New season, new flies! Lots of activity on the vise both with the tried/true and the fresh/new like the Flash Minnow. I cannot honestly say there has been a lot of fishing going on in 2017. That is until last week when we celebrated my better halvs' birthday up on the Missouri River out of Craig. She proceeded to find big rainbows such as the one above throughout the trip, typical. The third strip of the season for me brought the below gorgeous big brown to hand up on the Missouri River. How about that? It ate one of the hot new colorways of the Smoke 'N Mirrors, the Half & Half. More on that soon, including a tying video. You can find that fly at Headhunters in Craig, along with many other excellent flies and oddities. Orders are going out to many of our wonderful dealers, and we could not be happier about the new shops that are supporting local tying programs like ours.
Montana Troutfitters in Bozeman and the Grizzly Hackle in Missoula will be carrying solid lineups in '17 and both shops also make sure to keep the fly tying contingent happy with classes and great material selections. In fact, just a few weeks back Troutfitters had me in tying for a great crowd during their Saturday tying expos. And this coming Saturday, the Grizzly Hackle is hosting their 13th annual "Customer Appreciation Day," and I will be there tying along with teaching. We will have a few tying setups ready to go for those who would like to learn a new pattern and come away with a one of a kind goody. It is very exciting to be involved with such a great group of fly shops, and we are proud to offer American tied patterns for their customers. On another note, the snowpack levels in the surrounding ranges are looking pretty good, or at least not terrible. Certain ranges and regions are looking magnificent, such as the Upper Yellowstone, Snake and Wind/Big Horn drainages. Higher, cooler flows should keep the parasite at bay that shut down the 'Stone last year. It is possible that the fish in the Paradise Valley area will have less competition and therefore we may see an average size increase across the board for a few seasons. "The Valley of the Dead Whitefish" still has plenty of the sporty natives, don't you worry. Losing tens of thousands of them means that much less in the way for the remaining inhabitants and dinner. The fishing over there in the spring is a true thing of beauty and is a freestone river at its finest. If you find yourself in one of the "windows" where the weather and the water form a truce, hold on. Many of the truly outrageous days on the water happen between now and June 1st. Weather dependent.
We have a whole array of new flies coming out this spring, from a number of different sources. Smack between those two Missouri River dandies is a quick sneak peak at the Flash Minnow. This deadly little baitfish blends a proper jig hook, Clouser-style composition, the infamous Kreelex, and Dirty Water durability to create an extremely effective and very user friendly fly. There are multiple sizes, and many of you will find them in your local shop this spring and the smaller sizes however it is awesome in the larger sizes. Sticking to the easy casting, simple design, and deadly effective mantra, the Flash Minnow is good one to have in the repertoire no matter where you are at. 2017 is building to be a great season, and there is a whole megaload of media coming down the pipeline for the people to feast on. Including long overdue tying videos, proper fly action video work, and general angling content. The forecast has moisture moving in and out, and we are hoping to see the March Madness storms start to pile up snow in high country to keep everyone and everything happy this summer. Hopefully we will see you around the shop!
-Dirty Water Dan
Veteran's Day this year is reminder of what a our nation needs to be keep in mind following an incredibly controversial election. Trust in the three branches of government, show optimism, and focus on your life and job. That is what my grandfather fought three wars for and subsequently spent the rest of his life fighting off the health repercussions. Fishing across the board has been stellar regardless of the constant presence of the big fireball for the last three weeks. Word on the weather front has clouds, and dare we say precip,
arriving at week's end. Locals are hoping for a dose of storms to rumble through, bringing clouds as seen in the image above. Three eagles perched in crispy pine skeletons above Hebgen Lake, with mysterious cloud ceilings hanging about. No coincidence we encountered big trout, including a 5+ lb male brown that charged the Smoke 'N Mirrors JJ
with a JAWS-like wake from ten feet away. Upon a fantastic stripset by my gorgeous partner in crime, Naomi, he gave three catapulting leaps and a lengthy tail walk right towards the boat. He finished us off by executing a perfect hook-spit right in our face. Very exciting. Jumping tarpo-bronsons.
