My first attempt at a fishing "short".

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oldie but a goodie...

An older post from one of my favorite blogs - Yellowstoner.

Check it out at

SUNDAY, APRIL 09, 2006

Spring Fly For Yellowstone Trout

This Fly Will Catch Fish!

It was a late night in the loft in Ennis, Montana. We had fished Beartrap, and the Madison near theislands - way below Norris. The sky was broken clouds and their shadows came and went on the water.

Some people call them 'Millers,' others call them moths. What ever they were, there was a scad-pile of them. A famous fishing guide said that he had the fly to match the hatch. We paused as he pawed through his kit and found two of them.

"Yellowstone Coachman," he cried and bit off the midge that he had been fishing. He shared his second fly with me, and we returned to the battle. Splash it down, float it in like a gossamer ghost - or anything in between. Fish raced to gather it up. Once I watched three fish dash from under a rock to get to the fly. This was magic.

We fished 'til almost dark and hooked every fish in that mile of the Madison - all 4,500 of them - or so it seemed! We drove back to Ennis, arm weary and bone tired. The road was dry, the sky was orange, the company was great. We stopped at the Town Pump for some fuel, and some other fuel.
As we sat in the loft and discussed the day we had to learn more about the Yellowstone Coachman. Our guide explained that he had gotten it from an old fisherman in West Yellowstone, Montana. He took it just to be kind to the old duffer; put it in his kit and forgot about it. Last year on opening day in Yellowstone Park he saw some 'millers' on the water and remembered the fly. He put it on as a lark and caught a few fish. Ever since then he brings it out in the early spring when the 'millers' are on the water.
This fly is a variant of the fan-wing coachman, The tail is longer and the hackle is softer and larger.
Ingredients for Yellowstone CoachmanTail = 3 or 4 peacock sword fibers, Body = peacock herl wound in middle with bright orange floss, Wings = barred chucker. Hackle = grade 3, or stiff hen - one size larger than hook, Head = black thread. Hook Sizes = 6 -14 regular dry fly. Drench with flotant and fish low in the film, or even submerged. Cast gently - it can twirl and sing by your ear and this is hard on the leader and your knots, (and maybe your ear.)
The last time I put a fly up, I got many emails about the set-up and questions about doing it. There is no secret, and the pictures are certainly not art. Look at the photo below for details. French wine seems to work best.

Monday, November 18, 2013

13/10,000ths of a Point. Sic 'Em Bears!

13/10,000ths of a point.  Yes, that's 0.0013.  That's all that stands in the way of Baylor and being ranked third in the BCS ahead of Ohio State.
          Things are falling into place for Baylor, however they are not entirely in control of their own destiny when it comes to the BCS National Championship picture.  While they must win the remainder of their games (including against #10 Oklahoma State this weekend in Stillwater) to have a chance, Florida State or Alabama (or great would that be?) must lose. 

If both of those things happen, the Green and Gold will wave in Pasadena. 

          With a win this weekend over Oklahoma State the BCS will have no choice but to place Baylor ahead of Ohio State and into third place.  Meanwhile, Florida State is playing Idaho this weekend (who stand at 1 and 9 and lost to Old Dominion last weekend).  They will win that game.  However, their true test will come against Florida on November 30th.  Florida just gave then #10 South Carolina a good run for their money, losing 19-14 to two fourth quarter field goals.  Their defense is going to have to show up, then who knows.

          Alabama doesn't have a walk in the park either... Teams in the SEC never do.  Auburn hosts them in the Iron Bowl on November 30th and could give them some trouble.

So, if anyone needs me on the 30th of November, don't bother.  I'm booked.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What the Baylor Bears Need To Do.

Yes, I love to fish.  Yes, I love bears, and no, not the kind that leave fresh scat for me to step in while on the trail two weekends ago.  I mean the Baylor Bears.  While I started this blog for all things fish, I am taking a break and throwing up (see: vomiting) a little quip on what I think it will take in order for my dear ol' Bears of Baylor to break through to one of the top two spots in the BCS...  

