Early Sunday morning we loaded up the truck, and headed to Bozeman. The wind gusts pushed us east along I-90, and we sailed through bursts of snow and rain throughout the drive. It looked like we might be in for a cold couple of days of filming & fishing. Just before noon we stopped to fish a small stretch of the Clark Fork. The wind gusts and freezing temperatures made for slow fishing. We felt a couple tugs and even managed to fool a few small browns on a Parachute Adams before loading back up to finish the roadtrip to Bozeman.
We finally arrived at the Simms headquarters, and met with the rest of the filmmakers. All of the filmmakers were super friendly and cold PBRs were spread throughout the room. After a half an hour of chatting and waiting for the guides to finish piling in, it was time to get to business. The guides drew names out of a hat to decide who they would be filming with and we were paired up with Dan “Rooster” Leavens. Zack and I didn’t have the slightest clue who Rooster was, but we would spend the next 3 days filming his every move and learning the ways of the Rooster.
The next morning our 4:50AM alarm rang out, ducks quacking for me to awake. Zack and I gathered our gear scattered on the hotel floor and headed out into the cold, windy, snowy weather. Our destination was Twin Bridges, and we hoped we could get some early morning shots before meeting with the Rooster.
After a bitter cold morning of filming, we threw our frozen boots into the truck to de-thaw and finally made it to our destination, the Stonefly Inn & Outfitters. Rooster had coffee ready for us, and we sat down and talked for a good hour about hunting and fly fishing. We soon found out that Rooster had been sick throwing up all night. He blamed the pizza he ate the evening before and to compound the issue, his wife was also sick. A bug was going around, and we crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t be hit with the unfriendly sickness. Rooster was feeling better fortunately, and decided that not the weather nor the sickness would stop him from fishing. We grabbed Willy the chocolate lab, loaded the truck with camera gear, and finally made it to the river.
The morning consisted of a bunch of small browns and frozen fingers, leading us to move locations. That afternoon, the sun finally started to peak through the clouds. We got back onto the river and it wasn’t long before Rooster hooked his first nice brown trout of the trip. About an hour later and a few fly selection switches and a boss trout was hooked up. At first we didn’t know what it was, but as the fish came to the net, it was a nice 2-foot rainbow!
The rest of the day Rooster reeled in multiple nice fish and the vibe quickly began to swing into our favor. With a couple browns weighing in around the 20″ mark and a rainbow pushing 24 we called it a wrap for the day as Rooster had to go home and take care of his wife and children who had been fighting the sickness. Family comes first, and we had no objections to Rooster heading home before sundown. Zack and I spent the rest of the evening filming around town and captured some late afternoon timelapses.
Zack and myself stayed up until 2:30AM organizing our clips from Day 1, making sure we were on top of our game and ready to start editing the film the following evening. We got a few short hours of sleep and immediately were back up and firing up the cameras. We finalized our storyline with Rooster and moved over to the fly shop. After a broken fly rod, an obnoxious customer call, a spilled box of flies, and a flat tire, it was finally go time. Rooster started the morning drive to the river by saying, “can’t show the lions on the first day boys”. Little did we know he was not lying about “showing the lions”. Rooster proceeded to catch fish after fish consisting of large browns and chromed out rainbows. The footage was stacking and the shots were being logged. Rooster was starting to put on a show that any fisherman would appreciate. Helping us for the day were Rooster’s guides Gray, Bubba and Dave who added more punch to the fish fight.
With plenty of solid shots stored in the camera, we decided to hit some new water to finish the day. Rooster made his way below a small bridge and proceeded to catch fish after fish, throwing low, precise casts into the money spot. It was a truly remarkable sight, with the Stonefly guide peanut gallery watching the show go down from the bridge above.
We wrapped up the day with dry fly eats on chernobyls, brown trout to the face, and an amazing steak dinner. From here on out it was coffee, Monsters, and no sleep. This was a chance that we had to take full advantage of. You are not given opportunities like the Simms Shoot Out very often and we were here to win. This was our chance to show that we can run with the best in the biz and we began the long process of crushing two days worth of fish into a 6 minute film.
