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FISH REEL 2017 – Fishing Cinema Reel

fish, reel, montana, wild, mousing, night, pink, mouse, yellow, brown, trout

It has been a few years since our last FISH REEL. We originally started the “Fish Reel” back in 2011 to showcase some of our favorite shots in one short video. Well we’re back and so are the Fish Reels! These were some of our favorite shots from the past couple years.

Leave us a comment, let us know what you think and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for our most recent uploads.

 

Travis

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The Spring Fish Window

big, brown, trout, montana

May is one weird month for fishing here in Montana.  The weather is warming up and the rivers tend to be all over the place.  Some years your only real option is the Missouri.  Other years you can fish in town the entire month of May with exceptional fishing.  It’s a month where staying local with the ability to hit the river at a moments notice can really pay off big.  This spring we had a big push of water come through for a few weeks.  Rivers were up with okay fishing if you knew all the right spots to target.  The Missouri was the obvious choice for many anglers.  It was crazy busy at times, but exceptional dry fly fishing could be had when the conditions lined up.  This past week though, all the local Missoula rivers dropped hard over the course of a few days.  Cold temps up high shut down runoff momentarily and the fish took note.  When Josh called saying I needed to fish tomorrow I listened.  Over time I’ve learned that when Josh says we need to fish he’s almost always right.  We met up early the next morning and took the raft out for a rip.

brown trout, bucknasty, montana, missoula, fishing, streamers, spring

The brown trout were on the prowl.

brown trout, bucknasty, montana, missoula, fishing, streamers, spring

More aggressive browns.

brown trout, bucknasty, montana, missoula, fishing, streamers, spring, wild

Montana Shark

brown trout, bucknasty, montana, missoula, fishing, streamers, spring, wild

Chunky dude. Going into summer strong.

brown trout, bucknasty, montana, missoula, fishing, streamers, spring, big

Patience with the fly allowed Josh to hook this beast and a wild rodeo ensued. Fortunately he found the net.

We made an extra long float and I’m glad we did.  The action wasn’t consistent throughout the day.  The morning was hot and then things tapered off.  Sticking to the gameplan and fishing hard through the cold water kept us in the game and at the end of the day we’d definitely caught a healthy number of big brown trout.  Life is good!

Written by Zack Boughton

Images by Josh Rokosch and Zack Boughton

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Eastbound – Browns, Bows and the Bighorn

life, beyond, walls, montana, wild, adipose, boatworks

“I love a ground-dog burrito!” We had just spotted a questionable looking Mexican restaurant and already the stereotypes were being heavily flung around. What would you expect from a truck with 4 dudes and a solid five hours plus rallying I-90?

montana, fishing, trout, mexican, food, burrito

An hour later we emerged, bellies full and hoping that no one would be feeling “spicy” in a few hours. We were in the home stretch and soon enough we’d be looking over the waters of the Bighorn River for the first time. A little over a month earlier we had gotten the call from Smith Optics to shoot a lifestyle film for their latest web series “Life Beyond Walls.” Wanting to keep it within the borders of the Big Sky state yet still get a little road trip in, the Bighorn was an obvious choice. A tailwater with above average flows this year meant it was opposite the rest of the state and hopefully full of aggressive trout. Finally we hit the river and pulled onto the bridge in St. Xavier. The water below us was swollen and running a green/brown color. We all started talking about hooking “slam pigs” and raucously expelled typical bro banter.

Adipose, driftboat, fly, fishing, montana, bighorn, river, brown trout

That evening we cruised into Fort Smith and swung into the Bighorn Angler. Bryen and Shelly were there to greet us and give the lowdown on the fishing. A few dozen flies later and we began to organize and sort fishing gear in anticipation for the morning.

gear, fishing, montana, bighorn, river, montana wild, video, film, smith optics

Morning came early and after a few slight bobbles getting everything loaded up we finally arrived at the boat launch.  We dropped the boats and got ready for a long day on the river.  At the moment we had the place to ourselves, little did we know that in an hour this would be full of twenty different rigs hoping to launch.

driftboat, adipose, bighorn, angler, river, fly fishing, montana, wild, video, smith optics

Soon we pushed off, hanging to the bank and searching the wide featureless water. A slow twenty minutes put us at the first small island and a pit stop was ordered up. Fifty yards upstream multiple fish were chowing down on the morning buffet. Two casts later and two great browns had hit the net.

