Clydehurst Christian Ranch day 2

Day two was not as cold and rainy as day 1, so we were able to get out both morning and afternoon for casting practice. In the afternoon session, nearly everyone learned to double haul. Still the day was cold, and after 45 minutes, all were willing to head in to the comfort of the wood fire and the coffee shop.

Marc then discussed fishing stillwaters, and I lectured on Nymphing. The questions ran long, and the camp host, Scott Bronson, came to remind us that brisket awaited us in the dining hall. The class broke up quickly.

After dinner, Marc gave a class on fly tying, attended by 25 participants. They tied a woolly worm with chenille body, and then another with a dubbed body. Everyone was delighted to try their hand at dressing the imitations.

The day following the school, Marc and I spent a couple of hours on the Boulder before heading back to Billings and the flight home the following day.

Staying warm by the fire.


The upper Boulder lies in a magnificent valley, and runs gin clear.


Aspen are turing yellow, matching the sides of the west slope cutthroat.


The colors of the cutthroat are perfect camouflage in the stony bottom of the Boulder.


The handsome little fish rose eagerly to the tiny fires that we used.


Clydehusrst 2107 day 1

Marc Williamson and I are in Montana just south of Big Timber at the Clydehurst Christian Ranch, conducting our 5th annual Men’s Fly Fishing School. Of course we came a day early to prepare everything and rip a few lips, if the fish cooperate. This year they did. The weather turned nasty—cold rain and wind and dropping temperatures—exactly what the Baetis mayflies love. And love they did. They popped out right on schedule and the fish followed, slurping them in like candies.

We, of course, just stood there and watched—like not! We whipped out the Baetis mayflies and whipped out a bunch of fish. The biggest was 16-17 inches. Many were in the 10-12 inch range. It was true delight.

The first day of classes went very well—until we came to the first casting-on-the-grass session. Everyone got good and cold. We abandoned the second outdoor session simply because it was so cold and windy—with blowing rain. I presented The Angler as Predator in substitution. There was a nice wood fire burning in the lodge’s fireplace, the coffee shop was open, and everyone was comfortable.

Dinner was followed by the showing of the movie, A River Runs Through it. The scene in the movie, where the boys put the boat in the river to Shoot the Chutes, was filmed on the Boulder just across the road from Cydehurst, and so the movie has a special meaning for everyone here. I introduced the movie by discussing some to the techniques used to shoot the film, and some of the out-takes—funny and otherwise. The second day will be upon us all too soon—with the promise of snow.

The Boulder is a classic high mountain stream with pools and rapids–a fun place to search for trout.


The fish are lovely–note the tiny Baetis imitation in t’s upper lip.


The biggest fish of the day, a nice 16-17 inch cutthroat.

Montana Bows

Recently my friend, Chuck Furimsky (founder of the Fly Fishing Shows) fished western Montana with some friends, including Harry Schoel from Holland. They had a wide ranging experience but found the really big fish in lakes in SW MT. Lakes hold more and bigger fish that rivers, and if there’s a chance for lake fishing, I’ll take it. Chuck certainly found a good lake!

Lakes hold more and bigger trout that streams, and Chuck is out to prove it.

Ok, once is a coincidence. Twice is fishing in the right lake.

The Asp

Fishing with flies started with trout. Our first records of fly fishing were made by the Romans about 100 AD, who observed a shepherd in Macedonia using flies to catch Marble Trout. But now that modern technology has stepped in and handed fly fishing nanotechnology, CNC machining, and CAD built lines, fly fishing has gone “whole hog,” and leapt into the waters held sacred by the gear guys—carp, pike, bass, gar, albacore, sailfish, marlin, and a host of other species. There’s great reward for the fly rodder willing to stretch beyond the confines of the trout str4eam.

Our friend, Theo Bakelaar, from Holland has had to do this simply because Holland is not the best place to fish for trout. There are a few, but there are many other species that are fly rod read, too. One of these is the “Asp.”As Theo explains, “they came over many years ago into our Dutch waters when the river Donau become too high. They hunt here for our small coarse fish and grow like crazy. It is a very strong fish and very clever. Hard to catch but in the fast current I could hook one on a popper. Fast stripping in the fast current, they have to take it ,yes or no. And when you hook one there is a party man, that fish runs like crazy in the current…..hard to stop. Its great fishing for them but hard.

If you’re a trout guy (like me), don’t turn away the chance to fish for other species. If they will take a fly, why not give them a chance. I’d like to have a go at the Asp in Holland. I’ll bet the take is savage and the fight equally so.

The Asp is a fish of heavy, fast water. Theo casts a popper and strips like crazy.

Heavy bodied and bright silver, the Asp is a great fly rod species.

An Asp of this size is a trophy, if for no other reason than the muscle needed to wrestle it ashore.

“Jousey” Sharks

No, not the mafia—real sharks. My old friend, Chuck Furimsky, recently returned from a toothy critter trip for Northern Pike (which see). He then decided that pike teeth are not nearly toothy enough. So out on the big water off the coast of New Jersey to catch some big sharks—yes you have to use wire tippets. He used his incredibly effective “Chunk Head” fly, pulling the sharks close with a cut fish chum before showing them this cut bait fly. By the way, one does not unhook them with one’s hand—use a very long hook disgorger to do the job.

