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

FCFT

We’re Back

To paraphrase the Moose Jockey’s from up North who run LoFiFly… Every now and then your blog and blogging efforts go to shit. Sometimes it’s a little drawn out.

Sorry we’re not sorry. We were busy. Hunting season went from Sept 1st till Jan 15th. That’s a long time and it’s also a lot of work. But we now have an apartment with skulls on the wall and meat in the freezer. So it was worth it.

But we are back. Because we need it…And apparently enough of you want it to bug us about it non-stop… So here it is.

We will have posts about the fall and winter fishing and all of our clusters of hunting outings.

Just give us time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

This is a fish someone caught.

Montana Brown Trout

That’s right LoFi. We called you out. Only because we love you.

We missed you guys.

FCFT


Nocturnal Rodents

It’s 1 am. Pitch black. And you can’t see a damn thing.

It’s hard not to turn on your headlight, but if you do its game over. It really is amazing how well you can cast when you cant see. You lay down what feels like the perfect cast and start to twitch the hell out of the tip of you rod.

All you have for reference is the sound of the fly skating across the water. Just when you think the drift is over an explosion at the end of your line. And nothing. He missed… Or maybe you botched it. You strip in the slack and as the fly reaches your feet he’s back. And hes hungry. It’s a mix between a toilet flushing and a cinder block being thrown in the water and it’s scary.

The fight is on. Before it’s even over you want more.

Go ahead and forget sleeping. Just knowing you could be out throwing junk like that makes it even harder to fall asleep at night.

Flies the size of  your hand and 20 lbs test Maxima. Its like a grind-house version of fly fishing. It’s too easy to get addicted too. Dark circles under your eyes, bugs bites everywhere, bruises from falling, and now leeches. You have to pay to play.

Bringing one fish to hand is a good night. But when the one fish looks like that… It’s okay.

The next time we look like we are dragging in the morning you can guess why.

-Zach

FCFT


A Random Hodgepodge of Words and Photos

This past month has been a whirlwind. We have fished with old and new friends, in new water, and at all times of day and night. But we are back. We are back to our routine. Monday Morning Macro… Friday Fish Faces… And a few gear reviews coming.

We have had 3 pairs of Redington Sonic Pros for the last few months and have been putting them through a pretty intense early season testing. I also received a pair of Double Hauls from Costa before the Salmon flies popped up and will have a write up on them asap as well. None of this “One time on the water and we think they are the greatest thing ever”. We want to be honest about the products people send us. We aren’t here for a garage full of free gear. But rather to see how the product stands up to our “Whirling Dervish” style of fly fishing. But more on that later.

We have recently started fishing with local Fly Fishing Guide, Musician, Photographer, Philosopher, Entomologist, and Blogger Billy Pfeiffer. Billy runs Zoo City Aquarium a great blog about guiding, fishing, and winter snow sports. But we really hang out with Billy because he has a kick ass dog. Kona.

Billy is a great dude who at any moment can blow your mind with some 90 hip hop lyrics or the most complex break down of fly fishing. We are looking forward to fishing with Kona and maybe Billy some more.

It’s the time of year that all fly flickin’ types spend the rest of the year waiting for. It’s short and sweet so you have to get your fill while you can. That’s why we have been spending our time on the water rather than behind a computer screen.

I’m not sure if Billy ties great looking flies or he just convinced this fish to eat

Look at that water

We went to the Scott Fly Rod Factory today. I got some great photos and got a step by step tour of how they build their rods. It was great. More to come soon. Posts for days.

Zach and Stan

FCFT


High Cotton

This weekend was a weekend full of sun, water, and fish. High’s in the 80’s made for perfect weather to float the Mo. The sun was a little strong and with no clouds the fish were a bit hesitant to eat up top like we wanted but there were heads up and we managed to stick a few of them. Really what more can you ask for.

At this point we are looking at months of great fishing ahead. It’s a great time to be in Montana. But when isn’t a good time to be in the Big Sky?

Here are a few shots from the weekend. The whitefish were awfully frisky and seemed to be particularly big and hungry.

