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!!
A couple weeks ago our awesome delivery driver dropped us a very nice set of boxes on our doorstep. The word “Orvis” on the outside let us know that some killer products were finally here. At last we had got a new set of rods and reels, specifically the Orvis Helios 2 5wt and 7wt tip-flex rods and the Mirage II & III reels that lay packaged within those fine cardboard boxes. For the past few weeks we’ve had plenty of time out on the water with these sweet setups and they’ve gotten off to a hot start.
Upon receiving the fly rods, the first thing I noticed was the beautifully crafted carbon fiber tube that safe guards each rod. I could now safely run over my fly rods tubes with a monster truck. Both rods are 4 piece, 9ft fly rods. Zack and myself feel that in order to truly fish Montana rivers to the fullest, you need a dry fly/nymph rod and a streamer rod, hence the 5wt & 7wt selection. Some holes are just too tasty to not have a streamer rod ready to go, and we find ourselves leaning towards the addicting streamer game more and more. We assembled the Mirage reels into the beautiful Helios 2 reel seats. Now these setups are sexy to say the least and not only perform great, but look badass. We are far from gear snobs. If it doesn’t function then I don’t want it, but I’m always ok with an upgrade. The setups we are rocking are as follows:
As soon as I strung out my first cast with the 5wt, the whizz I could hear of the line shooting through the guides put a smile of my face. These rods can shoot some line! Not to mention the swing weight of the 5wt makes casting effortless. Either that or I have been hitting the gym way too frequently. The tip flex, fast action suits my fly fishing style well, allowing me to cast extremely accurate and makes mending line a breeze. I have never felt like I have had this much control over my fly line.
Now on to the 7wt. Over the past year we have realized our addiction to streamer fishing, even more so when your swinging your own hand tied flies. The tug truly is the drug for us. Most people don’t know the caliber of trout we have here in Montana. There are some large fish that can really pull some serious weight.
The 7wt is a streamer chucking beast. One back cast and you can send a streamer across the entire river. Power, finesse, and control all come to mind while handling the Helios 2 7wt. Bull trout, big rainbows, and angry browns are the target fish when stripping streamers, and the 7wt got to test its strength against all these trout species during our test. With the 7wt you can handle everything from light to heavy streamers. Not to mention you can really move large fish and keep them from downfall when needed. Below are some of the fish taken via the Helios 2 on just the first day out.
Both the 5wt & 7wt were outfitted with black Mirage II & III reels. The light-weight aluminum Mirage reel uses the same technology as the brakes on fighter jets. Is it absolutely neccessary? No, but it’s damn nice if your in the market for a new reel and they look so good your bound to get a few numbers when the bikini hatch hits. It also has a positive click system which I thoroughly enjoy. Being able to set my drag accordingly and quickly is a great function of this reel. The Mirage is unaffected by saltwater, dirt, garb, and grime, making it an all-around bomb proof large arbor reel.
If your looking to upgrade your fly rod, make sure to at the least test a Helios 2 if there’s one at your local shop. I’m sure you’ll fall in love. Also be looking for the Orvis Helio 2 & Mirage reels in our upcoming short films. We recently filmed an all-streamer video, but unfortunately our SD card failed on us and the data was unrecoverable which totally blew. We’ll be out with the camera in tow soon and be sure to follow us over on Facebook and if your on Instagram look us up @montanawild. Cheers!
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday was the end of the 2011 Montana archery season. I’m not too stoked on that. It’s going to be a quick transition from bow to rifle and this morning I drove north to pick up some rounds from my Dad for my 6×284. With only a few days to make sure the rifle is still on it was a task that had to be done. On the way home we decided to dust off the old fly rods and swing some streamers and nymphs along one of Montana’s many beautiful rivers.
The rivers this time of year are amazing. The fall colors pop and the fishing is usually superb. Today it started slow and never really got going to hot.
Travis hasn’t had the most amazing archery season so it was only fitting that he pulled in the big fish for the day. We finally found some slower water and got to searching the depths for an elusive brown.
Travis started it off with a small brown followed up with this fun sized rainbow.
Soon Travis was into another fish. This was a sizable brown but he was very camera shy. He slipped out of the net before the Nikon got a good look at him. Travis didn’t let it phase him. He kept dropping his flies into the right seams and loaded into an even bigger one.
Fall is a great time to catch those big browns that get ever so smart during the summer. Head out and try your luck. All it takes is one day on the river to make your season.
Soon we had to pack it up and head home to gather up our rifle gear and get to the range before sundown. Finally we got to the range and joined a full line looking to get their gear ready for the Montana big game rifle season.
My 6×284 was already pretty much dialed. I just tested some fresh rounds my dad had loaded and they flew great. Travis’ X-bolt 300 Win. Mag took a little finesse to get sighted in properly. After a few rounds and some scope adjustments we had her dialed in for opening weekend.
This next weekend we head to Havre, Montana to join up with our good friend Tyler McCann for some mule deer hunting. Let’s hope we see some big ones.
So today we traveled again in search of some fishing. River levels are at or around historic levels right now and the fishing is sure to be off for maybe even a month longer. This time of year is always a bust as the weather isn’t quite nice enough to hit the lake and the fishing is non-existent unless your on a lake or pond. We decided to test the waters at Ninepipes outside Ronan, MT. There’s some nice bass fishing there and we hoped to hook up on a few.
Well we got there and found out that the water in the main pond was way up. We waded through waist deep water and overhead reeds just to make it to the edge, and by then we were in so deep it was difficult to cast anywhere. I had hoped to film some bass but it just didn’t happen. I did throw together a little preview edit that should give you a feel of what’s to come throughout the summer.
Be sure to watch in HD.
With our limited time we decided to save it for another day and we headed into Ronan for a quick snack break. After filling ourselves with some delicious Hutterite cinnamon rolls we headed south to a stocked pond and knew it was only a matter of time before we had ourselves a fish.
We finally made it to “the pond” and got set up. This pond holds up to 15 pound rainbows. They are fed daily and it gets pretty intense when they all swarm the fish food.
Fortunately we came prepared with fish food imitation flies. The trout would endlessly come up and almost nose our flies before swimming off. We finally tricked a few and landed some nice fish. Travis switched over to a streamer and caught this average size rainbow.
Shortly after the fish were fed and they went ballistic. Soon I tricked a great cutbow on my fish food fly and landed the largest trout of my life. Travis was slightly brain dead and the camera was way overexposed but you can get an idea for the size of fish still. I figured he was a good 5 pounds and he wasn’t even close to the big ones we saw.
Eventually we left as we both had to work that night but it was good to feel a fish on the end of the line again. We also put together some shots of us behind the scenes when were just being us.
That wraps it up for today. We might be trying some predator hunting soon if the weather and rivers don’t shape up so be sure to check back.
Alright here is an edit that I did for my final project in one of my editing classes. All the pictures were taken from a GoPro HD. The video depicts our lifestyle here in Montana. Enjoy.