This time of year the daily morning coffee routine requires a quick examination into the Internet side of the fly fishing world. Blogs, social media outlets, the weather forecast, and most ...More
This time of year the daily morning coffee routine requires a quick examination into the Internet side of the fly fishing world. Blogs, social media outlets, the weather forecast, and most importantly snow pack all have special tabs for quick access on the browser during the winter season. In reality, checking the snow pack on a daily basis isn’t something that demands our attentive observation every morning, but the desire for a great water year is enticing enough and it keeps our anticipation levels high for the season to come.
It’s almost as though checking in frequently will somehow contribute toward the positive outcome of our weather pattern, even though we all know it’s completely out of our control. Luckily, as of now we are looking great in the northern Rockies and most of our watersheds in Montana are well over the 130% mark. The green and blue colors on the image to the right are what we like to see for good summer streamflows and with more snow on the way this week it will only get better. This is all great news and bodes well for the fishing season ahead.
It is also important to remember that although Mother Nature has been gracious to us this winter in Montana, we are still only part way though our snow year and it’s still too early to be sure of how exactly it will effect our fishing season. For now everything looks fantastic, but we still need cooler early spring temps to hold the higher elevation snow as well as a good rain period in May and June.
The best thing to do in the meantime is keep our fingers crossed for continuing optimistic conditions and finish up that cup of coffee early. It’s time to strap on the skis or snowshoes and make fresh tracks in this abundance of frozen fluffy water the trout will be using later in the summer.
As I write this short fishing report, snow is falling outside and the feeling of winter is definitely still here. However, this past week some tolerable weather was enticing enough for my ...More
As I write this short fishing report, snow is falling outside and the feeling of winter is definitely still here. However, this past week some tolerable weather was enticing enough for my semi-hearty soul to make a trek out to the Missouri, paying a visit to several trout I haven’t seen since October. Even though surrendering to the overwhelming call of a warm couch and binging another season of Stranger Things on Netflix is tempting, the feeling of a bent rod seemingly made sense in the face of cabin fever.
The good news is those trout I haven’t seen since fall are still thriving and seem pretty happy. They are still facing upstream, eating properly presented flies, and put on a show after the hook set. Overall the fishing has been exceedingly good and at times it feels just as fantastic as our spring fishing. A few slower spells on the water remind me it’s still January, but just being on a river this time of year and enjoying some solitude is worth the trip.
Aside from having the entire river to myself, I’ve really been enjoying some wade fishing while swinging flies with the two-hander. There is just something about the rhythm of spey casting and holding on to a tight line while waiting for the grab that keeps me wanting more. And since I’ve added a few new lines to my trout spey arsenal it’s been a blast testing them out on a few of my favorite winter runs. Luckily, the fish have been willing to take a swung fly and when the conditions align they are very active on a slowly fished streamer.
All the while, things are shaping up for a good season. We have snow building in the mountains and lots of hungry trout waiting for the first big hatches of the year. It has been enjoyable getting out and checking in on our local water, but frozen toes and cold hands have me longing for Chaco tan lines and wide brim hats. I can’t wait for the warmer part of the season to kick off.
I read an article recently that used an acronym I had not seen before; T.O.W. Time On the Water. It immediately resonated with me. In a life of fishing and guiding, your time spent on the water is ...More
I read an article recently that used an acronym I had not seen before; T.O.W. Time On the Water. It immediately resonated with me. In a life of fishing and guiding, your time spent on the water is the defining characteristic of your existence. In other spheres they call it field time, and at NASA I imagine they call it space time. It's about immersion to the point of heightened observation. Maybe pure observation.
Nothing makes up for time on the water; no Yeti cooler, no Orvis H3 flyrod, no Hatch reel. Nothing will save your bacon if you haven't put in your days and made the observations necessary to produce in the moment. I have tested this theory and found it to be true time and time again. You can get lucky here and there, and it helps to be fishy, but there is no substitute for having been there before, and acting like it.
On my home water, the Missouri River, life gets easier when you pay attention with your time on the water. Fish tend to rise in the same spots day after day. They like to eat flies presented a certain way more than they care about the fly pattern.
Bugs tend to hatch in the same stretches of the river. They like to do it in rhythms that can be predictable. Other anglers and floaters tend to be predictable too, and finding the elbow room you want for good fishing is usually just a matter of timing and patience.
Tendencies become truths once you've observed them enough times, and then you can make better fishing plans based on them. Of course the most important thing time on the water can teach you is the simplist - nothing is guaranteed, expect the unexpected, prepare for everything and keep logging your time.