Time Flies

It is the most amazing experience watching the passage of time through the growth of my little girl. Every summer seems to fly by but this summer has gone faster than any other before.

It started in May, full of anticipation and uncertainty. During my first couple of guide days through the end of the month, half of Southwest Montana was on high alert just incase Gwyneth had to be rushed to the Hospital. I was expecting to be flagged down on the river and to be rowing like crazy to get to the boat ramp and driving like a mad man to Missoula, but thankfully our little girl cooperated and I didn’t have to cut any guide days short.

Then in June, Jessie Blythe made her grand entrance. An uneventful Friday night at home was interrupted by Jessie starting to make her big move into the world. After Gwyneth’s water breaking, we quickly found a dog sitter and made the hour and a half drive to Missoula. After a stressful 13 hours we finally met our beautiful little girl. The rest of the month was really kind of a blur. Gwyneth and I trading off night shifts to watch Jessie, each of us filled with a combination of sleeplessness, amazement and joy. Both sets of Grandparents visiting; bringing car loads of gifts and foods, giving a helping hand and admiring their new grand baby. Meanwhile, I was headed back to the river, catching the end of the Stone Fly hatch on Rock Creek and spending a few days on the Missouri.

By July guide season was in full swing. I was busy bouncing back and forth between the Big Hole, Bitterroot and Madison Rivers while Gwyneth and Jessie were figuring out a routine. These were also my first nights away from home and realizing how quickly Jessie would grow and change in just a few days. One of my favorite songs over the last couple of years took on a new meaning and truth, Sturgill Simpson: Welcome To Earth (Pollywog). While I was away Jessie went on her first big adventure with Mom, flying to California to visit her grandparents and to be introduced to more family and friends.

August brought the dog daze of summer along with Jessie continuing to experience her firsts. My grind continued by having memorable days on the Big Hole, Blackfoot, Rock Creek and Bitterroot Rivers. The highlight being a rainy day on the Big Hole while netting the first “grand slam” in my boat; a happy client catching a Grayling, Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout all in one day. But the biggest highlight was introducing Jessie to the river for the first time. Although the outing to Rock Creek didn’t last long, she had a quick nap with the soothing sounds of the water and cool river breeze and saw her Dad casting and frustratingly missing fish on a hopper.

Through September summer quickly turned into fall and Jessie’s personality started to emerge. While having some clients based in Philipsburg I was always looking forward to coming home at night to see Jessie’s happy, smiling face; her eyes lighting up as I sing a silly song and her beginning to make up her own language and starting to babble back to Mom and Dad. In my days on the water the signs of Fall started to appear with some big, and colorful, Brown and Brooke Trout finding the net. Near the end of the month we took advantage of our last warm Sunday afternoon and took Jessie out on the boat for the first time, enjoying Georgetown Lake for a few hours.

Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it’s October. I have wrapped up the last couple guide days of the season and am starting to spend more time at home hanging out with Jessie. We have started to go on walks with the dog, sample solid foods, sing songs and dress up in Broncos gear while learning all about Football; enjoying every minute while hoping that time can start to slow down just a little bit.

Summer Highlights

 

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Labor Day is just around the corner and the “dog days” of summer are in the rear view.  Hard to believe that the season has gone by so quickly, but there is still plenty of great fishing ahead through September and October.  This summer has been filled with long beautiful days, great clients and some cooperative big fish.

June included big water and big browns on the prowl.  Most rivers were swollen with run-off from our above average snowpack, but Rock Creek and the Big Hole River still produced through the big water.  There was solid action dead drifting streamers and worms; plus some fish looking up for Salmon Flies and Golden Stones.

July brought dropping flows on our rivers and some epic days of dry fly fishing.  The Big Hole saw fish looking up for hatches of Green Drakes, Yellow Sallies and PMD’s.  The Yellowstone River finally dropped to fishable levels as terrestrials began to crawl around the banks.  Meanwhile, the Madison River produced some quality fish on nymph rigs.

Throughout August the skies have been filled with smoke from forest fires from around the state.  Despite the warm temperatures, and lack of rain, fishing has remained consistent.  Terrestrial fishing with Moths, Ants and hoppers and some thick Trico hatches have kept our trout interested.  With a few extra days off through the month I have had the chance to enjoy the Montana summer for myself.  I played a tourist by visiting Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks with with my wife and friends; and did some fishing on my own, hiking into the North Fork of the Blackfoot River with my dog Gabe.