What Baylor Needs To Do:

          I laid in bed last night with my phone, which is never conducive to going to sleep.  Before I set it down I looked at the BCS rankings, the various team's schedules, and came up with what I believe will need to happen in order for my dear ol' Baylor Bears to have a shot at a National Title.  Ahead of them lie Bama, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, and Stanford.

#1.  Baylor must win the rest of its games.  I can't imagine that the computers, the human polls, and all the other voodoo that goes into the BCS rankings would look too favorably on Baylor with a loss.  That being said, one loss and they may still make it to a BCS Bowl Game, just not the chipper.

#2.  Baylor must win the rest of its games convincingly.  Squeaking out a win over unranked TCU might have the same effect as a loss to one of the three ranked teams remaining on their schedule (OU, TTU, and OSU).  By showing the same amount of dominance they've displayed all season it will certainly help their chances of leapfrogging Ohio State, which is one thing they will have to do to get to the top.  Ohio State's remaining schedule includes the equivalent of a decent 4A high school in Texas (Michigan) and two solid 3A New Mexico high schools (Illinois and Indiana).  If they lose a game, great, but the odds are not good.  That being said they have a BCS rating of .872.  Baylor is at .775, almost a full tenth of a point behind, but if Baylor wins out against solid competition, I predict that they WILL pass "Thuh" Ohio State University.

#3.  That brings us to the other teams ahead of the Bears.  We'll start with Bama, who is solidly in the top spot.  They probably won't lose a game.  That's who the Bears hope to play, first because if they do, they'll be playing in the chipper.  Secondly, because Baylor can beat them (45-38 I might add).  However, if the Tide gets rolled, great, more room for Bears.

#4.  Florida State leapfrogged Oregon this last week but as they play a weaker remaining schedule than Ohio State (see #2.), they will not stay there unless they can hang 80 points on all of them.  Florida will more than likely win the rest of their games, but if they don't do so in a big way, they will fall in the rankings, giving Baylor a shot at catching up by as early as the end of November. 

#5.  That brings us to Oregon and Stanford.  Thank goodness that they play each other this Thursday.  The winner will gain quite a few points in the polls, and the loser should fall out of the top 6, making room for BU to move up.  Should we root for a close game?  I think not.  If Stanford squeaks by Oregon they may very well just trade places.  A convincing win by either would help, but more so a win by Stanford.  This would knock Oregon out of contention while I believe that Stanford is more likely to be upset in their remaining schedule (USC, Cal, and Notre Dame).  This is another key to the puzzle....

#6.  The winner of Oregon and Stanford must be upset in one of their final three games.  In my mind this is the biggest long shot, but, they still have to play the games.

          There you have it folks.  While this is in no way a detailed analysis, it IS a scenario.  One that may work, or may not.  Regardless, strange things happen in the BCS, and a hum-drum ending to the season will not bode well for the chances of Baylor adding a crystal football alongside RGIII's Heisman in the new stadium.  Speaking of, the new stadium is coming along nicely.  To see a live look at the progress check this out:  

          So, Bear fans, root for a blowout in the Ducks-"Tree" game, a poor finish by the Seminoles, a rotting Buckeye, and pour your support into USC, Cal, Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, and Oregon State.  Oh, and Sic 'Em Bears!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A few shots from the Upper Sweetheart...

A place where cutties grow fat and strong.

A place where grizzlies play in the mud.

Not a bad view at all...

One of many great spots.

