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fishing, fly fishing, stoke, skwala, skywalk fishing, dry fly, brown trout, Montana Wild

Although we weren’t able to be on the water today, a few of our good friends took to the river in full force, and got in on some of the most epic skwala fishing that Montana has to offer. While this hatch can be totally hit or miss, the boys hit it hard yesterday, netting a total of almost 60 fish, not to mention a hand full that got away. Wondering what the day looked like? Check out the day’s stats below.

fishing, fly fishing, stoke, skwala, skywalk fishing, stoke, buck nasty, brown trout, Montana wild

  • Water Temperature: 38 – 40 degrees.
  • Air Temperature: 40 – 50 degrees.
  • Weather Conditions: Overcast.
  • Float duration: 8 hours.
  • Fish count: 55+

While fishing was productive from noon until 8:00, peak time seemed to be from 2:00 to 5:00, with fish keying in on a variety of skwala stoneflies, and going ballistic on any big bug the boys seemed to float past them. It’s day’s like this that hardcore fly fisherman dream about, and only the ones who are passionate enough to closely watch and chase the hatch will be rewarded. Bugs were found on the surface and on the banks of the river throughout the day, indicating that the hatch is in full swing. Although they boys killed it today, the skwala hatch can be extremely hit or miss, with fish going nuts one day, and shutting off the next. After talking with them for awhile, they explained that they thought the fish were feeding so actively this day due to cold temperatures on 4/3 and forecasted cold temperatures for 4/5 as well. It’s warm windows like these that can commonly provide excellent fishing for the aspiring skwala angler. If you’re looking to get out and start skwala fishing, here’s a list of a few things you’ll need.

fishing, fly fishing, outdoor media, Montana Wild, stoke, skwala

  • Fly rod and reel (5 or 6WT)
  • LOTS of flies (stop into your local fly shop and pick their brain on what to use OR tie you own sick nasty bugs)
  • Waders and wading boots (skwala fishing can typically be very cold, and in nasty weather. You’ll definitely want to dress warm and be ready for unexpected weather at any time.)
  • Rain jacket.
  • Access to a boat (while you most definitely can fish skwalas from shore, you’ll be able to fish a lot more water from a boat, and be more exact with your fly presentation.) Don’t have access to a boat? stop into your local fly shop and ask about rental boats, or hiring a guide for the day.

Last but not least, make sure to get out and have fun on the water! After all, that’s what it’s all about!

Words: Calvin Connor

Photos: Tucker Lehr

Smith River, Montana Wild, Stoke, Fly Fishing, Hunting, Stoked On The Smith, Save Our Smith, Spring fishing, float trip, river trip, outdoor media

For many, getting an opportunity to float down Montana’s threatened, and world renowned Smith River is a once in a lifetime experience. For some, myself included, it’s an opportunity that seems to present itself every couple of years or so. Solely because of all our buddies who are equally obsessed with fishing, floating, and kind enough to send us an invitation when they draw a permit. This year on the other hand, the permit holder is no-one other than yours truly. So, without further ado, lets jump right into All Things Smith River.

filmmaking, Montana Wild, float trip, Smith River, Sony alpha, cinematography, Stoked On The Smith, fishing film, fly fishing film

Step 1: Acquiring the permit.

If you’re reading this, you’ve either already got a permit in hand, or you’re wondering how the heck you can get one for next year. The answer is simple, yet complicated. The Smith River is without a doubt a very special place, and one of the handful of rivers in the United States that requires a permit to float. Each year between the beginning of January, and the middle of February, Montana Fish Wildlife And Parks opens their application period to applicants from all over the world who hope to pull a coveted permit. If you’ve never applied before, you can do so HERE. Keep in mind that although drawing a permit isn’t easy, there are dates that are easier to draw than others. Montana FWP considers  “peak season” to run from May 15th – July 15th. Therefore, launch dates in that time period will be the hardest to draw. However if you’re willing to roll the dice, and take a gamble on Spring weather or low water later in the season, you will have a much better chance of drawing a permit. This year I was fortunate enough to draw a permit during peak season, and I’ve got my fingers crossed in hopes of a much warmer float than last time. Remember what I was saying about taking a gamble on Spring Weather? Take a look at the photos below to see what our 2016 launch day looked like.

fly fishing, Montana wild, Smith River, float trip, snow day, rage cage, outdoor media, Stoked On The Smith, Fishing Film, draw, permit, float permit, stoke, fishing, river trip, fly fishing film

Step 2: Getting there.