For anglers heading out this weekend, the sun doesn't rise nearly as high this time of the year and consequently fish will still rise and will absolutely hammer a streamer. Your doesn't fly doesn't necessarily need to be smaller, but your tackle needs to be adapted for softer delivery and less line spook. There have been plenty of disappointing days with ideal conditions, but most big fish I have caught have been when the sun is present. Spend the first and last hours light fishing shallow edges, and should you see a downward trend in activity, move to deeper edges, current seams, and the core part of bigger runs. Longer sinking lines are a requirement for proper delivery, something 24' or longer that can be easily casted a good distance and left to sink depending on depth/current are an absolute requirement. For ideal sink rate, make sure to keep the line strait with a hint of slack off of the rod tip during the sinking period. This allows the line to sink efficiently through the water column, and if a fish eats on the drop you have a decent chance at sticking that fish. Whereas a mend or any additional slack farther out will guarantee a miss and the angler probably won't even have known it happened. Anytime I see "nymph mends" going on from other anglers, it always scares me. Tight fly lines hook big fish better.
It is important to focus on our local fisheries, communities, and other natural resources during times of political turmoil. And to go fishing. This Montana steelhead took our minds of the banter by going off the charts, as if she was one of many angry liberals seen and heard on social media. She suuked down a 99cent Lingerie Worm
on a fast edge before giving us a piece of her mind. Many Americans may feel like that rainbow trout after the last week. I do not think anyone feels like the angler. Let us continue as a country that has been around a few years, please.
Get out and enjoy what has been fought for by our people,
Dirty Water Dan
As the maiden entry to the "Dirty Water Flow" blog, the territory is a bit unfamiliar however the content is excellent. Fishing reports and fly tying stuff today. Fall came to Montana in mid-September, and for the most part it has been excellent conditions for local and traveling anglers. We have seen the camo-dawning crowd move to the fields, hills, and swamps, leaving the big rivers wide open. Plus, keeping the bobber off is easy this time of the year with the streamer bite offering shots at large trout and the blue wing olives hatching to keep your eyes squinting for noses and tiny dries. Earlier this week, the Missouri provided fantastic streamer annihilation along with big trout sipping dries through out the day. Fly of the trip - Smoke N Mirrors - #4 JJ Special. See below.
The north rockies are a great spot to fish this time of the year, and I would suggest the big rivers and even lakes as a place to start. Conditions dependent of course, as the fall wind can be brutal. Think light spey rods when it is blowing. Haven't done it? Then this would be the time. In Wyoming, the North Platte drainage is legendary for its fall fishing, giant orange browns, and equally colorful weather. Anglers down in Idaho have a myriad of options, and many folks have the South Fork of the Snake on their mind if they aren't lost in thought about steelhead. Montana rivers rebounded from a straining, warm summer with above average river conditions currently found on the Madison, Missouri, Big Hole, and Yellowstone Rivers. Check out our dealers page to find a local source of info for a fall trip.
Above, you can see the eyes that your streamers deserve. Dirty Dumbbell eyes are anodized brass eyes that offer an irresistible look to eye of the fish and angler alike. Durability is fantastic, and they keep looking great all day long. In combination with the matching cones, there is a wide variety of different weight schemes that can be conjured to fit a specific bill. They can be purchased on the site as singles, in 6/12/&24 packs, and in bulk. In stock, ready to ship. Best in the business.
Wrapping up the inaugural post with a few more words of advice for fall fishing. Do no under estimate stealth when regarding your leaders and presentation this time of the year, these trout have seen it all and it especially important to go undetected as they have heightened senses. And not just for dry flies. For instance, try adding a couple feet of 8-10lb maxima to your standard 12-15lb streamer leader. The fly will land smoother and prevent line spooking your next trophy. This is NOT high water, make an entrance, and hold on fishing. It IS however the kind of fishing that can result in the fish of your life with a little timing and attention to detail on presentation. Lastly, give the spawning fish a break by keeping out of the smaller waters where they are momentarily trapped and also off of the shallow shoals where they do their thing. Put in a bit more time and find a big brown that wont lose its ability to make sweet love and grow its family tree. Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should. The rainbows are genuinely angry this time of the year too, and will earn respect as streamer eaters in between the jumbo browns.
Firm strips and hard strikes,
-Dirty Water Dan