Wednesday, September 29, 2010

right place ~ right time

(this is a continuation of the previous post)

This was one fish that I wanted to land! I thought of how big the fish was when it jumped out of the water and that I had a truly barbless hook, but a big hook and I kept the line tight. Thank goodness I'd gone to 4X tippet. The fish ran and I was able to reel it in, then it ran again, and again. I wanted to get this one to the net so I took my time. But I don't like to keep a fish on the line for too long so I gently brought it in as quick as I could. I was so thankful Rick was the one netting it. I trust him more than anyone. I brought the fish close to the shoreline and he kept the net in the water inching closer to the fish from the tail. He quietly crept up on the fish and scooped it up! My adrenalin was racing! This was a huge fish! A fat fish! A beautiful brown trout!

The fisherman with the big camera was there and had photographed me while I was fighting the fish. And he'd gotten a couple shots of Rick netting the fish. He introduced himself as Phil Savoie and said he was a photographer. What? Thoughts were running through my head about getting some photos of this fish on our point and shoot Olympus and here was a photographer! What are the odds? Were the stars aligned? I'd finally hit a jackpot.

Phil the photographer 'set the stage' and encouraged me on how to hold onto the big fish. And it took me a while to get a grip on it. Usually I can get my hands around the fish, but this one was big and I didn't want to miss a few photos like this. Phil had said a couple times "What a hog! And you got it on a dry fly!" which seemed to increase my stress of getting the photos. I was anxious to get some good photos. Phil said to use one hand to hold the tail and the other hand to lift the front of the fish, but I couldn't get my left hand around the tail section of the fish! We all wanted to quickly get the fish back to the water so I tried and tried and finally we got some photos. Phil's camera was one of those powerful DSLR, a Canon I believe, and it took multiple shots at a time. Click, click, click, click, over and over. Unbelievable I kept thinking. What are the chances that a professional photographer would be fishing next to me when I landed such an amazing fish?!?! And such a nice guy!

We finished with the "photo session" and made sure the fish was healthy and ready to return to the currents. After we released the fish we started talking with Phil and asked how we could get copies of the photos he'd taken. He told us he would return in a few days and bring us a disc with the images. I'm still thinking "UNBELIEVABLE!" I asked how we could every repay him and he said "How about 3 PMD's, 3 crane flies and we'll call it even?" I opened my fly box and gladly gave him flies. Phil gave us a business card and told us he'd worked with National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Planet Earth, and many other networks and organizations. I had my Droid phone with me and as I was 'recovering' I looked him up on the Internet. He has an amazing website at where you can see many of the projects and films that he's accomplished. The next day he emailed me a few of the photos and said he'd return to fish with us in a couple days.

Phil had come from Bozeman to fish the river and although he wasn't working he'd brought along some of his photo equipment. In between fishing he was busy taking photos of bugs. Phil is also a biologist and was as interested in the bugs as he was in fishing. In fact, I think the bugs held his attention more than the fish. Rick volunteered to collect insects as Phil fished. As Phil packed up his equipment he gave me a preview of the 380 photos he'd taken of me and the big brown. I couldn't stop thinking "Amazing luck!"

When Phil returned a few days later he brought the disc with about 60 photos and we gave him a small box of more flies. He asked that if I post his photos on the blog that I give him photo credit since that's how he makes his living. I'm more than happy to do so. He told us about a huge fish he'd caught years ago while in England and that someone had taken photos of the record-breaking fish for him. He even showed us a photo of his very large trout. He said I was a nice lady and he was happy to help me. I guess all the years of me giving away flies, helping others to fish, and taking other people's picture was coming full-circle. For the rest of the morning Phil fished and I spotted rising fish for him. Rick again collected insects and Phil told us about some of his on-going projects and future plans. I'm still thanking my lucky stars that he decided to fish next to me.

It's what some would call the fish of a lifetime. I like to think I have a lot of lifetime left and more memorable fish to catch. Tight lines Phil! Hope to see you on the river again.

(all photos in this blog post are courtesy of Phil Savoie, © 2010 Phil Savoie

Sunday, September 26, 2010

big flies ~ big fish

We'd gotten to the river around 10 AM and Rick waded upstream. I stayed in my usual spot since there were a couple others on the river. Soon another fisherman came in downstream from me, not close, but a good distance away so as not to crowd. He was close enough that I heard him say to me, "the crane flies look like hummingbirds!" and I thought that was a good observation. I hadn't really seen many fish in the hour we'd been there, but I kept after it, hoping for a fish to smack the fly. I was fishing with a crane fly on a truly barbless hook, not a hook that had been crimped. Totally smooth, giving the fish a good chance to get off if I hooked one.

