Friday, December 9, 2016
Another day up in the canyons, another day to ply the waters in winter.
Typically, the valley floor stays snow free. The ridge tops get the brunt of winter, but the drop in elevation brings a 5-7 degree temperature difference that cancels out the brunt of winter's wrath
Absent of wind, the snow lightly fell on us all day creating a silent escape on mid week day where work's responsibilities were put on the back burner.
The massive wild hen that took me on a sprint down the river's edge was everything we could hope for. The grab to break the monotony and light up my nerves. A big jump to show her size, the powerful runs and unwillingness to give up decrying her wild origin. She gave me the middle fin as she popped the leader with a head shake at my feat and escaped quickly back into the flow.
OMR's mouth was agape as I felt the tinge of disappointment. I reconciled it with a celebratory shot of whiskey with my old man and the realization that I don't really need another hero shot. It was a caught fish and my ego would survive.
The dogs jumped around and bounded into the fresh powder all day long. The world was quite and we had the river to ourselves.
Just like grade school kids, we all need a snow day now and again.
Monday, December 5, 2016
There's no cellophane to unwrap here. No sale pricing to look for
No club cards to scan, no choice of paper or plastic.
No finding that good parking space and picking up lunch meat at the deli counter
Nope, this is get your hands dirty meat procurement. 50 pounds of super organic venison that families share around the dinner table, connect and tell stories about.
It's messy, it's labor intensive and you viscerally feel every pound you push through the grinder
If you do have to go to the store, make sure to pick up a nice red wine or a hoppy IPA, as they do well to bring the flavors out knowing where your food comes from.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Grabs come in all shapes, sizes, subtleties, and levels of aggression.
Sometimes those grabs just dont stick. You're asking a fish to hit a moving target and no matter how properly your fly is constructed, the arrow doesnt always hit the bullseye
On the other hand, landing a particular fish is just meant to be. Take a peek at this example.
The grab was violent, suggesting that the hook had buried in the proper place in the fishes mouth. When we landed the hatchery hen and took her ashore, I laughed when the hook fell out of a tiny piece of skin on the outside of her jaw.
It was literally the luckiest landed fish of my life.
It was just meant to be.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
The dogs quivered in their kennels as we parked to hit the first piece of cover. They dropped me off and drove back to the other side of the cover belt and we would meet in the middle, pinching the birds together
Approaching their position, I could see one big orange coat followed by a much smaller coat. Big C's first pheasant hunt was in motion
6 years ago with the arrival of my first son came the excitement of having a partner in the field and on the river, just like my father and I. Resisting year after year to overdue it and expose him and his brother too early he was finally ready to go. Big enough, strong enough and showing some excitement to join his father and OMR.
A couple of hens got up out of range but the dogs indicated that there was more. As we got closer to each other we let the dogs really get to work
"Stay behind Poppa Fay"
"Watch the dogs buddy, they're getting birdy"
"Isn't this fun!"
Finally the dogs hit paydirt and the rooster rocketed up at 15 yards going left to right. Close enough to take my time and let the bird elevate
Boom. Clean miss.
Shocked that I missed such an easy shot and filled with a bit of terror that I wasnt going to bring home the bacon on Big C's first experience, I re-steadied and let the pellets roll.
The wild rooster crumpled to the ground
Turning around to see the awestruck face of Big C and the big smile of OMR was a moment I'll never forget
One more bird later and a lot of walking, we called it a day a bit early. You could see how tired he was getting by how many times he fell in the tall grass and the last thing we needed was to turn it into a forced march.
He played the roll of a typical 6 year old. Asking questions about funny stuff, his imagination and focus wondering from time to time. Still he saw a glimpse of what we do when we bird hunt and I knew we won the day when he said this to OMR and I at the end of the day.
"Can we go pheasant hunting again"
You bet we can buddy, you bet.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
My number one place on my bucket list is poised to have hundreds of thousands of acres permanently protected
The Frank Moore Steelhead Sanctuary needs your support. Join the Backcountry Hunters and Angler's petition to push our legislators to put this bill into law.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
In the upcoming months, I will be standing in near freezing water with wind screwing with each of my casts. Typically it's a war of attrition. Who can stand there long enough to get the elusive grab?
Its been a bummer year on the fish catching front. I can used every advantage I can get.
My ears would greatly appreciate this beanie. Think you can hook one up from Rep Your Water?
Jokes aside, check out the 13 new varieties of knit caps by our good friends at Rep Your Water. Aside of the fleece lined goodness, they donate 10% of the proceeds from their goods to rock solid non profits like the Wild Steelhead Coalition.
Friday, November 11, 2016
Take a good gander at that coloration change in the picture above. It's a Brown Trout nesting bed, aka a "redd"
Burn it into your brains.
Now couple that info with the fact that Brown Trout are Fall spawners and you now are an enlightened angler.
Right now wherever you can find them, browns are doing or staging to do the sexual tango. At the same time, the predacious and nasty streak they have in them becomes focused on protecting their reds. Along with with they're typically spawning in relatively shallow water and or in smaller tributaries, they become easy pickings for the less scrupulous angler.
Ladies and Gents, maybe you should leave them along right now.
Ask yourself, is it worth it to show post up a picture of a fish you caught defending a red so you can collect likes or glorify yourself with a slew of ego driven hashtags?
Every fish we pursue has their own different times we just need to leave them alone. Rainbows in the late spring, steelhead at the end of their journey, so on and so forth. Let them do their thang, make babies and propagate the rivers and lakes with healthy populations.
A big thanks to the West Yellowstone Fly Shop for their leadership on this issue.