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PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 1:36 pm 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: Ellsworth
All......

Just returned from two weeks in Montana. One week on the Missouri....and a week on the Bighorn. It's almost impossible to hit both rivers perfectly....as they are in different areas of a very large state......and have different dam controls.

First: The Missouri. Just a wonderful experience. Seven of us flew into Bozeman, rented vans, and drove about 2.5 hours north to the Craig/Dearborn area. Here in Maine almost all of our rivers flow south...it's a bit different to be fishing a river where "downstream" is North. Kind of strange.

THe fishing wasn't strange. It was the best I've experienced in at least the last decade....perhaps longer. The water was a very good temperature, the flow level was ideal for wading. Guys at one of the shops in Craig actually said we were "Old School" to be wading instead of hiring Guides (from their shop---presumably). Yeah, well.........at $550 per day (plus $100 tip) I'll pass. We caught [plenty of trout (mostly large, hard-fighting Rainbows....with a smattering of Browns throw in for good measure) wading by ourselves without Guides........and it cost us about $1.00 a day in gas.

The hot flies were almost all nymphs......emphasis on SMALL nymphs. (For the record I'm calling all the underwater patterns we fished "nymphs"......knowing full well some of them were pupas (Caddis) and some larvas (midges). The three main patterns we fished were #20 PT's (with a bead); #22 Zebra Midges (w/red beads) and Madison Micro Midges. I don't believe pattern mattered......as much as size. Going above #20 was basically casting practice. We might have gotten away with 18;s, but your catch rate plummeted.

I was fishing my Winston BiiiX 4 weight.......and switched up to the BiiiX 5. The four just wasnt enough rod for the large trout and the bad-ass current we were trying to drag the trout back up into. I felt I was stressing the rod too much.

Virtually every trout went WAY into the backing......several times. That much fun should be illegal. Just a blast.

Equipement failure: :evil: :evil: Normally there isn't even a hint of equipment mal-function. As flyfishing is my only sport (other than running) I get the absolute best stuff I can buy. Two of my five weight reels failed on this trip. To say that I was #disappointed/#pissed off/ and # stunned would be an understatement.

The first failure was on my (beloved) 1974 Orvis (Hardy) CFO IV. Maybe my favorite trout reel of all time. I lost two large hard-fighting Bows because the spool has developed some "sloop" or play.......between the line guard and the spool....and my flyline jammed in there. I'll also have to work on the coating of the line to smooth it back out. :evil: The reel went out to Bill Archuletta in Oregon today. I hope he can shim it to make it work again.

The other reel failure was an almost new Abel ported Super 4N. We buys Abel's because they're (supposedly) bullet-proof. Apparently.......not so much. It was taking a 20+ inch trout to even take line off the spool! I had to manually strip line to give it to the trout to keep them from breaking my tippet: and that was with the drag completely dis-engaged. Disappointing...to say the least. I called Abel.......which is now really just a re-branded more expensive Ross; since Abel was bought by Ross; even though they're supposed (key word there) to be different companies.....all reels are now manufactured at the Ross facility in Colorado. The rep sort of got an ear-full when he said (quote) That reel should almost free-spool with the drag off". Yeah...no **** was my reply. What I was thinking cant be printed here on a family site. That #### isn't supposed to happen with $500 dollar reels.

Also_ Felts work great on slippery rocks.......but are dangerous on mud. I face-planted once in shallow water (thankfully) slipping on them. I should have taken my rubber soles for the mud. Live and learn.

No pics........as Photobucket wants $$$ to put them up.........but you all know what 18/19/20/etc Rainbows look like.

I did have breathing problems from all the forest fires in the immediate area. I had to use my inhalers (plural) every day. Earthquakes (several) forest fires (several) and a drowning (thankfully only one) made for an interesting week.

TR #2 will be on the Bighorn.

Dave M

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PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 2:24 pm 
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The CFO IV is my favorite reel as well. I had a problem with a rivet on a pawl and Arch fixed it up, he's the best. I have a couple Abel reels also, I had to send a BG1 back this winter to get fixed. In fairness to abel, they fixed it for free (and this was an old reel).


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PostPosted: August 1st, 2017, 3:45 am 
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And here i thought that trout reels were just jewelry to hold line when it wasn't in use ;)

I can't believe that with all the big bugs in those western rivers, that the fish resort to eating #22 PMDs (Hutch's post) and #20 PTs in this one... that is just maddeningly small for my tastes :)

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PostPosted: August 1st, 2017, 3:46 am 
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PS - I am using Imgur now for photos and it is working okay.... took a little getting used to.

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PostPosted: August 1st, 2017, 7:14 am 
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TGIF wrote:
And here i thought that trout reels were just jewelry to hold line when it wasn't in use ;)

I can't believe that with all the big bugs in those western rivers, that the fish resort to eating #22 PMDs (Hutch's post) and #20 PTs in this one... that is just maddeningly small for my tastes :)



Tim.......

That was the thing that I was most surprised about when I started fishing the West. I grew up reading Joe Brooks and Charlie Waterman writing about fishing #4 Stonefly nymphs and #6 Salmonfly dries......and was totally unprepared for the tiny flies that I would need out there.

The main reason for the tiny flies is that both the Missouri and Bighorn are, in effect, giant Spring Creeks........because of the influence of the dams......and totally unlike Freestone rivers that we're used to around here. Where we're fishing the Missouri it's about 1000 feet wide. The Bighorn is smaller.....but not by much.

