Early Sunday morning we loaded up the truck, and headed to Bozeman. The wind gusts pushed us east along I-90, and we sailed through bursts of snow and rain throughout the drive. It looked like we might be in for a cold couple of days of filming & fishing. Just before noon we stopped to fish a small stretch of the Clark Fork. The wind gusts and freezing temperatures made for slow fishing. We felt a couple tugs and even managed to fool a few small browns on a Parachute Adams before loading back up to finish the roadtrip to Bozeman.
We finally arrived at the Simms headquarters, and met with the rest of the filmmakers. All of the filmmakers were super friendly and cold PBRs were spread throughout the room. After a half an hour of chatting and waiting for the guides to finish piling in, it was time to get to business. The guides drew names out of a hat to decide who they would be filming with and we were paired up with Dan “Rooster” Leavens. Zack and I didn’t have the slightest clue who Rooster was, but we would spend the next 3 days filming his every move and learning the ways of the Rooster.
The next morning our 4:50AM alarm rang out, ducks quacking for me to awake. Zack and I gathered our gear scattered on the hotel floor and headed out into the cold, windy, snowy weather. Our destination was Twin Bridges, and we hoped we could get some early morning shots before meeting with the Rooster.
After a bitter cold morning of filming, we threw our frozen boots into the truck to de-thaw and finally made it to our destination, the Stonefly Inn & Outfitters. Rooster had coffee ready for us, and we sat down and talked for a good hour about hunting and fly fishing. We soon found out that Rooster had been sick throwing up all night. He blamed the pizza he ate the evening before and to compound the issue, his wife was also sick. A bug was going around, and we crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t be hit with the unfriendly sickness. Rooster was feeling better fortunately, and decided that not the weather nor the sickness would stop him from fishing. We grabbed Willy the chocolate lab, loaded the truck with camera gear, and finally made it to the river.
The morning consisted of a bunch of small browns and frozen fingers, leading us to move locations. That afternoon, the sun finally started to peak through the clouds. We got back onto the river and it wasn’t long before Rooster hooked his first nice brown trout of the trip. About an hour later and a few fly selection switches and a boss trout was hooked up. At first we didn’t know what it was, but as the fish came to the net, it was a nice 2-foot rainbow!
The rest of the day Rooster reeled in multiple nice fish and the vibe quickly began to swing into our favor. With a couple browns weighing in around the 20″ mark and a rainbow pushing 24 we called it a wrap for the day as Rooster had to go home and take care of his wife and children who had been fighting the sickness. Family comes first, and we had no objections to Rooster heading home before sundown. Zack and I spent the rest of the evening filming around town and captured some late afternoon timelapses.
Zack and myself stayed up until 2:30AM organizing our clips from Day 1, making sure we were on top of our game and ready to start editing the film the following evening. We got a few short hours of sleep and immediately were back up and firing up the cameras. We finalized our storyline with Rooster and moved over to the fly shop. After a broken fly rod, an obnoxious customer call, a spilled box of flies, and a flat tire, it was finally go time. Rooster started the morning drive to the river by saying, “can’t show the lions on the first day boys”. Little did we know he was not lying about “showing the lions”. Rooster proceeded to catch fish after fish consisting of large browns and chromed out rainbows. The footage was stacking and the shots were being logged. Rooster was starting to put on a show that any fisherman would appreciate. Helping us for the day were Rooster’s guides Gray, Bubba and Dave who added more punch to the fish fight.
With plenty of solid shots stored in the camera, we decided to hit some new water to finish the day. Rooster made his way below a small bridge and proceeded to catch fish after fish, throwing low, precise casts into the money spot. It was a truly remarkable sight, with the Stonefly guide peanut gallery watching the show go down from the bridge above.
We wrapped up the day with dry fly eats on chernobyls, brown trout to the face, and an amazing steak dinner. From here on out it was coffee, Monsters, and no sleep. This was a chance that we had to take full advantage of. You are not given opportunities like the Simms Shoot Out very often and we were here to win. This was our chance to show that we can run with the best in the biz and we began the long process of crushing two days worth of fish into a 6 minute film.
Before we knew it the film was in its final stages of production. The sun was rising and Rooster was waiting to check out the latest cut of video. Rooster gave us some final input and before we knew it the video was exported and we were driving to the Simm’s headquarters to turn in our film.
We relaxed the rest of the day and fished a local river the following morning with our friend Tom Urell. The streamer fishing was hot, with fish attacking the streamers most of the day. No monsters were brought to the net, but we had a blast fishing the local Bozeman holes. Later that evening we watched all four submissions of the Simms Shoot Out at the Ellen theater.