We were certainly favored that day with fish and weather...sans grizzlies.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Dish on Fish: Bull Trout "Bracketology

Bull Trout “Bracketology”

As winter begins to lose its grip on the Pacific Northwest and the rain clouds occasionally give way to ever so brief sun breaks, the month of March marks an exciting time for “wildlife” regionally and across the country.  A veritable diversity of “animals” from across the landscape gather together in various regions of the country and engage in interspecific competition.  Grizzlies will battle badgers, owls may take on golden bears, and bearcats will tussle with longhorns.  While wildcats, jayhawks and even wolverines will be included, sadly the beavers, cougars, ducks and huskies will all be left out of this year’s “March Madness”. 
The NCAA tournament is generally reserved for teams sporting mammalian, avian or even reptilian mascots.  Very rarely are fish invited to the “Big Dance”.   After being ESA listed in 1998, bull trout have been in a tournament of their own.  Much like how a scrappy, physically overmatched regional college feeds off of emotion and frantically launches threes to hang with perennial ACC or Big East powerhouses, weakened bull trout populations throughout the Columbia Basin are faced with seemingly insurmountable opponents as they attempt to advance toward recovery.   In the NCAA tournament, any given basketball team must face and defeat numerous opponents as they progress through the tournament.  Similarly, bull trout survival and eventual recovery does not depend upon prevailing over only one major threat, but instead a combination of multiple factors must be overcome.  Factors such as habitat degradation, hybridization and a changing climate (among others) are the Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke of the bull trout world.  To continue the analogy, on the other side of the bracket, resource managers are working to address many factors that influence bull trout recovery.  Management actions that facilitate genetically diverse, interconnected populations and provide for habitat protection and enhancement are essential to bull trout recovery.    
Seemingly every year, a small school defies the odds and rises from obscurity to topple dominant programs as they advance through the NCAA tournament.  They are often referred to as a “Cinderella Team”.  Through persistence, cooperation, adaptive management and maybe even a little luck, it’s possible that the recovery and eventual delisting of bull trout could be a “Cinderella Story” of its own.

Submitted by Marshall Barrows

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In The Slough

Another annual trek to the far reaches of Yellowstone National Park has come and gone.  It was filled with a renewal of old memories, and plenty of new ones this time around.

Things were different, and not just because the male to female count was 5 to 0.  Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it was luck, or even heightened senses, but the critters were out and about a little more than usual.

The View From Camp

This, the view from the campfire, wasn't half bad at all I must say.  On the evening of the first night Kyle "Eagle Eyes" Nelson spotted something in the distance running across the meadow at full speed.  It looked as though it was "bounding" as opposed to the gallop of an elk.  What it was we still don't know.

The next evening as Kyle and I headed back to camp from fishing he spotted another critter "bounding" along about a half mile away.  As we tried to figure out what it was the animal "sat" on it's haunches.  I'm no animal expert but I'd have to say I've never seen an elk sit.  Cougar?  Bear?  Tan colored wolf?  Who knows.

These two occurrences certainly forced us to keep out heads on a swivel and the bear spray handy the rest of the trip.  The cutthroat were plentiful and as usual were easily fooled with concoctions of foam and slick streamers both.  Hoppers, ants, and beetles were on the menu.  Luckily we were not.

At one point I noticed some rather large dog tracks along the bank as one often does while fishing where tourists tread.  It was then that I remembered that dogs were not allowed to be off of a leash in the park, and most didn't have footprints the size of my hand.  Again, the senses were turned firmly to the "on" position.

The hike out was uneventful until we got about a mile from the trail head.  At this point we were a little more relaxed, when up ahead, a black bear rounded the corner headed our way, using the trail as though it belonged to him.  That day it certainly did.  Senses on.  We unsheathed the spray and backed off the trail.  Thank goodness we were in a spot where there was plenty of room.  Mr. Black sniffed the air a bit, and lumbered on down the trail.  This made the last hill of the hike a breeze as adrenaline pumped through our veins.

Notice the bruin in the background

And so, another trip come and gone.  We'll certainly all put in for the permit again next year, but this time, the senses will be on from the get go.