Maybe the biggest whitefish I have ever seen

Getting Humbled…

The Caddis are starting to show up and the trout know it.

Friend of FCFT Caleb is the newest guy on the crew at Headhunters. Burger Duty.

Lots of fishing, floating, and sun to come. Good times ahead.

-Zach

FCFT


Exploring

It was hot this weekend in Missoula. Hot enough to blow out the water. So we made like Lewis and Clark and explored.

While we didn’t find the easy passage to the Northwest, we did find some fish. And some other critters.

Of course we find the bears when we aren’t hunting them.

A wide range of fish made themselves present. In one weekend we managed to find Bull Trout, Cutties, Largemouth Bass, Perch, Pike, and Whitefish. It was pretty exciting. It was one of those weekends when you go exploring on a hunch and find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Bull fighter

Buggy

Just making mountains out of mole hills

Getting after it.

We put Anthony’s “new to him” boat to the test this weekend and it passed with flying colors.

The gold at the end of the rainbow

Anthony and I both caught our first perch on a fly rod. We were pretty excited.

I know there are bigger ones in there, but more research is required.

 When the rivers give you lemons… You go find your own lemonade. It feels like summer here. I even got a great jump start on my Chaco tan. A sign of good things to come.

-Zach

FCFT


Friday Fish Face

It’s finally Friday. I think that’s something we can all be happy about. We haven’t been fishing near enough, so that will have to change.

These are a few glamour shots from some of the better looking subjects.

Cutt’s, Bow’s, and Browns. Love em all.

Secret Spot.

Great weather this weekend. Gonna have to find some water.

-Zach

FCFT


Monday Morning Snap-ro.

Dammit.

We have been on a rod breaking spree lately.

But I guess that’s just part of the game.

The lesson here: Always pack an extra rod. Always.

Happy Monday.

-Zach

FCFT


The Last Hurrah

The entire FCFT crew hadn’t fished together in too long. So when Anthony got back from his spring break trip home we all managed to make time for a last day of spring break fishing trip.

Over the past 2 years Easter has turned out to hold some pretty fantastic fishing for FCFT and this year was no exception. I caught my largest trout in MT to date and we all caught fish that made us act like little kids in a candy store.

We hiked 7 or 8 miles up and down river, starved, and even managed to break a rod in the process. But we had a great day in a beautiful river with lots of nice fish. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to wrap up an amazing spring break of fishing.

A great fish to wrap up my best week of fishing yet.

“You don’t see him? 20 feet down between the rocks under the whitewater in that sunny spot. I can’t believe you don’t see him”

Like I said… Kids in a candy store

Marsh mellow peeps or trout?

Midgeness

They are all worth 1000 words. So I won’t say anything.

Maybe our best day yet. It will certainly be hard to beat it.

-Zach

FCFT

P.s.- Stan’s best catch of the day…

…Easter Dinner


Warm Water Edition

Once again I’m sitting in the Denver International Airport waiting for my connecting flight. Well, at least now I have fish story to exaggerate about. For the first time in as long as I can remember North Dakota was green in April! Jordon and I took advantage of all the sunshine by making some exploratory trips to relatively unknown waters. We rowed my rickety duck boat around a non-motorized marsh in search of toothy pike, threw dry flies at oversized minnows, and we even managed to land a trophy smallmouth or two! It was pretty entertaining jumping around from steel leaders to 4x then back to heavy leaders and big poppers. The fish kept us on our toes!

It’s Been Awhile Since the 7wt. Has Had a Bend Like That

You Don’t Wanna Stick Your Finger In There

A Great Ending To A Beautiful Day

Almost Fooled Me Into Thinking I Was In Montana

Jordon’s First Fish On Top, She’s Hooked

Hanging On For The Ride

My First Smallie Ever On A Fly Rod, I’m Hooked

They Were Hungry And Willing

The Sun Set On My Spring Break Vacation

I had a great time and made some memories that will last a lifetime. Have a great Monday!

