A look inside the "Trout Life" under the Big Sky

Archive for February, 2012

Is It Spring Yet?

Snowing off and on again today. It sucks. Happy Leap Day.

Winter fishing in Montana is great and we really have no reason to whine about it. But, spring would be nice. Not even summer, but spring. When it stays above 40 all day, there are bugs in the air, and you can go all day without breaking ice off your guides. That would be great.

But until then, I guess we just have to play the hand we have been dealt.

Don’t be fooled. The sun didn’t last very long.

Damn that looks nice. Just hurry up and wait.

Until then we will be bundled up on the side of the river trying to thaw out our frozen fingers.

Don’t forget to renew your Montana fishing license. Today is the last day it is valid. Might as well get a few more hours out of it.

Big game tags are due also.

It’s almost March. Where are those Skwalas?




Living In A Trout Town

It’s hard not to fish at least a few days a week here in Missoula. All it takes is a little motivation and you can be on a river in between classes, on your lunch break, or after work. I think that may even be a reason why a lot of us are here. But even with all the water within a double haul of town, we can still manage to find ourselves twiddling our thumbs. This normally results in some sort of shenanigans.

The result from last night…. The “Urban” Flats Skiff.

The collapsible push pull platform (child’s seat) shown in the upright and locked position.

We had to fight a bum for the cart. But who wouldn’t? Those picky midge sipping fish don’t have a snowballs chance now.

But to be fair Anthony did push it all the way back to Albert’s. Karma points in the bank.

Oh yeah here are a few more.

See how limited you are without the Urban Flats Skiff? You know you want one.

It like Twizzlers for trout.

See? All that fun with only an hour of light left. That’s a pretty damn good reason to live in a trout town. Plus where there are trout, there are stellar micro brews. Direct correlation. Science.

Enjoy Tuesday. So far I’m tired and already wishing it was Friday.



P.s.- Here is a rare look behind the scenes at FCFT. Most people who see this don’t make it out alive. Well that’s not true. They just think we are all nuts and leave because they are bored.

Fly Fishing Baseball

This weekend a legacy was born, Fly Fishing Baseball. I had learned the game from Brendan at the Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, but had never played it with anyone else. Fishing on Sunday was pretty slow so I brought up the idea to Ivan (YGF) and suggested that we play for inter web bragging rights. He agreed and the game was on. I am proud to announce that with a final score of 6-1, FCFT was the Champion. We have plans of making this into a league type game, the rules are posted below. Stay tuned for updates.

 Gold For The Winner

Silver For The Loser

It Helps To Have A High Net Average

Keep Your Eye On The Prize

A Good Gameface Is A Must

Hope you all had a great weekend!



Fly Fishing Baseball Rules and Regulations

Number of Players- Unlimited
Equipment- A player may put on whatever setup he wants to start the game but may only change his rig if he breaks it off.
Drift- A drift is defined as the time between the line entering the water and leaving the water, you can mend it as many times as you want and can drift it as far as you like as long as you don’t move your feet.
Ball- If you decide you don’t like where your rig landed you can immediately pick it back up and recast. This MUST be done within the first two seconds of the line hitting the water. You get four balls per inning.
Strike- Failure to land a fish on a drift results in a strike. If you hook but do not land a fish on your third strike it is considered a foul ball and you get to repeat your last strike.
Using a catcher- You can use a buddy to help you land your fish but he/she is then entitled to half of your points from that fish, rounded down to the nearest whole number.
Landing a fish- Landing a fish does not count against your strike total. You are then awarded points based on size and species. See points chart below.
Strikes, Outs, and Innings-  A strike is equal to an out. Three outs per inning, nine innings per game. Theoretically each player would get a minimum of twenty seven drifts plus whatever extra drifts they get for landing a fish.
Playing the game-
A player must declare that he is stepping to the plate, this begins his three strike inning. He must take all three strikes from the same general location, i.e run, riffle, pool.
Players must maintain the same player order that was established prior to the game starting. Any fish caught out of order are not counted towards the players score.
Games cannot be carried over from day to day. If the game has to be cut short the person with the most points is the winner. If the players are tied go to a tiebreaker, biggest fish wins.
Scoring- (Subject to change)

Whitefish                        = 1 point
Squawfish/Pikeminnow    = 2 points
Pike                               = 2 points
Bass                              = 2 points
Trout                              = 3 points
Trout over 16″                 = 4 points
Trout over 18″                 = 5 points
Pike over 30″                  = 5 points
Bass over 18″                 = 5 points
Trout over 20”                 = 10 points
Bull Trout                       = 15 points
Trout over 24″                 = 50 points
Bull Trout over 30″          = 100 points

Ice Fishing

Mother nature is the boss, she showed us that this week. We had front after front come through and it made for less than ideal fishing conditions.