Before we knew it the film was in its final stages of production. The sun was rising and Rooster was waiting to check out the latest cut of video. Rooster gave us some final input and before we knew it the video was exported and we were driving to the Simm’s headquarters to turn in our film.
We relaxed the rest of the day and fished a local river the following morning with our friend Tom Urell. The streamer fishing was hot, with fish attacking the streamers most of the day. No monsters were brought to the net, but we had a blast fishing the local Bozeman holes. Later that evening we watched all four submissions of the Simms Shoot Out at the Ellen theater.
After the films kicked off it was a nervous half an hour before I saw the Montana Wild logo flash up on the backdrop and the rest is history. We had won the Shoot Out!!!!
We spent the rest of the night celebrating with new friends and somehow managed to not spend all $2,000 at the bars. We woke the next morning, packed our bags and headed back to Missoula. That evening we found ourselves hiking 6 miles back into the backcountry…. Be looking for our next blog post about Stan’s amazing bear hunt.
I wanted to give a big shoutout to Dan “Rooster” Leavens for being such an amazing guide and host, and Dana Leavens for letting us steal Rooster for a couple days and allowing us to sleep at the Stonefly Inn. Dan loves to fish and he has a great family and group of guides. Thanks Bubba, Dave, and Grey for your antics and not so helpful music suggestions. We hope we can work with Dan in the future and hopefully the friendship we made will last for a very long time.
Below is our winning submission to the 2013 Simms Shoot Out!!!
This past week has been quite memorable for us here at Montana Wild. Thursday we debuted our Simms SHOOT OUT film Bent at the Ellen Theater in Bozeman, MT. Montana Wild came out on top and we cannot wait to share our film! Be looking for the film to release here on our website in the next couple days.
The next morning we headed back to Missoula to meet up with Stan for a 3-day bear hunt. That evening we packed into the backcountry, spotting a large bear about a mile off. We closed the distance, and watched as Stan took his very first black bear ever.
On Sunday Brandon and myself decided to do a little fishing, since we already had a bear down. The fishing was absolutely jaw dropping!!
Be looking for a bunch of blog posts over the next couple of weeks. We will be giving the low-down of our very exciting week!
Also a heads up to those who were planning on attending the Hunting Film Tour. The event dates have been moved back to August. Be checking back for updated information.
I checked the stream flows via the USGS site after a week filled of stressful days in front of my computer. The past week had been full of blazing warm and sunny conditions that I had failed to take advantage of due to deadlines. I was now left with only one glorious day to fish. Regardless of the possible tsunami mud conditions, Zack and I took off in search of some big fish.
As we started our drive, the rain splattered against my windshield consistently reminding me that it was once again spring in Montana. It was going to be a full blown day of Gore-tex and streamers. We crossed our fingers as we made our trek to the first hole…. hopefully the chub hatch was going off today.
I shook the cobwebs off my fly rod and it wasn’t long before I felt my my line go tight after a couple slow twitches with my streamer. A little brown ball of fire had latched onto my fly, and I had my first fish of the day. I continued to hammer the banks, bouncing my streamer off the pale grass on the adjacent bank. Bam! I detected another tug, and once again felt that head shake that I have come to love.
Zack and I hooked into a couple small German browns, before we were hit with a Montana rain storm. The weather didn’t stop us from dropping streamer bombs. I found a grassy bank that overlooked a good stretch of deep, calm water. I made a perfect cast, landing my streamer on the bank and stripping it back into the water. Three strips and I felt my line stop dead in my hand. I strip-set and had a beautiful brown running for cover.
This year has really been my break through year with streamers. I have finally mastered some really productive patterns, and today these patterns were really getting the trout’s attention. Zack and I continued another 200 yards downriver. I brushed the drops of water off my pack, only to notice Zack had a sizable fish hooked downriver. Another beautiful brown trout, hungry for the home-grown streamer.