The launch site (Camp Baker) is located in Central Montana, about 35 miles Northwest of a small town called White Sulphur Springs. Make sure to have all of the essential pieces of gear you’ll need before getting there, as there will be limited opportunities to buy outdoor gear in town. That being said, it’s a great place to get gas, sit down for dinner, and grab a couple cold ones the night before you launch. If you’re already in Montana, driving to Camp Baker is relatively easy. Once you arrive, you’ll want to check in and try to get yourself towards the top of the list for launching the next day, and get your campsites reserved. Before launching, everyone in your party will be required to pay a small launch fee. The fee for Montana residents over the age of 13 is $25.00, and $60.00 for non resident adults. Each group is allowed 15 people per permit. Although you are not required to show up the day prior to your float, I’d highly recommend it. This will allow you to get a good spot in line for launching the following day, and give you a buffer incase you do forget something essential, and need to drive back to Helena to get it. If you do find yourself in that predicament, stop into Cross Currents Fly Shop for anything you may have forgotten. In 2016, we rented two rafts from them, and I would recommend them to anyone.

Picking up the rental rafts from Cross Currents Fly Shop was a breeze. Check them out if you’re in need of rental equipment for your trip down the Smith.

fly fishing, float trip, Montana wild, outdoor media, rage cage, snow storm, raft, Cross Currents Fly Shop, stoke

Things got a little western on the way from White Sulphur Springs to Camp Baker, and we immediately knew we were in for a heck of a day when the sun rose the following morning. As expected, we woke up to 8″ of snow.

Step 3: What you’ll need.

Preparing for a five day float trip can be an incredibly daunting task for someone who’s never done it before, and can still make you feel like you’re forgetting something important no matter how many times you’ve done it. Below is a list of essential items to bring on your trip.

  • Raft(s) – Preferably with a fishing frame attached.
  • Oars – Bring an extra set of oars for each boat in your party, not only is it required, but it’s a smart thing to do.
  • Lifejackets  Under Montana law, you are required to have at least one life jacket on board for each occupant of the boat.
  • Anchor Don’t be the guy that gets 5 miles down river from the put in and realizes he forgot to attach the anchor to the boat. Check, and double check your anchor before putting in at Camp Baker.
  • Camping Gear – Depending on the dates of your float, you’ll want to make sure you have a three or four season tent, with a heavy duty rain fly, especially for those early, or later dates.
  • Dry Bags – Dry bags are a necessity on any float trip, as they keep your belongings dry. I personally like to bring one smaller bag to put camera gear in and keep with me all day, and one larger bag for the rest of my belongings that need to stay dry, but can be packed away.
  • Extra Clothing – If your launch date is during peak season, this could mean bringing a couple of extra pairs of board shorts. If you’re launching earlier in the season, this can mean full on winter gear including gloves, hats, and multiple layers of insulation. Don’t be the guy that shows up unprepared. Take the time to pack well in advance, and keep an eye on the extended weather forecast to make sure you pack accordingly.
  • Camp Shoes – It’s nice to take your wet sandals, or heavy wading boots off after a long day on the river. Bring a pair of Crocks or Chacos to wear around in camp.
  • Fishing Gear Montana’s Smith River is home to a wide variety of species, patiently waiting for you to float a San Juan worm past them. (COUGH COUGH… San Juan Worms do well on the Smith, and pretty much anywhere else for that matter.)
  • Fishing License – You can purchase a fishing license at any certified FWP license provider.
  • Collapsable Camping Stove / grill – You’re on the river for almost a week, live it up, and enjoy nice meals in camp. Nobody wants to eat freeze dried meals the whole time.
  • Collapsable Camping Table – There’s nothing worse than trying to cook on the ground, and getting everything messy. Bring at least one collapsable camping table to cook and clean on, and possibly more depending on the size of your party.
  • Cooking Accessories – Depending on the size of your party, and space available in your boat(s), you’ll want to bring plenty of pots & pans, utensils, plates, bowls, and camp mugs (for coffee, whiskey, or both.)
  • Rain Gear I’ll say it again so you don’t forget, BRING YOUR RAIN GEAR.
  • Food – Depending on the size of your group, you’ll want to make sure you have enough food for the five day float, and then a little extra, just incase.
  • Beverages – Be sure to pack plenty of water, gatorade, and other hydrating beverages, along with a handful of adult beverages (If you are of legal age). That being said, the Smith River is an incredible place, and needs to be respected. If you are indulging in adult beverages, be sure to keep the river clean by disposing of trash properly, and most of all make sure to stay safe and be a responsible floater.
  • Bear Spray / Side Arm – The Smith River is known for it’s abundance of black bears, and while taking the right precautions to deter bears can lower your chance of seeing one, it’s always advised to come prepared. Be sure to bring bear spray, or a side arm of your choice, just incase.
  • Bear Resistant Food Storage – It is required to have all of your food stored in bear resistant containers throughout the duration of your float, take this seriously as it is the law, and something that will be double checked and enforced at the time of your launch / throughout the trip.