After the films kicked off it was a nervous half an hour before I saw the Montana Wild logo flash up on the backdrop and the rest is history. We had won the Shoot Out!!!!
We spent the rest of the night celebrating with new friends and somehow managed to not spend all $2,000 at the bars. We woke the next morning, packed our bags and headed back to Missoula. That evening we found ourselves hiking 6 miles back into the backcountry…. Be looking for our next blog post about Stan’s amazing bear hunt.
I wanted to give a big shoutout to Dan “Rooster” Leavens for being such an amazing guide and host, and Dana Leavens for letting us steal Rooster for a couple days and allowing us to sleep at the Stonefly Inn. Dan loves to fish and he has a great family and group of guides. Thanks Bubba, Dave, and Grey for your antics and not so helpful music suggestions. We hope we can work with Dan in the future and hopefully the friendship we made will last for a very long time.
Below is our winning submission to the 2013 Simms Shoot Out!!!
This past week has been quite memorable for us here at Montana Wild. Thursday we debuted our Simms SHOOT OUT film Bent at the Ellen Theater in Bozeman, MT. Montana Wild came out on top and we cannot wait to share our film! Be looking for the film to release here on our website in the next couple days.
The next morning we headed back to Missoula to meet up with Stan for a 3-day bear hunt. That evening we packed into the backcountry, spotting a large bear about a mile off. We closed the distance, and watched as Stan took his very first black bear ever.
On Sunday Brandon and myself decided to do a little fishing, since we already had a bear down. The fishing was absolutely jaw dropping!!
Be looking for a bunch of blog posts over the next couple of weeks. We will be giving the low-down of our very exciting week!
Also a heads up to those who were planning on attending the Hunting Film Tour. The event dates have been moved back to August. Be checking back for updated information.
I checked the stream flows via the USGS site after a week filled of stressful days in front of my computer. The past week had been full of blazing warm and sunny conditions that I had failed to take advantage of due to deadlines. I was now left with only one glorious day to fish. Regardless of the possible tsunami mud conditions, Zack and I took off in search of some big fish.
As we started our drive, the rain splattered against my windshield consistently reminding me that it was once again spring in Montana. It was going to be a full blown day of Gore-tex and streamers. We crossed our fingers as we made our trek to the first hole…. hopefully the chub hatch was going off today.
I shook the cobwebs off my fly rod and it wasn’t long before I felt my my line go tight after a couple slow twitches with my streamer. A little brown ball of fire had latched onto my fly, and I had my first fish of the day. I continued to hammer the banks, bouncing my streamer off the pale grass on the adjacent bank. Bam! I detected another tug, and once again felt that head shake that I have come to love.
Zack and I hooked into a couple small German browns, before we were hit with a Montana rain storm. The weather didn’t stop us from dropping streamer bombs. I found a grassy bank that overlooked a good stretch of deep, calm water. I made a perfect cast, landing my streamer on the bank and stripping it back into the water. Three strips and I felt my line stop dead in my hand. I strip-set and had a beautiful brown running for cover.
This year has really been my break through year with streamers. I have finally mastered some really productive patterns, and today these patterns were really getting the trout’s attention. Zack and I continued another 200 yards downriver. I brushed the drops of water off my pack, only to notice Zack had a sizable fish hooked downriver. Another beautiful brown trout, hungry for the home-grown streamer.
Green, purple, white, black, and tan streamers were producing fish. The rainbows were finally putting streamers on their list of preferred foods, but the browns were truly on the prowl. Once again Zack hooked into a flying brown trout. To see an +18in brown trout jump four times is pretty remarkable. This fish did just that and did not want to spend any downtime in our Larkin Works net. Too bad the trout didn’t have a choice.
All this action boosted our confidence, and Zack released this amazing brown, only to call out “I’m going to catch another one out of this same hole”. I grabbed the camera, and 1st cast Zack had another respectable brown trout.
We made the long walk back to the truck. What an amazing day! Our spring has been outstanding, and the fishing has been phenomenal. We have a big week coming up. We hope to see everyone at the Orvis “Down the Hatch” film event here in Missoula, Montana at the Wilma on Friday. The films start at 7pm and there are tickets available at Grizzly Hackle. All of the proceeds will go to Montana Trout Unlimited. We hope to see you all there!!
Missoula is an amazing place to live. There are very few cities where you have access to multiple fisheries within 30 miles of your home and actually would want to live. Warm sun and rising temps have been making their occasional appearance, and with this year’s early signs of spring comes amazing fishing.
Zack and I have been busier than usual, not allowing us to get many days on the water. Between school, work, and planning some big projects, we are lucky if we make it to the river once a week. Although our days have been minimal, we have managed to land more big fish than ever before. I myself am having a record book year, landing 3 of my biggest rainbows to date. Our latest day on the water took us to the frigid waters of the west, and would be our first day testing some newly acquired gear.