Green, purple, white, black, and tan streamers were producing fish. The rainbows were finally putting streamers on their list of preferred foods, but the browns were truly on the prowl. Once again Zack hooked into a flying brown trout. To see an +18in brown trout jump four times is pretty remarkable. This fish did just that and did not want to spend any downtime in our Larkin Works net. Too bad the trout didn’t have a choice.
All this action boosted our confidence, and Zack released this amazing brown, only to call out “I’m going to catch another one out of this same hole”. I grabbed the camera, and 1st cast Zack had another respectable brown trout.
We made the long walk back to the truck. What an amazing day! Our spring has been outstanding, and the fishing has been phenomenal. We have a big week coming up. We hope to see everyone at the Orvis “Down the Hatch” film event here in Missoula, Montana at the Wilma on Friday. The films start at 7pm and there are tickets available at Grizzly Hackle. All of the proceeds will go to Montana Trout Unlimited. We hope to see you all there!!
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.
Missoula is an amazing place to live. There are very few cities where you have access to multiple fisheries within 30 miles of your home and actually would want to live. Warm sun and rising temps have been making their occasional appearance, and with this year’s early signs of spring comes amazing fishing.
Zack and I have been busier than usual, not allowing us to get many days on the water. Between school, work, and planning some big projects, we are lucky if we make it to the river once a week. Although our days have been minimal, we have managed to land more big fish than ever before. I myself am having a record book year, landing 3 of my biggest rainbows to date. Our latest day on the water took us to the frigid waters of the west, and would be our first day testing some newly acquired gear.
We had just gotten a few fine products in the mail and we’re excited to break them in right. The Yeti Tundra 50 was full of the goods; beer, sandwiches, and cookies. After a mildly sketch drive to our location we saw the river and our emotions began to rise. Today would be the first day for us to break out the new rods and reels from Orvis and see if we could show them a good time on some of Montana’s finest waters. We put together the Helios 2 rods in weights 5 and 7 and pulled out a couple sexy Mirage reels. We’re not the kind of guys to get too picky over how nice or good looking our setups are as apparent by looking at Zack’s old Echo rod and Ross reel but damn these two Orvis setups look good. Function is priority number one and we quickly waded across to the far bank so we could get to casting. I had the 5 wt. with a double nymph setup and Zack was below me in the run with the 7wt and a streamer. On my second cast I saw my indicator dip and I was hooked up with a 26 inch rainbow. Yes, you read it correctly. My first hole, second cast with the new fly rod, and I was listening to the Mirage reel scream as I got bent over by a monster rainbow. Did I mention Zack hooked into a nice brown trout seconds later on a streamer? We were doubled-up and the circus had started. Zack managed to fight his brown trout and net my monster rainbow all at the same time! Crazy is right. Below is a sequence that Stan shot of the madness that went down.
^ Click for larger sequence ^
Zack managed to net my rainbow while still fighting a spunky brown. After a quick holler, I grabbed the net and quickly scooped up his seemingly small brown trout.
It was definitely a surreal moment. We quickly snapped a few photos of the two trout and sent the brown back on his way. It was time to pull the big boy out and preserve what may be my biggest rainbow for a long time.
He was a fine specimen and I felt truly blessed to catch such an awesome fish. Again this is another reason I love Montana, you really can catch steelhead here haha. We were off to a great start, and we didn’t stop hammering fish. The following photos speak for themselves.
To summarize our March day of fishing in one word, it would be stupefying. We brought a wheel barrow full of different trout species to the Larkin Works net (rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and bull trout).
The next day we received our new HDSLR. I don’t like to talk about it, but a couple weeks ago I dropped our at the time brand spanking new camera. The body cracked, but fortunately we had insurance. The bad thing is I had to send out our camera and we won’t be seeing it for over a month. We have some badass projects in the works over the next two months, and with no choice, I had to go broke funding another camera. Oh well, the investment continues. The next morning Zack and myself headed out for an early morning fishing/photo trip. We had to test out the new Nikon and see if the mojo surrounding the new rods and reels was as good as it seemed.
