Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Starting March 1st, the shop will be open for the 2012 season. Our hours will be 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Come by and check out the new products for 2012 including many the new fly patterns . The skwala hatch is just around the corner and the snow pack is looking great. I will also start posting updated fishing reports on the website at www.ospreyoutfittersflyshop.com Unlike some other sites out there, I don't exaggerate the hatch and give only honest reports. Here's to a great 2012 season and GOOD FISHN'!
Friday, December 23, 2011
|Donn's 24" monster...take not of the shoreline in the|
After being satisfied by catching some fish on dries, Donn immediately turned to the streamer rod. He refuses to nymph and will only throw streamers in the winter. They aren't nearly as productive as a nymphs, but there's always that opportunity for a trophy. He fishes streamers in the Kelly Galloup fashion; type 3 sinking line and light, articulated patterns. We covered several miles of water without even a chase. However, we did have a few false hookup's on rocks and sticks. We entered a long, deep run and suddenly Donn's rod doubled over. For an instant I thought he had caught another rock. Fortunately, I was proven wrong as the rod bounced and line peeled off his reel. Immediately I knew we had a VERY special fish. As we began to fight it everything slowed down and became very quite. At first the fish put his head down and bulldogged Donn. This is the moment when fishing from a boat becomes a team sport. If I were to let the boat be pulled down river by the current too much line would come off the reel. This would make it extremely difficult for him (or any angler) to control the fish and also a good chance of losing it. I struggled to hold the boat stationary as the fish held its ground (or I should say water). After a what seemed like an eternity, Donn was able to turn the fish's head and we slowly headed downstream. As he fought to gain line he applied opposite pressure to the fish. This is crucial in battling big fish. If the fish heads right you need to pull left with the rod, and vice versa. After about 200 yards, I spotted a soft inside run perfect for landing a fish. Although we both knew it was a monster neither Donn nor I, at this point, had seen the fish. As I eased into the softer water the fish was still about 20 feet upstream of us. Before he could coax the fish any closer, with a thunderous report, my oar blade hit the bottom. The fish although tiring, in a blink of an eye, rocketed out of the shallows and shot 100 feet upstream. With line screaming off his reel I pulled on the oars as hard as possible. Not only did I need to get the boat out off the bank, but as far upstream as possible. As soon as I got the boat in motion the wily beast spun 180º and charged downstream. I looked up at Donn's rod to see nothing; no bend and only slack, piled up line. As the fish raced past us, I got a good look at just how big it was. I felt like Sgt. Brody in the movie Jaws when the shark swims alongside the boat. With all the slack line I was sure it would be the last time I would see this particular fish. Fortunately, the fish gods were smiling. After what seemed like a lifetime Donn regained pressure on the beast. I quickly spun the bow of the boat downstream and began furiously oaring. We fought the fish for another 200 yards until I spotted another soft inside run. After some very tense moments, including when the fish swam completely under the boat while it was beached, we finally had the 24", 5 plus pound male brown trout in the net. On the Bitterroot River, this fish was, and still is, one of the biggest trout that has graced my net. I have seen bigger fish but they always have found a way to escape the net. My personal best is 23". On shore we relived the battle over a few celebratory beers . A great story for sure, but this only two-thirds of the journey.
|Notice anything familiar in the background shoreline? I'm|
standing in the EXACT same spot Donn was the week
Friday, July 1, 2011
Fourth of July weekend is now upon us and the rivers continue to rage. The Westfork and the main stem of the Bitterroot River are both flowing over 3 times higher than normal. There have been 2 fatalities in as many weeks; one yesterday on the Locsha River (here is the newspaper article link) http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_1b2815da-a324-11e0-acd8-001cc4c002e0.html and one on the Big Hole. They still haven't found the body of the guy on the Big Hole. The forecast is for temps in the mid 80's to low 90's. There will be a huge temptation to venture out on the river. BE SMART AND NOT A STATISTIC!!!!!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Life is measured by making right or wrong decisions in crucial times. One right decision can lead to a positive turning point in life and vice versa. For me, June has been a month of making some very hard calls. The Bitterroot River has been flowing at unprecedented levels all month. It was past flood stage two weeks ago and has now resurged to flood stage this week. Those of us who spend hundreds of days on this river each year have been predicting a big runoff, but no one thought it would be this prolonged. Even years with higher than normal snow pack, we are usually fishing by now. It is not just Montana that is shattering records for river flows. It seems every river in the country is swollen beyond its banks with no end in sight.
|Woodside Bridge Parking lot @ flood stage June 2011|
I started taking reservations for fishing trips in January. Like most years, they were primarily for the famed salmonfly hatch. I am always very leery of booking reservations anytime before the second week of June. Typically, even on big snow pack years, the third week of June is prime time. Not this year. I, and every other responsible outfitter, have cancelled all the days in June and may have to cancel trips into the first week in July because of high and dangerous river conditions. Many outfitters, including myself, have taken a huge economic hit in the last few weeks, but the cost could be much higher. When the Bitterroot River and the Westfork are flowing this high, not only is there no soft water to fish, but they become a playground for the grim reaper. Any guide/outfitter's NUMBER ONE responsibility is the safety of the client. When I am on the oars on a river I have two other lives in my hands. Getting my clients on fish comes second. I know an outfitter, who is reckless enough to be taking clients out in the last several weeks. He has placed the value of a few hundred dollars over his client’s life. When the Bitterroot River flows first peaked at flood stage a few weeks ago he had four boats "guiding" (more like surviving) on the water. After being told he had to guide for the day, one of the outfitter's main guides refused to do the trip due to safety concerns. He was immediately fired. At least the guide had the balls to make the right judgment call. Once again this week when the flows peaked at flood stage he had clients on the Westfork. That isn't just reckless, it's plain stupid! Call me old fashioned, but I value lives over a few hundred bucks.