Monday, July 8, 2013


I received this text the other day out of the blue from a good friend and fellow fly fishing nut:

Text Message Received July 7, 2013
At first glance my heart skipped a beat and thoughts of grabbing my 8 wt and running out the door flashed through my mind.  Then the skeptic took over.  I got online and did some digging.  First, I could find no pictures or reports of the fish.  Next I tried to verify some other information.  For instance, if the record was greater than 38 lbs. I could assume that this was an old mass text that was circulating around and just happened to be passed on to me.  The all tackle record is 41 lbs., but upon further digging, I found that the fly fishing record for brown trout on 20-pound tippet is 36 pounds, 6 oz., caught by Hans-Peter Schaar, from Obervellach, in the Moll River, Austria, July 2, 2007.  This confirmed the fact that "it would have been a new world record if it was caught", assuming that it was caught on 20 lb. or smaller tippet.  On that note, I don't even own 20 lb. tippet.

So, I am unable to either confirm or deny the validity of this story.  This is where I turn to you, the few readers that actually stumble upon this blog.

Is it true?  Is it an old, circulating text that pops up every now and again?  I know I passed it along, so I can see how it could do that...  Perhaps this was started to drive a little more traffic that way... who knows.

Can anyone provide some more information on this rumor?  Much obliged.

- Sky

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The moon is waxing, which is only the case every 15 or so days per month.  That means that we should be fishing.  By the way, a waxing moon is the time period after the new moon when that bad boy is on its way to being full.  There is a great lunar calender at .

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bristol Bay - Wrong Mine, Wrong Place

70 permits is all that stands in the way of the Pebble Mine going in at the headwaters of one of the last remaining strongholds of wild salmon.  This may sound like a lot of hoops to jump through, but in all reality, 69 of the 70 are pretty much foregone conclusions.  Of the 70 permits required, 69 are through the state of Alaska, which has all but turned its back on wild salmon and the industry it supports.  The one remaining obstacle that is the last hope..... the ONE (yes 1) federal permit that is required to dispose of the waste and tailings.  This permitting process is overseen by the EPA and Corp of Engineers, and must therefore fall in line with the Federal Clean Water Act.  Right now the war has begun, with many battles on many fronts.  I'll be posting some information on what you can do to help in the following weeks.  In the meantime, check out the work that Alaska Fly Out is doing at  Magnetic North is a series of films that they have put together showcasing the absolute beauty, and importance, of Bristol Bay and its inhabitants, human and otherwise.  Let's get the word out.

Sharp Hooks,


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Public Lands v. Madison County

For all of you law nerds, and fish nerds, and nerds in general, the Montana Supreme  Court is hosting oral arguments in case DA 12-0312, Public Lands v. Madison County, at the Strand Student Union Building on the campus of MSU this coming Monday.  Every year the Montana Supreme Court holds this sort of "off-site" event, and this one strikes close to home, as this case regards stream access...something we should all care very much about.  Below is a link to the court docs on the Montana Supreme Court Website in case you want some light reading to get caught up on the case.

Good luck to my buddies down the street with this one.  Go get 'em.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Half the Size is Twice as Nice.

The first fly I can remember ever tying was a tuft of black hair pulled off our family schipperke, "Robert", lashed to a small mustad hook with red thread.  The vice I used was the shop vice in the garage, and I'm sure I had never even heard of a whip finish, let alone used one on that fly.  This was of course before the days of  Youtube.  That fly caught lots of panfish growing up, but from there, my fly tying career got really big, and no, not as in "I'm a big deal".

Upon moving to Bozeman years ago I was gifted a Regal and some materials and really started cranking the flies out.  However, nobody ever told me that a streamer could be tied on anything smaller than a size 4.  I tied boxes of streamers that were all so large that when I was on the river I would look at them, close the box, and tie on a size 18 prince nymph.  Some were articulated with 2 #2 hooks and looked like something off of Sesame Street (See OYB Action Jackson).  Then one day it clicked... try smaller.