The temperature read 19 degrees as we left the truck. It was frigid and freezing and we had left our gloves at home. After about a half hour it appeared that some mojo still remained as I managed to hook a fat football of a rainbow. He was chunky and spunky, and gave our new camera the test we were looking for regardless of poor lighting conditions. We packed up our frozen streamers and headed back to Missoula, to slave away at another night of work.
Overall I can say I love the new rods and reels from Orvis. I never really thought a high-end setup would be worth the money that they often cost but I can say I was wrong. The way they cast is in another league and helps you get the fly in the right spot more often and a lot more easily. We’ll continue to try to sneak out over the coming weeks so we’ll have more photos and blog posts coming at you soon! Fishing is just starting to get HOT. We have a handful of awesome projects/films planned for this year. I cannot tell you how excited I am for 2013. God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.
Once a year you have a birthday. Yes, it’s just another day, but it’s always something you have to try to take advantage of and for Travis’ 24th we decided to spend the afternoon out on the river. The weather had stayed relatively warm, and we looked forward to a solid afternoon of hammering fish. Of course the thawing temps made for a slightly tricky and muddy drive into our location, but the tougher a spot is to get to the better the fishing.
As we geared up Travis decided that throwing up some birthday gang signs was the best way to let us know he was here to ruthlessly hassle fish all day.
After a couple fishless holes we finally got on track as Travis shined in true birthday form with a nice rainbrown.
Following a short fight Travis had his first trout in the net. It was a good looking fish, but there were more to catch and we pushed upstream.
Over the course of the next hour the fishing continued to progressively get better. Multiple fish were hooked from the same hole and even a birthday double was had by Travis and Stan.
Finally we reached a big deep hole that I had discovered last spring. It’s the perfect water for fish to hold in year round and the size and depth always makes it interesting to see what you can pull out of it. After a couple minutes of discussion and a few Pop Tarts, it was decided we would have a friendly fish off. Six casts and then on to the next person. I was up first. After five casts I finally remembered where I needed my fly to be and made my last cast. Mid-drift and my bobber (man that word sucks) disappeared. With the hookset of a bass fisherman, I had a nice rainbow locked up on the end of my line.
After a short fight I landed him and made sure he got his photo taken so all his fish buddies could see him on the internet.
Up next was the birthday boy. He proceeded to crip walk into the hole and hammer an even larger fish. Damn Birthdays.
That was the last good fish of the day and fittingly Travis had begun and ended our day on the river. It was a great day to spend with friends and a birthday that will be tough to top next year. We’ll be dropping a short fly fishing film soon that we filmed back on the 7th so be checking in. If you haven’t already be sure to give us a [LIKE] over on Facebook.
This past Sunday, as a crew of three, we headed out in search of some winter trout. Stan came along to help film second angles during this one day film mission.
The sun was breaking through the clouds when we arrived, bringing the daily temp to 33degrees. Perfect for January winter fishing! The river looked promising, flowing with ice cold blue water. The first hole was definitely holding fish, but there were no takers for the streamer setup. The nymph gang quickly produced a nice jumping rainbow, instantly re-energizing my passion for fly fishing.
We moved upriver, to the next series of curvy banks. Once again the holes looked like a breeding pool for large trout, but nothing wanted to bite. We picked up again and moved to the next section of slowly churning pools. I dropped in a cast, which was hit mid-drift. A nice cutthroat tore through the water. The fishing was starting to pick up.
Another couple casts and I hooked into my biggest fish of the day. This fish wasn’t going to get airborne, but he had a couple good power boosts throughout the fight, proving he wanted nothing to do with my net.
Zack and Stan recorded the usual Hollywood fish shots, putting our day to rest, as the sun started to sink over the horizon. Another day in solitude. Film mission was a WRAP! If you missed our post highlighting our video be sure to watch it now.
The following day we once again met up with Stan. The sun looked like it was going to make a strong appearance for the day.
The fishing once again started slow, but soon was heating up as we pushed into the afternoon hours. Stan pulled multiple healthy fish to the net. Proving the pat’s rubber leg was the fly of choice.