bighorn, river, fly, fishing, montana, brown, trout, adipose, wild, film, smith optics

bighorn, river, fly, fishing, montana, brown, trout, adipose, wild, film, smith optics

At that point the boat train had engulfed us. Despite the crowds one thing became apparent, we were having a lot more fun than the other boats. Typical to many rivers there was a lack of yelling, laughing and general good times. Weird. Our float continued under hazy skies as we banged streamers into every nook and cranny we could find. Dozens of fish later we hit our takeout and headed back up to sneak in a second short float. Mice were skated, the golden sun sank in the West but no fish stuck. Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” blared from Lungren’s cell phone as we pulled in under the light hum of a lonely light guarding the Three Mile boat ramp. Day Two was complete.

driftboats, adipose, helena, bighorn, river, montana, trout, fishing

With a good day of fishing under our belts we figured we’d take a risk and give the lower river hell. “Chuck and Duck” was the game plan and flashes and strikes ensued from all the likely spots. A short ways later the line stopped in it’s tracks and a hefty flash gave us a look at the largest fish of the trip. A quick fight ensured there was no chance of him getting away and a plump rainbow laying in the net left the group acting like a bunch of wild monkeys.

bighorn, river, rainbow, trout, montana, wild, fishing, film, smith optics, streamer

Good call boys, good call. Apparently this lower river was the real deal. A few hours later we had changed our tune as things were downright slow. The water had picked up decent color from some of the small feeder creeks and reading the river became much tougher. We embraced the day and enjoyed the great scenery and even better company.

fly, fishing, montana, film, trout, wild, bighorn, river, adipose, driftboat

After lunch we split up and started working a small island. Twenty minutes later a couple goldeyes had been caught. No one in the group had ever caught one before so this was news to us. One came on a dry and another hit a streamer, apparently they were hungry little buggers.

gold, eye, fish, fishing, bighorn, river, montana, dry fly, film, wild

As the float neared its end the roar of a diversion dam pulled everyone back into full attention. Cameras were carefully pulled from the boats and walked downriver. Travis and Sam pushed off and lined up above the man-made rapids. Sam was first and found the right slot, easily pushing through. Travis was up next and despite his best efforts was pulled over into the edge of the main wave formed off the dam. A healthy splash and the skiff cut through the wave and slid downriver.

fishing, montana, bighorn, river, trout, brown, wild, film, smith optics, guides choice, dam

adipose, driftboat, skiff, helena, montana, dam, diversion, river, bighorn, film

We all were beat from another long day under the sun and pulling into the Riverview Lodge was very welcome. Steve had worked some magic and got us the bottom half of some prime real estate. With a great view of the valley and a full kitchen we got dinner on the grill and got some much needed rest for Day Four.

bighorn, river, fishing, lodge, angler, montana, wild, film, brown trout, tailwater

Day Four again saw us boating fish and seeing plenty of new water. Streamer fishing was the choice mid-day as staring down a bobber just didn’t get us too fired up. That evening found us anchored up on a long seam with a long line of noses extending downstream. Hookup after hookup with no boats in sight was the story.

bighorn, river, montana, wild, fly fishing, trout, film, smith optics, guides choice

Fast forward to the takeout. Now I’ve depleted the old Ford’s gas gauge plenty of times but this one was shaping up to be interesting. We had ran our own shuttle and the driving distance between takeouts was further than expected. The gas light had been on for about 30 miles and 20 more remained before we got back to the lodge. It was 11PM when the engine sputtered and the power steering went out. Yes I was a dips#&* and should have put more than $30 in the tank yesterday. We were stranded. Two hours later the Ford had been towed to the nearest fishing access and both boats were safely parked back at the lodge.   The following morning found us back at the truck with a 5 gallon gas can pouring precious fluid back into the fuel hungry beast. We were back in business!

fishing, trip, montana, empty, truck, fishing, bighorn, life beyond walls

This would be our final morning and we figured a quick hammer sesh through the top 3 miles would be just right. A few hundred oar strokes and Travis was into another nice brown. The cameras did their thing and in a flash the brownie was back in the river.

brown, trout, fly, fishing, bighorn, river, montana, wild, film, video, smith optics

It wasn’t long and again we had hit the end of the road. The launch was in sight and the trip was complete. The boats hit the trailers, and we grabbed our stuff and hit the road.

