John and Terri pontificate on various topics, which sometimes includes fly fishing. Enjoy!
World travelers we are not – but we have been fortunate enough to fly south a few times, chasing fins across the flats and around mangroves. Typically we travel with the same group of lifelong friends because, like Montana weather, getting around in 3rd World countries is unpredictable and we know these folks will roll with whatever comes our way. Problem is our group’s interests are diverse and it has taken several trips to find a location that afforded activities for everyone. (Apparently fishing from dawn to dark doesn’t qualify as a vacation for some?) A couple years back we found such a place on Ambergris Caye in Belize and for the first time ever we went back to the same place for a second time.
Now I know why folks come back to Western Montana year after year – there is both anticipation and comfort that follows familiarity with a great destination. Our beach side cabanas felt like home and the delightful restraunt and bar staff were soon old friends. The same challenging big bones tailing in skinny turtle grass to the south and the larger numbers of migratory fish to the north greeted us again this year. And, like anglers traveling to our home waters, there was excitement in exploring new nearby honey holes. Treks to new haunts provided new species on the fly (the elusive ocean trigger fish), exceptional cuda (around four feet long) and plenty of bonefish.
With a wheels up temperature hovering around 85 degrees and touching back down close to 5 degrees, the transition back to Montana winter is brutal, but we are already scheming on a way to afford Belize again next year. Great friends, food, fishing and substandard beer… what’s not to like?
Living a lifestyle that most folks just hope to enjoy a week or two each year is pretty sweet. We answer hundreds of emails and phone calls each winter from excited anglers planning adventures to our “back yard”. What’s the weather look like? Any hatches expected? Which rods should we bring? Will the water be clear? Huh? We are fishing guides not fortune tellers! “Just get here – it’ll be great.”. As hard as we try to avoid the trap of complacency, our proximity to the nation’s finest trout streams lends itself to tripping headlong into it.
When we decide to float a river or walk a bank planning typically happens the night before or more likely, an hour out. Travel consists of a short drive out of town or even walking out the back gate, Gearing up equates to throwing tackle in the boat from its home in the truck. There is little time to get excited about the prospect of going (we do still get psyched about the actual fishing as we are able to do less every year).
I write this while Terri pilots our rig across the Wyoming plains headed to Denver to see relatives and then on a plane to Belize for the holidays. Visions of tailing bonefish dancing in my head… I am that angler mentioned above.
Do I have all the right flies – color, size, weight? We packed 9 rods/reels, 6wt-10wt, floating, sinking and intermediate lines, leaders for tarpon, permit, snook, bones and even cuda – feeling pretty good about the terminal tackle. Where in the hell is my Orvis order? New flats booties, coupla pairs of shorts and a Galeforce back and chest pack … Looks like our friends leaving later will have to bring ‘em for me. Scouring google earth produced some new flats and lagoons to explore, can’t wait to see what they hold! Will Hill be bartending at The Tackle Box Sea Bar? How many other anglers will we see? Are those local tarpon going to have lock jaw again? Is Dawson’s casting up the challenge? What will the weather be like?
This is great, this is exciting! No wonder we field so many questions, they are what transform a trip into adventure. I remember again the feeling of a youngster on Christmas Eve … Oh yea, I’ll be calf deep in turtle grass on Christmas Eve ; )
Today we received new gear at BRO. Simms, Orvis, and Montana Fly- stop in and we will outfit you like a pro.
Simms Rivershed Beanies in moss and black; we’ll hook you up with some MFC Hoppers, the fish can’t resist the attack.
We’ve stocked many sizes of the fish loving Purple Bob, even in our Orvis Casting Tee your arm may start to throb.
When the summer ends, we’ll keep you cozy in our Simms light downs…
Come see us at BRO before those fall run browns.
A coupla days back, I arrived at the shop in my usual 10minute late fashion to find my clients were licensed up and ready to go. Grabbing a handful of the new hot pink and silver worms (now known as the MaryKay special in light of the hot pink “lipstick” that all the fish have been wearing on their way to the net – but that is another post…) I noticed a new GLoomis 8’8″ 3weight rod along with an Orvis Access #3 reel and Rio 3wt line on the counter. “What’s the deal with this sweet set up?” Wadeboy informed me that my client Steve was buying the rig and that he aimed to spool it up later in the the morning. “Hold on, Steve is buying a new rod today and you expect him to fish it tomorrow?” That’s like buying a Taco del Sol burrito for lunch and eating it for dinner. Looks like we are going to be a bit later still. Ten minutes later the backing and line is on, new leader attached, pocket full of MaryKays in hand and we are on our way up to Bell Crossing on the Bitterroot.
A couple practice casts with the new rod – need to slow it down a bit in comparison to his Hydros 5wt – and Steve is hooked up on the first seam. And, its a good one! An 18″ rainbow with a similar taper to my calf rockets out of the river on the set and races across the river. The bend in the new 3 wt resembles that of a the old Ugly Stick advertisements – ya, the one with the tip bent right back down to the butt – as did the grin on Steve’s face. Ditto for virtually the entire day. We didn’t keep count but I suspect the new rod brought around twenty trout to net – most exceeding 14″. Way to train up your new stick Steve.