At one point we pulled +8 fish out of a single hole. We would occasionally hook into a nasty white dog, but for the most part the trout were feeding.
We shot hundreds of photos throughout the day, hoping to capture at least a few quality images to share and help spread the winter fishing stoke.
This last week we were again itching to hit the river. Our friend Anthony just got back from the nasty weather in N. Dakota, and we decided to let him in on the fishing we have been experiencing.
The brush in the river really makes for difficult making good drifts with nymph rigs, but that didn’t stop Anthony from pulling in fish. We all landed our share of fish, making the cold hands warm once again.
Most holes during the day were productive, with multiple fish wanting to take a subsurface fly.
It was yet again, another great day on the river. Being able to enjoy this caliber of fishing in January is amazing and one of the reasons I’m glad to call Montana home.
This past Sunday we hit the river for the first time in 2013. After about a month of no filming I felt like it would be good to just get out and film an afternoon of fishing and see what happened. We found a nice stretch of water and with the help of our good friend Stan Spoharski the cameras started rolling. By the time the sun began setting Travis had landed a few respectable fish and the day was officially a success. As this was the last week of my winter break I decided to bust out this edit and just see what came of it. As I started going through the clips I realized that winter fishing is very much about solitude. Travis and I decided to make a short video that is a bit different than our regular fly fishing films, but I like how it turned out and look forward to getting some amazing footage on the water this year. Enjoy, and as always please watch in HD with a pair of headphones.
Be checking back soon for a post about our recent winter fishing antics and our second hunting episode all dropping within the next few weeks!
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.
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.
Every summer we get urge to go fish in some of the most beautiful places Montana has to offer. This is the backcountry, a true wilderness. To top it off the fishing is pretty darn good. Travis and I decided to head out on a small camping trip that would take us far from society. With the weather questionable we finally pulled the trigger and loaded up. You only get so many days a year. We arrived at the trailhead around 1PM and knew we had a bit of a hike to get to our area. The trail was dusty and beat down with horseshoe prints and the occasional boot track. Every couple miles the horse tracks would get more prominent. To me this means little pressure on these wild trout. After five miles we made the last cross of the river before camp. We were sore and sweaty. The view of what was to come was a constant rejuvenatory.
We had one last push uphill push to make it to camp and get to fishing. We quickly got distracted again and decided to bag a few shots with the Nikon.
A lightly stylized look behind the lens of the camera.
In front of the lens.
Our Nikon sure is spoiled in what it gets to look at on a daily basis. After a few minutes of spectating, we made it back on the trail. The fishing was looking better and better and the effects of the 6 mile hike with 40lbs+ of camera gear slowly faded in my memory as fishing pushed its way in 100%.
Finally we found a nice little strip of grass next to the river, and we dropped the packs. We took the next hour to set up the tent and re-situate gear for some evening fishing. We had holes both upstream and downstream of the tent and the options were endless.
After changing into waders and piecing the fly rods together, we finally set foot in the river. We slowly headed upstream. The small fish were eager to smash a dry, and the bigger fish weren’t picky on what nymph we threw their way.
Slowly the river started tightening down and re-entered a mini-canyon full of small deep pools. You just knew where the trout were stacked up, and as long as you could physically make it to the hole you were landing spunky wild trout. That’s the thing though. There are no trails next to the river and moving up or downstream is difficult and sometimes outright dangerous. If you fall back here it’s going to be days until anyone comes looking for you. We encountered two channels of the river that had a knife edge of dirt between them. We made the right decision in not risking sliding down a hundred foot rock covered hillside and simply took the 20 minutes to go around to get upriver. Just before dark was starting to loom, we found a deep short pool under a small waterfall. It was only a few well placed steps away and Travis finally made it into position. A couple casts later and the rod was bent.
The sun soon crept too low to keep fishing, and we returned to camp. We even had company for the night. A curious mule deer doe circled our camp at about 20 yards as we were collecting firewood. Soon the smell of campfire filled the riverside and kept the mosquitoes at bay.
