Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunday with Mike Doughty

I met up again with Mike for Round 2 of pike fishing here in the Flathead. I took him to Lynch to fish the lily pads and we were into fish right away. His second fish of the day wrapped him around some lily stems and then raced out of the hole like a train. I got a good look at the fish, looked to be a ten pounder. Unfortunately, it broke him off at the steel leader. Never seen that before!
The rest of the morning was good and we caught some nice fish up to 28".

We then went and checked put Horseshoe, but no bass to be seen, and the Tiger muskie weren't gonna be fooled either.
Headed to lower Thompson, and after some initial effort, things picked up around 7 pm. We boated six or seven really nice fish. It was good to both start and end the day with fish this time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A mouse, from a pike's belly, who was caught on a mouse pattern.

This once was a 24" pike. Now he's my friend Jon's dinner. Opening his stomach, I thought it was a large ass wad of dragonfly nymphs and leechs. Nope. Fuckin 5 inch mouse.

Another from this morning

I fished a rabbit muddler this morning, stripping it just under the surface like a swimming mouse. It is so freakin' fun to see the wakes coming!


Lotta action in the lilly pads this morning and yesterday. The action seems to taper around 11. Pics from Sunday's epic journey with Mike Doughty to be added soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fwd: Prop Bunnies

I forgot I had a package of propellers, so I finally made use of them.
Tail:  First, slide on the propeller blade and the bead.  Then, tie in two, three inch 20# monofilament pieces for your weedguards  Then, flashabou and crystal flash with five inch bunny tails.

Body:  (Optional, add lead wrap), one turn of the tail's bunny, and three turns of the head's bunny.

Head/collar: flashabou and crystal flash with a large bead.  Before whipping, tie in the weed guards.  Add epoxy to whip finish, and then smoosh back the bead so that the bead dries on top of wraps and creates a gap between bead and the eye of the hook, thus creating an 1/8" gap for the propeller to do it's thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rare sunny morning

I LOVE deer hair flies!


Wednesday was spent catching perch, so nothin worth posting there. But Thursday was spent pike fishing on Lynch. This lake continues to put out bigger fish than what I had been catching in years past. Known for 16"-20" pike, eager if not near-sighted to the popper, this year I have caught several 22"+ fish.
I also had one flash on the fly that looked significantly larger. It makes me wonder if the way that I am fishing it is actually limiting me to small fish. Maybe stripping bunny flies in bigger water would find larger fish...


I spent most of the morning casting big flies and sinking lines to the tiger Muskie I was spotting in about four feet of water, just off the shore. Nothin doin' as usual. It's amazing how I can literally bounce a giant bunny fly off the side of one of those monster fish, and they don't budge. They just look at me, and seemingly say, "You're an idiot".
Bass on their redds makes for some fun, though. Not necessarily ethical fun, but...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away!

We've been having miserable wet and cold weather lately, our lakes taking forever to warm up, and flooding everywhere. But in between last week's downpours I got out to fish one of Lost Prairie's lakes. This particular lake is full of 16-20 inch pike and it is usually all day action. But this day was slow for my friend Chris and I.
However, this 24 inch esox fell for my mouse pattern on the very first cast! It's also my largest fish out of this lake.

Pike: Underwater Grey Wolves

Nothing gets a conversation livened up like bringing up wolves amongst locals here in NW Montana.  If you're lucky enough to see one up close, it's the encounter of a lifetime, and it still makes me feel good to know that they are once again amongst us.  But I can also imagine how disheartening a rancher would feel seeing the wolf-eaten remains of his livestock at his feet.  So I try not to weigh in on the subject any more than I have to.  I'm glad they're here, but I also feel that they should be managed like any other wild animal.

