Keith’s Cat—fish that is.

My friend, Bluesman Keith Scott, is also a fly fisher. He travels a lot playing blues across the U.S., and fly fishing, too. Recently, he had a fun day on a small lake. Fishing a Muddler, he landed a bluegill, a bass and, yup, a catfish. Now cats are not known as a fly rod species, but they can and do, on occasion, take flies just fine. This was the occasion. Nice catch, bluesman—see a link to Keith to the right.

Here kitty, kitty–sorry I couldn’t resist.

The Brule Runs Through It

My good friend, John Beth, loves to venture into fly fishing’s past. This was a great year to do it, as he reports below. Tell us about it, John…

I had planned a September fishing trip to the historic and beautiful Bois Brule (Burnt Wood) river in northern Wisconsin with friends Bob Harrison and Scott Allen. We each planned one day fishing from a canoe with legendary guide Damian Wilmot; the other two would walk and wade the river elsewhere on their own.

To call Damian’s boat just a canoe would be a serious understatement. Damian, and his craftsman friend Lloyd Hautajarvi, had spent two, painstaking years restoring a magnificent, twenty foot, 1895, Joe Lucius canoe. Joe was a legendary canoe builder on the Brule, and one of the upper-river “lakes” is named after him—Lucius lake.

This float for me became something special. Damian had announced, earlier this month, that he would be retiring at the end of this season from full time guiding. For 29 seasons he has guided those who would cast a fly to a wild Brule trout. As an homage to the river, to him, to the wonderful Lucius canoe, and the spirits of all those past who, in my heart, are still there, I wanted my last day in that boat with him to be forever burned in my memory. The solution was quite simple. I love old fly gear–what I have of it – and I still fish with it. It is my connection to our sport’s past. The only way to know what it must have been like to fly fish 100+ years ago…is to fish that way!

On my day to fish from the canoe with Damian, the Lucius slid silently into the storied water at Stones Bridge, after a stormy morning had delayed us a couple of hours. I was soon casting my 1905 Millward Greenheart fly rod with a silk line, Macleay reel, made in Inverness Scotland in 1895–the same year that our Lucius canoe had been “born.”  There’s more…Damian had tied on a “Rat Faced McDougall “ dry fly, and I cast to (and caught) several native brookies in McDougall Springs, and oh yes, this Lucius Canoe was once owned by the Alexander McDougall Castle family.

There has been, perhaps, nothing more poignant than those moments and that day in my 50+ years of fly fishing. I was wishing a mysterious, ghostly fog would creep across the river and around us from the deep, Brule valley woods at our sides, and of course, It did.

The warm day too quickly faded away. Each push of Damian’s pole from the back of the canoe, just as Joe had done over a century ago, pushed us closer to our landing, and farther from the magic of our day of fishing wild brook trout in simpler times, as they did so long ago. It could not have been a better day.

As we closed the day, I was haunted by a strange sense of happiness and sadness.  Stepping out of the stunning, mahogany-trimmed green, cedar canoe for the last time, and looking back down this amazing river, I realized I wasn’t going back to reality–I was leaving it.

Ready to go–in the refitted Lucius canoe from 1895.

 

And, John, let’s fish the Rat-Face Mcdougall, a famous Brule River fly.

 

Success–a nice Brule River Brookie.

 

Even the fog cooperated, putting the river in the right mood for times past.

 

The Brule Runs Through It.


 

Big and Ugly, and Eating…Jigs?

Chuck Furimsky, founder of The Fly Fishing Shows, was recently fishing the Salmon River in NY and decided to fish a small white, fly rod jig for the big kings—and guess what? Yup, he connected. That’s an impressive fish, Chuck!

Three years back (2014) I was fishing kings in the Chilean Patagonia, and we found that they took nymphs rather well. I caught a number of really big kings on a black, hair leg Woolly Worm.

So, don’t pass up the smaller flies just because you think the kings won’t take them. The may be the answer on an otherwise blank day.

Chuck’s king on a small, white, fly rod jig. That’s one big fish.

 

A Chilean king that fell to a size 6, black, Hair Leg Woolly Worm. The rod is Jason’s Shadow Caster 20–9 feet, 5 weight line–that I took the fish on.

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.