I moved upriver a few feet and kept looking for a rising fish, but saw nothing. Tossing the big crane fly causes my tippet to get twisted into knots. Every few minutes I have to stop to unwind the line and make sure the line is not knotted. I had finished out my tippet section with 5X, but decided to remove it and re-attach the fly to the 4X.

Although I didn't see fish rising on the surface, I knew where the fish should be holding. Not to be a know-it-all, but I've seen the river at low water (no water) and I know where the rocks are, where the deep holes are and the unseen snags. I've fished the river for years now and I can read this short section of the river. I was scanning left and right for a fish, but all I saw were crane flies - acting like hummingbirds.

Out of the corner of my eye, just upstream, I saw the smooth water swirl from underneath. There was no splash, it didn't disturb the surface. I knew it wasn't a swirl caused by an underwater snag. I knew it was a fish. It was in the current or feeding lane, a foam line and I turned slightly towards the swirl. There is a huge snag there, a natural place for fish to hang out and catch bugs floating by. I needed to cast upstream of the fish and avoid getting hung up on the snag. I gently tossed the big crane fly upstream of the swirl and to the near side of the current and let it float. Nothing. As it ended the drift I retrieved it and cast again, this time letting it float in the middle of the current. No false casting, just picked it up and laid it down. The big fly floated over the area and again nothing. I carefully gathered the line at the end of the drift and for a third time placed the fly at the far side of the current, getting it upstream of where I thought the swirl was, but not on the overhanging branches. Immediately the fly was gone, taken in a big slurp by a fish. No big cannonball splash, it just disappeared and my line flew to the right. I tightened up the slack by hand, getting the line on the reel and the line streaked off to the left. Then it stopped. I knew the fish had run underneath the big underwater snag. Then the fish came out of the water, jumped into the air giving me a view of it's broad side and I could see how big it was!!! And there was no further movement. The line was hung or twisted on the branches underwater.

What to do? I had the line tight on the reel and could feel the fish was still on the hook. I looked upstream and saw that Rick was watching me. He was quite a distance away and I motioned for him to bring our big boat net. In the meantime (this all happened within seconds, but seemed like many minutes) I was wondering if I should take a chance and give it slack or pull it tighter. I knew how big the fish was, or so I thought, and knew I couldn't give it slack. This sometimes works, but I thought not this time. I gently pulled the line tighter, just a little, and the fish was un-snagged and swimming downstream like a mad fish!

I think it was as I hooked the fish that the guy next to me asked, "Madam, may I take your picture?" What? Yeah, I guess so. You want to what? I was too busy trying to keep the fish on the hook that I thought "What? Where's he from? Is seeing a woman fish something new?" But he was a nice guy, very polite, and I said "yes" concentrating on my fish and he went off somewhere. I was concerned about this fish and as Rick arrived I said "It's big and this may be a fish that I have to chase downstream." I made my way to shore, backing in from the middle of the river and the other fisherman returned with a camera. The fisherman with the camera said to Rick "I asked your wife if I could take her photo. Is that alright with you?" Rick said yes. I wondered who this guy was because he was so polite and when I glanced at him I could see he was serious. His camera was big, with a very big lens. This guy was really wanting to take some serious photos. Now I just needed to bring the fish to the net.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crane Flies Flyin'

We'd seen the crane flies skittering on the water for the past week or so. And I'd played around with them for a couple years so I knew they would attract the fish. I'd caught a few fish last year with them and enjoyed throwing the big flies. Sort of like big grasshoppers or foam chernobyl ants. A size 10 fly is much larger than a size 20 fly. (I prefer casting 20's.) The fish smack 'em with a lot of gusto, usually making big splashes and lots of noise. Like devouring an entire meal compared to a bite of food . Even when not seeing them you can hear the take from across the river. I was looking forward to trying the big crane flies again this year.

Most serious fishers get on the river early to toss crane flies, but we'd seen them all day long flittering about. They can be twitched, drug across the water or floated with a dead drift. The fish like them all different ways.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Story behind the photo?

You better believe there's a story behind this photo!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Montana traffic jam

Happy September everyone! Can you believe we are nearing the end of summer!?!?

While on our travels through the Big Hole River valley, we had to wait for the local traffic to clear at the intersection.
This is enjoyable gridlock traffic. The kind I could spend hours in, watching the world go by.
These are truly hardworking people with hardworking dogs and horses, moving their cattle to another pasture.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Legendary Big Hole River Valley

Not too long ago we decided to take a road trip to see and try our luck on another river.

World famous and one of the most popular rivers in the area is the Big Hole River and since it is so near we thought we'd spend the day exploring.

 The drive through the Big Hole valley was a beautiful drive and my photos don't do the area justice. It took us all day to make the loop, about 160 miles.