montana, highway, adipose, driftboat, wild, boat, film

As we drove home we relived the past four days. All the ingredients of a great fishing trip had left everyone feeling satisfied. We are excited to share the film with you here tomorrow! Be looking for it to go live  tomorrow August 12th on the Smith Optics website and if you haven’t checked out their other films from the “Life Beyond Walls” Series you should do so! We also had the pleasure of testing out the new “Guide’s Choice” sunglasses which will be available soon.

smith, optics, guides choice, guide, fishing, new, sunglasses, polarized, chormapop

These things are absolute beasts on the water and will definitely make the best days better. Look for them at your local fly shop this fall. Also a big thanks goes out to Steve Galletta and the crew at the Bighorn Angler. Their expertise is unmatched and the lodging they provide for anglers is superb. Check them out next time you hit the Bighorn.

Bighorn, angler, river, fort smith, montana, mt, fishing, brown trout, guides, fly shop

And last but not least, a special thanks to the awesome crew at Adipose Boatworks. They have a rental boat there at the Bighorn Angler if you want to give one a spin on your next trip.

adipose, boatworks, driftboats, skiff, flow, montana, helena, wild, boat, bighorn, river

-Zack

 

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BUCKNASTY BROWNS // Film Release

The time has come, Bucknasty Browns is now live and online.  After touring this spring with The F3T, we are proud to share our film with everyone.  Enjoy!

Thanks to support from:  Simms Fishing | Smith Optics | YETI Coolers | Scientific Anglers | Orvis | Grizzly Hackle

 

BUCKNASTY BROWNS hats and tees here>http://montana-wild.com/store/

 

-Zack

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Bucknasty Browns – The Beginning

fly, fishing, oregon, owyhee, river, brown, trout, june

Travis rifled through the YETI as we sat on the dusty tailgate, consuming the day’s lunch and reliving the morning’s success. Fish after fish had been tackled from the long, complex run and we thought the wise browns had been put down for the day. I walked along the road with a Moose Drool in hand observing and taking in the day. As I glanced down into the current the golden back of a modest brown slowly breached and then disappeared back into the depths. I sat and watched and soon multiple fish emerged, hidden in plain sight feeding on some new hatch that I had no knowledge of.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/109398135 w=580&h=440]

Sam was up on the sticks and soon casts were made, flies were changed and eventually fish were caught. The size #18 whatever was stuck firmly in the browns lip, right next to a past fisherman’s fly, serving as proof of the tiny flies that dominate this waterway. Calling it a size #18 whatever would be disrespectful though given the time and knowledge put into it’s creation by Nate Brumley.

fly fishing, montana, wild, oregon, brown trout, owyhee, grizzly hackle

Nate is one of the nicest human’s you’ll meet and especially amongst fisherman. Ask many folks about one of their favorite waters and your reception will often be ill. Nate on the other hand bursts with knowledge that pulls from the deepest parts of his vast memory. From flies to hatches to stretches of river it all spills out into a novel of highly diverse yet well woven information. It’s the type of thing where you hear it all but only can store about 10% of the data. He does run a very knowledgeable fly tying business (Dry Fly Innovations) that I’d highly recommend, but his generosity runs deep regardless of any ties to business or personal advancement as we quickly found out. Mr. Brummley’s residence was our first stop on our long trip down to Oregon to search for large brown trout during Montana’s annual runoff. We loaded up on flies, mostly size 18 and 20 and set off for parts unknown brimming with confidence after our time spent with Nate.

dry, fly, innovations, idaho, nate, brumley, dry, flies, brown, trout

The first life form on the river was seen from the edge of the road as we rolled up into the canyon. A small back eddy was filled with carp swirling along the desert colored mud. We contemplated fishing them but given the prospects that lay up the road we ventured on. The river was an oversized slough with small sections of riffles and pocket water followed by long deep runs stretching for hundreds and sometimes thousands of yards. Where the biggest of browns would lurk was anyone’s guess.

owyhee, river, oregon, fly, fishing, trout, brown

We soon couldn’t resist the urge to fish and pulled in under a tree and rigged up. The first afternoon would be simply spent fishing and scouting. We wanted to know we could land a few before the cameras rolled out. We soon diverged from the truck and began fishing our own ways. It was hot and I didn’t see much action unfolding on top of the emerald green waters. I’ll admit I’m a streamer junky and the thought of big browns quickly had me avoiding the microscopic bugs and tying on our buddy Gandalf. He was the tan and white variation and the first cast was immediately chased into the calm water by an angry brown. I threw it back in, letting it slide off the shelf before stripping it in towards the slack water. My line went tight and a fat brown quickly went airborne. The fight was solid with this buck but soon he was within the confines of the net resting from his midday battle.

