Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time for Trout

For some folks, "Walleye Now, Trout Later" may be the mantra of the day; with a good walleye bite occurring on the state's reservoirs (see MSJ Editor Jay Hanson's recent blog post). But for many anglers, myself included, the time for trout is now. Sure, runoff presents an obstacle, but it's a surmountable one. While freestone rivers like the Yellowstone, Gallatin and Clark Fork may have a ways to go before they clear up, there are plenty of other options right now. The Madison River, both the upper and lower, is very fishable. An afternoon float from Warm Springs to Black's Ford this past weekend found some nice fish rising along the banks and in slack water amidst a great caddis hatch. The Big Hole River and Rock Creek are dropping and clearing, with salmon flies and golden stones hatching. Of course there are always the tailwater options and spring creeks throughout the state that remain fishable throughout runoff. And don't forget about the lakes. The high alpine lakes aren't accessible or ice-free just yet, but anything below about 8,000' is a pretty safe bet. I was up at Hyalite Lake last night and had some good fishing for chunky cutts. Perhaps the true gems at this time of year are the tributary streams running cold and clear. This weekend I was out on a Bozeman area creek which feeds a well known river, I had the stream and it's feisty wild rainbows all to myself. The trout in these feeder streams are generally small, but every once in a while you might be surprised by what turns up. A couple of 14" rainbows took my caddis pupa on this recent outing, but perhaps more surprising was the elk antler I found submerged in the stream (see photo) and while it was broken below the sword tine, it had great mass and good brow tines, a big bull no doubt.

Those of you looking to get out and do a little trout fishing right now have plenty of options throughout Montana...and some good deals can be had on lodging and guiding services. Perhaps the best deal going that I'm aware of is the offer that Russ Kipp at Montana High Country in SW MT has going. Russ is offering free lodging for anyone who books a multiple day guided fly fishing trip. That's a tough deal to pass up, particularly considering that the Beaverhead River, Big Hole River and Clark Canyon Reservoir are nearby.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Walleyes Now, Trout Later

People questioned my sanity and probably my priorities, as I headed over to Fort Peck for the fourth weekend in a row. My only reply was that it was prime time on the sprawling reservoir for big walleyes-and it wouldn't last all summer.
The past few weeks on the water have been good, for both eating-sized 'eyes and trophy fish up to 31". Fortunately, we have seen fish in all sizes, which isn't always the case in this fishery. All of the fish over three pounds were released, except my fishing partner Mike Upgren, kept a pair of brutes that he wanted to mount together-probably fitting since they were caught just minutes apart.
While some fly fishermen wouldn't think of using bait (minnows, leeches, nightcrawlers) and some walleye anglers view fly fishermen as pretentious folks that all dress alike, I guess enjoy both pursuits equally. By mid-July, the walleye fishing on Peck will begin to slow and our rivers and creeks will begin to run clear, offering up some of the country's best trout fishing. For now, the walleye fishing is too good to pass up.