Since then I have enjoyed fishing streamers much more than I used to.  Why?  Because I catch more fish.  While I might catch one fish all day on the "huge/nasties", albeit a nice fish, I have realized that smaller streamers will still entice the big boys, but will also feed a few on the smaller side.  Several weeks ago I floated the Yellowstone with a good friend Mike Greener and Ryan Holm.  As Ryan and I were intent on catching a riser on a size 18 gnat, Greener picked up my St. Croix and swung a size 8 tan streamer in front of the boat.  One big brown trout and 24 inches later, Greener was also sold on small streamers.  Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Easier to cast;
  • Easier, faster, and cheaper to tie;
  • Can be fished with two flies;
  • Catches greater numbers of fish than a large streamer;
  • Smaller hooks hold better (or so I think);
  • Won't draw as much blood when you hit yourself (or someone else) in the head with it;
  • Still catch big fish; and
  • Easier depth control.
So, try it out for yourself.  Below is one of my favorite streamers not only to tie, but to fish, give away, etc.  This particular model is tan, rides hook up, and slayed quite a few fish this past winter.  Materials:

  • Rabbit fur strip in tan;
  • Ice Dub UV brown;
  • Ice Dub UV tan (bottom of fly); 
  • Ice Dub red;
  • Dumbell eyes tied on top so the fly rides hook up;
  • Size 8 Dai Riki nymph/streamer hook. 

I'm not sure if it looks more like a small fish or like a fish that has been bitten in half, but get it wet and it looks tasty.  I love the way rabbit moves in the water, and the fish do too.  Drop me a line if you need some of these bad boys and get out and fish!!!

Sharp Hooks,


Monday, February 11, 2013

A few streamers from the bench.

A few selections from The Bobbin Droppers.  First, a pattern called "Matt's Llano Critter" from a shop in Texas.  Was probably originally used for Bass, but has since become my go-to trout streamer lately.  Second, a JJ's Special tied with barbell eyes so it rides hook-up (or, reverse).  So, I'll reverse the Js and call it a JJ's Special instead of a "JJ's" Special.  Lastly, some hare, hackle, wire, and chenille that my friend Satoshi Yamamoto ( has named "Big Sky's Upside-Down Olive-Griz Zebra Monster Brown Warrior Sculpin."  What a great name.  Another couple of suggestions are hairy stinkers and frog farts.... I like them both.

Hope all of you had a chance to get out and fish, or at least tie a little bit here and there.  Take care, sharp hooks, and keep warm!    - Sky

Dr. Slick's Field Trip!

We're putting together a little field trip out to Dr. Slick's in Belgrade.  They can accommodate a group of up to 6 and have offered to give us a grand tour after 5 on a weekday sometime in the next couple of weeks.  They are great folks manufacturing very high quality fly fishing and fly tying tools right here in the good ol' U.S.A.  Don't miss out on your chance to come check it all out!  Message "The Bobbin Droppers" at their facebook page (HERE) for more information!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

American Angler Sweet Spot....Aren't they all?

My friends and I were recently looking over an issue of American Angler.... a fine publication.... whereupon we noticed that the issue's "Sweet Spot" contest looked very familiar.  After a very brief discussion, we all agreed that the photo was taken at Mallard's Rest on the Yellowstone River near Emigrant, MT.  We all decided to send in our "guesses" and if any of us were drawn for the prize (a new fly rod) we would share and share alike...although I'm not sure how that would have worked out with a fly rod.  A day or so later I happened to be driving toward Gardner and passed Mallard's rest and thought I've give a go of trying to recreate the photo using my phone's camera.  Trying to remember the dimensions of the photo, where the exact spot was, etc., were all going through my mind while Shannon and the dog waited in the truck... yes, it was very cold and very windy.  (Imagine that happening in the Paradise Valley....weird).  So, as the two pictures below indicate, I got pretty darn close without any cropping.  I sent in that photo with my contest entry but alas, my added efforts proved shared fly rod.  None the less, I can't wait until the Paradise Valley once again lives up to it's name, the ice floats away, and we can once again float the Stone.

Until then, sharp hooks and good gloves,


P.S. I'm not trying to brag on my photo-spacial-memory skills, just hoping that the luck that I had on that day continues over until the warmer months, when I'LL be the guy in the red shirt.