Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hunting on the brain already??

In the past couple of weeks we have a had few days that definitely felt "fallish". Last week it rained for a day and half, something you don't see very often in August. There were even reports of snow falling in the higher elevations. The clouds were heavy and clung to the mountains surrounding the valleys. I got out for a bike ride up to the Snowbowl Overlook and even had to put on a long sleeve shirt. The shrubs on the way up were definitely starting to show signs of changing colors.

Today is much of the same, 50 degrees with a light rain. The weather shift has forced me into another mode. I dug out all my hunting gear from the garage yesterday and started to get things ready. All the camo is in a pile, ready to be washed in the no-scent. The backpack has been emptied and inventoried. Stopped by Sportsmans Warehouse today and checked out some new binoculars.

It really is too early to be getting worked up about hunting, as there is still 6 weeks until Antelope season opener Oct 12th and Deer/Elk 8 weeks away. But hey it doesn't hurt to start getting ready. I'll be on Google Earth doing some scouting if you need me........

Deep Draw fire

I was up on the Deep Draw fire driving a water tender for 8 days. Turned out to be not a whole lot of fire action, but the scenery was pretty nice. A few pics from the last 2 weeks:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

7x tippet and #22 tricos

A couple people were in the shop, one man sat arms folded waiting on the porch looking as if he had been waiting a while. A lady stood behind the counter looking down at some papers. The proprieter and another man stood outside on the street, studying something in the bed of the truck.

I had talked to Steve earlier in the day and told him I would be stopping by. I milled around the shop casually looking at the antiques that adorned the small room.

Steve came inside from the street and finished his business with the owner of the pickup truck. A bright smile and a handshake greeted me, he introduced me to the woman as his cousin. Not wasting time we got right down to the details of why I had came. He laid out the time I needed to meet him the next morning and asked the lady to write up the directions. Next he shot into the requirements for the rendevous. The fishing mission was to be stealth, nothing but 7x tippet and #22 tricos. He spattered on about the required tackle as the man stepped in from the porch wondering when he would get his turn. Right now fishing was more important to Steve than selling another piece.

The next morning we sped south down the highway. Bursting out of the narrow Big Wood canyon we drained into the open irrigated valley bottom. The golden hillsides sat high above with cured grass and sage. The contrast was stark. Following the neat cursive directions we turned off on a dirt road and crossed a bridge over the meandering creek. A few anglers were next to their trucks pulling on their waders. The road edged along a newly swathed field of alfalfa as we neared the log cabin named on the paper. Above the cabin sat an old farmhouse with a panaramic view fit for a king.

The king sat on the front two steps of the house in fleece pants and a camo shirt. Fly boxes were scattered around with a few fly rods. We geared up and talked about the tactics. The fish would be smart and weary. We were going to have to fish down to them rather than attacking from the downstream side. Your position should be concealed if possible. And the presentation, well it had better be perfect.

We walked down the dirt road that led to the fishing access as we caught up on old times. A cool breeze rustled the willows that lined the sides of the creek. Flowing at the base of the Picabo Hills, this high-desert spring-fed creek attracts an abundance of wildlife. Silver Creek's globally unique aquatic ecosystem features one of the highest densities of stream insects in North America, which supports the world-class fishery.

Down at the creeks edge we sat and talked more
about the intricacies of the water. The fish were very smart as they got plenty of fishing pressure. To top it off the water was absolutely crystal clear. And further complicating things, the bugs the fish gorged on were frickin small. Today we would be fishing the end of the Trico's (mayfly) lifecycle, called the spinner. The trico's have hatched and they fall to the water, drifting and spinning along the water. The fish love the easy takings but are smart enough to pick out your imposter fly.

Steve was methodical in his fishing methods. He took out a notebook as we sat down in the grass. Next came the thermometer to take the temperature of the water. Fifty-five degrees, down ten degrees over the last 3 days. He surmised that the hatch would be starting a little later as a result of the subdued temps. In the meantime we watched and poked at the few fishermen that tried the waters in front of us. Steve explained that he employed more of a hunting technique when fishing. Choosing to fish only when he knew what the fish were doing (i.e. eating). This meant that we would sit for a while longer, awaiting the hatch.

The air slowly filled with small bugs hovering above the water. We screened the top water and picked up a few of the fallen tricos. The fishermen around us weren't having any luck. I watched as the one below us decided to move on, he turned his back and I watched at the fish began to top the water. Without hesitation I struck out for that hole.

The fish were beginning to slurp up tricos with a vengence as I pulled out my line. Casting the sixteen foot leader out across the corner I tired for the perfect drift. Again and again I put my fly out amongst the masses of real bugs that wandered on the water. I thought of it as a game of odds, sooner or later the fish's eyes would slip and they would hit mine. I missed a few strikes here and there. Finally hooking into a nice rainbow, he thrashed out of the water busting up the cloud of bustling bugs above the water. A nice 14" was more than a great reward, I figured that I would be skunked on this river for sure.

Driving back home we talked about the day and the frustrations. It had been a two fish day between the three of us. We did not "slay it" by any means. But with that said, it had also been one of my best days. The scenery and the potential was most impressive. The glassy smooth water and the finicky fish had been a real challenge. And the bottom line was that my cousin being one of the best fishermen I know had only caught one fish. I too had only caught one fish.. Tied up baby, until next time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

If you like beer, drink this, I mean read this

I've always wondered what the deal was with breweries in Montana having to close by 8pm. There is something just not right about that. At eight o'clock you are really just getting started. There is some legislation on the block right now that could affect how you do your drinking down at your local brewstop. In summary MT government is trying to make it that patrons will have to FINISH their beer by 8:00. Currently, the only lame ass law is that is can't be sold after 8:00pm.

So anyway if you want to do your part, read this Newwest article and send comments:

Here’s your chance to support your local brewer. Contact DOR and not only ask the agency to leave the current law as is, but consider supporting legislation to allow taprooms to stay open and sell beer until 10 pm.

To support your local brewer, give your comments to Cleo Anderson, Department of Revenue, P.O. Box 5805, Helena, MT 59604. Email: Phone. 406-444-5828 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              406-444-5828      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. The hearing record on this rule change stays open until August 15.

Also, feel free to sign an online petition on, a terrific website put up by Timothy Alex Akimoff. He already has 465 names on his petition, and you can add yours by clicking here.

This one's for you.