channel 7 News!!!  Check out the link below for the clip!

Fast forward to the 2:13 mark to see The Bobbin Droppers in action!  

Onward and upward!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fly Tying Night at the Eagles!

Fly Tying Night at the Eagles Club, Bozeman, Montana.

Ladies and Jerks, Boys and Girls of all ages!  The weekly meeting of The Bobbin Droppers has officially moved to TUESDAY NIGHTS at the Eagles Club, Upstairs!    Come one, Come all!  There are plenty of seats and tables, vises (both tying and non), materials, etc.  The more the Merrier!!!  Windows! Sunlight!  Space!  I can't say enought about our new meeting room.  6:30 p.m. upstairs in the Chuck Holden Ballroom...  If it's in use, we'll be downstairs in the back next to the dancefloor.  Come on down! I'll be tying articulated streamers (Mmm...yummy).    It's that time of year!  Tell your friends!  Tell your family!  Tell your neighbor!  Tell your dog!   See you soon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

All I want for my 33rd birthday is...

to get to 33 followers.......

FYI - the link at is up and running!  That domain will now bring you to the blog!

C'mon 33!

Once we get to 33 I'll have a random drawing for an assortment of flies from "The Bobbin Droppers"!

Click here to check out The Bobbin Droppers Facebook Page!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Well, since I had all of ONE submission, the winner of the "name that fly" contest is.......


His winning entry: The "OYB Action Jackson"

Congratulations BigSkyFlyGuy!  Your fly is in the mail!

To see a video of the fly being made filmed by Adam Keene check out the video above!

Enjoy!  - Sky

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ryan's Big, Big, Big Yellowstone Brown.

So, here at the office we are anxiously anticipating Spring and the return of optimal fishing conditions.  While organizing some files on my new computer the other day I came across all of the photos from Ryan's Big, Big, Big, Brown...and thought I'd pass the account along to all of you.

It was Good Friday, April 22, 2011, at approximately 8:30 p.m.  Ryan and I were each in our respective offices, busy at it, when I heard a knock on my door.  It was no surprise that it was Ryan and he had a look in his eye that meant only one  "What do you think about floating?"  I was already out of my chair and headed to change before he had mentioned any river, because any river would have done at that point.  Luckily the boat is parked next to the office, and we were on the road in less than an hour.

There was a bit of snow along the road in town, and a little more as we headed over the pass toward Livingston.  I fired up the Flip Cam and took a few shots of the ominous looking clouds that guarded the Paradise Valley, directly where we were headed.  I normally don't mind the weather when I'm fishing, in fact, I hardly notice it.  But I will say that I dread bad weather on the Yellowstone.  It can be trouble, and it's no secret that Lucy resides just downriver in Livingston, and will show up at any time.  But Ryan and I drove to the put-in and things were calm for the rest of the day...well, at least the weather was calm, little did we know that we were just a few hours away from screaming like schoolgirls at a Bieber concert.

The trip started off as usual with a few smaller fish on nymphs.  If I remember correctly the fishing was slow so we decided that if it was slow anyways, we may as well throw streamers and try to catch something big.  The past week I had been tying some big flies.  These included some articulated 2 x size 2 streamers of orange, yellow, and brown that I had hoped would resemble a passing 4" brown trout.  I never expected to catch a thing on them, but they looked funky.  I also tied a few behemoths in black, tan, olive, etc.  The usual suspects of colors.  Ryan and I took turns on the oars while the other pounded the banks with a 9' 8 wt. rod that I had broken the tip off of.  I referred to it as my 8'8" 8.8 wt.  That rod feels like a telephone pole but you can throw a streamer from Emigrant to Pray with one false cast with that thing.  As we pounded the banks I'm sure the conversation varied with topics such as how to mount stereo speakers in the boat, what float we should have gone on, how many fish we'd be catching if we were on the Madison, etc.  It was a calm day, and a good chance for Ryan and I to recharge our batteries.  Then, I hooked a fish.

He was right on the bank as many fish are in that river.  I brought him to the net and was proud of my orange-yellow-brown craziness that had fooled this 17 incher.  He was a pretty fish, and I was happy to jump on the oars after that and row the rest of the way.  Ryan and I switched spots.  I rowed us away from the bank while Ryan made a couple of false casts.  Ryan let the streamer splash down near the opposite bank, made a strip or two, then snagged a log...or so I thought.

Ryan's "log" screamed downriver.  Expletives poured from Ryan's mouth at a greater rate (in cfs) than the Yellowstone has ever been.  The reel's throat had instantly worn out and was reduced from screaming to a sharp hum.  I was frozen and was merely watching the events unfold as if they were on T.V.  Awakening, I spun the boat and headed back for the bank.  Ryan was the first out of the boat.  I was kicking down the anchor while Ryan screamed "GET THE NET!"...  Wait, let me correct that...  "GET THE &#$%!*@ NET!"  I bailed out with the newly named net and headed downstream after Ryan.  Don't ask my why we didn't stay in the boat.  I have no clue.

I sprinted downriver as fast as I could.  I paid no attention to Ryan, his line, or his fish.  My plan was to get downriver fast as my Korker wading boots, which were falling apart only months after buying them, would carry me over the rocks.  (Dear Korker, It's the truth.  Send me two new pair and I'll omit your name.  I wear an 11.  Love, Sky)  Before I knew it I was 60 yards downriver and could hear Ryan using the net's new name for my new name.  Apparently I had gone too far.  I turned to see Ryan's line entering the water about 30 yards down from where he was walking...towards me.  The fish was still mid-river, but I could see Ryan trying to turn him my way, and Ryan was gaining ground.  I waited for them to come to me a bit.  The fish inched closer to our side of the river, and was now out of the fastest of the water.  As I jumped in the river I could see Ryan's line entering the water 20 yards upriver, and Ryan was getting closer to the fish, and closer to me. I walked out twenty feet from the bank in 3 feet of water, and then I saw it.  10 yards upriver, in the slower water, facing upstream...a big brown.  I dipped the net in the water, scooped it under the fish, and lifted.  I expected to see a monster in the net, but it was empty.  How could I have missed!  Before Ryan could express his displeasure I dipped again, scooped up the fish with perfect netting technique (riiight.), and the fish was ours.  We sprinted upstream back to the boat without even looking at the fish.  The camera was the only thing on our minds.  I handed the net to Ryan, grabbed the boat cam, pushed power, and my heart sank.  "Charge Battery" flashed on the screen.  Of course it would do that.  I grabbed my phone, which as it turned out took better pictures that the boat cam anyways, and here you have it.  Ryan's Big, Big, Big Brown.  26 inches, fat, hook-jawed, and one heck of a good time.

As we approach the one year anniversary of that fish I can't help but hope that a reunion is in order.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


So I started transcribing my fishing journal via this computer so that I would have more than one copy in case I lose the little black book.  I'm currently at about day 15 and it's amazing to me how reading just a few words of the entries takes me back to that time and place.  I can almost feel the sun on my face, the tug on the line, and the voices of those who were with me.  I want to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have gone fishing with me the last couple of years.  As my folks once said, fishing is the only time that I'm truly awake, and I really enjoy having others along to witness such a rare sight...Sky...fully awake.  So, I'll keep transcribing and I'll get them loaded up on here one of these days.  Perhaps the website will be up one of these days.  I'm up to 63 days so far in my pursuit of 366.  Checked off my first day in February the other day and it felt good, but reminded me of just how far I have to go.  But, it's a leap year so I'm looking forward to getting the 29th of this month checked off....I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  Tight lines everyone and I'll be back on here soon with my nymph storage tricks...I promise!  - Sky