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.
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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!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.