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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

My first time hearing about the Simms SHOOT OUT was in 2011, where I got my first glimpse at a fly fishing film competition.  I wanted to compete in the SHOOT OUT one day, and the thought stuck in the back of my mind.  In 2012 we were disappointed when we had heard that the 2012 SHOOT OUT filmakers had already been chosen, and once again sat back and watched the videos that were released.  Last year really motivated us to kick some ass and get into the 2013 SHOOT OUT.   Here we are mid-April and the moment we have been waiting for has finally come.  We are stoked to have the opportunity to be one of four film makers competing in the Simms SHOOT OUT!

simms, shoot, out, montana, wild

Zack and I are dedicated to putting together an amazing video.  The competition requires us to film with one Simms guide for 2 days, and then 24 hours to put the video together.  The interesting part is we will not know who we are filming with until the night before our first filming day.  We are excited and cannot wait for the event to start!

We head out for Bozeman this morning.  Make sure to follow our daily behind the scenes SHOOT OUT photos on Instagram @montanawild!  We will be giving our viewers a behind the scenes look at what is going on so everyone can stay in the loop.  Also you will get your chance on Thursday/Friday April 25th & 26th to vote for your favorite SHOOT OUT film via text message.  Stay tuned!!!

 

-Travis

brown trout, montana, wild, streamers, winter, 2013, rain

December in Montana.  The weather is unpredictable and many have put up the fly rods and rifles for the year.  It’s a risk-reward time of the year when it comes down to fishing.  Just catching fish is a success and often it’s just painfully slow on the water.  With the rain steadily falling we threw the waders in the truck and met up with Anthony from the False Casts and Flat Tires crew and hit the road.  Not surprisingly we were the first truck at the access.  We figured most would settle for a beer and some football on a cold rainy day with the mercury hovering just above 40 degrees.  Our plan was to settle for a beer and some streamers on a piece of water we hadn’t visited in a good 6 months.  It only took about 5 minutes before Anthony decided to get the ball rolling.

brown trout, montana, wild, streamer, rain, winter, outdoors, videos, 2013

We quickly moved upstream with eats in almost every hole.  I quickly was on the board when a beautiful brown hammered my fly just feet from me as I was finishing my retrieve.

brown trout, montana, wild, streamer, rain, winter, outdoors, videos, 2013

brown trout, montana, wild, streamer, rain, winter, outdoors, videos, 2013

It was almost silly the streamer bite was so good.  Any decent water seemed to hold a fiery brown willing to mount a vicious attack on any invader of its territory.  Soon Anthony had another killer fish on.  He had been holding in a very small sliver of water, and a precise cast fooled him.

brown trout, montana, wild, streamer, rain, winter, outdoors, videos, 2013

We kept skipping past each other as we fished upstream.  Soon Travis was hollering just upriver.  I looked and saw the Echo doubled over.  I quickly made it to him to help net his fish.  After a few minutes it was apparent this wasn’t just any fish.  This was a PIG!  After a couple close calls I finally slipped the net under a rainbow that could be mistaken for one straight out of Alaska.

rainbow trout, monster, montana, wild, AK, streamer, rain, winter

rainbow trout, monster, montana, wild, AK, streamer, rain, winter

We snapped a few hero photos of this stud rainbow and then let him slink back to his lair.

rainbow trout, monster, montana, wild, AK, streamer, rain, winter

After everyone’s success it was time to crack open a cold PBR and take it all in.  Laughs were had all the way around.  Despite the inclement weather it had easily turned into one of the best days on the water.  We had been fortunate enough to catch one of those moments where the fish are just eating and it doesn’t matter what you put in front of their face.  Unfortunately this brown wasn’t so fortunate.  He had seen his last Montana summer and most likely had died of old age.

brown trout, dead, winter, montana, pbr, river, 2012

Again we kept the streamer train moving.  After our early success we soon began to loose a little steam.  Multiple eats resulted in near misses and the hook just didn’t set.  The rain had subsided and the bite seemed to cool off.  I was able to trick one last brown though.

brown trout, montana, winter, wild, outdoors, streamers

He was a solid fighter as he took to the air 3 or 4 times before finally making it to the net.  It’s always fun to see the differences between every brown trout.  Some are bright and others more subdued in color.  The size, shape and type of jaw always seem to vary and are one of my favorite species of trout to catch.  It had been a stellar couple of hours, but all good things must come to an end.  As we worked back down stream we were left with nary a bite.  As quickly as it had started it had shut down.  We hit the golden hour that day and all left with smiles on our faces.  I want to thank Anthony for bringing his camera and snapping some killer photos.  I’m sure we’ll be back on the water soon.  If you haven’t fished in the winter before then get out and get after it!  You don’t catch fish on the couch.

brown trout, montana, winter, wild, outdoors, streamers, slab

-Zack