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Fall fishing should be great as our water temperatures drop, nights get a little longer and the big trout begin to stock up on calories preparing for winter.  I still have some availability in October; check out this special offer to come chase some big fish this fall.

Fish On!

I try not to go overboard with gratuitous grip n’ grin pictures, but I couldn’t help myself….

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Over the last couple of weeks fishing all around Montana has been excellent.  Being centrally based in Philipsburg, Montana I get the rare opportunity to explore & fish on a diverse selection of waters.  In the last month I have been lucky to guide on Rock Creek, Georgetown Lake, the Madison and Yellowstone Rivers.  Here are some of the highlights!

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Upper Madison Rainbow

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Big Browns Love Big Dry Flies

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Nothing Wrong with a Whitefish

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7 Year Old Fooling a Cuttie with a Dry Fly

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Brown Town on a Size #18 Dry Fly

Family Traditions Continue & Grow

For me, fishing has always been associated with family.

My dad tells me that I was two months old on my first fishing trip and we continue that tradition to this day.  Some of my fondest memories include my dad, sister, and occasionally my mom, enjoying the great outdoors on a beautiful river or lake.

Dad and sister on the banks of the Gallatin River
My Dad, sister and Lady Bird on the banks of the Gallatin River

Since becoming a fishing guide I have preached the joys of spending time with family and friends while on the water.  Regardless of how good the fishing is, quality time on the water with loved ones is hard to beat.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to spend quality time on the river with my dad and have had the chance to introduce my girlfriend’s family to the sport of fly-fishing.  Each experience was extremely rewarding in their own respects.

The Hyndman Family on the banks of Rock Creek
The Hyndman Family on the banks of Rock Creek

I have been lucky to show the Hyndmans – Ken, Judy, Gwyneth and Sean –  the beautiful rivers that I call home.  Ken and Gwyneth are now fly-fishing veterans after hitting the river a year ago, but Judy and Sean took their first casts just a few weeks ago.  It is always rewarding seeing the face of a beginner when they hook into a trout, but seeing the joy and excitement on Judy’s face was something special.  Judy lives with a disability and uses the support of crutches to walk most of the time.  When she expressed interest in trying to fly-fish I was determined to give her the full experience.  Instead of sitting on the bank, I made the decision to set up a chair in the river and to give her the chance to wade and cast from the water.  With the help of the rest of the family we got Judy to the water and I began the casting lesson.  Fortunately, the fishing gods where looking down on us and within a few casts we had a beautiful brown trout on the end of the line.  The thrill and emotion shared between all of us was overwhelming as we put the trout into the net!

Judy on the way to the river
Judy making her way to the river

Streamside entomology lesson
Streamside entomology lesson

Casting Introduction
Casting Introduction

First Brown Trout to the net
First Brown Trout to the net

Judy lands another!
Judy lands another!

Sean gets in on the action with a nice brown
Sean gets in on the action with a nice brown

A week after helping Judy check off the bucket list fish that she didn’t even know about, my Dad made his annual fishing trip to Montana in search of his bucket list fish.

Over the last few years he has been extremely jealous of the big fish pictures that I send him.  On this trip he had the goal to land the “big one” himself and he termed it his bucket list fish.  Since the summer season had wrapped up I was able to spend plenty of time with him on this quest.  Through his couple of weeks in Montana we had some great days on the Madison and Missouri Rivers.  Introducing him to the feisty trout of the Missouri River was an amazing experience.  The strength and size of these fish are enough to make any experienced angler chuckle and grin like a little kid on christmas morning.  My Dad was no exception when his reel began to scream after hooking into a his first 20 inch Missouri River rainbow.  After being schooled by a few hot fish he was finally able to get one into the net.  This beauty taped around 22″, weighed 5-6 pounds and my Dad exclaimed that it was the biggest trout he has ever landed!

Dad's bucket list fish!
Dad’s bucket list fish!

These experiences have reminded me of one of the biggest reasons that I love fishing; all of the lasting memories that are created with friends and family.

Fall Fishing in Yellowstone National Park

The Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park is a world famous fly fishing destination in the Fall!  Large brown and rainbow trout make their annual migration from Hebgen Lake to take part in the fall spawn.  This influx of big fish attracts anglers of all skill levels from hundreds, and even thousands, of miles away.