Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fishable, But.......

6/22/08 Sales director Will Jordan and I tried in vain to talk our colleague Greg Walter into fishing with us Sunday and Monday. We even talked it over with his bride at their wedding reception Saturday night, but no-go. Greg, this is called "setting precedent".
Anyway, Will and I hit the Big Hole, Beaverhead and upper Madison for a few hours each over the course of two days. The Big Hole was a grayling mission for us, but we never saw the elusive fish. Water was still high and murky for the most part. The Beaverhead was most fishable, but the word was out. We saw more boats on the water than fish rises. Fishing was pretty slow, but the scenery was awesome; a lot of snow remains in the mountains. Another highlight was the 1lb burger and view of Clark Canyon Reservoir from the Buffalo Lodge. Also saw a nice group of elk; all cows and calves. That will be filed away for November.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

6/16/08 I feel a little suspect writing about the weather, but it is pretty much the story across the state. Nearly every river is still blown out and muddy and has been for weeks. This is mostly rainfall-related; mountain snowpack is hanging tough. Hopefully, by the July 4th weekend, your favorite water might be fishable. For now, it might be time to break out that float tube and do some lake or reservoir fishing.
For us bird hunters, record rains and low temperatures this time of year make for sleepless nights. Snow and temps near freezing (June 11th???) can be devastating to young chicks, freshly out of their shells.
Looking for that silver lining, I would like to think this spring has been a drought-buster. The countryside looks as green as Ireland and reservoirs that have been drying up gradually, are filling nicely. The mountains may have less fire problems than in the past few summers.
And perhaps, I will have a better chance of catching fish this summer, when they have haven't seen an angler's offering for months on these off-limit waters. At least that's my hope.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fish For What's Biting

5/17/08 The trip to the big reservoir was meant to be for an early walleye foray, but it ended up being a trip to the dam of Ft. Peck targeting lake trout. Scott "Mack Daddy" Kanning did catch a 28" walleye, but it wasn't enough, as we got out the deep-diving crankbaits and trolled for lakers. The water temperatures were still in the forties, so the trout were relatively shallow.
Trolling cranks isn't my first choice of fishing technique, but lake trout fishing without downriggers is pretty rare. Typically, by the end of May, the fish are 50+ feet down. This trip, they were still hanging out in 25-30 feet of water.
We had a couple of good days on the water, with Dad, Justin, Scott and I each connecting on a couple of fish, all in that 3-10 pound range. We also had slight winds, making the boat ride manageable. The first sunburns of the summer, were not so pleasant.

Who's the turkey?

5/14/08 Turkey hunting is always greeted eagerly, as it is a great time to be out in the woods and a great cure for cabin fever. This year in Montana, winter hung on later than normal and ideal turkey calling weather was tough to come by.
One day of my spring hunting that was memorable for the wrong reasons, was near the end of the season. I was hunting public land, an area that I had not hunted before. I had just stepped out of the truck, gathering my gear, when I heard a gobble. It was close to the road, but I had hoped it wasn't a shock gobble and just a call for love instead. I sneaked in trying to get around the bird, playing it extra safe. I figured I had gone far enough when the same Tom busted me again from the top of the ridge that I was avoiding. I watched the gobbler and his harem run off, never to be seen again. On the bright side, I found myself in some pretty good elk woods, with a lot of sign. To be continued......

Break Out The Waders

4/26/08 Angie and I were guests of Jeff Reed at Paradise Getaway near Pray, MT. It was a deluxe vacation home on the Yellowstone that we weren't worthy of: views of the snow-packed mountains, private trout-ponds at our disposal and the 'stone within a stone's throw....
Fishing a stretch of river with someone who knows the water like the back of his hand is worth more than I realized. We were wading this stretch and one is easily fooled into thinking that a drift boat is necessary to do well on these big rivers. Hardly. I left Jeff's place thinking that the boats floating by at 3-4 m.p.h. are just scratching the surface. When you dedicate an hour to a favorite run or riffle, you learn that there are a ton of fish that are always just out of reach of each cast.
This was a trip that was pre-runoff. Hence, the river was as low as it ever is. I will never claim to be a good fly-caster and it showed on this larger stream. But, even I caught some fish, both nymphing and on dries. As is usually the case, I ended up taking photos of the more skilled. In our day and a half of fishing, we brought cutts, rainbows, browns, cutt-bow hybrids and whitefish to the hand.
I wasn't worthy of that, but it was fun.

Predator Control

Dad and I had been talking about getting out for a day or two of coyote calling, but things just hadn't worked out. We were waiting for a fresh snow, not too much where the unmaintained roads would be blocked, but just enough to make the animals really stand out.
Finally, we had ideal conditions: an inch of powder, very little wind and a cold morning. By dawn, we were in the Missouri Breaks country; country that hasn't changed since Lewis and Clark worked their way upstream 200 years ago.
The coyotes were definitely in the area. We heard some howls every place we called. Dad killed one at about 75 yards with his .220 swift that sneaked in without me spotting it. The rest of the wary predators were safe; two even laid down some tracks from behind, walking in our bootprints, but were never seen. Great to be out in the wild prairie, even when we get out-smarted.