Dave M

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PostPosted: August 1st, 2017, 7:36 am 
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Unfortunately, the only reasons we have to go to Montana are mostly all on the western border... my father in law was born in Helena, but grew up in Missoula. Those rivers are all more like the Freestone variety. Perhaps one of these days I'll get out to the Mo... if so, I wont be short on #20 nymphs... if i can figure out how the hell to tie them :)

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PostPosted: August 1st, 2017, 7:17 pm 
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As always great reads. always look forward to your western TR's. Sorry to hear that you had warm/high water for some of your trip.

Ron

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PostPosted: August 1st, 2017, 7:56 pm 
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Great read Dave, sounds like another fantastic trip. I love the Micro Madison Midge, I've done very well on that pattern here in Maine. Probably spends more time in the water for me then anything else.

Peter

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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2017, 10:36 am 
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Location: in search of trout in WNC
Great TR Dave.

How about some details of your nymphing?
I assume 6x tippet for the flies. Were you RA nymphing? How long was your leader? How deep was the area where the fish were? Were you sight fishing or blind casting?

I am planning a trip to the S Holston/ Watauga rivers later in the fall and need to tune my nymphing skills.

BTW, both tail waters just a 2 hour drive from my house :o

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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2017, 11:15 am 
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dale b wrote:
Great TR Dave.

How about some details of your nymphing?
I assume 6x tippet for the flies. Were you RA nymphing? How long was your leader? How deep was the area where the fish were? Were you sight fishing or blind casting?

I am planning a trip to the S Holston/ Watauga rivers later in the fall and need to tune my nymphing skills.

BTW, both tail waters just a 2 hour drive from my house :o



Hi Dale!

Yes...I virtually always use a right angle nymphing system. My regular hand tied leader out to 2X.....tie on the TMB, then straight 5X or 5.5 X flouro right to the first nymph (usually the #20 bh PT). I tried hanging a dropper off the PT, but in the wind and with long upstream drifts there was too much tangling...so I just went with the point fly from then on. During Trico hatches I cut off the PT and went with the red head Zebra Midge in size 22.

The depth of the area we were fishing was about belly button deep.....so 3 to 4 feet depending. There was no problem with grass when we got there, but in a week he grass just exploded.

We were doing both sight fishing and blind casting. If the trout were showing it was a bonus......but there are so many trout......upwards of 5000 per mile that you're always fishing over trout.....no worries there.

The fecundity of these rivers is just amazing. Sitting on the bank afte fishing I'd pick dozens of Mayfly nymphs off my gravel guards, and most were true size 26's or even 28's.

There were rafts of Trike Spinners on the Missouri.....but the trout hadn't keyed into them when we were there. I bet they are now, however. It takes the trout a few days to figure it out.

Dave M

PS: I hope I'm not crapping on anybody's ride here......but the Dodge Caravans ( or equivalent......really key word there) we rented happened to be Kia Sedonas. The steering on those were the loosest of any vehicle I've ever driven. True.....I'm used to the steering on my Mercedes Sport....tight as all get out......but those Kia's were almost dangerous until I got the hang of how terrible they were. Just awful.

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PostPosted: August 15th, 2017, 4:15 pm 
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Dave, you ever run into any snakes of the poisonous variety while out there? Maybe Hutch can chime in as well. I've been invited out there to fish and want to know what to expect......I AM NOT A SNAKE GUY!


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PostPosted: August 15th, 2017, 4:42 pm 
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Hey Flyfish15--

We see snakes every day...but all but one have been harmless- Saw one snake I think was a rattle snake but we both were moving quite fast in different directions. I hate snakes- but wouldn't let them slow me down in going west.

Hutch

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PostPosted: August 15th, 2017, 7:27 pm 
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Another reason to go in September.
The snow will make the snakes less of a problem.
And he was moving really fast as he went past me muttering about big snakes.
But the fishing in that spot was very good.


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2017, 7:58 am 
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Flyfish15 wrote:
Dave, you ever run into any snakes of the poisonous variety while out there? Maybe Hutch can chime in as well. I've been invited out there to fish and want to know what to expect......I AM NOT A SNAKE GUY!

Flyfish......

Yeah.....there ARE snakes; sometimes very BIG snakes. Supposedly the Missouri is rattlesnake central, but I've truthfully never had any problems whatsoever with them. You do hear stories while you're on the river, but it's really isn't a problem if you're careful. I don't like snakes either.

I have had a couple of close calls on the Bighorn. I was on the sticks a few years ago below Three Mile when we saw a HUGE snake......like a six or seven footer swimming on a direct line to our boat. Yikes!! I backrowed like the dickens to get away from that one. We didn't think it was a rattler......we thought Bull Snake.....and those suckers are very aggressive.

Last year I was playing a big Rainbow below first island and released it......heading back up to my spot when I almost stepped on a six footer. Geesus! I jumped about four feet into the air and yelped like a schoolgirl. My Buddies thought it was pretty funny......but I was spooked for a couple of days. I didn't actually see the tail.....so I won't swear that it was a rattler.......but I'm pretty certain it was.

We often hear of rattlers on the trail heading down from the dam.......so we're awfully careful where we put our feet on that trail.

Don't not go because of the snakes.......but DO be cautious. Those suckers can kill you......and dying is a really shitty way to end a good fishing trip. ;-)

Dave M

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"Fish the West every year. Life is short; and you'll be dead a long time." Chris Hutchins--2009


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