Theo’s Eel Skin Rattle Clouser

My friend, Theo Bakelaar, and I get a chance to fish for stripers and blues with our mutual friend Chuck Furimsky just prior to his International Fly Fishing Symposium in November (go here). The last time we fished, the weather was cold and windy, and fishing out on the ocean was not possible. We focused on the backbay, and found stripers under the bridge. They were willing—much more willing for Theo’s Eel Skin Rattle Clouser than for my regular Clouser. Three times more willing actually. He recently sent me these great photos for tying the fly—I’ll have them with me next month.

Rattle-Clouser-2a

Tie in the eyes, an eel skin tail, and a piece of 30 pound monofilament. Although eel skin is the preferred material, one may use Bug Skin, or other leather material.

Rattle-Clouser-2

Add a belly of white buck tail–remember the fly will ride hook point up,

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Invert the hook in the vise, and tie in some flash and the bucktail for the back–in this case, chartreuse bucktail.

Rattle-Clouser-5

Slip 3 or 4 beads on the mono, form an open loop under the hook, and tie off at the head. The beads not only rattle, but cause the fly to keel, hook point up.

Rattle-Clouser-6

A standard Clouser, an Eel Skin Clouser, and a Rattle Eel Skin Clouser.

 

Madison Valley Ranch

My friend, Scott Carver, President of PlanSource, invited me to conduct a casting clinic for some of his clients at his lodge, the Madison Valley Ranch, located on the east side of the Madison River, just downstream from Jeffery, MT. The clinic prepared his guests for a great day’s fishing on the Madison. And the lodge offered them unparalleled hospitality and gourmet food. Trust me, it was gourmet. The evening menu read like those in other four star restaurants. Yes, it was four star food.

The Madison was a bit reluctant to give up its fish, but the weather was excellent, and the guides were the best in the area. Everyone caught at least some fish, basked in the glory of a sunny day on one of the nations’ finest and very scenic trout streams, and reveled in the accommodations and the food.

The pond at the lodge held big Kamloops rainbows, and although they were not pushovers, they took a snail fly or damsel nymph very well. Of course they fought hard because they were big and they were Kamloops. I used my 1003 (10 foot, 3-weight) Hardy Zenith on them. It has plenty of butt strength to fight big fish and the thin line kept line drag to a minimum as the fish cut through submerged weeds. Great fun.

lodge

The Madison Valley Ranch consists of several very nicely built and comfortable log structures.

Pond

The pond in front of the lodge was framed by the Madison Range and held big Kamloops rainbows.

Rainbow-1

Kamloops are noted for their hard fighting and bright colors.

Rainbow-2

The rainbows in the pond varied from a couple of pounds to 4 or 5 pounds.

Rainbow-3

The big males seems more elusive than the females, and once hooked, they fought like demons.

rainbow4

The Peacock Snail fly and Marabou Damsel Nymph proved excellent choices.

School at Big Sky

This weekend I conducted a fly fishing school for Young Life at Big Sky, MT. We had a great time, not just in the learning, but a chance to get to know each other. There is an expression in fly fishing that goes, “There are no strangers in fly fishing, only friends who haven’t met,” and this weekend was a great illustration of fly fishing friends meeting for the first time. We had planned to fish a bit, but a rather strong hail and rainstorm dirtied the waters rather severely. None-the-less, the classes went well, and the weekend ended with friends headed off in a number of directions to use newly developed skills.

casting-class

The plucky class of casters at Big Sky (left to right) Jason, Ann, Lucas, Becky, Tom, Larry, Alan, Neva, Bill, new friends, all.

Madison River Outing, Day 2

Today—9/17/14—found us back on the Madison for a second day. The weather was a bit brighter, but there were still willing fish. Of course there were whitefish, as always. But today, there were more trout for me. In the early part of the day, I took several 10 to 13 inch rainbows. Tom Juergens found several of the same size and a couple up to 17 inches. Alan Johnson, fishing with us today, took a very fine 20 inch rainbow.

Then, later in the day. I caught an 18 inch brown on a size 18 flash-back caddis pupa, and shortly thereafter hooked a larger one on a big dark sculpin imitation. It was 20 inches or longer. I had it close enough a couple of times to see it clearly, in the heavy current and rock field I was in. I had my hands full keeping the fish clear of sheltering lies. It pulled off after a few minutes of twisting and bumping against numerous boulders.

The little Hardy 1003 (10 foot 3-weight) performed admirably, easily casting the nymphs or big sculpin imitation with two split shot. It has plenty of butt strength to handle fish of the 20 inch class, and plenty of reach to hold the line off the current while nymphing. Overall, it was a fine day.

Madison

The Madison is in great fall conditions, with very clear water and good levels.

rainbow

The smaller rainbows were very cooperative.

Brown

It always seems that the fish flops just as you shoot. So, this is belly of an 18 inch brown.



 

Madison River Outing

Today, 9/16/2014 was spent fishing the Madison with Tom Juergens. The river is in great shape and the day was perfect: high clouds, the sun occasionally, and light wind. Tom had a banner day on trout with a 20 inch brown and a number of 15-17 inch rainbows, not to count a couple of big browns given an early release. I had a banner day, too, with the whitefish; I stacked ‘em up like cordwood.  But I don’t mind so much. They fight very well, especially in the deep runs of the Madison. I managed a couple of rainbow in the 1-14 inch range, and one small brown, too. But, that’s fishing. My excuse: it must have been lingering skunk odor from yesterday’s outing on the Boulder. Be that as it is, tomorrow is another day, and perhaps I will find favor with the trout then.

My Hardy Zenith 905 handle the casting with two shot, two weighted nymphs and an indicator with ease. Likewise, it made short work of the fish, even in the heavy currents.