 We stopped at most of the river access points to look around and fish of course. Most access points have large parking areas, boat access, picnic tables and restrooms.

The Big Hole River is legendary, a fabulous fishery, in a scenic valley. We ended the day with dinner in Melrose and then returned to Maiden Rock to fish out the evening.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good results for a cold morning

After we three walked to the river and the guys found their spots, I backtracked to the corner and watched downstream with hopes to see a rising fish. Maybe two if I was lucky. Tom had fish around him, but it was very difficult to see with all the white foam and the morning glare. He could see the water rings, but not his fly. I told him to change from a sallie to a PMD since that was what I saw floating by.

Rick went upstream and hooked a couple I found out later. He got cold and soon went to watch and help Tom. Tom got his sleeves wet when he had to reach for his dropped glasses, and then he got cold. They both wanted to quit when it started to sprinkle.

I had quickly spotted a riser when we arrived and after a few casts I hooked and landed it, a nice brownie with vibrant spots and a touch of blue on the gill plate. I had to change flies a couple times, but the old standby sparkle dun #18 did the trick. It might have been cold, but this warmed me up.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cool & drizzly wet

We're having a little bit of a cool spell with temps dropping down into the low 30's at night and the highs barely getting up to 60 during the day. This is the NOAA Hazardous Weather Warning just posted =


We all know how wrong the weather forecasts can be. I think I'll wait until tomorrow to tell Rick or he might start packing up to head south. Way too soon to leave. The fishing is just getting started, even if we do have to put on long underwear under our waders and break out the winter jackets. What's a little snow as long as it doesn't stick around too long.

I did joke with the guys this morning that if it rained it would be snow. Oh well, lets go fishing!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Underwater video of 5 pounder

As Logan and I released the nice 5 pound rainbow, it stayed right between his boots and I was able to get a couple photos and a short video.

(click on the play arrow if you want to see the video)

It was good fishing with you Logan and we hope you are doing well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

first time I've weighed a trout

I think this might be the first time I've weighed a trout. We sometimes will measure the length and on rare occasion we've measured the girth, but we don't bring a weight scale to the river. Our friend Logan has a fancy net with a scale built into the handle and when I landed this one he said "Good-on-ya! Let's give it a go." It weighed in at just 5 pounds and took a tiny size 20 nymph.

More and more people are asking about the weight of a fish as opposed to how long it was. We might have to get one of those nets from Australia, but it was a little pricey. Years ago it used to be that landing a 20" fish on a #20 fly was a big accomplishment. It still is.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Now I'm eating fish bugs!

I took an unplanned swim a month ago and saw what the fish see.
Today I ate what the fish eat.

Not the first time a fisherperson has eaten a bug, but this was not my intention. I've read about fishermen who've eaten large golden stoneflies, the big juicy ones, for fun, and probably after having a couple cold beers. This morning I was just walking along the river minding my own business, obviously talking, mouth open and a mayfly flew in and I swallowed it. It sort of stuck on my throat and made me cough and I didn't taste it, so don't ask. I don't think it was the medium size sallie stonefly either, thank goodness.

The mayflies are such a small, delicate fly. At times there are so many of them in the air, like clouds. So light and delicate, dare I say pretty?  It makes me wonder why the fish are not overly excited to eat them this summer. I did.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where did the dry flies go this summer?

And where did summer go? It's already approaching the end of August and this summer was very different than past summers in Montana. Almost unrecognizable. The weather has been warm and sunny, but just recently. The river has been high and cold, it seems all summer. The PMD's have been few and far between. The dry flies have been almost non-existent. But anyone who knows me knows that I like a challenge.

On my fingers is an example of a real bug and a fly tied to imitate it. I've taken more of an interest in the bugs this year because the usual hatches  have not happened as we expected them to.

For the past few weeks, the few rising fish have been on the far side of the cold, high river, causing me to wade out farther than I should. The guides in the drift boats float past me and ask "Are there fish rising over there?" I'm obviously throwing dry flies yet still they ask. Sometimes I say "no, just practicing for when they do start rising." Not having the masses of dry flies has caused us to resort to nymphs when nothing else is happening on the surface, but that's been OK. The few days we've had clouds roll in the mayflies and sallies hatch and the fish rise to the top, sometimes just for 20 minutes or so.

While I might be chucking nymphs, I'm looking for ripples or noses, any indication that a trout is near the surface. Still hoping to have some serious dry fly action.

Fish On!


Florence, Oregon coastal area

Writing and photography copyright Rick & Mic GoneFishin © 2007-2010 unless otherwise indicated. You may not copy or otherwise reproduce any of this material without prior written permission. All rights reserved.