Well I apologize that the website has been updated so sporadically. Once school is over there should be a solid increase in quality posts. The last time we posted we gave a short review on some Orvis gear that we’ve been fishing with and it rocks. You can read that post here. Over the last few weeks it’s been one of the busiest times of the year for us. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say we were inside on our computers when it was 60 out and sunny and there were small swarms of skwallas out on the river. Yes we’re a little butt hurt but I think we’ll make it. This year it seems we’ve been weekend warriors. A few weeks back we made it out and took the day to fish a section of river we call Boneyard to Bike. Things started pretty well as I immediately hooked into a nice looking rainbow.
We pushed on knowing we’d have to keep the pace moving to get through all 3 miles before dark. Of course the day we make it out the weather was the typical Montana spring weather; sun one minute and snow the next.
I couldn’t complain though, just being able to fish is a blessing so you just take the weather you get and go. Also it just so happens to make things interesting for photos and video. We did bring the camera along that day and shot a decent amount of video so hopefully we can get to it in the next few weeks and have a little more fish porn to get you through runoff. We again moved downstream searching for the next big one. About half an hour later Travis went into his bag of flies and threw on a chunky little steamer. About five casts later and a hungry rainbow slashed up off the bottom and slammed into Travis’ steamer.
We now were both content for the day with a few nice fish on the board and we casually fished out the day without any other remarkable occurrences. The next chance we had to fish was this last Saturday when we met up with our good buddy Anthony Von Ruden who you’ll be seeing more of in the near future. He’s spent to much time over in North Dakota and was eager to hit the river.
Quickly I had to try to remind myself why I’m friends with such a good looking dude. We rigged up and proceeded to chat with the fellow Washington anglers who were camped at the spot. They asked if we’d fished here before and seemed to be searching for any information they could get. I told them a bit and said we were headed downstream. The guy said cool we’ll probably fish here for a bit and then head that way then. He walked off with his monstrous chew in cheek and proceeded to immediately walk and fish downsteam. Great. Well looks like were going to explore upstream today boys! We all loaded the truck back up and quietly drove upstream. Initially the fishing didn’t produce, but after beating enough water with a steamer the river began to come alive as a healthy brown hammered my steamer just off the bank near a fallen tree.
The group emotion slowly began to shift back to the positive vibes and it wasn’t long until the wig came out and spring break was in full effect.
Anthony proceeded to land a very respectable brown on a very ugly wooly bugger. I had had enough camera time at the moment and I grabbed his rod and began to beat the back end of the pool with that damn bugger. Of course about ten casts in a I hooked into a hefty trout.
It was quickly apparent that I’d hooked a healthy bull trout. After a short battle and a handy net job by Travis and another solid fish was in hand.
Apparently a solid mustache is the key ingredient to slightly above average fishing. We moved on exploring new waters that seemed to be quite nice on the eye and the fly rod. About another half mile up the river and Anthony stumbled into a mule deer buck that had seen his last days in the river. It was truly an epic sight and we got a few amazing photos.
After a short photo session we moved upstream where we met a young buck out fishing for “some of dem pike minnows!”. He was a pretty chill dude and we immediately adopted him.
That essentially wrapped up the day for us and we haven’t been back out since. I’d love to post more photos but it’s getting to lengthy already and it’s 1AM. If you’d like to see more of our photos on a more regular basis please follow us on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/Montana.Wild.Productions and on Instagram @ montanawild. Over the course of the rest of our spring break we’ve just been wrapping up a film which will be playing in this years Hunting Film Tour.
It’s going to be an awesome tour hitting 25+ cities across America and it’s put on by the same dudes that run the Fly Fishing Film Tour so please head over to their website @ www.huntingfilmtour.com to see the teasers and tour stops and dates. There will be a stop in Missoula, MT on May 3rd which we will be going to, and we want to get as many people there as we can. There are going to be some amazing films played and showing support for these types of events just grows the sport and helps people like us get more funding from sponsors so we can keep creating free content to hopefully stoke people out on the outdoors. It’s a win-win for everyone and it’s going to be a damn good time and a solid way to meet some fellow hunters.
And lastly we’ve been gearing up for spring bear and turkey seasons. It’s only a few weeks away and once May hits were going to be spending some serious time in the mountains so get ready to see some fur showing up here in the next couple months.
Until next time God bless and don’t forget to give thanks to the man upstairs for all the blessings that we get to enjoy each and every day.
Bear hunting is a key tool in managing predators across the West and especially here in Montana. No, we do not want to wipe out the entire population of black bears; actually I think they are an amazing animal and without actually hunting them I’d never have gained that appreciation. By hunting them we simply are doing our part in keeping a balance, which is weighing heavily in the predators favor in certain areas which we hunt. Black bears kill fawns and elk calves in high numbers in the spring and have only one known predator, humans.
Bear hunting is one of my favorite types of hunting that one can partake in here in Montana. It gets you back into the mountains and forces you to get back into shape. It’s not hard to see bears, but I can say that it’s much more difficult to close the gap, relocate the bear, and try to sneak within bow range.
This past Spring we saw 26+ black bears. I had set a goal of taking a black bear with my bow and was planning on sticking it out unless a true giant crossed our paths. Travis and I had some amazing close encounters, and many great memories. It is truly amazing to be out in the wild, getting close to a predator that has the power to take down a human being. With spring like conditions and lightning storms, we were given the full Montana bear hunting experience. Watch our latest short film Trial & Error as I get close to multiple black bears in my pursuit of an archery kill.
We are excited for the upcoming spring, and will be going out on numerous hunts with the camera in hand. To follow along with us be sure to join us over on our Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/Montana.Wild.Productions.
This is part two of our recap of 2012. If you missed Part 1 be sure to check right here before reading on.
Summer started slow this year. The water ran high through June, and we didn’t get much in for fishing. In late June we decided to get back out and test our luck on some water that we hadn’t visited in months. It paid off as I fooled a large brown on a green drake just as the sun was setting in the west.
From there on out the fishing was stellar. The following week we took a small day trip to another one of our favorite creeks and found some fish willing to eat. Travis made the best of the day and finished with a nice cutthroat.
I had the camera along and documented the afternoon in a short piece titled “Creekside.”
We soon had elk on our minds and traveled to a few of our elk haunts to put up trail cameras for the summer.
We found good sign in our spots and had four cameras up by the middle of June. In mid-July we took our first backcountry fishing trip of the year. It took us into some amazing country and the fishing was great.
From there we had a few mellow weeks and then embarked on our annual fishing trip to some of the most beautiful country we’ve set foot in. It would be a weeklong fly fishing trip in the backcountry and the weather was perfect. The beginning of our trip started off with us exploring some new water upstream of where we had fished last year. After bushwacking to the river we were left with minimal options for a campsite. The spot we found couldn’t have been better and it started our trip out with a bang.
The fishing was exceptional as always if you were willing to put in the time to get back away from the easy access. This area, although remote, is just like any fishing in Montana. The easy to access spots usually get fished hard and the best water always requires a little extra effort. Up here any extra effort tends to pay off big time.
To read more about Part one of our trip see our post “The Unknown – Backcountry Cutties.” Not only did we catch a bunch of beautiful cutthroat but we also managed to find and land some bull trout. These fish are a little bit tougher to find and catch but we landed one each day we tied the streamers on the big rods.
To read and see more photos from our trip be sure to check out our post “The Unknown – Backroad Bull Trout.” It was a killer trip and we filmed a bunch. We came home and began sorting through the hours and hours of footage. What we came up with turned out to be our best piece of the year and probably our best fly fishing short to date. Enjoy “Wild & Clear.”