~Anthony

-FCFT-


Spring Fling

While most of Missoula is out of town for spring break Stan and I have been sneaking off to try and find a few fish. The snow steered us towards tying flies and re-watching Eastern Rises today, but yesterday we managed to stick a few nice fish.

Because of the bump the rivers have gotten this week we had to put in some miles to find a few clear backwaters. It was worth it.

Backwater Browner.

Catch you later

Nice fish. Better net.

All Smiles

Thanks for your time.

Two more days then its back to real life. It always seems that spring break goes by too fast. But I guess that just means that summer is getting closer.

-Zach and Stan

FCFT


Brownies

Yummm.

Orange Belly

Kype jaw in training.

It’s hard to get good photos of a fish by yourself. Another good reason to always take someone with you.

Stan and I are off to chase fish around today. Anthony is tearing it up over there in NoDak. Big pike and some dry fly action is the report.

-Zach

FCFT


Trailer Recovery

Last weekend I had some serious issues with the raft trailer. So the boat hung out behind Headhunters for the week and the trailer got some much needed repair.

So this weekend I had to return to Craig to get both my rejuvenated trailer and the raft. Logically we had to go ahead a fish. When in Rome… You fish for trout.

It was Sunny, almost 70 degrees, and mostly perfect. We caught fish all day and floated a world famous trout river.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Hooked up right off the boat launch

And so it begins…

Feathers and Fur

The Thinking Man

I guess the views aren’t half bad either.

And neither was the fishing

Sam had the trout dialed in. I have a feeling he will be coming along to fish the Mo all summer.

Great way to start off spring break. Half day at work today then some afternoon trout hunting.

Don’t forget to let them go to fight another day.

-Zach

FCFT


Mile High Post

I’m sitting in the Denver Airport with an hour to kill so I might as well do something productive… I was lucky enough to have family in town the last three weekends. Needless to say I didn’t have much free time on my hands. Here are a couple photos that don’t fit into any one category but deserve a little facetime. It’s the least I can do considering I stole Zach’s camera yesterday and deprived Mandy a picture of her biggest fish to date. Enjoy.

False  Casts and Chained Tires

Wanted, A Bass Sparkle Drift Boat

Went Fishing With Burke Holmes On Thursday…

The Dude Can Fish

We Hit the Cycle

Cutts

Bulls

Bows

And Browns

Peace Out Missoula

I’ll be in North Dakota all week. If you don’t here from me I either froze to death or blew away…

~Anthony

-FCFT-


The Busy Midterm Week Excuse For A Post

It’s almost spring break, which means it’s time for midterms. I have been busy studying, reading scientific articles and writing papers. Not a whole bunch of spare time this week for fishing. But thats about to change.

I have however been able to fish the Hollywood hole two evenings in a row. Lots of pre-spawners stacking up there. Mandy even got a measured and verified 18 inch bow last night. Her biggest yet. I think I was more excited than she was. However I didn’t have the camera because Anthony dumped his in the drink last week and borrowed mine for a trip down the Bitterroot. But he got some great fish shots so all is forgiven.

Because I don’t have much to show you today why don’t you check out some other stuff that is FCFT approved.

As always, check out your Mo river expert Headhunters with up to the second Missouri River info, Hatch reports, shuttles, and free coffee. I owe Mark a huge thank you for last weekend. I had a little trailer issue that was discovered at the dam when putting the raft in. I was freaking out and Mark told me to relax, have fun, and catch some fish and it would all be taken care of. With their help we had a great day and all issues were fixed. These guys can handle anything you throw at them. (I did my best to throw them a curve ball and they took it in stride) I couldn’t have picked a better place to have a bearing go out. Thank you Mark, John and all the Headhunters crew for all the help. You guys rule.

Check out A Classic Journey’s Blog and Video fishing reports for the best info in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys. Joe and crew run a great show. They have been catching some damn nice fish on top. So please give them a look. I like all of their stuff if that says anything…

Check out Missoula based fly blog Zoo City Aquarium. These fellas are powder and fish hounds. They have some quality stuff and I enjoy checking out everything they post up.