Oh, there are fish to be had. Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis is in town for the Orvis Guide Rendezvous. He is on the river today with John and our great friend Tim Linehan. They haven’t made it back to the shop yet, but John sent along this dispatch from the Bitterroot. As you may know, the local rivers have added a bit of water in the last 36 hours. We will make sure to get a report from all of the guides as they make their return. Some of the boys ventured up the Blackfoot, as well. Just remember that the high water doesn’t have to shut you down. Suck it up, get out there, and give ‘em hell.
By the way, Tom was Fly Rod & Reel’s Angler of the Year for 2011. We are happy to help in the early 2012 push to defend his title. Of course, I have heard that Kentucky coach John Calipari has some up-and-coming fly fishing kids on his payroll that might buy this title for the Wildcats, as well.
I started fly fishing over 25 years ago in my boyfriends old neoprene waders – huge, leaky, bit smelly and from the second I put them on I couldn’t wait until I could take them off. Waders have certainly traveled an evolutionary path over the years – culminating in Simms $700.00 “state of the art” man wader with accommodating fly zipper. Now don’t get me wrong, but how about showing a little love toward the ladies wader?
Throughout my fly fishing years, I have experimented with and owned many different types of waders – neoprene boot foots (warm, but almost always too big and incredibly difficult to walk any distance in), neoprene stocking foots (one “word” – blecht!) , chest waders – both neoprene and Gore-Tex (always too big in either the feet or length or both)….I even tried “hippers” once - I know…..Right? Finally Simms produced waist waders – I LOVED these…the feet fit perfect and since I never waded up to my chest (really, who does that???) they were perfect. What’s not to love about a wader that fit like almost like my comfy jeans while making much easier to pee outside too (that’s a whole other post)? After a few years of wear, my “waisties” finally started leaking and I think my “waist” also might have expanded a bit (shame they don’t make ‘em with that “room to grow” system that are in my kid’s pants). I needed new ones, but Simms stopped making the damn things……Seriously?
In the approximately five years since the demise of my beloved waders I still haven’t really found a pair that I cherished like those. I have a new pair of Simms womens G-3 waders with only a few days on them so the jury is still out. I must express my disapointment that Simms again builds a “waistie” (the G-3 Guide Pant), but they don’t have a woman’s taper and unfortunately their sizing continues to match the increasing size of the average American male’s waist line. I just wait for the powers that be in the wader world to come up with a GREAT pair of women’s waders. Real fishing women don’t want them pink, or lavender - no need for frilly bows or fancy webbing details – just a nice pair that fit properly and keep me dry….oh, and maybe make it easier for us to pee in the woods? Just sayin…..
BRO is pleased to announce that were offering our FREE fly fishing classes again for 2012. With all the news that folks are spending less and less time outside, we feel this is a great way to generate renewed interest in the sport of fly fishing. Whether you’ve never cast a fly rod or maybe ventured out a couple of times in the past few years, the Orvis Fly Fishing classes are geared toward every skill level and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon – better than the mall right? Right?
There’s no need to bring anything but a good attitude and lots of patience…..remember – it’s fly fishing!! In the 101 class we’ll focus on rigging and casting – simple basics to get you that much closer to becoming a self sufficient and successful angler. We are hoping to start these classes in May and run them through July. We will post dates as soon as we know them. To find out more, give us a ring or better yet, stop in…….keeps us from working! See ya on the water.
MISSOURI RIVER: The Mo has been fishing exceptional this winter! We were over there last week and killed it – taking fish on nymphs, streamers and even dries. Scuds rule here… Czech nymphs, hot bead czechs, pink scuds, orange scuds,lalalala… you might also try a worm or zebra midge if you become bored with the scud. Streamer swinging has produced a ton of fish as well – skinny olive bunnies are as good a bet as anything. Good luck! Questions about an upcoming trip or fishing in Western Montana? Call us at our new fly shop in Missoula at 406-542-7411 (open Monday-Saturday 9-5)
Have you been considering that 9’6wt Orvis Helios rod? Ya, the one you didn’t get for Christmas… the one you imagine yourself slapping streamers against the bank on the Blackfoot this spring with.
Yep, then reality steps in. There is just no justifying dropping that load of cash when your other 4 six weights leaning up in the closet are weighing heavier on your conscience than they ever did in your hand. They are nice… but not Helios nice.
Problem solved – wipe the dust off those other sticks, clean ‘em up a bit and bring them down to the BRO shop to be included in the Missoula’s first annual Fly Fishing Gear Swap. We sell the old gear, you get in-store credit for the new gear. If your gear doesn’t sell at the swap we’ll sell for you on ebay for the same deal… Where is the red button? “That was Easy!”
Mark your calendar for March 10thand bust out all that gear you no longer respect – !!