That trip would be our last fishing trip of 2012 and was a great end to another awesome summer of fishing. Again we shifted back to the upcoming elk season and we made it back into the mountains to check our cameras and scout some areas around Missoula that we knew held elk. We documented a day in the elk woods as we scouted in mid-August in a short film titled “Recon.”
In late August we made a two and a half day trip to Southwest Montana in search of antelope with our bows. We got at least a half dozen stalks in and it was never tough to locate the antelope. Getting in close undetected was definitely difficult.
On the last day we were able to cut off a large group of antelope does and unfortunately Travis missed as his arrow sailed right over her back. It was a great chance to tune up our spot and stalk skills as we would be heading out the next week to chase elk in the open country of the Missouri Breaks. Soon it was opening day of Montana’s archery season and our good friend Tyler had met up with us. After his brother failed to show up for opening day, we decided to bring him along on the first morning and see if we could get into some elk. Only an hour after daylight we had a bull on the ground. After a group of four bulls came up the hill right to us, Tyler was presented a shot on a medium size bull and sent one right through both lungs. He had taken his first elk and it was an awesome experience to share with him.
If you’d like to see more about our first week of elk hunting you can see more at “Brown and Down” and “Elk season continues.” For the rest of the week we hunted hard and found bulls everyday. We even called in a 5×5 to 20 yards, only to not get a shot opportunity. The next week we were back and conditions had changed drastically. There were hunters everywhere and the elk had congregated heavily in the thick willows that lined the riverbottom. Without a boat and a tree stand set it was going to be tough. After five days we had only located one mature bull that we could stalk. We were able to sneak to 70 yards undetected but without further cover we couldn’t get any closer. As is always the case, the wind swirled and the gig was up. After that we decided to give our spot in the dark timber a go. It was a stark contrast to what we had been hunting.
We found lots of sign but the elk weren’t being vocal. We had just missed the rut and it’s almost impossible to take a bull without being able to call one in. The second morning we had one come to 20 yards but the brush was so thick that Travis was never presented a shot and finally the bull spooked when he circled and caught our wind. We were starting to get a little worried and decided to change up the tactics the following day. After not finding any water sources we made our way to one that seemed too close to the road to be a good option. After further investigation we found that the small bit of water was actually getting used fairly hard. We decided to set up on a wallow that had fresh bear sign and wait. About an hour into the hunt and a monsterous, old bull stepped out at 8 yards. After almost two minutes at full draw, he finally turned broadside at 30 yards the the rest is history.
I had achieved my goal of arrowing a mature bull. I was super stoked and to top it off Travis got it all on film and it’s going to be an awesome episode that will be released in 2013. I had this bull aged and he ended up being a 14 year old elk. You can read the whole story on my 2012 Archery elk right here.
After that we continued to hunt hard in an attempt to get Travis and elk with his bow. After being unable to seal the deal with his Anarchy, it was on to rifle season. We invited our Dad down for three days and would be hunting elk east of Missoula. After two days of no fresh sign, we decided to move locations. A snow storm was blowing through that night and we hoped the fresh snow would give us the upper hand the next day. The following morning we woke up to a fresh blanket of snow. We hiked up onto the ridge where Travis had shot his bull before and began searching for tracks. After crossing a fresh set of grizzly tracks, we soon found tracks from a small herd of elk. After spotting two through the trees and not getting any shot opprotunities, emotions were down. We continued on and a few minutes later Travis spotted a black wolf cruising through the timber. He dropped to a knee and with one shot, killed his first wolf.
For more photos and the full story see our post “A New kind of Predator.”
Over the following months, we spent our time exploring new country in search of a big, old mountain buck. We got to see some amazing country and we hiked a lot of miles.
We found some awesome spots that we’ll be back to next year but we never did find that big mountain buck we were looking for. Soon it was Thanksgiving and we were back home chasing whitetails up the mountain behind my parents home. It was tough hunting, as spot and stalk would be our go to tactic. The deer weren’t responding well to any type of calling and the brush was very thick making our efforts seem worthless. On the last morning we were headed up the mountain when we spotted a nice whitetail staring at us off the side of the trail. Travis quickly sized him up and decided he’d be a great first whitetail. After two shots he had his first whitetail buck.
It was a nice 8 point and after some photos and a little video, it was time to take care of the meat and head back to Missoula. Again we ventured back into the mountains to see if I could get it done on the last weekend.
Once again we covered lots of miles and glassed up a lot of country. We found a few nice bucks but not quite what I had set out to tag. Unfortunately I would go another season without punching my deer tag. At least it will fuel the fire for next year as I look to bag a big mountain buck. After that we finally caught up on some sleep and editing. In early December we made it out to fish for the first time in months. We met up with our good buddy Anthony Von Ruden and hit a local spot. The weather was pretty nasty as the temperature was in the low 40s and a steady rain was coming down. We soon found that the fishing was red hot as we all began hammering into fish.
The action kept up for the next couple hours and Travis landed his largest rainbow of the year. It was a chunky bow that would rival some of it’s Alaskan counterparts. To see more from this day be sure to check out our post “Brown December.”
The rest of December found us working hard to get proposals out to all of our hunting sponsors so we can continue to make hunting films in 2013. We also spent countless hours going through all of our fly fishing footage from 2012. We finished our Fish Reel for 2012 and scheduled flights to go to the SHOT show to kick off 2013. Below is our 2011 Fish Reel and our most recent 2012 Fish Reel. I think that the progression is apparent and I can’t wait to see how 2013 shapes up for us.
Thanks again for all the support you guys have shown us and we are very excited about the projects we have planned for 2013.
2012 has been a whirlwind year. Travis and I have been blessed to experience so much throughout the year. It had it’s ups and downs but was by far the best year of my life. We put a lot of hard work in this year to make sure we continued to progress as individuals, hunters, filmmakers, photographers, businessmen and generally in all aspects of our lives. I can say we learned a lot, and we’re looking forward to 2013 as it’s going to be bigger and better than ever! A lot happened in 2012 and there’s a lot I could say but I’ll try to make it brief and to the point.
2012 started out with us chasing coyotes on the Hi-Line. Hunting season for the most part was over and the skiing was sub-par so we decided to call for some coyotes with our good friend Tyler McCann. After two days of poor weather, things finally shaped up and the coyotes started running to the call. We were able to put 4 on the ground the last day and made a short film called “Valley Gold.”
After that we came back to Missoula and got busy working on putting together our best fishing shots of 2011. We were able to finish up our 2011 Fish Reel, which I’ll post at the end of Part 2 to compare to this years reel. After watching all of our footage from the 2011 year we were motivated to go try our luck for the year despite the cold weather. This would be the earliest I’d fished, and it turned out to be a great day. My first fish of 2012 was a very respectable brown that broke the tip of my rod.
After that it was mainly school and work. Of course we had to have some kind of escape and our good friend Jeff Heiskell convinced us to go tackle the Missouri for a day. It was an awesome float and our first time on the Mo. We all caught our share of healthy fish and of course the colors during winter/early spring never fail to impress.
We brought the camera along that day and we were able to put together a nice short film that documented the day.
A few short weeks later we were back for two days and this time we found some fish looking up. We all got our first dry fly takes of the year and all were solid fish. You can read more about that day here. Again the camera was in tow and we created the short film “200 East.”
After that we returned home and went back to school. Between school and work, we had been feverously editing our hunts from 2010 into four episodes. I’ll spare the details here, but the following links will take you to each episode. Episode 1 – The Copper Ranch. Episode 2 – The Haggard Horns Buck. Episode 3 – The Bull Chase. Episode 4 – The Bear Creek Bull.