After cooking up a delicious meal of salmon pesto pasta we got to kick back and enjoy the fire. We were anxious to get deeper in the backcountry and explore some new water. We’d be hiking upstream from camp fishing the deepest holes we could find. I had a good feeling that the fishing 8 miles back would be pretty exciting. The water looked good, the fish were hungry, and the weather was looking nice.
We soon put out the fire and crawled into the tent. It wasn’t long before sleep hit and day one was a wrap. Day two was looking to be one we wouldn’t forget.
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.
If you missed our last post, Travis landed a very respectable bull trout on Sunday. It was the last fish of the day and his biggest to date.
The very next day we were back on the river. The sun was out but the temperatures were a touch lower than in previous days. Cold hands and iced up guides were about the only bad thing we had going for us though. The very first hole I hooked into another bull trout. Back-to-back bull trout on film in two days. I guess the fishing is pretty good right now. This bullie came screaming out of the water at me after I set the hook, nearly spraying me with ice cold water. After attempting to keep him in the tail end of the pool, he decided to run downstream. The chase was on and soon I was tangled up in my line with both feet. I shuffled about 200 yards downstream through continuous riffles trying to get close enough to net him. Finally, he tired and I got in front of him. He drifted into my net and I had my best bull trout to date.
We continued fishing without much luck and decided to switch spots. After a short lunch we were back on the river. I wanted to fish a couple holes within throwing distance of the truck, and figured I could tough it out in my sweatshirt and without gloves. A stiff breeze had picked up and it got miserable quick. I was about to pack it up when my bobber sunk under once again. I had another solid fish on and once again got run over attempting to land him. My fish landing abilities have been far from beautiful, but once again I made it work out and we had another solid trout in the net and on camera.
I landed a few more fish but nothing too exceptional. We picked up our gear and headed to one last spot as the sun dipped low in the west. The only thing we caught were more cold hands and iced up rod guides.
We have gotten a chance to log some solid shots so far this winter/spring. Hopefully we can pull in some more fish on film in the following weeks as we hope to make a short video highlighting the exceptional early season fishing of Montana.
Well it’s officially one year since we started Montana Wild. When we started this blog we didn’t know what we were doing or where we would take it, and its still not quite clear. One thing sticks out vividly though, and that’s all the good times we had doing it. I’m sure glad we did because we have a lot of great memories to look back on and had a lot of laughs along the way. I guess I did have a vision of where it would hopefully take us though. I figured that outdoor media was behind the trend of other adventure sports and what better way to make your passion into a career than to start documenting our escapades with photos and video. So far it’s working out, and I’m pretty excited with the progress and the quality of work we produced in our first year. We’ve made this a full time job and hope to not look back. We’ve already surpassed our short term goals and were setting the bar even higher for 2012. I think there’s been a noticeable progression since our first post and video. In the next week we’ll have a post up that gives a recap of our first year and how far we’ve made it.
Today Travis and I decided that we’d celebrate the first year by hitting the river in hopes of logging some shots. We left the house early and made our way to the river. The weather wasn’t ideal for filming or fishing, but we were set on making the best of it.
After a few empty holes, I finally had a trout succumb to my trickery. I could tell he was a good fish and he decided to take me for a ride. The river was small and he decided he’d had enough of that pool for one day. He slipped back into the rapids and I had to follow him back to the next small pocket of slow water. With all the downed logs in this river I had to keep him on the correct side of the river to actually get another chance to net him. After some awkward angles and a few tense moments I slipped my net under his fat belly and had myself a very respectable cutbow.
After a few camera shots we got him back into the water to be caught another day.
We fished the rest of the day and caught a healthy number of fish but nothing worth writing home about. Hey it’s another day on the river and another blessing to be counted. Tomorrow we’ll be back out and Travis is going to be running the rod and reel. I’ll be running the Nikon and hopefully capturing some moments to be remembered. Until then tight lines to ya.