The dudes at Bent Rod Media do some pretty amazing stuff with photos and video. If we are ever in their neck of the woods I am sure we will have to meet up. I really liked the newest carp video. It looked nice to fish in flip flops.

The Boughton brothers of Montana Wild just released a teaser for their newest fly fishing video. They have the best hunting videos I have ever seen. (someone get these guys a contract) Check out their coyote video if you haven’t seen it. They are now venturing into fly videos and from the teaser the camera work looks to be great.

Cody and Alex, two dudes we met on the Mo also have fly blogs OakFish and Fly Fishing Life respectively. Young guns bringing up some good stuff.

The newest Drake Mag is out and I have been thumbing through it when I have had a little bit of time. Great photos and writing. By far the best mag in fly fishing. Its easy to read these thing cover to cover 100 times.

One more test then its Spring Break. Anthony is off to NoDak. He sees big pike in the very near future. Stan and I are hanging around these parts and fishing as much as we can. The skwalas are coming off, the weather is looking warmer, and life is good. Plus that raft isn’t going to take itself down the river.

Peace Out Suckas

Give all of these folks a look. Its all good stuff. That’s why I put it up here.

-Zach

FCFT


Fly Flickin 101

We are now halfway through the semester and spring break can’t come fast enough.  With studying for midterms and writing papers it’s hard to find time to do anything during the week, let alone fish… But somehow the planets aligned and I don’t have class or work on Wednesday afternoons, it also turns out that the worlds best fly fisher(self acclaimed) Burke doesn’t have any obligations on Wednesdays.

So the last few weeks we’ve decided to add a little fish catching into the curriculum.  Burke spends his summers guiding so he has a few secrets up his sleeve and we spend most of the days on his favorite water.  Here’s the result of  one of our more recent trips.

Pushing the 4wt

Beats sitting in class

 Field Work?

 Senioritis!

A+

Somehow the man tracked me down and I was roped into working today, but Anthony and Burke will be out and about. Back to class!

-Stan

FCFT


Fish On Top

This weekend seemed to solidify the fact that it is spring here in Montana. We had warmer weather, bugs, and rising fish. Pretty mush everything a fly fisher-person could ask for in March. Midges, Blue wings, and Skwalas all made an appearance and the trout got after them. It was fun headhunting for risers and actually catching those fish. Picking off all the fish out of a rising pod is good for the soul.

We floated both the Bitterroot and the Mo. Fish were caught and good times were had.

First and Foremost… An offering to the trout gods.

We met up with Bob from Stevi and floated the Upper Root. It was a good day and we had a great time. I even managed to poach a fish out from Stan’s drift.

Teach me how to dougie

Leopard Print

Midge Masher

Alex and Sam caught fish all day while I attempted to keep the boat off the fish. It was supposed to be 60 and sunny but we didn’t see any of that.

Beauty Mark

Down town brown town

Cutt’s Bows and Browns.

That’s all folks. It’s sunny. I don’t want to be on the computer anymore.

-Zach

FCFT


Beginners Luck

For the second time in nearly as many weeks I had the opportunity to take an aspiring fly angler out on the water. Jordon and Mandy were the stars of Rock Creek, see Up A Creek Without A Paddle. Yesterday it was my little brother’s turn. After losing a good fish on the first hole Christian got it right on the second and landed his first trout ever, a brown no less. That was only the beginning, he ended up having quite the day.

Christian’s First Trout Ever

It Only Got Better

And Better

That’s No Bull

He Even Let Me Catch One

I can’t remember the last time Christian and I went fishing together, so it was pretty special to look up and see him working the water. Hope you all enjoy viewing these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

~Anthony~

-FCFT


Not Quite Flyday

Seasoning for the pike’s taste buds.

Guest appearance from Alex on not quite Flyday.  Turns out the guy can tie too. All around fish hound.

Alex’s Bead Head Pheasant Tail variation. Looks buggy.