A few weeks later and it was officially spring. Our mindset had shifted from fishing to hunting and we began to get the bows sighted in and ready for Montana’s spring bear season.
Again we took the time to try to share and spread the stoke and created a short film documenting a few pieces of our what we do to prepare for bear season. The piece was aptly named “Preparation.”
Soon it was time to lace up the boots and head into the hills in search of bears. The first four or five days were slow and we failed to find any bears. It was a good time to get back in shape and retrain the eyes. Soon the bears began to pop up and we were on them daily. Travis hadn’t shot a bear before and was ready to make his first year count. After ten days we finally found a mature bear for Travis to take a shot at. He was able to put a .300 Win Mag through the vitals and had his first bear on the ground. You can read the whole story here.
After Travis killed his bear I was on a mission to get one with my bow. Unfortunately I missed a great chocolate phase black bear and got very close on another couple stalks but was unable to seal the deal. If you want to see and read more click here.
To wrap up our spring we spent a lot of hours sorting through our all the footage we had accrued during February and March and created a short spring fly fishing film we called “Contrast.”
That led us right into summer and again we were fishing and hunting as usual. Be checking back for Part 2 which will be up tomorrow and documents our summer and fall of 2012.
If you missed the first write up about our recent fly fishing trip into the Montana backcountry, be sure to read the post “The Unknown – Backcountry Cutties.” During our six day trip we not only set out to explore some of Montana’s most beautiful water, but to legally target and fish for native bull trout.
In the earlier part of this century and also within the last few decades, the bull trout was seen as a cannibal of the trout family. Many viewed it as a trash fish because of it’s highly predatory nature and its voracious appetite for other fish. There numbers soon began to plummet due to extensive logging ruining spawning habitat along with unchecked fishing practices. Today they are now found in healthy numbers and are addictive to catch. We had never fished for these trout but felt confident we could get into a few. Very few people fish for bull trout so as long as you can find them, you should be able to catch some. I figured they would be easiest to find on the main river with its deep holes and long runs. We decided to bushwack down to the river off a nearby dirt road and set up camp. To say the canyon we’d be fishing was stunning was an understatement.
We immediately scouted for a suitable campsite. Fortunately we found a small sandy area along the river and got situated. Bull trout can grow upwards of 3 feet and are very powerful fish. For this trip we decided to take a couple 8wts. It’s best to play these fish quickly and without a sturdy rod, a big fish might be running downstream with no end in sight. A big thanks goes out to Dan @ Grizzly Hackle. He was gracious enough to help outfit us for our trip. If your around Missoula, be sure to swing by. Whether it’s trout, steelhead, or tarpon, they have what you’re looking for.
We quickly set up the rods and hit the river. Immediately we found great looking water. I honestly felt like I was in some exotic place and surely not Montana.
The water is deep emerald and the surrounding rich forests and moss covered cliffs made me feel like I was in New Zealand or deep in the Canadian backcountry. The first hole looked promising and we spent almost an hour drifting streamers through every nook and cranny amongst the rocks.
Finally I heard those magic words, “I got one!” Travis had hooked into the first bull trout of the trip. After a short fight we had a nice bully in the net.
Travis was pumped up. This was his first bull trout on a streamer and things were looking good. We kept moving up the canyon, methodically working each hole. One of the problems we encountered on this stretch was the depth of each hole. Often you couldn’t see the bottom. I know some of the holes were at least 20 feet deep and with the current it was just plain tough to get your streamer deep enough and in the right spot.
We fished hard that day but never got into another bull trout. The scenery keep us in good spirits and we slowly worked our way back to camp.
With the clouds rolling in we decided to call it a day and hang out by the fire.
We had an amazing view of the river, a hot tasty meal, and good conversation to finish up the day. Just down river there was an osprey nest perched on a tall dead tree next to a tall cliff. Mom was screaming her head off and even did a bit of fishing.
Over the course of the trip we got a chance to fish a lot of water. Another day of our trip was spent exploring a second deep canyon upriver.
This canyon is only accessible from one end or the other. We worked in from the bottom and immediately were met with beautiful water. This canyon consists of long deep pools, large boulders, and some solid rapids. The water is ideal for bull trout, but again we were up against very deep holes. With little room to cast it was difficult to properly fish much of the water.
After a few hours we were beat down. The water looked perfect but the fish just weren’t emerging from the shadows.
Just as I was about to turn and begin fishing back to the truck I heard Travis yelling. I headed over to see what was going on. He had a bull trout chasing from one of the larger boulders, and I intently watched as he worked his streamer along the boulder. After a few misses he finally connected. Although it was a juvenille bully, it did re-energized me to continue working a deep run. After a long cast I let my fly drift back and down about 60 feet. I then slowly twitched my streamer across the current. Boom! These trout attack the fly and often it initially feels as if you have a snag. They soon realize their caught and the fight begins. After a few surges and small runs, I turned him into the shallows and chalked up my first bull trout of the trip.
Over the course of our trip we learned a lot about where to look for bull trout and how to fish for them. The key is to go deep and get twitchy. White and grey seemed to work best for us. Also they enjoy lurking next to any type of rock formation that allows them cover and a quick path to small fish passing by. Another characteristic we found was that when they do feed, they often will fall back into the tail out of a pool where the river condenses into a smaller area. Two pictures down are three bull trout sitting in a tail out of a pool we found.
Travis was also pretty excited that his homegrown flies did the trick. Grey Gandalf was doing work and a couple white variations had success also. The few days we spent fishing for bull trout was very educational for us. We were able to successfully explore a few areas that held bull trout and learned more about where to find these bad boys. We even got a chance to sight fish for them. I’m already looking forward to next summer as we found another spot where the bull trout are fairly numerous and should be easy to catch with the knowledge we acquired during this trip.
As they say, “The tug is the drug.” Watching your streamer get hammered is by far one of the most fun aspects of fly fishing that I have yet to experience. I now understand more of why people love fishing the salt flats for tarpon. Maybe one day. Hopefully Travis and I can get working on the video before hunting season get’s too far underway. I think we got some awesome footage and can’t wait to share it with everyone.
This year we explored once again the great Wilderness of Montana with fly rods and cameras in tow. Let me tell you, Wilderness is one badass dude. It’s a place where a man can get lost and never make it out. It’s the perfect spot to find some of the most amazing country you’ll lay eyes on. An adventure lies in your back yard here in Montana, and this is only one of the many gems found in this amazing state. The fishing is top notch for those willing to push themselves a bit and by the end of the trip, society looks like a much larger nuisance than you ever thought possible. Waking up to this sure helps a guy out after 10 hours on the river with 30+ pounds of camera gear and miles of treacherous river travel laid down.
No, it’s not easy. But is it worth it? Hell ya! Granted your gonna fall and get smacked around by mother earth. You’ll be sore, injured, mad, and tired at times.
But when you lay your eyes on a killer pool around the next bend and nail a wild cutthroat on the first cast, your emotions get tossed upside down. It’s a roller coaster and our good friend Ian Orlando got a good taste of it. Ian just graduated college in Missoula and is one of our good buddies. He told us he was working on getting a big boy job, and we figured we better show him a real fishing trip before he got to far into the real world. Little did he know that Travis and I are just a bit crazy. We took Ian to places where if you fall, your dead or in some serious trouble. It all pays off in the end though.