Most every serious fisherman has a yearly trip. This trip was extra special, for our Dad was coming along with us on our 3 day trip. Our voyage takes us north to the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness to fish small rivers for native cutthroat trout. The country is wild and beautiful and a three hour drive put us far from any urban environment. We were able to get some great photos and some awesome video which we’ll have edited and posted soon so check back.
The first day found us fishing near our campsite which was settled on the riverbank. That morning we hit some holes that we had found last year and we caught lots of smaller fish.
Although we caught mostly small fish the first day, the scenery was more than enough to keep us smiling.
Day 2 started out with a search for fishable waters. We quickly found a nice stretch of river and started our way upriver. Right away our Dad (Eric) hooked up on a nice cutthroat.
Eric was excited to say the least, for this was his first time able to fly fish this summer.
As we continued upriver, we found what turned out to be one of our favorite holes of the trip. We all pulled nice fish out of this hole back to back.
One of the fish out of the honey hole proved to be a survivor of some sort of attack, for he only had 1 eye.
The fishing started to slow down, so we headed back to base camp to grab some food. Zack and I decided to make the last 3 hrs of daylight count and hit some bends and riffles close by.
I ended up landing this nice westlope cutthroat, which turned out to be our only trout of the evening. (Not to say we didn’t miss some hits)
Day 3- Our Dad headed home after a slow morning fish, which left Zack and I to explore more waters for our final chance at some fish before we headed out of town. We found a beautiful creek, and started casting some dries.
After fishing 3 holes straight with no sign of fish, we came upon a hole that showed some fish hitting top water. After snapping off a couple, we quickly started having luck and pulled in some of the biggest fish of our trip. We encountered a bear on the way and somehow managed a couple dozen mosquito bites and a pocket full of memories.
Last week Travis and I headed to the Blackfoot River to get in some fishing. We needed a nice reminder that fishing the Blackfoot on the weekend tends to be a boat parade. We saw a great bull trout but couldn’t get him to bite. We switched gears and hit a small creek which we’ll call “Cutty Creek.”
Soon we hooked into some nice cutthoats.
A small hike upstream and again we found more great, small stream holes. The fish slowly grew as we headed further on.
With the sun bearing down on us we soon decided that the mid-day heat was slowing down the fishing. We decided to call it a day and the river’s beauty left us wanting to come back.
Soon we’ll be headed up to skirt the Bob Marshall Wilderness and do some backcountry fishing for native cutthroat trout.
Well the day’s are getting shorter and that means summer is slowly leaving us for fall. Travis and I have been trying to get in some fishing in cause there’s only 23 days till archery season! Stoked. Anyways we headed up to the Blackfoot to get some fishing in.
If your ever looking to take a guide out around Missoula be sure to check out Doug Jones @ Clear Creek Outfitters. He’s a good friend of ours and always knows the goods. He said that the spruce moths were coming off in the mornings and sure enough we showed up on the river around 8:30 and they were everywhere. The fish were keyed in on them and we were surrounded by rising fish for a good couple hours.
A size 12 caddis did the trick, and I finally got in some fun dry fly fishing. The small fish were everywhere and it was tough to keep them off your fly. A couple good fish missed my fly, and I didn’t catch any fatties. Overall it was a fun hatch to be able to fish.
Travis and I set off down river and I milked a couple more fish to the net before we headed home.
A couple days later we were headed up to Holland Lake which is north of Seeley Lake.
The lake is fed by a small river which has a great waterfall just a few thousand yards up from the edge of the lake. It’s an easy mile and a half hike in.
On the way down from the falls we got to see a small black bear and he let us get about 50 yards from him.
After that we made it back to the Dodge and has a great feast on our tailgate. We were eating subway and drinking some Bud Light Limes next to a family going on what looked like a week long backpack trip. I don’t think those kids made it more than a couple miles before they dropped to their knees screaming at their dad. We rooster tailed out of there and headed to the lodge to rent a canoe. After three hours of canoeing, fishing, and swimming we headed back towards Missoula. Of course we had to stop and throw a few flies on the way.
Overall it’s been a nice relaxing week and next Tuesday were headed to the South Fork of the Flathead to do some fishing.