It’s almost the weekend. There is still time left to tie a few more flies and prep. Or if you are like me and can barely tie your shoes, and cant even come close to a San Juan, you can always hit up the Grizzly Hackle for the 12 for 12 deal on Fridays. Pretty good if you ask me. Makes buying flies seem not so bad.

Happy Spring.

-FCFT


Introducing The “Whoomper”

It’s red. It’s bad. It’s our’s. Watch out.

Last year Uncle Sam’s generosity bought a new 12 gauge. This year it’s a raft.

A dirty, used and abused, red raft. Stan and I decided to call it the Whoomper. You can Whoomp into things and Whoomp fish. It was just too fitting. Besides… Everyone seems to refer to their boat as a “She” and this raft is certainly an “It”.

Well now what do we do with it?

We took it out for the maiden voyage hoping it would hold air and keep the water out of the bottom and in the river. Success. While Stan and I are not experienced on the oars by any means, We managed to do pretty much exactly what we wanted. (Yes we were on the lower Bitterroot. Begin the hate now. ) The river was up a few feet and looked more like mud than water. Not great for fishing but we still had a good time.

Rain and Snow.

Stan hoping this all goes well and we survive.

Happy Scared  Excited Cold? Yes.

I couldn’t be more excited about all of this.  I know I am personally looking forward to a summer full of fishing and learning. The engines are cranking and plans for trips are constantly being made. The Mo, The Bighorn, The Beaverhead. The list gets longer everyday.

Now if we could just get some spring weather and say goodbye to all the snow down here in the Missoula valley.

-Zach

FCFT


A Little Motivation

Once in a while the stars line up and you get a little luck in your favor. You find yourself in the right place at the right time, throwing the right fly at the right fish. There is a tug and a holler, followed by a tense net job. If everything works out you come away with a few good photos and a story to tell. For any speculators out there. This is not a steelhead, it was caught north of interstate I-90 between Missoula and Bozeman. Hope this gives you all a little motivation to get out there and fish during the high water season to come.

Thank you’s go out to Jordon for being a trooper and putting up with Ivan and me all day. She also went over her waders to haul that big guy out from behind a log. A fisherwomen is born.

~Anthony~

-FCFT


Monday Macro

Macro-ish. Maybe… We can call it abstract. We make the rules.

Hope you had a great weekend. FCFT did. Lots and lots of fish for the ones who went to the Mo. (Anthony caught the fish of the year) And a maiden voyage on the new-to-me raft for the ones in Missoula. Good weekend for sure.

-Zach

FCFT


Up A Creek Without A Paddle

Last Sunday we took a couples trip to Philipsburg in search of Sapphires and Trout. We discovered a few gems, both in and out of the water. They have a pretty neat thing going on at the Sapphire Gallery in Philipsburg. For a few dollars you can sift through a bag of gravel in search of real Montana Sapphires. It was a great experience and even us tough guys got into the spirit. Everyone found a gemstone or two, including old man Scott and squinty eyes VonRuden.

After a quick stop at the Sweet Palace, we made the short jaunt over to Rock Creek. The ladies, Mandy and Jordon, had caught three trout in their collective fly fishing careers. We had high hopes of patting their stats, with a little cooperation from the fishies of course. We followed the river downstream for a little while until we found a nice looking place to pull off and line up. When the girls were geared up and ready to go we filed down the bank got to the job at hand. For most of the day Zach and I left the rods in the truck, opting instead for nets and cameras. It was a smart choice on our part because the girls kept us busy using both. The gems and the fishing were the highlights of the day, the adventure came later.