Step 4: Bon Voyage!

Waking up on the morning of your launch day can be exhilarating, and full of excitement. Smiles grin from cheek to cheek, as floaters chomp at the bit to get their boats rigged and hit the water. Once the boats are rigged, and everything is in order, you patiently wait your turn to launch in the order that you checked in (this is why checking in the day before can come in handy). Take this time to check your gear list, make sure boats are rigged properly, and rig up rods for an epic five days of floating, fishing, and camping along some of the most beautiful landscapes that Montana has to offer. If I had to describe the Smith in one sentence, I’d call it the “Mini Grand Canyon”, only way cooler because it’s located right in our own backyard. Once you hit the water, you might as well turn your cell phone off, and bury it deep in your bags. Trust me, you won’t need it. Floating through the vast canyons of the Smith is spectacular to say the least, and is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. That being said, the scenery isn’t the only spectacular part about it. Great fishing opportunities can be found throughout the entire 61 mile float, as fish will be keying in on streamers, nymphs (cough… San Juan Worms), and dry flies (depending on the time of year).

rage cage, Montana Wild, fly fishing, stoke, snow day, snow, bad weather, fishing, Stoked On The Smith

 

Final Remarks:

Depending on your experience level and ambition, you’re either thinking “Holy crap I’ve gotta do that!” or “Dang, that sounds like a ton of work.” The short answer is that it’s a lot of both, but 100% worth it in my opinion. The Smith River truly is something spectacular, and an opportunity to float it should not be passed up by anyone in their right mind. Some of the best memories of my life have been made along the walls of the Smith, and I’m ecstatic for round two this June. My final piece of advice to you would be to have fun. Enjoy the company you’re with, the lack of cell service, and the abundance of hungry fish and beautiful landscapes. If we all had a little more of that in our lives, the world would be a better place. Watch Stoked On The Smith, below for a large dose of stoke!

 Words & photos: Calvin Connor.

Cinematography – Stoked On The Smith: Travis Boughton, Zack Boughton, Calvin Connor.

SKWLAHALLA, fly fishing, outdoor media, iTunes, Vimeo on demand, stoke, outdoor media, dry fly, fishing film, skwala, Western Montana, skwalla fishing, skwala stonefly, spring fly fishing, fishing movie, outdoor films, fishing films, filmmaking, cinematography, outdoor photography, float fishing

Our latest film, SKWALHALLA has made a big splash in the fly fishing film world, and currently sits in spot #1 of iTunes “New & Noteworthy” sports films, with a five star rating. In other words, you guys rock! So without further ado, we’d like to thank everyone who has supported SKWALHALLA thus far, and look forward to reading more reviews of the film on iTunes in the near future. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the film yet, click HERE, to view 21 minutes of non stop, action packed, savage dry fly eats, all courtesy of Western Montana’s vast waterways.

iTunes, SKWALHALLA, fishing film, fly fishing, Montana Wild, apparel, montanawild apparel company, outdoor film, outdoor media, sports film, iTunes New & Noteworthy

Still not quite convinced? Click below to watch the official trailer for SKWALHALLA, and get stoked on spring fly fishing!