We had just gotten a few fine products in the mail and we’re excited to break them in right. The Yeti Tundra 50 was full of the goods; beer, sandwiches, and cookies. After a mildly sketch drive to our location we saw the river and our emotions began to rise. Today would be the first day for us to break out the new rods and reels from Orvis and see if we could show them a good time on some of Montana’s finest waters. We put together the Helios 2 rods in weights 5 and 7 and pulled out a couple sexy Mirage reels. We’re not the kind of guys to get too picky over how nice or good looking our setups are as apparent by looking at Zack’s old Echo rod and Ross reel but damn these two Orvis setups look good. Function is priority number one and we quickly waded across to the far bank so we could get to casting. I had the 5 wt. with a double nymph setup and Zack was below me in the run with the 7wt and a streamer. On my second cast I saw my indicator dip and I was hooked up with a 26 inch rainbow. Yes, you read it correctly. My first hole, second cast with the new fly rod, and I was listening to the Mirage reel scream as I got bent over by a monster rainbow. Did I mention Zack hooked into a nice brown trout seconds later on a streamer? We were doubled-up and the circus had started. Zack managed to fight his brown trout and net my monster rainbow all at the same time! Crazy is right. Below is a sequence that Stan shot of the madness that went down.
^ Click for larger sequence ^
Zack managed to net my rainbow while still fighting a spunky brown. After a quick holler, I grabbed the net and quickly scooped up his seemingly small brown trout.
It was definitely a surreal moment. We quickly snapped a few photos of the two trout and sent the brown back on his way. It was time to pull the big boy out and preserve what may be my biggest rainbow for a long time.
He was a fine specimen and I felt truly blessed to catch such an awesome fish. Again this is another reason I love Montana, you really can catch steelhead here haha. We were off to a great start, and we didn’t stop hammering fish. The following photos speak for themselves.
To summarize our March day of fishing in one word, it would be stupefying. We brought a wheel barrow full of different trout species to the Larkin Works net (rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and bull trout).
The next day we received our new HDSLR. I don’t like to talk about it, but a couple weeks ago I dropped our at the time brand spanking new camera. The body cracked, but fortunately we had insurance. The bad thing is I had to send out our camera and we won’t be seeing it for over a month. We have some badass projects in the works over the next two months, and with no choice, I had to go broke funding another camera. Oh well, the investment continues. The next morning Zack and myself headed out for an early morning fishing/photo trip. We had to test out the new Nikon and see if the mojo surrounding the new rods and reels was as good as it seemed.
The temperature read 19 degrees as we left the truck. It was frigid and freezing and we had left our gloves at home. After about a half hour it appeared that some mojo still remained as I managed to hook a fat football of a rainbow. He was chunky and spunky, and gave our new camera the test we were looking for regardless of poor lighting conditions. We packed up our frozen streamers and headed back to Missoula, to slave away at another night of work.
Overall I can say I love the new rods and reels from Orvis. I never really thought a high-end setup would be worth the money that they often cost but I can say I was wrong. The way they cast is in another league and helps you get the fly in the right spot more often and a lot more easily. We’ll continue to try to sneak out over the coming weeks so we’ll have more photos and blog posts coming at you soon! Fishing is just starting to get HOT. We have a handful of awesome projects/films planned for this year. I cannot tell you how excited I am for 2013. God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.
Once a year you have a birthday. Yes, it’s just another day, but it’s always something you have to try to take advantage of and for Travis’ 24th we decided to spend the afternoon out on the river. The weather had stayed relatively warm, and we looked forward to a solid afternoon of hammering fish. Of course the thawing temps made for a slightly tricky and muddy drive into our location, but the tougher a spot is to get to the better the fishing.
As we geared up Travis decided that throwing up some birthday gang signs was the best way to let us know he was here to ruthlessly hassle fish all day.
After a couple fishless holes we finally got on track as Travis shined in true birthday form with a nice rainbrown.
Following a short fight Travis had his first trout in the net. It was a good looking fish, but there were more to catch and we pushed upstream.
Over the course of the next hour the fishing continued to progressively get better. Multiple fish were hooked from the same hole and even a birthday double was had by Travis and Stan.
Finally we reached a big deep hole that I had discovered last spring. It’s the perfect water for fish to hold in year round and the size and depth always makes it interesting to see what you can pull out of it. After a couple minutes of discussion and a few Pop Tarts, it was decided we would have a friendly fish off. Six casts and then on to the next person. I was up first. After five casts I finally remembered where I needed my fly to be and made my last cast. Mid-drift and my bobber (man that word sucks) disappeared. With the hookset of a bass fisherman, I had a nice rainbow locked up on the end of my line.