Pike, too, are controversial, particularly among trout fisherman.  In a state like Montana, one of the last areas of the U.S. without hatchery trout in our rivers, we take a lot of pride in our trout fishery.  I moved here over 15 years ago to fish for trout (and go to college, if my parents ask) because this was the trout state.   Back in about 1997, in Missoula we were hearing reports of pike under the (now defunct) Milltown dam.  We raised our beers in unison and agreed we needed to "Kill 'em all!!!", and many of us fished under the dam hard.  And caught little.  Later, we'd find out that only a few fish total had been found there.  It was the brackish waters downstream that held pike, not the turbulent trout waters below the dam.  Recently, pike have been found in several of the frogwaters on all of Missoula's streams.  But, like whirling disease in 1996, our fears have subsided.  Most fisherman know that pike don't take over streams, they don't put that big of a dent on trout populations, if any.

It then raises the question as to why we are not doing more to happily coexist.  Montana has never been a state with a Fish and Game Rules and Regs book that you need a lawyer to decipher the law, ( *cough* WASHINGTON! IDAHO! *cough*).  Our book is simple and most of the rules apply state or district-wide.  And right now, for the most part, it's kill all the pike you'd like.  That's just too bad, because pike are a game species, not a trash species.  North of our border, people travel from around the world and pay godly amounts of money to fish Canada's trophy pike fisheries.  Here in the Flathead, with the simplest C&R Only management, some of our lakes might be able to produce similar results. 

I know, I know, they're not native species.  Technically, here in the Flathead that is true.  The only native pike are those found on the east side of Glacier Park in the Belly River drainage.  That's 100 miles from my house.  But let's think for a minute.  Are rainbow trout native?  Nope.  Browns?  Nope?  Brook trout?  Nope?  Lake trout?  Nope.  Some of those fish are from entirely different continents!  So it's not really fair to make an argument against pike because they're from two zip codes away.  The management plan as of now is simply, and ignorantly, based on the presumption that pike eat trout, and trout are our preferred species.  Well fuck that presumption, and fuck trout as the preferred species.  I love trout.  I'm a TU member and pay my yearly dues (but forgo the snooty dinners).  I love to fish for trout, always have and always will.  But I also would like to have big, toothy, carnivorous, four foot long fish who love to chase my fly in the same neighborhood. 
And it is entirely possible to have both.

My first pike on the fly.

I caught this fish while trolling for trout in a lake just north of Whitefish, about 8 years ago.  I was fishing a black conehead wooleybugger on 4x tippet, a 15' leader, and a floating line, just jigging it parallel to the shoreline.  Luckily, it was hooked right in the corner of it's mouth and the line never crossed his teeth.

Well hell, look at me, I blog now.

The problem with starting a blog is that anyone worth listening to should be humble enough to not think they've got anything good to say.  And that's me.  I don't know shit.  Not worth sayin' anyways. But I like to fly fish, and there are some really good fly fishing blogs out there, and they seem like good guys, too. So I thought I would start a blog about the fishing here in the Flathead Valley here in NW Montana. 
There isn't much info about fly fishing in this area of Montana like there is for SW or central MT.  And that's because, honestly, the trout fishing sucks in this corner of the 406.  It doesn't suck like New England trout fishing, or New York or Pennsylvania trout fishing, (you know, the "birthplace of trout fishing" states).  It's actually really good compared to those hatchery fisheries.  But as far as Montana goes, this isn't Beaverhead or Missouri River kinda fishing.
So if you live up here, you either travel to float the Missouri, the Missoula rivers, maybe up north to Canada's Elk River, or we go in search of steelhead in Idaho and Washington.  And that's what my life looked like for many many years.  And then I got married, and getting away was harder.
But what the Flathead does have is warm-water species.  There's both large and smallmouth bass here, pike, and even a lake that was planted with tiger muskies.  And so a few years ago, I began making the conversion.  I already had all the big rods and reels from my East Coast striper days, and the flies, too, so that part was easy.  I love casting big rods and I love the chance of big fish.
So please bear with me as I learn to do this blog thing.  Hopefully this might lead to a greater source of information for fishing in the Flathead with a fly.