The rivers around town were all running high so Stan and I checked out some backwaters in search of pike. We found lots of ice. On a positive note, a few fish were rising in spite of the high and cloudy river conditions. Hopefully this will get some of the big boys on the move for the weeks ahead.


More ice

There is light at the end of the tunnel! Hope you all have a great weekend.



Why Do We Do It?

Last weekend the FCFT crew headed over to the Mighty Mo’ with visions of catching the biggest, baddest fish in the river. There were lows, cold temperatures and unrelenting winds were constant. There were highs, Zach filming Caleb’s first fish on a dry fly might be right at the top. In the end, the truth is that no one landed a true giant. What that trip lacked in trophy fish it made up for in new friends met and memories made. I learned that the biggest fish don’t always carry the most meaning.

We spent the first evening in a campground on the outskirts of Craig Montana. Don’t feel ashamed if you’ve never heard of it, neither had I two years ago. The campground community consisted of seven guys that had all ended up in the same place for the same reasons. We were from New York, North Dakota, Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and California. How is that for diversity?

Firewood was piled on as the guys traded fish stories and passed around the Whiskey. The night grew colder and I inched closer to the warmth of the fire. I was entranced by the flames and the passion in their voices as I listened to the stories being told all around me. It was then that I tried to come up with a definitive reason for why we do what we do . Is it the adventure? Or do we do it for the big fish, the challenge, and the camaraderie? I haven’t stopped thinking about it since then and I still don’t have the perfect answer.

As one grows older and evolves an outdoorsman their ambitions and ideals change. As for me I have always been a very motivated, goal orientated person. I have to go further and push harder than the day before or I’m not satisfied. People give me a hard time and ask if I ever enjoy my time spent on the water. The answer is yes, but there are times that I’ve pushed over the next hill only to miss the beauty right at my feet.

This was not one of those days. Once in a while the stars align and everything just clicks. By noon I had landed enough fish that heading back to the truck and relaxing for a little while sounded like a good idea. Those who fish with me know this happens about once a year. As I sat there eating a sandwich and warming up my frozen toes I noticed a father and son fishing by the boat launch. It was cold and they were bundled up like the Michelin man. The dad would spend five minutes tying on a setup only to have the boy lose it on the third cast. After the feeling in my feet came back I grabbed my rod and headed back to the water. I entered the river upstream of them and picked my way through the uneven bottom to a submerged boulder. From my little island I could watch the two fish and still reach the seam in front of me. The longer I watched them the more I was reminded of my own childhood and the times I had shared with my father. It was obvious that they weren’t made of money, I could relate. I had an extremely modest upbringing and my father couldn’t afford to take me anywhere exotic. But he still managed to take us fishing almost every weekend in the summer. Once there my brother and I would test his patience by fighting, being too hot, too cold, thirsty, and/or hungry. I can still remember throwing my pole over the side of the boat into thirty feet of water.

It was a perfect lucky drift. I made a cast upstream, threw in a huge mend then started stripping out line as my in indicator worked its way down. About sixty feet downstream it shot under. I set back and to my surprise the line stayed tight, I fought the fish from my little perch and after a short battle I managed to bring the beautiful rainbow to the net. He was just shy of matching the 22″ handle. As the fish slid out of my hand and back into the current I looked up and met eyes with the father. He told me that I had landed quite the fish and did a hell of a job bringing him in. I thanked him and went back to fishing. I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was to have a father that showed the kind of patience with me that this man was showing with his son. I wondered to myself if I would be able to teach my children to love the outdoors the way my father had with me. At that point my emotions got the best of me, I broke down in tears on that boulder. I headed back to the truck to call my dad, when he answered I told him about the little boy. I told him of that fathers patience and how because of it the boy might just grow up to be a big bad fly fisherman. I told him that one day when that little boy grows up he might call his dad just to tell him how grateful he is. I told him I loved him and hung up the phone. Again, failing to fight back the tears.

This story is dedicated to all the mothers and fathers who have impacted their childrens lives in more ways than they know.