Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fishing the Flathead River

Western rivers are becoming so crowded that some anglers consider casing the long rods for good. Others are disappointed by the size of the fish they’re catching and blame increased pressure and catch-and-release mortality on the decline. Unfortunately, if you listen to those anglers, you could overlook opportunities that provide lifetime memories.

That’s what I’ve learned during my forays to northwest Montana’s South Fork of the Flathead River--a wild cutthroat fishery that flows through the largest chunk of designated wilderness in the Lower 48. If I listened to the pessimists about how angling pressure on that stream is unbearable and that the fish aren’t what they used to be, I would have missed one of the most quintessential camping and fly-fishing experiences an angler can find in Montana.

On the South Fork of the Flathead, I am pleased to report, enterprising anglers can find remote campsites, solitude, and scads of native westslope cutthroat. It’s a river offering a return to our fly-fishing infancies when camping and camaraderie, incredible scenery and seclusion, and catching na├»ve trout on bushy


dry flies was more paramount than the opportunity for a 20-incher. You place worth on the experience in its entirety--from blistered feet on the hikes in and out of the wilderness, to passing a flask around the campfire, to the daily duties of filtering water and cleaning the camp dishes. The fishing is frosting on an already tasty cake.

The River
The South Fork of the Flathead begins deep in the Bob Marshall Wilderness at the confluence of Danaher Creek and Youngs Creek. It gains volume with the contributions of the White River, Big and Little Salmon creeks, Black Bear Creek, and other small tributaries. Overall, the South Fork flows more than 60 miles through designated wilderness and National Forest lands before emptying into Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Some anglers who have fished the South Fork for 30 years complain it isn’t as good today as it once was. They say anglers used to catch nearly 30 cutthroats a day between 15 and 20 inches. I believe those reports, but today fish average between 8 and 14 inches with an occasional 17- to 20-inch fish.

Most people credit the river’s decline to increased pressure, and they are probably correct. The South Fork of the Flathead is no different from other Western rivers, and you should expect to encounter other anglers and campers and be passed by pack trains--but it’s not the end of the world. Those willing to venture away from the beaten path will find refuge from people, especially in late June and early July when high water recedes and again during fall as visiting anglers head home.

To help boost the average size of fish, the portion of the South Fork inside the wilderness boundary is strictly regulated and anglers may keep up to three trout a day smaller than 12 inches. The stretch between the Meadow Creek footbridge and the Spotted Bear footbridge is catch-and-release only.
Tieing the caddis fly
The X Caddis was developed by Craig Matthews and represents an emerging or crippled caddis. Caddis emerge quite quickly once they reach the surface, often too quickly for trout to have a chance to eat them. Trout know this and often will not waste their time or energy trying to feed on adults that are not crippled or in the process of emerging. With this in mind Craig Matthews developed this wonderful pattern. It represents those emerging and/or crippled caddis that the trout key in on. The Z-lon shuck represents the pupal shuck of the natural and the lack of hackle allows it to sit low in the water like an emerger or cripple. What is even better than how well this fly works is how easy it is to tie. It is a perfect pattern to crank out late the night before a trip. So tie some up, get a good dead drift, and hang on.
Tie this pattern in sizes 12-18.



Step 1 Start your thread and coat the shank of the hook back to the bend of the hook. Take a small clump of Z-lon and tie it in extending off the bend of the hook. Tie the butts of the Z-lon down about half way up the shank of the hook and tie them down to the bend of the hook. Clip the butts off.


Step 2 Now clip the shuck to length, roughly 1 ½ times the gap of the hook, and thin the end of it with the tip of your scissors. You do not want to the shuck to have abrupt edges; they look unnatural on the water. Dub a tapered body up the shank of the hook, stopping just shy of the eye of the hook so there is enough room to tie in the wing.


Step 3 Cut, comb and stack clump of elk or deer hair and tie it in, tips facing the bend of the hook. The wing should be tied in directly behind the eye of the hook and extend the length of the body. Cut the butts of the wing off even with the front edge of the eye of the hook and whip finish

Friday, May 23, 2008

Trout species

Wild trout in Montana include both native and introduced species. Native species are those that were present in Montana before humans interfered with aquatic systems. Species of the trout family native to Montana include westslope cutthroat trout (Columbia and upper Missouri River basins); Yellowstone cutthroat trout (upper Yellowstone River basin); bull trout (Columbia River basin and Hudson’s Bay drainage in Glacier Park); interior redband trout (Kootenai River basin); arctic grayling (upper Missouri River basin); lake trout (Hudson’s Bay drainage and two isolated lake in the upper Missouri drainage); mountain whitefish (Columbia, upper Missouri and upper Yellowstone River basins); and pygmy whitefish (lakes in Northwest Montana).

All populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout in Montana result from past introductions by humans. All populations of lake trout, except those found in two isolated lakes in southwest Montana and a few that might occur in the extreme northeast of Glacier National Park, also result from human introductions. In addition, westslope or Yellowstone cutthroat trout found outside their native ranges result from introductions by fishery managers or anglers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fly Fishing In Montana

Fly Fishing In Montana
When i moved to Montana and started fishing here,I discovered that the sport of fly fishing has many rewards,as it is'nt the easiest way to catch fish.

I have found streams that you can fish on all day and never see another person.It is a great place to raise a family,as there are many lakes,and rivers full of trout .The lake in the photo is one of my favorites.It is full of brook trout,which grow to around 10 inches in this lake.

The stream below this lake holds Brook trout and Cut throat trout,which I catch and release to get the population up.

I also fish the Clark Fork river for Bass and Pike.I am holding a stringer with a 5 lb.pike and a couple of bass in my photo.Fly fishing is fun in many ways as you can tie your own flies,which is fun especially when you catch fish on them.

Not alot of competion in the back country,very relaxing,take your float tube out on the water kick back and drift with the wind.Take the family picknicing,and teach some one how to fish as I did with the children.

When it comes to fishing in Montana, what do you think of? Beautiful mountains, amazing scenery, wide open species, and great trout fishing, right? Well, that's about right, and in some parts of Montana, a bear attack is never out of the question as well. You know, just to keep your adrenaline pumping.

Montana is well known for all outdoor activities, including hunting, hiking, and skiing, but the great state of Montana is probably best known for fishing.

Good Luck:

fishing for trout

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