For this trip we had six days blocked out to explore the crystal clear waters of the wilderness of Montana. Were not going to openly tell you the location because anyone with half a brain could figure it out. It’s more fun that way right? The plan was to spend our time laying out line for native cutthroat and bull trout that inhabit these waters. Of the six days we only spent a half day fishing water that we had fished before. The rest was all exploration with only the help of some Google Earth maps at home. When you hike in a few miles and find that there is in fact no trail down to the river, you only have one option. Bushwack. Travis and I both hunt so this is nothing new. The same principles apply to both sports as far as being successful. Go where no one wants to go and find the fish. It helps when this is the view on the way down to the river.
A few of these days were spent camping upriver along stretches with difficult access. When we made it down to the river we weren’t left with many suitable camping spots. Turns out the best spot had the best view.
We had four things on our minds while out there: fish, food, water, sleep. Usually we would be on the river by 8 or 9 AM everyday. The areas we fished are difficulty to navigate as they often were in canyons with rock walls and steep forested slopes on both sides. Getting out early and staying out late helps when three guys are fishing and the camera is rolling.
The fish would feed fairly consistently on top during the majority of the trip. The smaller canyon creeks held the best dry fly fishing as they saw little to no pressure. We did see some boot tracks in a few spots where we thought we’d be the only ones fishing. Apparently a few others think like us. Only one morning did we see a strong hatch. During the end of July and into August, caddis are the #1 bug on the trouts menu. The morning that we had a strong hatch was awesome. You had fishing rising everywhere and the bugs were fairly heavy. Fortunately these fish don’t see too many fakes floating overhead and often destroy almost any fly. That day was almost too easy. Other than that day though there wasn’t much for bugs. Some days it definitely was tough to turn the big fish up and often it was tough to keep the small trout off your fly.
Certain holes are so slow and clear it’s hard not to jump the gun on the hookset as you see a trout rise from behind a boulder.
The clear water made for some great GoPro shots. Without spooking the fish we made it into a few holes and caught some awesome footage of rising fish. Be looking for a solid video to be released in the future. When the fishing is good and the scenery world class, it’s hard not to push yourself out here. When every corner tops the next and the fish seem endless at times it really helps a guy push all day to fish as much water as possible.
Often our days would end just before the sun would set. Perfect time to boil up some water and watch the view as your freeze dried meal cooked. Let me tell you those things taste amazing in the backcountry. After a long day you really appreciate a good meal. We also found that strawberry cheesecake is a necessary item to round out a good day on the river. Just add water!
Shortly after dinner Ian often took on the look of one tired ass bum. He quickly found his way into the tent and zipped into his sleeping bag. Out here you have to be able to treat your own water to stay longer than a day. Having a good water filter is huge. It’s the best way to keep three people hydrated and nothing beats a full Nalgene of cold river water out there. Each night we had to make a trip for water so we could get up and begin our day. Fortunately we had a small creek nearby.
Each morning was better than the next. Get up, eat, and toss on the waders. Hit the water and start tossing line. When the hardwork pays off and all your intuition and time spent scouring maps leads you to a one of a kind hole it’s a pretty damn sweet.
Ian was able to swing into the groove quick enough on the trip. His first cast of the trip yielded a great cutty and held his own during the trip. I gotta say it though, he did break a rod during the trip. I laughed my ass off while he got all torn up about it. Turns out everything’s gonna be alright, and he quickly forgot and got back to fishing.
Even though Ian got a damn good trip, we didn’t let him off the hook all the way. Travis was fishing to a fish up a long narrow canyon below camp. It was a long cast in tight quarters. After hassling Travis, I finally got to throw it a few times. After two great casts my fly finally found a target. Ian’s neck.
Woops. After deciding that it was going to be difficult to get it back through the skin to de-barb the hook, it was decided that it was coming back out the way it went in. I figured it would just have to be quick and painful. I grabbed the fly tightly and gave a big yank. Uhhh damn. It was still stuck in his neck. My hand had slipped off the fly. Round 2 began shortly after. This time the fishing pliers got used. After securely grabbing the hook a quick yank had the hook out. I was pretty amazed at how good his neck looked. There was only a small pinhole in his neck and zero blood. Fish on brother!
Travis happened to decided to fish better than our last trip and continued to lay into trout after trout.
A big shout out goes out to Vortex Optics, Grizzly Hackle, and Cuttroat Leaders. All of these companies are strong supporters of the outdoor lifestyle. Vortex Optics makes amazing hunting optics and appreciates the outdoors as a whole. Their support of a fly fishing trip solidified my respect for them as an outdoor brand. If your a hunter or are in the market for a great set of binoculars be sure to check them out at vortexoptics.com. Grizzly Hackle is an awesome fly shop in Missoula. It’s run by Dan Shepherd who’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. They helped us out on this trip and always have the angler’s success in mind. Swing buy grizzlyhackle.com to see the best fishing reports for the local Missoula rivers. And all week we were running Cutthroat Leaders on our dry fly and nymph rods. These things rock and you need to pick up a pair and at least give them a try. Hit them up at cutthroatleader.com
Now the cutthroat fishing was amazing. They’re some of the most beautiful fish you’ll find and they fight hard for their size. Speaking of fighting hard, these waters also lay claim to the home of the menacing bull trout. These elusive fish are fickle beasts. They either destroy your fly or simply sit in place even with the fly only inches from their faces. On this trip we were lucky enough to fish for these fish. We learned a lot about where they live and how to fish them on this trip. We might have tricked a few so be sure to read Part 2 right HERE.
Here’s our first summer fly fishing video. After runoff we’ve been doing a decent amount of fishing, but just haven’t really had good enough fishing to justify taking the time to try to film an edit. On Sunday I decided that summer just doesn’t last as long as you ever hope and that the camera was coming out. Travis and I headed up to a small creek in the Blackfoot Valley and got ready for an afternoon on the water. This is what we came up with. Watch in HD you fishin fools!
Here’s the link to our original write up on the afternoon – Creekside
I’m sure we’ll be filming again soon enough, and we hope to have more summer fishing up soon to keep the stoke alive.
We’ve been slacking a bit on fresh content on the website, but it’s not for lack of effort. A few days of fishing haven’t stirred up much, and we decided to take a little break from the Missoula scene and head home for a few. We loaded up our growing pile of gear and headed north. We soon made it to our parents house located on the beautiful Flathead lake.
The first day ended up being the nicest of the four, and we fortunately were able to head down to the lake and enjoy the summer weather. Our German Sheppard Max, is just learning to swim and his form is beyond poor most of the time. His ambition for the water is second to none though. We were hoping to share his unique swimming technique, but the weather never allowed us to get back down to the lake with the camera. The weather quickly decided to change as it does on those hot dog days of summer and thunderstorms rolled in and out most every night.
When it pours in really pours. We got about an inch of rain during a half an hour fit of weather. Things of course cleared back up nicely as the sun set, and we got ready for the next day which would be filled with plenty of elk scouting.
The next morning we left the house bright and early and got comfortable in the truck. About ten miles into our drive off the highway we encountered a big downed log over the road. Apparently the strong winds that accompanied the rain from the previous night did some work on this tree. We were a bit bummed, but decided to head home and grab the chainsaws and come back and clear things out. On the way down we saw a forest service truck headed up the mountain, and despite my words of wisdom, Travis decided against flagging him down and seeing if he was clearing roads that day. Of course after heading back and getting the saws, we once again returned to the spot where the tree was down, and it had been conveniently cut down by the forest ranger. Zack 1 Travis 0. Soon we were at our spot, and off we went into the jungle like terrain. We had plans to set up two game cameras after last season left us with a feeling that this spot might hold a good bull or two. Sure enough there were fresh elk tracks along the game trail we planned to set the first camera on.
After searching for a tree that was small enough to accomodate my Moultrie M80, we got to work setting up the first camera of the day.
