Thursday, April 22, 2010

That Urge

After a weekend of hockey in Missoula, I was too stiff and sore to get out of the car and do any wade fishing on the route back home. I did get out and take a peek at one of my favorite little streams, mostly to take a break from the highway. Laura and I could see some fish in a deep pool, but couldn't tell what they were. But, we soon identified them, when fish would leave the deep water sanctuary and scoot their way up stream, in just inches of water, into a smaller side channel. They were beautiful rainbows, doing their best to get upstream and spawn. Within minutes, I was back at the car, fly rod in hand.
The 'bows had a barrier upstream which wasn't man-made, but instead made by some crafty beavers. Below the dam, 30 or more trout were stacked in the small waterfall's eddies. Every few minutes, you could hear and see the commotion of a stubborn rainbow attempting to clear the 3' dam. It was an incredible sight. Laura tried to capture a leaping spawner on camera, which proved to be more difficult than anticipated. I walked downstream a bit, hoping to land one of the healthy fish. The fish refused both surface presentation and a variety of nymphs. I put on a big, flashy Zonker and had a fish chase it right away. I then lost a big male that came out of the water like a steelhead I had hooked years earlier in Canada. Finally, I landed a nice 19" male and released him into the water, to continue his mission. I decided that I best leave the creatures alone after just 20 minutes of fishing. Something didn't seem right, interrupting their calling to head upstream, their behavior like sailors on leave. One fish was enough. I felt like I had been fortunate enough to experience one of nature's great performances.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hunting Again

I am never prepared for the first turkey outing of the year, despite having an entire winter to prepare. The night before the opener, I am digging out the camo clothing I haven't worn since last spring and give the mouth call one annual, sorry attempt. I throw the box call in the backpack instead and decide if I need warm clothes or really warm clothes. The forecast called for a low of 17 degrees, so I chose the latter.
Dad showed up without a hefty outer layer, so the plan would be to run and gun, hiking and calling until we had a response from an interested or perhaps agitated gobbler. Unfortunately, we had no response. While he had seen some birds wandering through the area a few days earlier and this quiet, calm morning was ideal, the birds obviously continued wandering. In fact, we didn't see any sign of large birds in the woods the entire morning. But, any day in the woods in spring is a nice change of scenery and I did find one nice six point elk shed.
Of course on the drive home, we saw birds crossing the road, giving us one last reminder that we had a mediocre morning. But, despite the lack of success this first morning, at least now I have my turkey gear ready to go. And, best of all, there are four weeks remaining in the Montana spring turkey season.