 

As a way of saying thank you for your continued support of Montana Wild and SKWALHALLA, we’re giving away a ton of epic outdoor gear, that’s perfect for your next adventure. Click HERE to find out how YOU could be one of THREE lucky winners that will take home a handful of the new swag shown below, on March 9th.

SKWALHALLA, iTunes, Giveaway, Simms Fishing, Simms Slick Jacket, Fishing, Fly fishing, dry fly, spring fishing, stoke, outdoor gear, giveaway, fishing film, outdoor media, Montana Wild, Montana Wild Apparel, Bozeman, Missoula, Billings, Helena, Butte, Denver,

SKWALHALLA, gear giveaway, fly fishing, spring fishing, stoke, free stuff, fishing gear, outdoor gear, Good Altitude Trucker, buck nasty browns, skwala, stonefly, skwalla, dry fly hatch, stoke, fishing film, outdoor media, iTunes, Vimeo On Demand

Looking for some new gear to bring along on your next fishing trip? Look no further. As part of our launch of SKWALHALLA on iTunes, we’re giving away some of the best fishing gear that money can buy. Sounds like a pretty good deal huh? Well it gets better. For just $2.99 you can watch 21 minutes of non stop, action packed, savage dry fly eats AND be entered to win a Simms Slick Jacket ($300 value), two pairs of Smith Dockside Glasses, a Yeti Rambler, and a Good Altitude Trucker. Not a bad deal for less than the cost of a cold one if you ask us…

 


 

You’re probably thinking “Ok cool, but how do I get entered to win?”, and the answer is simple. Follow the three steps below, and tune into Montana Wild’s Instagram story on Friday March 9th to watch us pick THREE WINNERS.

Step 1: Watch SKWALHALLA on iTunes.

Step 2: Leave a review on iTunes with your thoughts on the film.

Step 3: Keep your fingers crossed, knock on wood, and patiently wait until March 9th.

Prize Packages:

Winner #1: Large Simms Slick Jacket.

Winner #2: Smith Dockside Glasses, Yeti Rambler, and a Good Altitude Trucker.

Winner #3: Smith Dockside Glasses.

Watch SKWALHALLA on iTunes

Still not fully convinced? Check out the official trailer, and get stoked on SKWALHALLA.

Montana Wild, Outdoor Apparel, Stoke, Rifle Build Tee, Fast Food Pheasant Snapback, Wild State Trucker, Montana PRO Buckle Tee, Topo Trout Trucker

With spring just around the corner, chances are you’re looking for some dope new outdoor apparel to wear out on the water, and up in the hills. Good news for you, we’ve got everything you need right here. Whether you’re a die hard fly fisherman, or a custom rifle fanatic, we’ve got the perfect piece of gear for you. Want to do some shopping? Click HERE. You can view our full line of apparel under the SHOP section of our website, or scroll down to check out the latest and greatest from Montana Wild. Don’t wait too long, they’ll be gone before you know it!

Topo Trout Trucker

The Topo Trout Trucker simply put is the bees knees. This leather patch hat is clean and simple. Rep your trout addiction with pride.

-Premium Airflow Trucker Mesh

-Premium leather patch

-Curved brim

 

 

Topo Trout Trucker, Montana Wild, Fly Fishing, Stoke, Apparel, Bozeman, Missoula, Billings, Helena, Denver, fishing, trout, hunting, outdoor media, fly fishing film, SKWLHALLA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MW Trout Trucker

Montana Wild has teamed up with Simms Fishing for a deadly trout trucker hat combo. Get them before they’re gone!