brown, trout, orvis, fly, fishing, owyhee, river, oregon

As soon as my hook was free I was back to casting, this time a bit further across the seam. A black tank emerged slamming my fly but the line went slack a second later. He couldn’t be enticed a second time and quickly we were distracted by a stock truck dumping hundreds of fingerling rainbows off the bridge behind us. The small fish fought the current before being sucked back downriver into the next pool. We knew some opportunistic browns would be up for this type of treat. Soon we found Sam, working a dry through tasty water but the report was fish 1, Sam 0. We told him of the fish stocking and quickly streamers were tied on. As Travis fished just above me a small rainbow swam between my legs followed by a menacing brown. I’m sure he had his way with the newly transplanted fish.

stocking, fish, oregon, rainbow, trout

The following day we fished hard. We switched bugs and moved locations but hadn’t put up much for numbers. After a long spring with little dry fly action we all had to brush off a little rust and try to remember how to fish a size 18 bug. As we fished a hole just a stones throw from the truck Nate pulled up. We quickly made our way back up to the truck to see how his morning had went. After showing us photo after photo of nice browns I had to ask, “What were you fishing.” “Oh I was using a beetle” he said. Ok then. Of course Nate was quick to supply us with an assortment of free flies and his wife had sent him off with some delicious soup to give us. Did I mention Nate is a pretty likeable guy?

nate, brumley, fly, fishing, dry fly innovations, brown trout, montana wild

We had our eyes on a small side channel containing multiple rising fish and set off with renewed confidence as a Brumley beetle was attached to our line. The fishing was silly and we finally were laying down some great footage. The ball was rolling and we had two days left to keep it that way.

brown, trout, film, video, oregon, owyhee, beetle

Now despite any reports or advice on hatches or patterns I know I can always go to a streamer and turn fish, most often good ones. Considering the bucknasty browns that should be lurking here and after the very first afternoon the streamer was a constant part of the menu we were serving up to these fish. It was consistently the big fish producer. It was mid-day and we stopped to fish a run that had been fished that morning. As my streamer bounced into the river off the bank it was freight trained by a “bucknasty.” This wasn’t the first time this trip and I instantly started thinking one thing, mice. As the day progressed the weather started to roll in. Overcast skies and a light drizzle was all it took for Travis to make the switch. The neon yellow mouse skittered and skated and we all watched with anticipation. Finally a swipe was made, a miss but we knew it would be a go to method for the rest of the day. A short bit later Travis hooked and landed the first of the trip as a brown came arching out of the water attacking the mouse.

fly, fishing, mice, mousing, oregon, montana, wild

We were on cloud 9 at the moment and that afternoon found nothing other than a mouse attached to our lines. Over the next three hours we got over a dozen eats and after a lot of misses I was able to end the day with back-to-back browns from the same run. Sometimes it pays to get risky and fish something not on the fishing report. On this day it sure did.

brown, trout, mousing, mice, fishing, fly, oregon, montana, wild, video, film

The rest of the trip was a success and we were able to stack up some awesome footage, I’ll even go out on a limb and say some of it is our best to date. For the rest of the story you’ll have to catch our film, “Bucknasty Browns” in the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour. A special thanks to our project supporters: Simms, Orvis, Scientific Anglers, Grizzly Hackle, YETI, DECKED, and Bozeman Reel Co.

brown, trout, friends, fishing, montana, oregon, last light

///Be sure to tune in to our Facebook and Instagram pages this week as we release content culminating in the release of our teaser for Bucknasty Browns coming on Friday!

-Zack

Enter the Dark

A small mouse slowly paddles across a wide flat of dark water after mistakenly falling in.  He’s half way across when all of a sudden the water erupts as a large brown thrashes through the surface and attacks the helpless prey.  Dinner has just been had and this brown slowly lurks back to his spot behind an old mossy log.  This predatory instinct was what we were hoping for when we recently decided to head to the river at 10PM on a Monday evening.  Travis and I had never fished at night and after picking up a few tasty mice morsels from the Grizzly Hackle we were ready.  We had high hopes despite our lack of experience and the vibe was good.

fly, fishing, montana, night, mousing, orvisAfter the drive to our location we were ready to get going.  The 5 and 7 weights came out and we quickly rigged up.  We had a decent assortment of patterns to choose from and a few moments later we both had flies tied on and ready to roll.