After testing a couple angles, we finally got things set up to maximize quality pictures and locked her up. The terrain in this area is extremely dense. It’s literally a battle to wander off this main game trail. The bushes are overhead, and things get tight and dense real quick. This is by far the best trail we’ve found in the area, and we hope to get a good idea of what’s hanging in this spot from just this one camera. Even though we both have Breaks tags it’s always good to keep tabs on some local hunting grounds, you never know when a big bull might show up and at the very worst it’s some quality scouting for next fall when I will be looking to tag my elk in the dark timber of western Montana.
We packed up and made a big loop into some territory we had yet to explore. We found a nice big north facing slope full of dark downfall. This area would make a great bedroom for a big bull during the fall. I’m sure we’ll be cold calling this area once or twice next time we hunt the area. We finally located another trail to set up our second camera and got to work. Some serious bush pruning was due to keep the bushes from growing in front of the camera during the following months. After about a half an hour we had camera two set up, and we were back to the trail on and on the way to the truck.
As we were walking back up the logging road Travis spotted a young blonde black bear feeding off the side of the road. He was young and stupid, and we were able to get fairly close to him and watch as he fed for over half an hour.
We kept sneaking closer and closer as he fed around a small bend in the road. After about twenty minutes we had closed the gap to 60 yards. We were in plain view on the side of the road, and I’m surprised it took him so long to finally see us. When he did he reverted to his cub like instincts and ran as fast as he could to the nearest tree and clung.
After a minute he decided to back down to the ground. We snuck up to the tree only to see him pop out on the road about a hundred yards up the road. He then decided running away was a bit better tactic and that was the last we saw of him. We weren’t done seeing bears yet. After getting in the truck we had only driven about a mile when a small black bear showed up on the road only a hundred yards in front of the truck. He went screaming off into the timber. Another half mile down the road and we again saw a chocolate phased bear feeding in the road. He decided to run down the road. Man those bears can truck, and he dipped back into the woods in the tightest spot possible. I don’t even know how he squeezed back into the woods at that speed but he did. We cruised back home and cracked open some fresh beers. The next day was again less than stellar weather.
I decided that this day would be a good day to get a whole slew of bullets made for the upcoming hunting season. I set up our .223 die and press and got about 60 rounds loaded. Next was the 6×284, and I loaded up 40 of those with a 75 grain V Max. The two main hunting rigs are sighted in and ready to rip.
As is the usual, the weather finally began to turn nice just as we headed home to work. I hope everyone had a great fourth of July and hopefully some fish will start popping up on the site soon.
It’s been a long last few months. Travis and I have had hundreds of miles pass beneath our feet this spring in search of black bears. My search has been for a bear that I could arrow with my bow and it’s no easy task. As the season was winding down we still were optimistic about getting one last chance. It was another early morning as we left the house at 6 and headed into the same spot where I had stalked a bedded bear previously. We mostly have mornings off and had been hunting them with more success than one would expect. On this morning we decided to leave the bikes and hike down a steep face to a logging road that ran about 600yards above a creek bottom. The hike down was not fun. I fell three times and was starting to think we were wasting our time and energy trying to find a bear with everything in sight being so green. About two minutes later I spotted a black blob. Bear! A nice bear was feeding up along a tree line and right onto a logging road that ran 300 yards below us. Travis and I quickly started moving. We were hoping this was finally our moment where a bear would walk along the road and we could set up and take a 20 yard chip shot from above.
We soon were down above the logging road at twenty yards and began to wait. The bear had fed behind some trees on the logging road where it makes a turn and heads our way. After fifteen minutes we still had yet to see him come out of that spot. We decided we better sidehill above that position in case he decided to start up the small draw above the logging road. We made it up the hill about 250 yards before we spotted him carelessly feeding on tall green grass in the corner of the road. We watched him for a few minutes, but decided we better go back and get in position again. Well we make it back and again waited for another fifteen minutes and still no bear. Back up the hill we go, wondering what the hold up is. This time we only had to go about twenty yards before we spotted him down the road slowly walking out of the corner. I’m thinking ok, he’s just filling his belly and then he’s gonna keep walking down this road and walk right by us. Nope. He’s obviously was in no hurry to go anywhere as he continued to feed in that spot. With the wind and rocky hillside we just couldn’t stalk him there either. It’s either he comes to us or no dice. After about ten more minutes he decides to run down into the draw below the road. S&*i! The brush is so thick there’s no way we’re going in after him without being heard. We sneak down to the road and start looking for Yogi. Out he pops at 140 yards, and he plops down next to a stump and starts licking his paws and belly.
This bear decides it’s officially nap time and after grooming himself he settles in and begins to take a nap. It’s still really windy and not very warm for June. We decide that it’s best to give him at least an hour to settle in and see if he’s going to really fall asleep or get up and move on. For the next half an hour he slept and only lifted his head twice. We were situated in a small draw with the wind swirling behind the first ridge and then continuing on over the second ridge. Either he caught a few small wiffs of our scent or just was uneasy with the windy conditions. We figured while we wait we can put the spotting scope to use and get some good close ups of our sleepy friend.
So an hour passes and he’s bedded in a bad spot for a stalk. I can’t go down into the brush without him hearing me and I guess the shot from the road above him at about 40-50 yards. The only reason I didn’t opt to try the shot from above was I didn’t want to take that length of shot in the wind and at such a steep angle. Before we could make any kind of move he slowly sat up, yawned, and started moving back up towards the road. I know he’s not going to stick around long and this clearing is maybe two hundred yards square so he’s going to be headed for the timber. We start busting it around the road hoping to catch him before he beats us to the road. I figure I can either get a close shot on him just off the road or catch him as he comes up onto the road. As we round the bend and start down the home stretch I feel the wind hitting the back of my neck. More stellar conditions eh. At this point we are no more than 50 yards from the bear. We slowly keep creeping forward when all of a sudden he comes running up and across the road and up into the timber. At this point I had some very choice words that started with f,s,d,a and possibly others. Another failed stalk and again within 50 yards of a bear. What happened to all the stupid bears that stare at hunters as they walk straight at them? Oh well, I had my chance once and blew it already so I can’t complain too much. We hiked a bit more but it was already late in the morning, and we decided to face the hill we had come down earlier in the morning and get back to the truck.
Over the course of the next week we made it out four more days before the season ended but didn’t get a chance to see another bear. The weather was rainy almost every day and made for poor conditions to hunt in with a camera in tow. By this time of the year it was green everywhere, and it was simply just luck to actually see a bear out on a road or in a clear cut. It’s ok though. We got one bear down on film and saw 22 this spring. We hunted about 18-20 days so we averaged about a bear a day, and I figure that’s pretty darn good for my second year of bear hunting. I’d call it my first year since I only hunted one day last spring, but I shot a bear that one day so I figure I better count it as a year.
Overall it was an awesome spring and we got to see a lot of sweet critters out in God’s country. Any day your blessed enough to be out there is a good day in my book. We learned a lot about bears this spring, and I’m already looking forward to next year. We have a handful of good spots now and know where to look for the bears so I’m confident next spring will be even better, and the bears might want to be a bit more scared. Next spring both Travis and I will be trying to get one with a bow, and our good friend Cole McCann just moved to Missoula to attend the University so I’m sure we will be trying to get him one with the rifle as well. That does it for hunting until September, but we’ve already set up a game camera and got a little fishing in so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we switch gears and start posting up a whole lot of good Montana fishing.