These were a bit bigger than the normal ones Chuck catches–very exciting to unhook.


Notice the wire tippet–essential on sharks of any size.


Yes, the Chunk Head is tied to look like a part of a baitfish.

Wisconsin Spring Creeks

My old home state, Wisconsin, has some great spring creek fishing, especially in the “Driftless Region,” so called because it was not glaciated in the last ice age. My old friend, John Beth, lives on the edge of the Driftless, and worries its trout–when making knives and playing piano and guitar will allow him to do so.

On his last visit, the summer vegetation had taken over, and he had to work to find places to cast without getting hung up in the tall prairie grasses and forbes. Well, he did find a few places, and found some good trout there. I especially like the coloring of the big brown and big brookie that he managed on his last outing.

A very nice brown on a tiny dry.


Great color on this lovely brookie from the Driftless.

Georgetown Lake, MT


My friend, bluesman Keith Scott, has been performing in MT, and has had a chance to fish some prime water. He visited Georgetown Lake (headwater of the Beaverhead). It’s a big lake—a big trout lake. I’ve also has some great carp fishing there. He had a great day with some nice fish, including a big brookie. Keep after ‘em Keith. Will there be a new song entitled “Georgetown Blues”?

Keith with a very healthy Georgetown rainbow.


A big Georgetown brookie.


Another great Georgetown rainbow.

MMM–May is Mentoring Month

Chuck Furimsky, founder of The Fly Fishing Shows, is, as you would suspect, an avid angler. He is also an avid promoter of the sport, especially to the younger generations. He recently issued this challenge to the fly fishing industry:

“Pick a day and take a child, teenager, cousin, wife, or friend for a day of mentoring that just might change their lives forever. I want you to steal my idea. Every T.U. club, FFI chapter; fly shop, manufacturer, and fly fisher who wants to pass along their passion for our sport must band together and create a mentoring movement. Share your success on social media and make everyone, everywhere, and every day in May special for the future of fly fishing.”

For his MMM trip he fished with the two boys of the women that work in his office—Jenny Barkman’ 9-year old son, Ben, and Missy Schultz’s 5-year old boy, Diem. They had a great day, catching not only a goodly number of fish, but several species as well. As Chuck was helping Ben land the last of 14 fish for the day, he looked up at Chuck with a smile and said, ‘When I grow up I want to be a professional fly fisherman.’

Notes Chuck: “My goal was to perhaps introduce someone to fly-fishing and help grow our sport. Never did I imagine I might be mentoring the next Lefty Kreh.”

Note: In the movie, “A River Runs Through it,” there is a great scene where young Norman and Paul are lying on their backs in the grass, and Norman asks Paul what he wants to be when he grows up. Paul replies, “Mmmm, a professional fly fisherman.”

Note 2: Any month can be a mentoring month. Go for it.

Ben with a nice perch, Mentor Chuck smiles.too.


Nothing like fifty bass to hook you on fly fishing.


Diem nailed a really nice sunfish!


Ian’s Record Brown

My friend, Ian Gordon, is a teacher of two-hand casting in Scotland, and a very fine angler, guiding for Atlantic Salmon on a variety of Scottish rivers. And what does he do for relation–go fishing. This time in Iceland for huge browns on Lake Thingvallavathn, the largest lake in that country. The browns get enormous because the waters are warmed a bit, year round, by hot springs in the bottom of the lake, allowing the fish to grow uninhibited all 12 months.

Not knowing what to expect, but being told it was single-hand casting water, Ian, none-the-less, stuck in his Hardy switch rod. And good thing. Thingvallavathn is a vast lake that gives the wind plenty of fetch to get going, and going very strong–like the zephyrs of Terra del Fuego. On one particular day, Ian found himself in an ideal spot, but not ideal for casting with the single-hand rod. So out came the 7-weight switch. The line weight for a 7 wt, 2-hander is basically the same as a 10 weight for a single hand, allowing Ian to heave his streamer the long 100 feet that he need to reach the spot where he’d seen a tail that size of a big Atlantic salmon’s. The fly sank for a count of 15 and on the first strip, the fish was on. And on, and on, and on.

Wrestled in at last, it topped out at 26 1/2 pounds, a true monster, and new lake record. Want to see it on video? Go here, and page to the bottom–read all the good info on the way down.

Now where is my switch rod….

Hey, Ian, that is one serious brown trout!

Turbo Tail Strikes Again

Chuck continued his week at Gangler’s Lodge in northern Manitoba with more pike rippin’. They decided to put Chuck to the test and took him to “Frustration Bay,” where the gin clear water showed every 36-40” pike as clear as day. These fish were all “frustration” trained. They would follow the lure or fly right to the boat, thumb their noses, and slide away. That is, until Chuck showed them the Turbo Tail flies. Then it was catchin’ time. The biggest was 42 inches; it just couldn’t stand the action and flash of a Silver Turbo Tail.

If you haven’t tried this design, it’s simple but, “Oh” so effective. Chuck uses his Bug Skin material for the tail, cutting it into a question mark, and lashing it firmly to the hook before dressing the rest if the fly (which can be dang near any style you like). Create deep divers, medium weight ones, and some top water beauties.

By the way, in the appropriate sizes, these are food for bass and trout, and anything else you want to heave them at.

Serious pike!


Turbo Tails ready to fish.