fly, fishing, box, mouse, line, orvis, night, beast

fly, fishing, box, line, night, mouse, pattern, brown, trout, orvis, helios

The sky was clear and a 3/4 moon sat high in the sky to the east.  Generally I’ve heard that mousing is not as good during a full moon, but we figured it was a myth.  The temperature was hovering in the low 50s, and we bundled up and slung our packs over our shoulders.  We slowly waded upstream in the dark.  It was a very cool experience being out in the water at night.  We could hear fish rising occasionally and walking through the riffles always seemed to elicit a boil in the water as a fish swam off.  We soon started covering the gloomy water with our mice.  It was difficult trying to determine how far you were actually casting and what kind of action you were imparting on the fly.  It was blind fishing at it’s finest.

fly, fishing, box, line, night, mouse, pattern, brown, trout, orvis, helios

We continued to fish upstream, sliding mice across pool after pool with no luck.  We knew our fly was getting over the fishes heads; it was just a matter of finding the right fish with an angry personality.  A few more holes and Travis and I were slowly fishing a nice left bank.  Out of nowhere a huge thrash on the surface erupted and then immediately went quiet.  Travis had just missed the first eat of the night.  The fish had failed to inhale and after a few more casts we decided to move on.  We were renewed with confidence and kept the mice train rolling upstream.  Finally we got to nice flat.  The water was shallow but browns almost always call this stretch home.  The technique was simple.  Cast across and slightly downstream to the far bank and let it drift about ten feet.  Then begin a very slow on/off retrieve with a little wiggle in the rod tip.  The mouse would swing across and down and each drift left us tensely waiting.  I had been hitting a nice corner for about ten minutes.  I was finishing my drift when all of a sudden a thrash erupted and my line went tight.  My first eat and I was hooked up to a large trout who was gator rolling just twenty feet away.  Travis cruised in with the net and we had our first fish on a mouse.  It was a nice brown and we quickly pulled out the light to snap a few photos.

fly, fishing, box, line, night, mouse, pattern, brown, trout, orvis, helios, montana wild

It was 12:50 AM and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  After a few clicks of the camera we put the brown back into the black water and watched him slink back into the darkness.

fly, fishing, mice, montana, wild, night, orvis

We weren’t done yet though.  Travis quickly went back upstream and resumed casting a tasty hole.  After a couple casts there was a heavy splash but no tight line.  Next cast and the same thing.  This fish was hungry and ready to feast.  A couple more casts later and he once again attacked the fly.  Travis set his rod high and a thunderous eruption began on the surface.  A few short seconds later and the mouse went flying out of the fishes mouth.  Ahhhhhhhhhh shit!  We let him rest and continued to push upriver.  Another hour of fishing had left us with no eats and we turned to head back to the truck.  Travis had to have another shot at that fish and he once again began swinging his fly across the hole.  On the third cast deja vu occurred.  The fish ate and again thrashed on the end of Travis’ line before somehow spitting the hook.  Excited and bummed at the same time we moved back downstream in the dark.  When we got back to the truck it was 4AM.  It had been a successful night.  It wasn’t red hot by any means but we had caught fish and had some very memorable eats.

-Zack

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Simms Shoot Out 2013 – BENT

Early Sunday morning we loaded up the truck, and headed to Bozeman.  The wind gusts pushed us east along I-90, and we sailed through bursts of snow and rain throughout the drive.  It looked like we might be in for a cold couple of days of filming & fishing.  Just before noon we stopped to fish a small stretch of the Clark Fork.  The wind gusts and freezing temperatures made for slow fishing.  We felt a couple tugs and even managed to fool a few small browns on a Parachute Adams before loading back up to finish the roadtrip to Bozeman.

shoot, out, rain, simms, ford, f 150

We finally arrived at the Simms headquarters, and met with the rest of the filmmakers.  All of the filmmakers were super friendly and cold PBRs were spread throughout the room.  After a half an hour of chatting and waiting for the guides to finish piling in, it was time to get to business.  The guides drew names out of a hat to decide who they would be filming with and we were paired up with Dan “Rooster” Leavens.  Zack and I didn’t have the slightest clue who Rooster was, but we would spend the next 3 days filming his every move and learning the ways of the Rooster.

simms, fly fishing, waders, boots, headquarters, bozeman, montana, shoot out, ice out

