Tuesday, October 9, 2018

When 13 is Lucky...

13 is a hell of a number....mostly unlucky

According to Wiki, really, really unlucky

The number 13 is considered an unlucky number in some countries. ... Fear of the number 13 has a specifically recognized phobia, Triskaidekaphobia, a word coined in 1911. The superstitious sufferers of triskaidekaphobia try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen.

Combine 13 with steelhead, you got a doozy

I've got the chance to meet a lot of really great people within the steelhead world and Travis is right up there.  He's one of those guys who just exudes positivity and has a very creative lens he looks at the world through.  For the past 3 year's he's fallen down the steelhead rabbit hole and he burns up the road between home in Missoula to swing water across the west summer, fall and winter.

Steelhead can be an un-reciprocating lover.  Spend all your time thinking about her, planning trips, wrapping bugs and the like with sometimes nothing in return.  Couple that with low returns, the scales sometimes have a tough time tipping in your favor.

So back to 13.  Travis was on an unholy 13 day unlucky bender of a streak with no love back from his quarry.  13 days staring at the water, watching his swing and questioning everything he's doing.  It's a fertile ground for fishing insanity.  

I've been there.  We've all been there.  It's terrible.


When it all lines up to break that streak, how sweet it is.

Throughout it all Travis kept his positive attitude and fly in the water.  I was fortunate to be standing behind him in the run when the picked up the bug and ran, hard.  

The best way I could describe the next couple minutes was focused giddiness.  The tension of 13 days gone, replaced by elation.    

The dam had broken and all the pent up frustration was elevated.  Travis cradled the steelhead, paid his respects and sent her on her way.  As the tail flicked and she rocketed off, he shouted his happiness with fists raised to the air

13 days.  Sometimes time is the only penance to solve the solution

Maybe 13 can be lucky.... 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


My obsession with steelhead flies knows no end....

Thinking a lot lately about why I'm drawn to natural and buggy style patterns,  especially akin to the pallet and style of the  October Caddis emergence in September and October.

The rivers I fish do have a preponderance of this bug and they are super effective at connecting with an ocean run rainbow, but when you really think about it just as many are caught on flies that share zero resemblance to the gigantic bug nugget floating and coming up through the water column

Steelhead eat for god knows what reasons.  We can sit and think away for days on the issue and try to give it reason and rhyme, but truth be told we'll never put a firm finger on the why.

Which brings me to my point.  Confidence.

When I'm creating a fly to be offered, I've started to think more towards the angler and what the fly inspires in them .  Sure the classical lines and attributes are followed but when you select the bug out of the box, does it give you that funny feeling in your gut akin to knocking on the door of a girl's house before your first date.?

Yes...then fish that damn thing with full confidence.   It will happen

And in my case, I have a lot of O-Confidence.

Happy fishing out there.  Have a great fall.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Wader Grab...

(photo courtesy of Billy Pheifer)

The alarm is sounded, fish on!

I scramble back to the back from my position, reel up and get ready to assume my role in the dance

When the fish vacuum connects, I like to add a little extra safety to the equation.  Our inland steelhead rivers are slicker than greased bowling balls and with that you can go down fighting a fish as you can walking into the river to make your first cast. 

A little extra precaution never hurt anyone.

So I become his anchor as the fish and OMR continue their ballet.  Step by step, we return to the calmer waters of the shore where the battle is really won or lost.

"I got ya dad"  "Put it on that fish, too much slack!"  "Big rock to your left"

"You got this"

Sure there are times when I'm not there when he fully capably hooks, fights and lands the fish with out me.  The dude know's what he's doing but maybe it's my way of pretending he needs me there and I get a front row seat to watch my father do what he loves most.

Monday, September 17, 2018

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days...

Get your spey on in Yellowstone country this coming Friday and Saturday!

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days hosted by Big Sky Anglers is coming, and if you can get there, you should.

Looks like the 2017 event was a major success and 2018 is expected to be bigger with countless rods, lines, reels and so much more to help you get dialed in with the 2 handed trout game

Friday's agenda....

Meet a host of experienced Spey casters,Trout Spey anglers, and instructors, and get dialed in to enjoy a whole new approach to trout fishing. Everyone is welcome! Whether you are just beginning your journey with 2-handed rods and Spey casting, or you are a veteran with the long rod, please stop in and say hi, hang out, and talk rods, lines, casting technique, rigging, presentation, and flies used in Trout Spey and beyond.

And the big day, Saturday...