Off To The River We Go

Jordon’s First Trout! There He Goes To Fight Another Day

It Didn’t Take Mandy Long To Get Into The Swing Of Things

Thanks To A Little Coaching From Zach

Jordon Looking Like A Pro

She Holds The Fish Better Than I Do

Quadrupled Up

All Smiles

They Took A Little Break And Let The Boys Have Some Fun

This Little Guy Must Have Wanted His Picture Taken

The Stars Of The Show

Eventually the net boys grew tired and the ladies got cold. Around four o’clock we decided to call it a day and head back to Missoula. Over the course of the day our pursuit of “better water” had taken us a good ways down the creek. With that in consideration we decided it would be faster just to follow it all the way back down the Interstate.  In hindsight that might have not been the best idea, five hours and thirty miles later we made it back to the highway. Along the way we encountered numerous rocks, two sketchy descents, and a good sized tree that had fallen across the road. Luckily I had tire chains and an axe in the back of the truck. There is nothing like chopping down a tree in chest waders.

Laying Them Out

Locking Them In

The Only Other Vehicle We Saw All Day

It was certainly a day none of us will soon forget. We had a blast and the fishing was excellent to say the least. Rock Creek is famous for a reason and we aren’t going to try and discourage any of you from getting out there and exploring it for yourself. We just want to encourage you to exercise caution and common sense, and always come prepared for any situation.

~Anthony

-FCFT-


Quadruple Double Digit Saturday

For the first time in a long time the FCFT crew piled into the same truck, to go fishing in the same place. Our newest fishing buddy Alex hoped in as a +1 and we got to it. Alex is a nymphing machine and he showed us young whippersnappers a thing or two.

We headed up the Bitterroot after some water free of the skwala crowd. The hot sunny weather had us and the trout feeling excited. No hogs, no rises, but the four of us caught fish all day. We had a blast fishing with and getting to know Alex. He fit right in with the bullshitting and shenanigans. It was just one of those days that makes the long dark Missoula winters survivable.

Enough yappin. Here’s the puddin.

The guy literally fishes with his rod in one hand and his net in the other.

Alex Doing What He Does

And… Stan doing what he does.

Pretty fish and Anthony is smiling. What else do you want?

This Wasn’t His First Rodeo

Later Dude

Jeepers thas a biggin’

Coming Soon, Whitefish The Movie. We’re not kidding.

Pretty colors add at least 2 inches. Right?

Say AHHHHH

It really was a great day of fly flickin. Not much more you can ask for. Alex was a fishy fella and we will be back on the water with him soon. Besides, anyone who can stand an hour or more in the truck with us three must be a pretty okay dude.

-Anthony, Stan, and Zach

FCFT


Fishy Friends

Watch out. Here comes the newest segment to the site.

Fishy Friends. Hang around Missoula (Or Montana for that matter) long enough and its easy to meet other fishy people. Whats that saying? Fish of a feather…

We get to meet some pretty solid folks around town so we are going to start giving them the face time they deserve. From big fish to quality products or even some fancy artwork, the fishy crowd of Missoula will start gracing the pages of FCFT.

With out further B.S. here we go.

Our lead off fishy friend originally comes from the Volunteer state.

Jesse Filingo has been cruising around town off and on for a few years now. Jesse won the chance to represent the University of Montana in the collegiate fly fishing competition over in Ireland a year or two ago. The dude can plain fish. He can cast like a boss (See his magazine cover debut) and always seems to be catching big fish. We like Jesse. He brings a lot of energy to the sport and never slows down.

Jesse sent us a photo of a brown he caught this past weekend. We are all excited about this fish.

Just another Filingo Fish

Momma Brown

Thanks for the photos Jesse. Keep up the good work and leave a few for the rest of us.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Fishy Friends.

-FCFT

Speaking of the VOLUNTEER state…

Here is a great volunteer opportunity to help out some local water that we all love. I encourage everyone to give this a shot.

Willow You Help
Rock Creek?

March 24th at 10:00 am meet at Rock Creek lodge or take a shuttle from Missoula.

Volunteer to collect sandbar willow cuttings for future planting in roadside bank reinforcement to:

· Learn about Rock Creek’s riparian environment
· Meet people who share a connection to the resource
Your work will help Trout Unlimited:
· Protect Rock Creek Road from erosion
· Enhance trout, bug, and animal habitat
· Create shade for water temperature and filter sediment

RSVP for more details:
Call Dan at 320-493-1663 OR Email daniel.kaus@umontana.edu

Do It.