The next morning our 4:50AM alarm rang out, ducks quacking for me to awake.  Zack and I gathered our gear scattered on the hotel floor and headed out into the cold, windy, snowy weather.  Our destination was Twin Bridges, and we hoped we could get some early morning shots before meeting with the Rooster.

fog, clouds, snow

 

After a bitter cold morning of filming, we threw our frozen boots into the truck to de-thaw and finally made it to our destination, the Stonefly Inn & Outfitters.  Rooster had coffee ready for us, and we sat down and talked for a good hour about hunting and fly fishing.  We soon found out that Rooster had been sick throwing up all night.  He blamed the pizza he ate the evening before and to compound the issue, his wife was also sick.  A bug was going around, and we crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t be hit with the unfriendly sickness.  Rooster was feeling better fortunately, and decided that not the weather nor the sickness would stop him from fishing. We grabbed Willy the chocolate lab, loaded the truck with camera gear, and finally made it to the river.

lab, brown, man's, best, friend, montana, fishing, dog

The morning consisted of a bunch of small browns and frozen fingers, leading us to move locations.  That afternoon, the sun finally started to peak through the clouds.  We got back onto the river and it wasn’t long before Rooster hooked his first nice brown trout of the trip.  About an hour later and a few fly selection switches and a boss trout was hooked up.  At first we didn’t know what it was, but as the fish came to the net, it was a nice 2-foot rainbow!

2 foot, rainbow, monster, montana, wild, bent, shoot out, iceout

The rest of the day Rooster reeled in multiple nice fish and the vibe quickly began to swing into our favor.  With a couple browns weighing in around the 20″ mark and a rainbow pushing 24 we called it a wrap for the day as Rooster had to go home and take care of his wife and children who had been fighting the sickness.  Family comes first, and we had no objections to Rooster heading home before sundown.  Zack and I spent the rest of the evening filming around town and captured some late afternoon timelapses.

sunset, montana, twin bridges, stonefly, inn, outfitter

Zack and myself stayed up until 2:30AM organizing our clips from Day 1, making sure we were on top of our game and ready to start editing the film the following evening.  We got a few short hours of sleep and immediately were back up and firing up the cameras.  We finalized our storyline with Rooster and moved over to the fly shop.  After a broken fly rod, an obnoxious customer call, a spilled box of flies, and a flat tire, it was finally go time.  Rooster started the morning drive to the river by saying, “can’t show the lions on the first day boys”.  Little did we know he was not lying about “showing the lions”.  Rooster proceeded to catch fish after fish consisting of large browns and chromed out rainbows.  The footage was stacking and the shots were being logged.  Rooster was starting to put on a show that any fisherman would appreciate.  Helping us for the day were Rooster’s guides Gray, Bubba and Dave who added more punch to the fish fight.

simms, waders, bubba, stonefly, outfitters, montana, casting, fly fishing

rainbow, fat, montana

With plenty of solid shots stored in the camera, we decided to hit some new water to finish the day.  Rooster made his way below a small bridge and proceeded to catch fish after fish, throwing low, precise casts into the money spot.  It was a truly remarkable sight, with the Stonefly guide peanut gallery watching the show go down from the bridge above.

Dan, leavens, rooster, montana, simms, iceout, shoot, out, montana, wild

We wrapped up the day with dry fly eats on chernobyls, brown trout to the face, and an amazing steak dinner.  From here on out it was coffee, Monsters, and no sleep.  This was a chance that we had to take full advantage of.  You are not given opportunities like the Simms Shoot Out very often and we were here to win.  This was our chance to show that we can run with the best in the biz and we began the long process of crushing two days worth of fish into a 6 minute film.

all, nighter, mac, apple, editing, montana, wild, film

 

Before we knew it the film was in its final stages of production.  The sun was rising and Rooster was waiting to check out the latest cut of video.  Rooster gave us some final input and before we knew it the video was exported and we were driving to the Simm’s headquarters to turn in our film.