Memorial Day weekend is always hit or miss in Montana. Well this year it was a big ole swing and a miss. If there was one good thing about the crappy weather though it was the fact that we were forced to stay home and glue our butts in front of the computer and do some long awaited editing. Two eight hour days and I’m glad to say were finished with our first short fishing film of the year. We should have that up here later this week so be checking back and we’ll also be releasing our 4th and final installment of hunting episodes from 2011.
Well by Monday we had the itch to get back after it and we geared up for a long day doing something in the great outdoors of Montana. We drove up into the mountains and headed off on a gated logging road in search of bears. We were in new country and sort of looking for sign and hoping the area was a good one. We ended up making it up to the snow line which probably wasn’t the best hunting strategy following a snow storm in the mountains. I think the weather had pushed everything down towards the valley but I wanted to check out a new area. We found some sign and a pretty solid area that we’ll definitely go back to as soon as the weather warms up and the bears start moving up to higher country.
We headed back to the truck and figured we’d kill the afternoon with some fly fishing. The water is still high and off colored and even the creeks are tough fishing but soon enough there was some tug in the line and a little fishy in the net. I led things off with a solid string of whitefish and couldn’t seem to trick the old trout but Travis finally warmed up and landed a few nice browns.
We ventured back to the truck and got back into hunt mode to finish off the holiday. We once again found a gated road and headed off on the bikes. This spring weather makes for some on and off showers that come and go like a ____________ (insert your own lolz here). It made for some beautiful scenery or some very gay bears in the area.
The video below was basically how we felt about it.
After that we kept hiking for another mile and a half but didn’t see much other than a lone cow elk. We cruised back and got to the bikes and loaded up. Of course it was all downhill and when your on a bike you can cruise pretty fast. Well just our luck about two minutes into biking back down the mountain we round a bend at about 20mph and there’s a cinnamon black bear feeding up the road. He saw us and went scorching back into the woods. We tried tricking him into making a second appearance with the distress call but he was a little too smart for that trickery. Of course we had the pleasure of seeing another rainbow right afterwards.
We figured it would be pretty unreal if we were to find a bear at the end of the rainbow. Like all such dreams we didn’t find a bear at the end and had to call it a day.
Well with work, school, and trying to get the bows dialed in, we didn’t get this video out quite as soon as we would have like but better late then never. Take a look as we prep the bows for the big game season here in Montana. Tomorrow we’re headed home to chase some turkeys and after that we’ll be getting up into the mountains in search of a mature black bear. Watch the video, get stoked, and get out there!
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.
Finally some video is showing up here at Montana Wild. Check out the teaser for our 1st short film of the year, CONTRAST!
It took more time than I could have ever anticipated to sort and organize all of the footage we have captured for this short film (over 40 hours of HD footage). This piece contains our highest quality cinematography to date and this is only a tease of what’s to come. It is insane how much you learn everyday about filming and editing! CONTRAST is set to showcase a single river in Montana, which we fished over the course of the late winter and early spring of this year. We didn’t write a script or set out with a direction in mind for this project, we just fished and filmed. We were able to catch 5 species of fish and have a number of great hook-ups to show. It’s going to be a daunting task to sort through all the footage and piece something together that is captivating and unique. We should start editing shortly and hope to release this in it’s entirety by the end of April.
After a long week of school and work, we finally had some light poking through at the end of the tunnel. Sunday was forecasted to be in the upper 50s and we figured the fishing just might be worth a little excursion. Despite the great conditions we were hearing about on the Bitteroot, we decided to avoid the crowds and boat parade for smaller and lesser known water. We wanted to fish a long, winding stretch of river with no access that we had yet to fish, and decided to make the four mile hike downstream from access to access. We dropped Travis’s bike off around 11:30 AM at the lower access and drove the truck back upriver about 4 miles and got ready for a long day. We knew we would find some lightly fished water and hopefully a hog or two.
As we worked downstream things started off slow. Sometimes you go 10-15 holes without a fish out there, but once you find them they stack up. Travis unfortunately had some ill fate attempting to catch fish. He had numerous missed hook ups and a few spit the fly before making it to the net. I put him on the bench and grabbed the St. Croix and got to casting. With so many pockets of fishable water, we made slow progress. About two hours into the days adventure, I hooked into a bright red rainbow that was around the 20 inch mark. Unfortunately, Travis and I have had some rough times trying to net my larger fish this year. This one again broke off in an attempt to tote this beast up from the depths and allow Travis to get the net under him. Some choice words were had and we pushed on. Pushing past the halfway point and with the sun beginning to lower on the horizon, I finally got to net a solid chromer.
The water was looking better and better as we moved on. Over the course of the day we missed our share of good trout. I know between the two of us we probably lost/missed about 4-6 18+” fish. I guess we left them for next time eh. This unlucky trout was spunky and it felt good to get one solid one on camera for the day.
We pushed onward to the west. The only problem with the long hike was we couldn’t spend as much time as we would like to thoroughly fish all the holes. The good thing was that the walking was easy and the weather was in top notch form. We only saw two risers and one skwalla on the water. This river just doesn’t fish on top like the other rivers in the area. The character more than makes up for it I say. Soon we were forced to walk the last mile back to the bike as the sun was beginning to set for the day. Travis had to bike back on the highway and doing so while it was still light seemed like a better bet then a nighttime ride alongside high speed traffic. As I sat and waited I decided to battle the dropping temps by getting in a little fishing right at the access. Ironically, we walked all day to find good trout and I caught one of the biggest of the day right within view of the road and withing ten feet of the parking area. This stud of a bow took it upon himself to break the surface with aggression. After forcing him into submission Travis finally showed up to snap a few photos.
This fish was in stark contrast to the other rainbow I had caught that day. His mouth was at least 2-3 times larger and his teeth some of the sharpest I’ve seen on a fish of his size. He is a sure fish eater and must have been warming up his evening with an appetizer as he munched my stonefly nymph.
Overall, it was one solid day on the water here in Montana. With a little ambition and some free time, you can find an adventure in your own backyard. That’s the great thing about Montana. You don’t need a fancy trip to another state or country to get some solid thrills and feel miles from civilization. Check back tomorrow as we release the teaser for our new short film Contrast. Until then, tight lines to ya!
After a long night of studying I was ready to get another exam over with and head to the river. After a solid twenty minutes I was the first one done and happy to be leaving campus for the day. The more and more I go to school the more I resent it due to the fact that I learn twice as much during during the course of my life then I’ll ever be able to attribute to the classroom. Just as we were about to leave the house we heard a knock on the door. A new lens for our camera had showed up and I was pretty amped. After some weekend eBay maneuvering I was able to get my hands on a new but MINT Nikkor lens. I was a little skeptical about buying glass over eBay, but it showed up basically in new condition and it shipped crazy quick.
Our lenses are of fair quality, but we knew an upgrade was in short order. I won’t get all techy on you but it’s sweet and we got to break it in right away. With the rivers dropping after a solid bump in the flows, we were hoping to catch some hungry fish off guard. Things started off slow, but as we got further and further from the access we started seeing a few hits. Travis quickly let a couple slip the hook, followed up by a couple white dogs and a small rainbow. I soon thereafter stepped up to the plate and started drifting a couple nymphs on a slow water seam. Two quick seams split and then came back together leaving a prime piece of real estate for a hungry trout. Sure enough a few short casts later I had a pretty solid fish fight going. A good brown came leaping out of the water multiple times and sealing his fate as another fish fallen victim to the internet.
We know there’s some large browns lurking in this river but haven’t caught anything worthy until today. We’re trying to wrap up filming for our still un-named film, but it seems like every time we go out we add to the bank of solid footy. This one should make the cut.