|Veteran's Bridge (the bridge formally known as Silver Bridge)|
@ flood stage June 2011
A few days ago one of my top guides, a good friend who fishes with me a lot, and I test floated the Westfork. At that time the flows were 1,600 C.F.S (Cubic Feet per Second) @ Painted Rocks Dam and approximately 4,000 C.F.S after Nez Perce Creek. All of us are VERY experienced oarsman and spend at least 200-250 days a year on the river. However, we had never been on the Westfork when the flows were that high. To say upper end of the Westfork (above Nez Perce Creek) was challenging is like saying surfing triple overhead waves is a challenge. This part of the Westfork is littered with snags, sweepers and strainers. Any false move here and you are dead for sure. Once we got below Nez Perce Creek the flows jumped to 4,000 C.F.S. or more-then the water gets squeezed into the canyon. Where there were once rocks exposed a few feet, on normal high flows, there were now standing 6 foot waves! We were quickly in survival mode. Ever corner the person on the oars had to set up for at least 300 yards in advance. If your hands slipped off the oar, the oar hit a rock and popped out of the oarlock or the boat hit something underwater that was unseen.......game over! After the day was over, all three of us agreed that we were scared in the canyon. Not deer in the headlights, panic mode scared, but the feeling you get in your stomach knowing that one tiny mistake would be our last. If someone accidentally fell into the water there would be nothing that could be done. I don't care if you have a life jacket on and could swim like Michael Phelps; death would be inevitable. There would no rescue only body recovery.
|The view looking north from Victor Crossing Bridge @ flood|
stage June 2011
So here we sit with the water continuing to rage with no end in sight for the near future. I don't like sounding like a Debbie Downer but the threat of a fatality on the Bitterroot River in the upcoming weeks is a grim reality. There has already been a fatality on the Yellowstone River, the Lochsa River in Idaho and just two days ago one on the Big Hole River. July 4th weekend is right around the corner and I'm hoping for snow. At least it will keep everyone off the river. When alcohol, high water and people being on the river that shouldn't be are mixed, it becomes a death cocktail. Please use good judgment out there. The river and fish will still be there in a couple of weeks when it is safe. DON'T BECOME ANOTHER STATISTIC!!!!!
Monday, May 9, 2011
I know, I know, it has been a long time since I have posted a blog. I apologize but it has been a crazy and very busy spring. I guided more days this skwala season than any other. To everyone who came out, I thank you for making it my best early season yet. There were some really good days of fishing this spring, despite the crazy weather. There were some big fish landed, and as always, some very big fish that got away; that's fishn'. Before I go into battle stories of guiding and fishing, I would like to rant about an issue that has recently surfaced.
Apparently, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) thinks there are too many big fish in the Montana's streams and rivers. They are proposing increasing the kill limits on brown trout for the 2012 season. Of course, I can't find out exactly how many brown trout will be allowed to be killed each day. Before I go into my rant I want to give you some facts on how FWP has mismanaged some of our local fisheries. I'm not trying to demonize FWP, they do some great work. However, they have dropped the ball on several occasions and like any governmental agency they need citizen oversight and input.
|20" Beaverhead River brown; Approx age 18 years|
- In 1984 FWP introduced mysis shrimp into Flathead Lake to "increase food supply" for the Kokanee salmon. However, the salmon eat plankton. Mysis shrimp also eat plankton and have out-completed the salmon. The salmon fishery has all but vanished!
- In 1985 FWP decided there were too many large RAINBOWS in the Big Horn River and increased the harvest limits. The very next year the damage was evident and the Big Horn turned into a brown trout fishery. Since then, rainbow populations have recovered but more large brown trout prevail due to FWP's war on rainbows. Ironic, isn't it?
- In the late 1980's Rock Creek made an unprecedented comeback and boasted over 4,000 fish per mile. FWP immediately increased the kill limits on Rock Creek and in just a few short years the fish population crashes to less than 2,000 per mile.
|Les Vance with a 22" brown trout; Approx. age 20 years old|
|Matt Hayes with a 19.5" brown; Approx. age 18 years|
|20" Blackfoot Loch Levin brown trout (very rare); Approx age 18-20 years|
|Freddy Bensch w/a 23" brown; Aprrox age over 20 yrs|
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Well I finally joined the modern age and set up a twitter account. If you wish to follow it is under ospreyoutfitter http://twitter.com/#!/search/ospreyoutfitter I am guiding the rest of the week. I am also in the process of composing a new post on the current proposal by Montana FWP to increase the kill limit on brown trout. This is outrageous! If, like me, you see this as a war on brown trout please write them a letter voicing your opinion. Look for more to follow.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
|Tommy at home by the campfire|
|I will miss these times and only wish I had more of them|
|A great man and musician. RIP Tommy Sagan|
I am sure the music in heaven has gotten much sweeter and more colorful. I picture him sitting around a campfire entertaining the angels. I bet he has even got them singing along with him by now. I will dearly miss his company and songs around my firepit! My you rest in peace Dickhead (Tommy's term of endearment). Save a spot for me around your firepit up there. I love you and goodbye.