 

We relaxed the rest of the day and fished a local river the following morning with our friend Tom Urell.  The streamer fishing was hot, with fish attacking the streamers most of the day.  No monsters were brought to the net, but we had a blast fishing the local Bozeman holes.  Later that evening we watched all four submissions of the Simms Shoot Out at the Ellen theater.

simms, fly fishing, shoot, out, film, ellen, theatre, montana wild, rooster

After the films kicked off it was a nervous half an hour before I saw the Montana Wild logo flash up on the backdrop and the rest is history.  We had won the Shoot Out!!!!

winner, winners, simms, 2013, shoot, out, iceout, montana, bozeman, ellen, theater, dan, leavens, rooster, boughton

We spent the rest of the night celebrating with new friends and somehow managed to not spend all $2,000 at the bars.  We woke the next morning, packed our bags and headed back to Missoula.  That evening we found ourselves hiking 6 miles back into the backcountry…. Be looking for our next blog post about Stan’s amazing bear hunt.

 

I wanted to give a big shoutout to Dan “Rooster” Leavens for being such an amazing guide and host, and Dana Leavens for letting us steal Rooster for a couple days and allowing us to sleep at the Stonefly Inn.  Dan  loves to fish and he has a great family and group of guides.  Thanks Bubba, Dave, and Grey for your antics and not so helpful music suggestions.  We hope we can work with Dan in the future and hopefully the friendship we made will last for a very long time.

 

Below is our winning submission to the 2013 Simms Shoot Out!!!

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/65079211 w=580&h=440]

 

-Travis

 

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Rising Waters

I checked the stream flows via the USGS site after a week filled of stressful days in front of my computer.  The past week had been full of blazing warm and sunny conditions that I had failed to take advantage of due to deadlines.  I was now left with only one glorious day to fish.  Regardless of the possible tsunami mud conditions, Zack and I took off in search of some big fish.

As we started our drive, the rain splattered against my windshield consistently reminding me that it was once again spring in Montana.  It was going to be a full blown day of Gore-tex and streamers.  We crossed our fingers as we made our trek to the first hole…. hopefully the chub hatch was going off today.

Brown, trout, tail, montana, fishing, fly fishing

I shook the cobwebs off my fly rod and it wasn’t long before I felt my my line go tight after a couple slow twitches with my streamer.  A little brown ball of fire had latched onto my fly, and I had my first fish of the day.  I continued to hammer the banks, bouncing my streamer off the pale grass on the adjacent bank.  Bam!  I detected another tug, and once again felt that head shake that I have come to love.

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Zack and I hooked into a couple small German browns, before we were hit with a Montana rain storm.  The weather didn’t stop us from dropping streamer bombs.  I found a grassy bank that overlooked a good stretch of deep, calm water.  I made a perfect cast, landing my streamer on the bank and stripping it back into the water.  Three strips and I felt my line stop dead in my hand.  I strip-set and had a beautiful brown running for cover.

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This year has really been my break through year with streamers.  I have finally mastered some really productive patterns, and today these patterns were really getting the trout’s attention.  Zack and I continued another 200 yards downriver.  I brushed the drops of water off my pack, only to notice Zack had a sizable fish hooked downriver.  Another beautiful brown trout, hungry for the home-grown streamer.

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Sitka, stormfront, brown, trout, montana, wild, seattle, mariners, hatWe moved on, throwing casts into holes that were now deep enough to fish with the rising water.  We managed a couple more nice fish, and finally a rainbow decided to eat.

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Green, purple, white, black, and tan streamers were producing fish.  The rainbows were finally putting streamers on their list of preferred foods, but the browns were truly on the prowl.  Once again Zack hooked into a flying brown trout.  To see an +18in brown trout jump four times is pretty remarkable.  This fish did just that and did not want to spend any downtime in our Larkin Works net.  Too bad the trout didn’t have a choice.  All this action boosted our confidence, and Zack released this amazing brown, only to call out “I’m going to catch another one out of this same hole”.  I grabbed the camera, and 1st cast Zack had another respectable brown trout.

brown, trout, streamer, eat, water, photo, picture, montana We made the long walk back to the truck.  What an amazing day!  Our spring has been outstanding, and the fishing has been phenomenal.  We have a big week coming up.  We hope to see everyone at the Orvis “Down the Hatch” film event here in Missoula, Montana at the Wilma on Friday.  The films start at 7pm and there are tickets available at Grizzly Hackle.  All of the proceeds will go to Montana Trout Unlimited.  We hope to see you all there!!

-Travis

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Missouri River Madness

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro

Headed East

5:30 came a little to early but the chance to fish got me out of bed after only a couple snoozes.  With the local rivers looking nice and brown, we decided to hit up the Missouri River with our good friend Jeff and get a couple days of fishing in.  [If you missed our first trip to the Missouri River read about it here.]  After a couple hours we rolled into Craig and got our shuttle situated at the Headhunters Fly Shop.  These guys know how to run a fly shop and if your in need of almost anything, chances are they can get it for you or point you in the right direction.  Soon we were on the river and the weather was impeccable.  No wind and decently warm temperatures kept our hopes high.