We kept working upstream and a few holes later my eye was caught by a slim slice of holding water. This was a quick run about 4 feet wide by 20 feet long and only about knee deep. First cast I hooked into a large and colorful spawing rainbow. As I lured him closer to the net he somehow managed to eat my nymph. “#$%%!” was the reaction from us both as we both yelled at each other. We fished well into the afternoon without much excitement. Travis was able to end the day with a fair rainbow that came from a small turbulent hole. The camera rolled once again as we reached the turning back point for the day.
We ended the day with a timelapse mission on the way home. Unfortunately, it was quite windy out and the wind wreaked havoc on that plan. The footage turned out all bumpy from the cameras being swayed by the wind. Oh well, we learned something at least. We got a few solid pictures anyway.
Another long week is ahead of us. We’ll have more product and gear showing up this week so I’m sure there will be more soon here at Montana Wild.
Well another Monday has come and gone. Monday is one of our “off” days where we get a chance to hit the water. It’s always tough to try to pick a spot that you hope wasn’t viciously attacked by other fellow weekend warriors. No sooner could we drop our wader boots in the dirt, and a game warden had pulled up with a sly look on his face. Tom ended up being a great guy, and we chatted with him for a bit. Travis tried to give him his 2010 fishing license the first go round. Apparently it’s 2012. Tom also mentioned that someone had been seen with a camera on a tripod and a harpoon on the river, and asked us if we knew anything about it. Well either someone is pretty rugged and enjoys trying to harpoon fish in March, or someone mistook a GoPro on the end of a ski pole for a harpoon. Were not sure which but we geared up and settled into the first hole. Second cast and a trout was airborne. This little brown quickly got netted, and we let him torpedo through the flats and back into his home.
After a few drifts and by the looks of the hole, I felt the need for some extra lead. After tossing on a little shot, I quickly had a dip in the bobber and a trout on my fly. After a less than exciting fight I had a long, skinny rainbow in the bag.
Another slew of casts and some stripped streamers left us empty handed and we were off and rolling to a new spot. A few weeks ago I had drove into a new fishing access and the road was very muddy and a wild ride. I was hoping it was in a similar condition and we could get a few shots of us muddin to our fishing spot. Unfortunately, the road had dried up considerable and only a few patches of mud remained. That little bit of mud was all we needed to get some use out of the GoPro.
We were hoping that by facing it backwards it would avoid some of the mud slangin, but after the first good hole it was more than covered.
We once again set out for the river. I was able to catch a few smaller fish and got a chance to witness an elusive early March riser. I tied on a small BWO and it was on. About ten casts in and I had my first top-water action of the year. Unfortunately my knot failed, and I still am in search of my first fish on a dry.
I think we were able to get some more shots for our short film we have been shooting this winter/spring, so hopefully those can get tossed into the mix when we finally get to editing. Were looking at close to 30-35 hours of footage that’s piled up on the hard drives so it’s gonna be a little while before we have much to show, but it’s most definitely going to be our best yet. Stay tuned and hopefully this can break up your mid-week rut.
A fly trip to fish and film the Missouri river…
Winter?… What Winter? It’s pretty much spring here in the Western part of the state, and spring means one thing, some mean fishing to break in the new year. The plan was to cruise over to the Missouri River and catch some more nice fish to start off the year. We got up at 4:30 AM to get the boat and headed off down the highway headed east. Temperatures dipped to -8 degrees along the drive, and we were wondering if we may have underestimated Old Man Winter. Fortunately, as we wound down through the windy highway to Wolf Creek the temperature quickly rose into the mid 20s. We swung into Craig and stopped by the Headhunters fly shop. The guys were super nice and we picked up a few nymphs. The fly selection definitely can be drastically different at times compared to the river’s surrounding Missoula. If your lost just ask anyone at the Headhunters and they’ll put you on the right track.
After getting our shuttle taken care of with Mark, we got back in the truck and headed to the put-in at the dam. We quickly got to the put-in only to realize Travis had left our boots in the truck bed. They had been wet and had frozen on the way over. A mandatory beer delay had to take place while we did some thawing. We soon were in our waders and gearing up to another trio of Missoulian anglers. By the time we put the boat in there were about 7 other boats that had showed up for a day of fishing. Some of these fellows seemed to have a little attitude. As Jeff put it, “These dudes are mean muggin us.” Let’s just say we got the vibe that either these guys didn’t like us being there or they really must hate fly fishing. I can only account for the other boaters that day, but we all were pumped up to be getting on the river. We even left a PBR for the shuttle driver (we left a note telling him not to drink and drive).
Finally we were drifting down the river and fishing. Travis was rocking a Sow bug and a Lightning bug rig with some splitshot about 8′ deep. It was windy and on the cold side, but things soon heated up as Travis hooked into a solid rainbow. After a few missed netting attempts, Jeff was finally able to slide the black rubber net under our first fish of the day.
The Missouri River is known for it’s large fish size and entertaining wind. This respectable rainbow is extremely common and very often outdone proving this is an exceptional trout fishery and one everyone should fish at least once.
After that things started to pick up. Travis had multiple hookups on some large Whitefish and one smaller Brown trout. Jeff was getting itchy at the oars and soon the guys switched spots and we got back to fishing.
Finally we were catching up to some boats that had left earlier in the day. They were anchored up fishing some nice bends in the river. We stopped for lunch and then quickly drifted through in search of our own little slice of river that would hold a good number of hungry fish.
I immediately spotted a nice pool where a small branch of the Mo came back and met the main channel. We beached the boat and Jeff started casting. The pool was slow with a nice drop off providing some holding water for what appeared should be a good number of fish. After only a couple casts Jeff had a strong rainbow on the end of his line. I’m sure he told himself to “let er run!” Jeff had his first nice fish of the day just as another group of floaters drifted by.
We proceeded on as the sun was beginning to drift lower and lower. We continued to get into fish and we were more than happy with the day considering it was only the 4th of February. Travis and I have never fished this river before and Jeff has only a handful of times. Reading a river that large is definitely a different mindset. I’m glad we were able to read enough good water and get the fly in the right spot. Oh and it always helps when the fish cooperates.
The fishing only got better as the further the sun started to set over the western skies. Again this warm weather had some good things going for the river. There was a strong midge hatch from about 1-530 PM and we saw numerous fish hitting top water. With the fish feeding we were able to land another few good rainbows to add to the day’s list.
The river was in full form as we found good trout and good views throughout the whole float. I felt like I was capturing some good video of the day and vibes were high. As we neared the end of our day, Travis once again layed into another fun fighting rainbow. If you start it with a bang then ya better end it with one to.
We found our way to the boat ramp in Craig and got the raft loaded for the long ride home. Another solid day on the river in the books and many more on the way. Travis is working on editing all the footage together from that day and we hope to have that up for you guys by Friday. If your around Missoula we hope to see you at the Fly Fishing Film Tour on Friday night.
High of 44degrees, variable winds, possible showers, time to dust off the fly gear! Zack and myself met up with our friend Jeff for an afternoon of winter fishing. Jeff had just two days ago pulled in a 20+in brown trout, so we had high hopes.
Jeff and Zack settled into two nice looking holes in the river. After about ten casts I saw a large brown trout come out of the water! Fish on! Zack had his first fish of 2012, and it put up one of the most amazing fights I’ve had the pleasure to witness. That brownie looked more like a dolphin coming out of the water than it did a trout! I managed to net the beast, but not before it snapped the tip of Zack’s fly rod.
With one fly rod down, Zack picked up the camera, while Jeff and myself searched for more fatties. Jeff hooked into a couple…… or should I say handful of fish, but couldn’t bring one to the net. I wasn’t having much luck, other than I was able to untangle more than one of my rats nests that I acquired. That’s a small success right?