After a short fight I landed him and made sure he got his photo taken so all his fish buddies could see him on the internet.
Up next was the birthday boy. He proceeded to crip walk into the hole and hammer an even larger fish. Damn Birthdays.
That was the last good fish of the day and fittingly Travis had begun and ended our day on the river. It was a great day to spend with friends and a birthday that will be tough to top next year. We’ll be dropping a short fly fishing film soon that we filmed back on the 7th so be checking in. If you haven’t already be sure to give us a [LIKE] over on Facebook.
5:30 came a little to early but the chance to fish got me out of bed after only a couple snoozes. With the local rivers looking nice and brown, we decided to hit up the Missouri River with our good friend Jeff and get a couple days of fishing in. [If you missed our first trip to the Missouri River read about it here.] After a couple hours we rolled into Craig and got our shuttle situated at the Headhunters Fly Shop. These guys know how to run a fly shop and if your in need of almost anything, chances are they can get it for you or point you in the right direction. Soon we were on the river and the weather was impeccable. No wind and decently warm temperatures kept our hopes high.
The day started off with a handful of small fish. Although fun, we were hoping for something a touch bigger to get the rods bent on.
We soon drifted off the main channel of the Mo and got into one of the small side channels. There were a lot of midges on the water and a few risers. We stripped streamers through the slower holes but with minimal success.
We kept moving and found a pod of risers. After about an hour of fishing we only came away with two misses on top. We were running 5X tippet and a small BWO and were able to trick a few but no fish in hand. We learned that some days 6 or 7X and a very, very tiny fly are the only option on these trouts meal plan.
We kept the train chugging downriver only to be interrupted by another bathroom break. Only this time is was a very opportune time to pull over. As we sat on the side of the river cracking fresh PBR’s, we saw a single riser about 100 yards downstream. A short drift and we were anchored up on the entrance to a small side channel with one slurping fish in sight. A few empty handed drifts with the nymphs and I had had enough. We were going to get one on top or go out trying. I was able to get a slurp from the back of the boat and we decided to get out and put our dry fly fishing to the test. After about an hour all three of us were able to catch rainbows on dries ranging from 17-20 inches. These fish had moved up into a small hole only about 40′ square and about 2-3 feet deep.
After putting the hurt on the few risers in that hole we pulled anchor and kept things rolling. Again we found pods of rising fish but couldn’t connect with the setup we were running. When they say these fish will humble you, they aren’t lying.
After floating past countless risers with no luck we slowly drifted back into Craig America. It’s definitely a very cool experience to see a big fish nosing up and sipping ever so slightly. To catch one like that is even more exciting. We rolled in around 730 and drifting past the last seam we were able to see a train of rising fish. There were at least 20-30 trout nosing out of the water with anywhere from 5-10 up at a time. And there were some big ones in the bunch. That’s something you just don’t see around Missoula and I can see the appeal that the Missouri has to offer. Unfortunately, our batting average on these fish was probably close to like 5% or less. When it’s midges on the meal plan the fishing can be agonizingly tough and a little maddening.
Day 2 we were up an hoping for a bit better day on the river. After some eggs in camp scrambled up with a tasty stick, we were back over to the Headhunters to pick up a few flies and get a shuttle all squared up. Contrary to the weather forecast, we had strong winds and clear skies. The bugs weren’t out in the numbers they were from the day before and the fishing was just plain slow.
We again floated the dam to Craig. The fish were few and far between and small. Not exactly fulfilling our vision for the day.
Around 3PM the wind started to die down and the fish started rising again. We were again in a side channel, trying to snipe those pesky sipping trout.
We counted close to a hundred noses over the last two hours of the float but just couldn’t find the mojo. The casts were right but the setup wasn’t fooling them. 5X wasn’t cutting it and a #18 midge apparently wasn’t either. Hey we’ve been fishing nymphs all winter and spring so we were happy just to get a few over the course of the two days on top. We weren’t the only ones having trouble either. Lots of fellow floaters were complaining of slow conditions from the dam to Craig. Apparently we should have floated from Craig to Mid-Canyon as we found a note from our buddy Tyler Trudeau saying they got into about 40 fish on their float. The Missouri River is one that your going to spend some serious time on before you can say you understand it. We had a great time and hopefully next time the river will be a touch more generous. We did get a small amount of video so we’ll probably make a short mash up here in the next couple of weeks. Be checking back as we near spring hunting season, get closer to getting Contrast done, and hopefully get a small video from this trip up on the site.