Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fishing and Fly Tying

Summer Has Arrived

In mid-June around here, the weather decides to turn incredibly nice for 3-4 months. During this time, there is no need to look at the weather forecast. You can mostly expect to wake up to another beautiful day aside from an occasional afternoon thunderstorm, especially in the mountains. The snow melts in the mountains and the creeks turn gin-colored. Bugs begin to crawl to the surface of the rivers and the trout begin to eat them. And crazy people like myself, try to imitate these bugs, put them on a hook and a line, and try to catch them for some reason. Most of the time we let these beautiful fish go, but occasionally you can take a few and make fish tacos or a delicious trout dinner. This view here, can be seen from the bank of most Montana rivers and streams. Beautiful day:

All the Hype

Fishing reports, in my opinion, tend to be similar to ski reports. Mostly a bunch of dirt-bags (like myself) getting overly excited about a situation and spreading false information to get everyone else overly excited. You really can't get a true report until you get out yourself and throw the stuff you have in your fishing bag (or vest if you're into that kind of thing) to the fish. Not to mention, each tiny section of the river can vary, just like traffic on an Interstate Highway. You may have to pass through all the construction on I-15 in Ogden, UT or you may be cruising smooth on I-87 past Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. Throw in a bunch of other factors, such as driving a beat up old clunker, like maybe a VW Bus or an Eagle from the early 80's, that doesn't go above 55 MPH, and you have yourself a difficult day on the Interstate, I mean river. Does that make sense or am I rambling like a bumbling idiot?

The hype was big on this day. "Salmonflies are out!" I heard and read on the reports."It's game on!" a friend told me. The Salmon Fly hatch is an important event around here and for good reason. Fish spend the entire spring getting beat up by snowmelt runoff, and when it finally clears and the water level drops, there happens to be big bugs that fit in the palm of your hand, crawling to the banks and flying around. The trout go absolutely crazy for these bugs and when you can hit the hatch right, it's euphoria. Well, of course, being a fellow dirt-bag, I believed all the hype and headed to the Madison River 10 miles down the road with hopes of hitting euphoria.

Not Quite Euphoria, but Good Times

That's my friend Randell with the fish of the day. A healthy 23 inch brown trout. Randell is a great friend I've met through playing music in Bozeman. This fish has been around awhile, and has the battle scars to prove it. The river was still WAY high, and it was WAY dirty, so we were stuck to hunt for fish underneath the surface. I would much rather do this anyway. Don't get me wrong, I like to fish with a dry fly, but, c'mon, the big fish don't rise to the surface. Except for a Salmon Fly. We caught a handful of fish and brought a couple nice trout to the boat. We saw ONE Salmon Fly on this particular stretch of "Interstate" and a bird flew by and ate it. Not on this day, but "The Salmon Flies are here!!".......any day now, I swear. We were happy to be in the sun, floating down one of the most beautiful rivers I've ever seen. Here's another closer look at Randells hammer of a trout. Beautiful fish:

What did that fish eat?
This particular fish happened to eat a Prince Nymph. The Prince is a go to favorite for fishing under the surface of the water, and is an attractor nymph that imitates a wide variety of insects in the river. You can get these flies at a fly shop. After a number of years spending my hard earned money at the fly shop, only to see my bugs get snagged on a submerged tree branch or rock and get broken off, I began to dabble in the art of tying my own flies. I have quite the collection of feathers and fur of different animals used to create these flies. Some people take it further by ordering their chickens in the spring and getting the "Fly Tyers Special".... We'll leave that guy nameless.

Step by Step to Tying a Prince Nymph ( I bet you can't wait!)

It all starts here, at my fly tying bench that I made. At our house in Bozeman, I kept it in the basement and it usually had feathers and fur everywhere. I wanted it in the living room at our new house to keep me motivated and that has kept me keeping it clean and organized as well.

I figured the first two photos were self explanatory. The next step involves tying some lead wire on your hook so that there is more weight for your fly to sink to the bottom of the river. This is where the rest of the bugs usually are and that's where the fish are eating.

I then take some feathers from a goose, goose biot to be exact, and tie on a tail:

If your pet peacock has run off to the neighbors house, you'll need to go to the fly shop and buy a bag of this. Peacock herl. I use this in a ton of different flies.

I usually grab 3 strands and twist them together to make one large strand. Here's how you tie it on, and begin wrapping it around your hook.

This next feather is one from the neck of a hen, or female chicken.

I may have lost some of you by now.

Almost done

The final touch is another piece of white goose biot to imitate the wings.

There you have it. The stripped down basic version of tying a Prince Nymph. There is something exciting about creating this and having a trout eat it. I still remember the excitement of a trout eating my first black woolly bugger and it goes from there. I'll leave you with a picture of a brown trout I caught this weekend that was an honest 18 inches. He ate a Copper John. I won't bore you with that one. But.....stay tuned for the Salmon Fly update cause the big bugs are here and its game on!!!