-Snapback (one size fits most)

-Crown Fit: Low

-Simms Premium Thread Design

-Limited Edition

 

 

MW Trout Trucker, Montana Wild, Hunting, Fishing, Fly fishing, Montana, Bozeman, Billings, Helena, Missoula, Denver, fishing film, outdoor media, stoke, get bent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild State Trucker

Rep your favorite state in style with our new Wild State Trucker. We all know you’re a little wild and that you love the greatest state of all-time…Montana.

– Premium airflow trucker mesh back

– Premium Branded Bills leather patch

 

 

Wild State Trucker, Montana Wild, apparel, stoke, Montana, hunting, fishing, rodeo, western, fly fishing, brown trout, last best place, hunting, elk hunting, deer hunting, western

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast Food Pheasant Snapback

Own the most badass pheasant hat on the planet. The Fast Food Pheasant Snapback is a show stopper to say the least. Wear it in the field while you hunt upland birds, or on the water while you slay bucknasty browns. Available in maroon (flat brim) and black (curved brim).

-Snapback (one size fits most)

-Premium Thread Design

-Premium Branded Bills leather patch

 

 

Fast Food Pheasant Snapback, Montana Wild, apparel, outdoor apparel, upland, bird hunting, hunting, bird dog, fast food, stoke, prairie, game bird, shotgun, Montana wild

 

 

 

 

 

Montana PRO Buckle Tee

The rodeo inspired Montana PRO Buckle Tee is the perfect way to show off your Montana pride. This limited edition colorway is only here until its gone!

-Fits true to size

-Soft to touch

-M|L|XL|2XL

Montana Wild, Outdoor Media, fly fishing, hunting, conservation, film, photography, stoke, second amendment, Montana, Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, Denver, rodeo, western, Montana PRO Buckle Tee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rifle Build Tee

Who isn’t dreaming about their next rifle build? Hit the range, mountains, or night on the town in style in our new Rifle Build Tee. Comfortable, classic fitting, and ready for your next adventure. We love guns, do you?

-Soft to touch

-Fits true to size

-Super Soft Print

-M|L|XL|2XL

bucknasty browns II, film, fishing, brown trout

First off I’d like to say Thank You to all 127 people who backed our Kickstarter!  Your support means a lot and goes a long way in helping us create future films.  Unfortunately we didn’t meet our goal on Kickstarter and you will not be charged for your support of the Kickstarter.  If you’d like take that money and spend it to support future Montana Wild Fishing films please consider supporting our new film SKWALHALLA which will release in full on February 1st.  You can currently pre-order the film and be entered into a giveaway for a Simms hip pack.

bucknasty browns, kickstarter, fishing, brown trout, montana wildThe failure of this campaign probably was a result of quite a few things.  Starting the campaign over the holidays meant people had and were spending their hard earned money elsewhere, we also had less than a week to plan and create the Kickstarter which was just a necessity given our time and hunting season lasting till the end of November.  With little time to plan the campaign it was tough to convey what the funding would actually go towards.  The reason we wanted to raise $12,000 was to fund the actual production of a film given the guidelines of our Kickstarter campaign.  A five part web series and a film released through iTunes, Amazon, and Vimeo On Demand would have cost well in excess of $12,000.  Permits for commercial filming would have cost in excess of $350 per day in NZ and trying to capture a 5-6 week trip would have been a costly endeavor.  Add in music licensing which would have been thousands and then paying a 3rd party to upload to iTunes and Amazon and we are pushing 10K easy.  Then add in our time and extra expense to take time to film and properly document our trip each day and then spend weeks to edit and you can see that it is a costly project.  A few haters had a good time claiming this was just a way to fund an extravagant trip to NZ.  That’s false as we will still be going to NZ on our own dime and no we aren’t trust fund babies, we do in fact work like everyone else for our money.

