Day 2 started with partly sunny skies and mild temperatures. After a wholesome pop tart and Clif Bar for breakfast we grabbed the fly rods and packs and hit the trail. We hiked about a half mile upstream before starting to fish. Again we found deep pools cut into the valley and surrounded by grey toothpicks. There aren’t a ton of amazing holes on this stretch of river, but the good ones are real good. After finding one of the largest log jams we’ve ever seen, we headed just above it and found our first hole of the day.
Prospecting this fine piece of water.
After some rock climbing to get down to the water I quickly was into a good rainbow. After untangling him from some underwater branches after a failed net job, I had my first nice fish of the day. Travis was above filming and things were looking good. Again we had to bushwack through the nasty dead burned timber and small growth pines to get back to the trail and head further north in search of fish. The mountains are sure unique in this area. Almost everything was burned out at one time and grey and black dead trees extend for as far as the eye can see.
Soon we were back down on the river. There’s so much dead water that it’s frustrating at times bushwacking only to see foot deep riffles for two hundred yards, but when you get a bend or small cliff to pool things up, the fishing always delivers.
Sure enough it wasn’t long until more fish were landed in the emerald water.
Unfortunately there wasn’t really any kind of hatch going on while we were there. The small fish were eager to smash a dry, but the 15″ and up trout had to be tricked with nymphs. I think areas like this are usually a few weeks behind schedule as far as the fishing is concerned, and just recently the main local rivers have just started to see some good hatches. I think the later in the summer you can go the better. Soon it was well past noon and we pulled off just before another great hole to cook some lunch.
We didn’t bring a whole lot of food on this trip. I think we both were taking in about 1000 calories per day. We definitely felt the stomachs shrink a bit on that meal plan. While the food was cooking I decided to blind fish the hole we were at with a golden stone/skwalla pattern. First cast and a rainbow absolutely destroyed my fly. The fish up here jump like crazy and this one was no different. I proceeded to drift the hole another 15 times afterwards but couldn’t get any other fish to rise. We sat back down, ate lunch, and then it was Travis’ turn with the nymph rig.
Of course the nymphs turned up a handful of fish. After about four minutes of fishing Travis finally hooked a good one that immediately jumped the entire width of the river and then back across. When I checked the footage I found out that our memory card had filled up just prior to the catch, d#@$! Oh well, shit happens.
We soon turned around and headed back downstream. After a few short casts I had one very brightly colored rainbow to show.
Around 6 o’clock we trekked back to camp and decided to fish the remaining holes below camp. The fishing was just ok as a lot of small fish seemed to dominate this water. And to top it off, we were almost out of memory, the camera batteries were on their last legs, and we were down to one freeze dried food meal, one pop tart and a Clif Bar. While we didn’t prepare as well as we could have for a longer trip, it was a great preparation trip for our 5 day Bob Marshall trip planned for later this month. Overall the fishing was amazing, the scenery was top notch, and the weather held out on us.
The next morning we hit the trail and headed back to the truck parked at the trailhead. We don’t have much to show or tell from the last day as we hiked a lot, fished mostly for fun, and had a full, dead camera. One thing is for sure though, I won’t be forgetting that day anytime soon.
Overall the trip was a success and we’ll be heading back next year for sure. This trip has us stoked for our 5 day excursion into the Bob Marshall. We’ll be filming a little short film up there, and it should easily be our best when it’s said and done. After that it’s straight into hunting season, and we have been shooting the bows quite a bit lately. And until next time, get out and explore Montana.
After a short hiatus from fishing we decided to jump back into the swing of things on the lower Clark Fork with our friend Trevor who runs flyfishingwest. The plan was to get a morning float in due to the fact that we needed to work that evening, damn jobs. We met out at Wheat Montana where I ordered a very tasty cinnamon roll to get things going in the right direction for the day.
Now I’ve never fished this stretch before, but the word is that streamers usually work best early morning. Well we didn’t have much success with that. After getting harassed because I had a “pike” streamer on and working through a few different patterns, we didn’t even succeed in getting a little nibble. Good thing I still had half of that cinnamon roll to eat. There was basically zero TOPWATER action. Apparently this term is for bass fishing only according to Trevor. We’ll probably use it till we die and soon were resorting to calling our bobbers buoys just to keep things a little edgy. We tried a variety of flies, I mean lures and got a few small, uneducated fish to eat. Overall things were pretty slow, and the most excitement came from Trevor yelling at us angry guide style, giving us casting and rowing lessons, and Travis taking a little gel coat off the Clacka. I pretty much had a grand old time in the back of the boat with the shirt off catching some Vitamin D. I let Travis and Trevor fight it out for fisherman of the day. Finally about 300 yards from the takeout Travis had his buoy go under and he set the hook on a nice rainbow. After some yelling and vigorous rowing we were able to land the small beast before we were swept downstream into some burly Class IVXVII rapids.
I guess that made the day better? I dunno I was to busy looking at stonefly nymphs that keep the trout happy.
Even thought he fishing was slow I’m sure we will be back. The lower stretch is know for it’s evening caddis hatches, and we’ll be down there one of these days trying to see what it’s all about and hopefully running into a few rising fish.
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.
So it’s been about two months since we made it on our yearly fishing trip up North near the South Fork of the Flathead River. This country is amazing. Finally we found time to get an edit done. Be sure to watch in HD.
To check out the original post with pictures and some backstory on the trip click here. In the future we’ll have a shorter ”highlight” style edit up to accompany this one.
Also, I just shot my first elk so be looking for an update on that next week.