Saturday, September 22, 10am – 5pm On the Water & 6pm – 9pm At the Shop

On Water Instruction and Demonstrations from 10am – 5pm

Madison River Bridge at Hwy 191, 3.7 miles north of the shop. Attendees are encouraged to bring waders, snacks, water, and camp chairs, as well as their own Trout Spey gear. No gear? No worries, the reps will have all the goodies from the world of Trout Spey for you to try out.

Feedback from last year’s event suggested that folks had a blast and learned a lot but they also wanted more time and space on the water where they could try out gear, practice, and receive instruction outside of the formal presentations. We listened, and this year there will be 3 main areas of the Saturday Outdoor Event.

Area 1 will be vendor tents. All the tents and gear from vendors will be set up in the parking lot adjacent to the river for the duration of the event. Attendees can meet reps, talk gear, and borrow kits for a test cast.

Area 2 will be an area of river set aside for folks to demo gear from vendors, get casting lessons from experienced staff and attendees, and generally free form it.

Area 3 is the “main stage” – a presentation area on the water. This will be the gravel bar area where the main event was held in 2017. We will be set up for a series of formal presentations, Q&A, and lots of hands on time with Trout Spey gear.

From 10am – 11am things will build momentum, with folks arriving, meet and greets with BSA staff and reps, welcome messages, and time to hang out and drink coffee.

Following that, there will be a series of presentations on the “Main stage”. We’ve left lots of time for interaction with the presenters and any potential overrun, questions, and extra hands on casting and chaos from each presentation.

Matt Klara (Big Sky Anglers, Thomas & Thomas, Echo, and Airflo) – Introduction to Spey and Trout Spey Fundamentals.

Kurt Kruger (Far Bank – Sage, RIO, and Redington) – Rod and Line Setups for Different Trout Spey Applications

Alice Owsley (Riverside Anglers, Winston, and Scientific Anglers) – Presentation and Fishing Tactics for Trout Spey

Jake Zirkle (G. Loomis) – Spey Casting In Tight Quarters and Around Obstructions
Open mic?

Scroll down for Presenter Bios and learn more about these interesting folks!
Party at the flyshop from 6pm – 9pm

Following conclusion of the On Water portion of the event, there will be an hour break and then we will kick off the party back at the fly shop from 6pm – 9pm. BBQ, beverages, gear giveaways, swag, and more.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Had Me Fooled...

After the 435th consecutive cast without any positive response from the water, the grab was savage and woke me up like I was hit like a bolt of lightening

The Hardy St John sang it's beautiful song. 

Hells yes, game on. 

Wait, what....something's wrong. 

This particular river usually only has two things.  Big adult steelhead and small smolt in the 6-8 inch range.  The latter always give themselves up quickly and after your heart stops racing and you stop yelling F words....you can admire their aggressiveness and the hope for the future

The reports I was getting back from this particular fish on the line was a mixed bag and I've caught enough steelhead to not judge the size of the fish by the fight.   Last year's 38 inch hen on the dryline came right at me with the gusto of a smolt.  If i would have horsed it in as if it was a smolt, that fish would have been gone in 2 seconds.  The fish dug like a adult, pulled line but then would flop around like a juvenile. 

This fish had me completely fooled.   18 inches of resident wildness.  In the 10 year's I've swung this river, I've never seen that before.  It goes to show you, there's a lot of mystery in the water. 

The joy is finding it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

So Foam Is Awesome....

It helps to make delicious skaters....

I love foam.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Swinging Stream of Consciousness

In the midst of the thousands of fruitless casts, some weird stuff pops into your head....

A swinging stream of consciousness...

"This run is so damn juicy"


"Come on, come on, come on, come on!"

"It's like raiiiiiiiin on your wedding day...it's a free ride, when you've already paid, it's the good advice"

Thanks Alanis.

"Maybe it's time to change my fly"  (said every third cast)

"Shit that was a terrible cast"

(running line wraps around the reel) "please dont eat now, please dont eat now...."

"First I limp to the side like my leg was broken, shaken and twitchin like i was smokin"

"God, another crap cast"

"Was that a gill flare?.....what the hell am I talking about"

"If I was swinging an bead, I'm sure I'd be hooked up now"

"I should probably skate, I should totally skate"

"Maybe it's time for a rally beer, maybe three"

"Was that a bump"

"Faaaaaaaaaaak, I just missed that fish"

(changes to comeback fly) "EAAAAT YOUR FOOOOOOOOOD"

"What run should we go to next"

"Is it cut my life in TWO pieces, or is it cut my life INTO pieces?"

"Is it October yet"

"It's the good advice, that you just cant take....but who would have thought...it figures"