I was determined to catch a fish. We hit hole after hole with not much success.
We got to a hole with an overhanging log, and after a couple attempts, I managed a perfect drift under the log. My indicator disappeared. I finally reeled in my first fish of the 2012 year! It was a 12in brown, but fought like every first fish of the year should (catching air, diving under logs, etc.). I passed the fly rod on to Zack, figuring he had the lucky touch that day. The next hole Zack fished he hooked into a MONSTER trout! The fish was on and off in a couple short tugs, but I got a glimpse of that trout for a split second, and let me tell you, it was a BEAST!
Zack pulled in a minnow rainbow a couple moments later and passed the St. Croix back to its master (me). I hooked up with my last fish of the day in a deep whirlpool. It turned out to be the first rainbow of the day.
Jeff was in overtime and had only a couple more holes to hook up with a fish for the day. As Zack and I were walking upstream Jeff starts whistlin and yellin. I ran downstream, crested some tall grass and saw that Jeff had an amazing rainbow in his net. Jeff had earned it, after hooking into so many fish earlier in the day.
What a great way to end a winter day in January. Today seemed alot more like spring fishing than it did winter fishing. With warm temperatures in the forecast, be looking for more fly fishing action from the Montana Wild Crew. Zack and I have been working around the clock on our 4 hunting episodes and giving a ‘facelift’ to Montana Wild. Expect BIG things in the near future.
Ok so what better way than to break in the new year than with the Best of 2011 and a broken rod on a fat brown. Well not much I’d say. Check out a compilation of our season here in our 2011 Fish Reel.
Oh and here’s my first fish of 2012.
Starting with a real healthy brown, healthy enough to snap the Echo Carbon. One fish down, one rod down. Oh well, I’ll take that any day. Were getting real excited to get into some good spring fishing and have the nice camera this go round. We’ll post up more about our first successful fishing day here soon.
Here is the latest of our hunting edits. Zack did an amazing job filming and editing the footage. Check it out! More awesome hunting edits in the near future!
Finishing up the final touches to our most recent video. We’ll be taking you along as we drop four coyotes in a few short hours on the last day of our 3 day hunt on the Hi-Line.
As you can see there are a lot of cuts to putting together an edit. I’ve put in a lot of hours on this along with working on finishing up our episodes from 2011. Be looking for this video sometime on Saturday.
We started up the truck and finished grabbing our gear. Camo on, calls ready, and a full clip of V-max bullets. It was day one of a three day trip to North Central Montana to become the hunted. We would be calling coyotes in open coulee country in hopes of capturing some sweet winter hunting.
That first morning we got to our second stand only to spook a coyote just as we were pulling up to park adjacent to a deep coulee. We called that stand but drew a blank. Over the course of the next few stands we had one hang up at 700 yards that didn’t come in and another that we spooked walking into a promising stand. A little discouraged with the conditions we headed to a spot that has produced in the past. Sure enough after about 4 minutes of calling we saw a coyote charging to our left at about 400 yards. Before we could swing the camera and shooters into position we lost sight off him.
I knew as he would get closer he would catch our wind before popping back up into sight of Tyler and Travis. Sure enough about 2 minutes later we saw him running in the other direction. Running away over numerous finger shaped ridges left us no chances at a shot. We finished that evening with no luck and looked forward to the next day.
Well all I can say about day 2 is WIND. All caps because it was so damned windy we couldn’t even think about calling. Wind speeds were around 30mph and gusts of 50mph were common. Combine that with a windchill of 15-20 below and let’s just say we bought a case of beer and watched some football to pass the time. Forecasts for the following day were ideal. They were calling for no wind and a daytime temperature of 4 degrees.
Day 3 found us up early and chomping at the bit. Conditions were ideal and we quickly got set up on our first stand. We called a long coulee full of dead cottonwoods and sage but never had any takers. Over the course of the next 6 stands we sat some beautiful spots but never saw a dog. We new something was up. Either the area had been hit hard by hunters on ATV’s or planes or the coyotes had moved down into the valley were the livestock and game was herded up. Sure enough our first stand back down in the valley was a winner. We set up to call at the end of a couple coulees that dumped into a prairie dog town. After 10 minutes and just as Tyler was about to shoot a rock, Travis made a good spot on a dog standing on a ridge at 260 yards. Travis was in search of his first coyote but couldn’t get repositioned quick enough. Tyler made a quick shot with his AR-15 and dropped our first coyote of the day.
The next stand we switched up the call after about 7 minutes. A few minutes later we stood up after not seeing anything and sure enough right behind us was a coyote. He quickly spotted us and took off. I turned the Nikon back on, switched to live view, and got focused. This took place over the course of literally a few seconds, and just as I said I was on him Travis lit off a round. The coyote dropped and Travis had his first coyote out of the way. He made a quick shot on a running coyote at around 150 yards to top it off.
After checking out the second unlucky coyote of the day we walked another 800 yards and set up again. Again, after about 7-8 minutes of calling I spotted a coyote walking up the bottom of a draw. By the time I got the guys on him he disappeared into the sage. We looked and glassed for 5 minutes but couldn’t see him. We figured he had a den there and had went into it. We had Travis stand up to see if he was still down there and would spook. We saw nothing and of course as we all stood I spotted him begin to walk off in the same spot we thought he had disappeared in. Within seconds I was on him with the camera and Travis made another great moving shot at 300 yards.
We followed this up with another stand just another 700 yards away. We had a coyote coming in at about 600 yards but he was spooked by a small herd of mule deer. We had spooked these deer on the way in and our chances at 4 in a row were gone. We headed back to the truck to relocate to a new location.
We gassed up the Ford, filled up our bellies with a hearty gas station meal, and left to finish our day off strong. After pulling off the highway we drove a half mile down into a vast open drainage spotted with sagebrush. We quickly got setup and started wailing on the distress call. Soon Travis had 3 coyotes spotted coming in from our right. As the coyotes neared us I had 2 of them in the frame on the Nikon, and I tried to communicate to both shooters which coyote to take. The coyotes wouldn’t stop running in and disappeared behind a small ridge. Soon one popped up at 150 yards and stopped. I was on him and Tyler squeezed off a round. A burst of dust and the coyote was charging away. Tyler narrowly missed him as he dodged and weaved his way out through the bottom. We all were amped up even though we were leaving empty handed.
Lets just say we were definitely heating up after a rough morning. To make a long story short, on our next stand we convinced a territorial female to come within range after 20+ minutes of calling. We used 2 distress calls, howls, barks, and pup distress. She even ate a field mouse seconds before Travis dropped her.
With 4 coyotes on the day we decided to wrap it up with one last stand. We were able to spot 2 coyotes out at 800 yards, but they just wouldn’t cooperate. We think they had spotted us walking in. We were able to coerce one into starting to circle downwind, but with light fading we couldn’t bring him in close enough. We had an awesome day though. Overall we saw 15 coyotes that day. We called 7 into range and killed 4. At the end of it all it turned into a very worthwhile trip. I was able to capture Tyler and Travis over the course of those 3 days and get all 4 kills on film so throw on the headphones, make sure it’s in HD and enjoy!!!
I hope you guys enjoyed the video and we look forward to creating more soon.
Winter has been more of a cold, dry spring. Trying to chase wolves a day at a time without snow has been difficult. The more we drive the more the rivers have been enticing me to bust out the fly rod and get back to swinging flies. In pulling together footage for a fishing highlight reel for 2011 I came across this fish Travis caught last year and thought I’d throw an edit together to get stoked to be back on the rivers soon. Check it out and drop by soon for more video from 2011.