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Smooth sailing

The day started off with a handful of small fish.  Although fun, we were hoping for something a touch bigger to get the rods bent on.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro

Even the little ones get Jeff’s mug smiling

We soon drifted off the main channel of the Mo and got into one of the small side channels.  There were a lot of midges on the water and a few risers.  We stripped streamers through the slower holes but with minimal success.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro

Strippin stream

We kept moving and found a pod of risers.  After about an hour of fishing we only came away with two misses on top.  We were running 5X tippet and a small BWO and were able to trick a few but no fish in hand.  We learned that some days 6 or 7X and a very, very tiny fly are the only option on these trouts meal plan.

We kept the train chugging downriver only to be interrupted by another bathroom break.  Only this time is was a very opportune time to pull over.  As we sat on the side of the river cracking fresh PBR’s, we saw a single riser about 100 yards downstream.  A short drift and we were anchored up on the entrance to a small side channel with one slurping fish in sight.  A few empty handed drifts with the nymphs and I had had enough.  We were going to get one on top or go out trying.  I was able to get a slurp from the back of the boat and we decided to get out and put our dry fly fishing to the test.  After about an hour all three of us were able to catch rainbows on dries ranging from 17-20 inches.  These fish had moved up into a small hole only about 40′ square and about 2-3 feet deep.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro

Not bad for my first fish on a dry for 2012

After putting the hurt on the few risers in that hole we pulled anchor and kept things rolling.  Again we found pods of rising fish but couldn’t connect with the setup we were running.  When they say these fish will humble you, they aren’t lying.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro, midges

One of the better banks to fish and a slew of midges on top

After floating past countless risers with no luck we slowly drifted back into Craig America.  It’s definitely a very cool experience to see a big fish nosing up and sipping ever so slightly.  To catch one like that is even more exciting.  We rolled in around 730 and drifting past the last seam we were able to see a train of rising fish.  There were at least 20-30 trout nosing out of the water with anywhere from 5-10 up at a time.  And there were some big ones in the bunch.  That’s something you just don’t see around Missoula and I can see the appeal that the Missouri has to offer.  Unfortunately, our batting average on these fish was probably close to like 5% or less.  When it’s midges on the meal plan the fishing can be agonizingly tough and a little maddening.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro, midges

Jeff on the grill

Day 2 we were up an hoping for a bit better day on the river.  After some eggs in camp scrambled up with a tasty stick, we were back over to the Headhunters to pick up a few flies and get a shuttle all squared up.  Contrary to the weather forecast, we had strong winds and clear skies.  The bugs weren’t out in the numbers they were from the day before and the fishing was just plain slow.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro, midges

Finally getting to a wind free spot

We again floated the dam to Craig.  The fish were few and far between and small.  Not exactly fulfilling our vision for the day.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro, midges

Side channel sight fishing

Around 3PM the wind started to die down and the fish started rising again.  We were again in a side channel, trying to snipe those pesky sipping trout.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro, midges

Trying to find the right setup to trick those damned slurpers

We counted close to a hundred noses over the last two hours of the float but just couldn’t find the mojo.  The casts were right but the setup wasn’t fooling them.  5X wasn’t cutting it and a #18 midge apparently wasn’t either.  Hey we’ve been fishing nymphs all winter and spring so we were happy just to get a few over the course of the two days on top.  We weren’t the only ones having trouble either.  Lots of fellow floaters were complaining of slow conditions from the dam to Craig.  Apparently we should have floated from Craig to Mid-Canyon as we found a note from our buddy Tyler Trudeau saying they got into about 40 fish on their float.  The Missouri River is one that your going to spend some serious time on before you can say you understand it.  We had a great time and hopefully next time the river will be a touch more generous.  We did get a small amount of video so we’ll probably make a short mash up here in the next couple of weeks.  Be checking back as we near spring hunting season, get closer to getting Contrast done, and hopefully get a small video from this trip up on the site.

fly fishing, missouri river, montana wild, headhunters fly shop, craig mt, holter dam, nymphing, dry fly, MT, rainbow trout, brown, bwo, Nikon, GoPro, midges

-Zack