Tom-landing-a-nice-rainbow.

Tom landing a nice rainbow.

Hardy-rod-and-reel

The Hardy Zenith 905 performed very well against the fish in the Madison’s heavy water.

 

Clydehurst Fishing Day 2

I came away with the fetid odor of skunk all over me today. I fished from 9:30 to 11:30 in front of camp without a touch. Nothing on the nymph and nothing on the dry. I’ll blame it on the cold night and extra cold water this morning—any excuse is better than none. Still, I did not see a single rise, and no insects on the water. I did see a mating swarm of midges, and that was fun to watch for a while.

I’m off to Bozeman today to fish for a couple of days and then up to Big Sky to do a Friday/Saturday school to benefit the Big Sky Young Life program. From there I head on over the Madison Valley Ranch for a private school for them.

Boulder-at-camp

The deep, heavy water in front of camp didm’t offer even a single take to nymphs.

Flaat-above-camp

The flats above the swift water didn’t offer a single take on a dry fly.

Midge-dance

A nice cloud of mating midges provided a break from a fish less day.

Clydehurst 2014 Fishing Day 1

The school ended on Sunday morning at 11 am. After lunch, Marc Williamson and I headed up river with a couple of fellow anglers go fish an area known as the Boulders. Most of the river is pocket water, but this area in classic riffle pool water.

The day was perfect. Beautiful blue sky, a light breeze, and crystal clear water. Caddises, a small mayfly (probably Baetis, but I didn’t catch any to tell for certain), and a small, pale green stonefly (probably Isoperla) were available to the fish; imitations of all three were successful. I caught a nice rainbow and a nice cutthroat on nymphs early in the day, but we used a bright yellow bodied Elk Hair Caddis with some flash in the wing for most of the day.

My 905 Hardy Zenith was the prefect rod for that water. I cast nymphs and shot with ease, and tossed tight loops with the dries, readily putting the imitations back under overhanging branches or curve casting them across stream for a perfect, drag-free float.

As one would expect, in such high mountain streams, most of the fish were small, but there were enough exceptions to keep the fishing interesting. One of the nicer cutthroats that I took was brilliant butter yellow, and the larger rainbows all boasted brilliant colors. Of course we caught brookies, too, large volumes of them. Marc landed a nice one of about 10 inches, but all mine were the classic “6-inch” fish.

All in all it was a delightful day that included a great hike, constant action, and delightful scenery.

Boulder-R-2

The stretch of river below the Boulders is classic riffle/pool water.

Boulder-R

The best fish were in the broken water areas watching for surface drift.

Brookie

The upper river is replete with brookies, most of this sze.

Cutthroat

One of the nicer cutthroats was a brilliant butter yellow.

Rainbow

The rainbows were all nicely colored.

Clydehurst Christian Ranch 2014

The last two days, my friend Marc Williamson, and I have been teaching a fly fishing class at Clydehurst. It’s a wonderful venue for a school of this nature because it is right across the road from the Boulder River, south of Big Timber, MT.

Everyone in the classes has had a great time, and learned a good amount about our matchless sport. Some have been fishing already, and have done quite well. The fish, this high in the river, are not large, although some reports of 16 fish have come in. Marc and I plan to fish tomorrow afternoon and Monday morning before he has to return to Portland, OR, and I head on to Big Sky for another school next weekend.

Reports to follow on our fishing excursions.

An-Intro-to-Casting

Day 1, Intro to casting. Sunny, but cool.

The-backcast

Demonstrating that the Three Point Grip and Elbow Lock arm position stop the rod perfectly on the back stroke.

Lifting-Power-2

When fighting fish it is essential that the angler know how hard he is pulling against the fish. Lifting a 12 ounce soda can with the rod is much harder than anyone would have gussed. Everyone got the chance to to do the soda can lift.

Fighting-Fish

Learning to fight the fish with the rod tip, mid rod, and the rod butt, and applying both lifting pressure and side pressure is essential. Here is a demo of butt pressure with the rod lifting up. All the students had the opportunity to be the “fish” and feel the different rod pressures.




 

 

Summer Absence

It was a summer of travel and visiting our son, Jason, his wife, Kelley, and our granddaughter, Brooke. There was some fishing and a trip to Alaska mixed in, too. This week I am in Montana speaking to at two different Christian groups and at the Madison River Lodge. Today I am at the Clydehurst Christian Camp on the Boulder River, south of Big Timber, MT. It has snowed and the mountains are beautiful, but the air is cold. A bit odd, even for MT, in early September.

I received an email this morning from Chris McCall with a great photo of three cast off stonefly shucks. Lo and behold, the lowest shuck has another insect clinging to the right side of its abdomen. Whether this was before the stonefly left the water of afterward is not known, but it is an interest shot, to say the least. Thanks Chris for sharing this quirk of nature.

Clydehurst-in-show

Early snow over Clydehurst

Stonefly-shucks

Hitch Hiker on stonefly–lowest shuck.

Fish Skull Sand Eels

Our friend Theo Bakelaar, also know as Mr. Gold Bead, and now also as Mr. Eel Skin, has been at it again. These beauties are his latest sand eels tied with fish skulls. I can just see the stripers and blues zeroing in on these delectable looking, and highly-active-when-wet, tough-as-nails imitations. Can’t wait to see them up close and personal.

Full-Size-Eels

The tails are fresh water eel skin. Once wet it is highly fluid in its movements and it’s as tough as nails.

Eel-Heads

The Fish Skulls give the imitations a very “finished” and realistic look, as well as adding the needed weight to get the eels deep when the blues and stripers are busting bait balls near the bottom.