With that said we will no longer be filming Bucknasty Browns as outlined in our Kickstarter campaign.  The chances of us doing any filming outside of some personal shots is slim to none.  That brings me to my final point, if you do in fact value our fishing films and want to continue to see us create more we NEED your support.  If half our followers rented our film SKWALHALLA we would be planning a LOT more fishing films.  Right now that’s far, far from the case despite over 20K views of the trailer in the first week.  And as you can read HERE, that film took us three years and was funded 100% out of our own pocket to try to give our fans something they’ve yet to see and get them stoked to set foot on the river with fly rod in hand.

The content landscape is quickly changing but without fan support our content delivery which includes lots of free content will be diminished.  The market will dictate our actions and right now it’s shifting in ways difficult to predict.  If you have comments, advice or input related to this or fishing films in general we’d love to hear from you.  And again, thank you to those who have supported our projects, the Kickstarter and future films and projects!

Zack Boughton

skwalhalla, skwala, skwala hatch, montana, wild, film, video, bitterroot river
montana, spring, bitterroot river, bitterroot, skwala, skwala hatch, fishing

A large squall that narrowly missed us on a spring float.

Winter is long in most of the West.  Many fisherman have gone months without handling a fly rod and have either went into full hibernation or have been busy tying flies for the upcoming spring.  Late January and early February the temps start to rise and nymphing can be good, especially with the ever deadly San Jaun worm.  It works but it also gets old quick.  Fortunately the skwala hatch is just around the corner.  In limited spots across the West a medium sized stonefly called the Skwala (skwala americana) begins its emergence onto river banks, logs and other structure around the river.  Emerging from their shucks they begin to crawl around and eventually search for a mate.  After mating the females return to the water to lay their eggs and the lifecycle continues its cycle.

montana, spring, bitterroot river, bitterroot, skwala, skwala hatch, fishing

A male skwala stonefly

That’s a highly simplified version but the key here is that the trout start looking up in a big way.  Being able to toss a size 10 foam body dry fly in the middle of a snowstorm to a 20″ brown will absolutely change your perspective on spring fishing.  But that doesn’t mean the hatch is easy to hit perfectly.  Fishing a day here or there means you might not even get a glimpse of the potential and could very well think the hatch sucks and why would a guy waste his time throwing a dry when nothing eats it?  Given spring in Montana weather and water temps can drastically change as well as river flows.  The hatch can pop one day and be dead the next even without a significant weather/temp change.  It can be good in one five mile stretch one day and in an entirely different area the next.  Often a few bugs show up around mid-February and can last well into April.  Finding the right window on the right stretch is the tough part.  But when you hit it right it’s absolutely amazing.  Big fish and even bigger eats.

montana, spring, bitterroot river, bitterroot, skwala, skwala hatch, fishing, montana

A hefty cutbow that ate a skwala dry.

After a few years of talking about making a film to show the highlights of the hatch we finally decided to go for it.  That was 2015 and with no funding and no real plan we filmed 4 days that spring.  That year gave us just a taste of what was to come as only one of those days really worked as far as getting any good shots on camera.  We then filmed 11 days in 2016 knowing that we needed more good footage to really capture the eats we had hoped to show.  Filming fishing is always a tough gig.  You can almost count on the fishing to be worse the second the camera comes out, it’s just how it is.  Throw in missing shots, having the exposure or focus wrong or just not being in the right place at the right time and you’re lucky if you log 5-10 really great shots in a day.  We now had filmed enough eats but the bug footage was lacking.  Actually capturing the bugs hatching had been tough and we decided we needed one more year to round out the footage and add a few more good fish to the mix.  After three years and over 20 days spent filming we called it complete and got to editing.  A few long weeks in the edit bay left us with a rough cut and another week of polishing saw the film finished and complete.  Three years and lots of work, money invested, long days and even longer nights and we are proud to present the trailer for SKWALHALLA.  The full film will be available for purchase on Vimeo On Demand on February 1st and is now available for Pre-Order at this link > https://vimeo.com/ondemand/skwalhalla  Enjoy the teaser!

Please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest deals and news surrounding both this film and also our brand.  Trust me when I say it will be worth it.

-Written by Zack Boughton