Drifting into Summer
Summer is never long enough so we always try to make the most of the weekends knowing they come in short supply. This weekend the plan was to fish, scout, and sit a stand or two in the open country in hopes of luring in a coyote. We left the house at 6AM and drove east to a spot we’ve called coyotes at before. We walked in to our stand and called for about half an hour in hopes of getting to test out the new Vortex on the AR-15.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to call anything in. This area only holds a couple smart coyotes and trying to call them in the summer makes things even more difficult. We figured if we were going to be in the area we’d give it a shot. We quickly moved on and headed back down to the river and got geared up for a long day on the water. We were fishing the upper Clark Fork, and with the warm weather we hoped a hatch might come off at some point during the day.
Things started out a bit slow as the water was still running high and fast, but the clarity was fairly decent. Of course the one day we decide to take a good drive and commit a day to fishing the wind decides to make a heavy appearance. It would only pick up as the day wore on. The Clark Fork fished just mediocre. We never netted a trout over 14 inches. A handful of healthy whitefish decided to eat and put on a good show. The eagles have a strong presence on the upper stretches of river as we saw at least eight during the first four hours of fishing. They were very vocal and we saw two nests with juvenile eagles in them.
After numerous missed hits and plenty of walking under the summer sun we decided to move on to new waters with a small pit stop at the local gas station for some tasty ice cream. Once again we began exploring miles of new water. Of course the wind only decided to pick things up a notch and began to make just about any cast impossible. We even managed to watch a three hundred pound willow tree branch get ripped from a tree. Mother nature sure can be hard to get along with sometimes. We kept fishing where we could cast downwind.
We soon worked up a feeder of the Clark Fork in search of any browns lurking in the deeper pools and undercut banks. We had lots of strikes from smaller fish and a few larger browns and rainbows chase and nip the tails of our streamers, but we never laid into anything of good size. We tried a variety of different patterns and found that white was really moving the fish. We finally trekked back to the truck and fired up the grill.
We grilled for about an hour and then sipped some beers until dark. A long day under the sun wears you out quick, and it wasn’t long until we were out for the night. The next day we decided to get into the mountains and do a bit of backup elk scouting. Even though we both drew tags for elk we always like to keep tabs on some areas that have potential. It’s always nice to have a few spots to hunt that are within an hour of home and having cams up gives us an idea of what’s lurking in the dark timber come September. We decided to make a 3 mile loop around a mountain where I’ve ran into some good bulls in the past. We found a fair amount of fresh sign, and the area still seems promising. We aren’t the only hunters in the area though. About half way through our hike we found a marker on a tree along a good game trail.
We kept moving on unfazed though. We know the area gets pressure, it’s just a matter of hunting harder and smarter than the 90% of hunters that won’t give it that extra bit during season. We soon came across a seep in the mountain where the deer and elk water as they move from their feeding and bedding areas. This was going to be camera spot number 2 for the year. We quickly set up the camera that will catch animals in both the seep and walking along the game trail.
We bought a couple Moultrie M80 game cameras this year and hopefully they will work well and give us some cool pictures to look at in about a month. We skirted around the hillside and back to the truck. We parked in a nice clearing and to our surprise held a healthy population of gophers. Well let’s just say we spent some time slinging lead at gophers. Managing the small game population always provides some good fun, and after about an hour of shooting the gophers had wised up and kept their heads below ground. We moved on and drove back down to the river. We were sitting in the truck enjoying some PB&J’s when a couple guys pulled up with their personal drift boats in tow. They came over and we chatted for a while. They claimed to be from Missoula and acted like they knew the river. Either they were pulling our chain (California plates made us think twice about this) or they haven’t learned much about fishing etiquette on the river. We told them we were going to fish one large pool about a quarter mile upstream. Of course we had been fishing there about ten minutes when they showed up and proceeded to fish the same hole about 70 yards downstream. I wasn’t a fan of their bad manners or the wind so we picked up and decided to call it a day. The fishing wasn’t even close to hot so it was an easy decision. The weekend was a bit duller than we had planned, but it can only get better from here on out right?